Accepting the peace of God

For most of us, daily life is characterized by the “99 problems” that we feel are confronting us all the time. If you really think about it, not a single hour passes without us worrying about this or that. There’s always something more that needs attention or fixing. When asked what the most desired goal in their life is, many people say something like “If I could just have peace of mind… you know, not have to worry all the time – Just… some inner peace.” And then we read in A Course in Miracles that “There is no peace except the peace of God” (W-pI.200). In fact, Jesus makes it clear that his entire curriculum is about attaining lasting inner peace: “Knowledge is not the motivation for learning this course. Peace is.” (T-8.I.1). It’s only when I carefully start studying the text and apply the lessons in the workbook that I slowly start to realize just what it takes to truly embrace that “peace that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

The bottom line of this realization of what it takes to choose the peace of God, is succinctly summarized in workbook lesson 185, called “I want the peace of God”. Right at the beginning, Jesus says: “To say these words is nothing. But to mean these words is everything.” (W-pI.185.1) That’s a rather painful, if not insulting statement to the ego. And yet we do not have to delve very deeply in our mind to realize just how true this statement is. See how quickly you can find a recent moment in which you did not like this or that. Just a slight irritation; a twinge of annoyance. You might say that these are common, understandable emotions, part of life. Bottom line, though, even the slightest frustration is a statement you want things to be different. You want things to be your way. You do not want to admit that you might be wrong and Jesus might be right in saying: “Do you prefer that you be right or happy? For you cannot be both.” (T-29.VII.1). It takes a while to realize – and accept – that “a slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury.” (W-pI.21.1). It takes humility to accept that, indeed, apparently I do not truly mean it when I repeatedly affirm to myself that I want the peace of God.

And yet, in Workbook lesson 200, Jesus assures us that “Peace is the bridge that everyone will cross, to leave this world behind. […] God alone is sure, and He will guide our footsteps. He will not desert His Son in need, nor let him stray forever from his Home. The Father calls; the Son will hear.” (W-pI.200.9:4). But if I keep bumping my head by failing to let go of judgmental emotions, however small these seem to be, how do I go about this process? How do I get from saying  “I want the peace of God” to truly meaning “I want the peace of God?” Hitting myself over the head with sin, guilt and fear is obviously not going to work, nor will a life as a monk in a mountain cave bring me across that bridge. So what does this ‘path to peace’ look like?

The first step is to honestly admit that all the special idols I pursue and enjoy in my life really do not work in the end. This includes my career, my hobbies, travels, possessions, and special relationships. I may experience brief moments of ecstasy, but pain in some form is never far behind. Nothing lasts. Brief pleasures are a very poor substitute for lasting inner peace. In this first step, I slowly realize that peace does not come from seeking salvation in externals. “Seek not outside yourself. For it will fail, and you will weep each time an idol falls.”, we read in (T-29.VIII.1).  We cannot, however, stop at that first step, for the realization that nothing in this world will ever last, will only lead to deep depression, which is hardly the road to peace. Indeed, since in our gut we do realize that everything crumbles, we seek all sorts of sedatives and distractions such as coffee, alcohol, sugary food, drugs, and other senseless distracting, self-sabotaging activities. So we need an additional step.

The second step is what makes A Course in Miracles unique as a contemporary spiritual thought system: the notion that we may experience ourselves in this world, but that we are, bottom line,  not of this world. As long as we believe we are separated bodies living in an unpredictable world of time and space, we cannot avoid seeking for safety outside ourselves. The really mind-blowing message of Jesus in ACIM is the quantum physical notion that time and space are wholly illusory. Everything our senses perceive and what we swear to be gospel truth because we perceive it, is nothing but a projected nightmarish wish made ‘true’ – “projection makes perception” (T-21.in.1). All effort spent to create a better world, therefore, is in vain: “There is no point in trying to change the world. It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect.”, we read in (W-pI.23.2). Immediately thereafter, Jesus adds: “But there is indeed a point in changing your thoughts about the world. Here you are changing the cause. The effect [i.e., how you perceive the world] will change automatically.”

Jesus continues to explain: “You see the world that you have made, but you do not see yourself as the image maker. You cannot be saved from the world, but you can escape from its cause. This is what salvation means, for where is the world you see when its cause is gone?” (W-pI.23.3). The process of practicing this is called, you guessed it, forgiveness. By honestly forgiving all the ‘evil’ I perceive outside myself, I eventually realize that in the end I am but forgiving myself for making and cherishing all these silly illusions that I wanted to be true, just to keep up the hallucination that I could indeed separate from Oneness, from my Source, my Creator. So to recap: accepting the peace of God requires, first, that I realize that peace doesn’t come from seeking outside of me; and secondly, that I am the dreamer of the dream. Peace is already within this dreamer, who merely needs to choose to awaken. This I cannot do without the help of the Holy Spirit. Within the dream I can choose to let my perception be guided by the Holy Spirit. From this new perception, born of my choice for the miracle, the Holy Spirit leads me up the ladder of the Atonement to the real world, the gateway to my Home, the lasting inner peace of God.

Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Still, you and I know very well we won’t wake up next morning saying: “I want the peace of God and this time I really mean it!” Of course we do not. To help his students in practicing this increasingly honest level of forgiveness, Jesus gave the pamphlet “The Song of Prayer” to us. Please do read it from time to time. This will not only prevent you from feeling so guilty because of your seeming lack of progress; it will also instruct you how to ascend the ladder of Atonement step by step. By studying and practicing this pamphlet, I slowly realize that prayer is not asking for specifics; it is about increasingly allowing the natural communication between my mind and God’s to flow freely, by increasingly often choosing the Holy Spirit as the Teacher of my thoughts. The world, illusory though it may be, becomes a classroom in which I can let myself be guided to become a happy learner on the road to the real world, cleansed of false perception.

The Big Bang wasn’t the start of life; it was the start of a silly dream, which in reality never occurred. And although the scientists do not know yet how the universe will end, Jesus in ACIM assures us that it will end in laughter (M-14.5). We are all guaranteed to make it Home, as One. Okay, perhaps not in this lifetime, but most definitely in a future life. Could you ask for a more comforting thought than this?


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:

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Attack is always self-attack

In my previous post “An inconvenient teaching”, we saw that many readers do not get to the heart of Jesus’ curriculum of A Course in Miracles, because they tend to focus only on the lovely passages, and quickly skip the more gruesome passages about the nature of the ego and wrong-minded thinking. But there are also ample students who become discouraged or even depressed when they really begin to grasp the enormity of our attachment to our miserable individual little self, however illusory it may be. Indeed, when I experience the conflict between my wanting to forgive everyone and everything all the time on the one hand, while on the other hand noticing how I keep hating everyone and everything around me all the time, it seems like a mission impossible to even ascend a few simple rungs on the ladder of prayer, let alone make the final right choice once and for all.

The trick in such a seemingly hopeless state of mind is to remember the metaphysics of non-duality that are at the core of Jesus’ teaching. Whenever I feel I’ll never manage to undo my ego, I have apparently forgotten that I’m not a helpless victim in a cruel world: I am the dreamer of the dream of time, space, and perception. Apparently I’ve once again fallen into the trap of believing I am a separated body, uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear that death might strike at any time, obliterating my existence forever. An important part of Jesus’ mind training comes down to remembering, as often as possible, the truth of my Self as the seemingly sleeping Son of God. There are no others out there to get me, because in reality there is no world. There is no future to fear suffering in, for time is already over; we are merely “reviewing mentally what has gone by” (W-pI.158.4). Each instant we but relive the instant when the time of terror seemed to take the place of love (i.e., the wish to separate from Oneness) (T-26.V.13:1).

In Workbook lessons 196 to 198, Jesus wants to reinforce exactly that comforting message. The titles are: “It can be but myself I crucify”, “It can be but my gratitude I earn”, and “Only my condemnation hurts me”. These clearly point to the insanity of projection, the basis of the physical world. “Condemn and you are made a prisoner. Forgive and you are freed. Such is the law that rules perception”, we read in (W-pI.198.2). In the textbook, Jesus presents us with a similar message about taking back projection: “Release your brothers from the slavery of their illusions by forgiving them for the illusions you perceive in them. Thus will you learn that you have been forgiven, for it is you who offered them illusions.” (T-16.VII.9:2). How could it be different, if in reality there is no-one out there; no-one who is truly separate from me?

In all distress, turmoil, uncertainty and fear, try to remember that the physical dream that we seem to move about it, is not reality. It’s a dream of illusions. We use these illusions to breed further illusions, just to keep us separated from Oneness, the “tiny mad idea” that in reality never occurred. The one illusion that can undo all others is called forgiveness, or the relinquishment of judgment. “Forgiveness sweeps all other dreams away, and though it is itself a dream, it breeds no others. All illusions save this one must multiply a thousandfold. But this is where illusions end. Forgiveness is the end of dreams, because it is a dream of waking. It is not itself the truth. Yet does it point to where the truth must be, and gives direction with the certainty of God Himself. It is a dream in which the Son of God awakens to his Self and o his Father, knowing They are one” (W-pI.198-3). Again: all nice and lovely, but you and I spend 99% of our time deliberately focusing on our own selfish little interests. After all, we have to eat, sleep, work, and make a living, don’t we? Oops – I once again forgot my reality. Ouch, it’s even worse: I chose to forget my reality. How will I ever end this conflict in my mind?

The solution to end the conflict about wanting to choose forgiveness on the one hand, and giving in to hate and rejection on the other hand, need not be complex. In fact, Jesus repeatedly assures us that his message is very simple. It’s the living up to it from day to day that makes his message hard to learn. The solution is this: If only my condemnation can hurt me, I but need to become aware, from moment to moment, whenever I condemn myself. I can then instantly choose to activate my observing decision maker. I can choose to just look at the thought I apparently chose. This is in fact the choice for the Holy Spirit. If I can then decide to let go, because I realize – to my relief – that I’m not a body in a physical world, I can let go of the condemnation. Just try it for a while: placing the Holy Spirit in charge. You’ll instantly feel much better whenever you succeed in taking these mind steps. It’s the heart of forgiveness.

The physical body, however illusory it is, can be of great use in facilitating this practice. Just consider the quality of the chemicals in your bloodstream with different types of thoughts. Whenever you feel totally at peace or extremely happy, your brain sends loads of serotonine, melatonine and dopamine into your blood stream, setting in motion many healing processes. If, on the other hand, you feel extremely resentful or outraged, your brain sends loads of adrenaline and cortisol down your blood stream, instantly hindering your body cells to function properly. The suspected relationship between heavy stress and cancerous cells probably lies in this mechanism. In short: even on the physical level, attack (condemnation) is always self-attack.

If you expect to become enlightened this way in a very short time, you’ll have another thought coming once you go through your day. Remember, one of the key characteristics of God’s teachers is patience. But this patience must go hand-in-hand with the “abundant willingness” (M.17-8) to keep training your mind to choose forgiveness, by letting go of condemnation. And if you catch yourself several dozen times this day rejecting this or that, be glad: you’re at least training your consciousness to become aware of what’s going on. This paves the way to instantly choose forgiveness. You’ll feel much better realizing that the secret of salvation lies in the realization that you are merely doing this to your self (T-27.VIII.10). It is a “kindness to myself to hear God’s voice [the Holy Spirit] and learn the simple lessons He would teach [forgiveness], instead of trying to dismiss His words, and substitute my own in place of His.” (W-pI.198-5).


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:

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An inconvenient teaching

Recently, my publisher remarked that it’s really quite odd for A Course in Miracles to have been sold over three million times worldwide to date, since it contains a message that the world does not want to hear at all. Kenneth Wapnick once emphasized in one of his workshops that to the ego, A Course in Miracles is a horror story, and therefore not particularly suitable as a birthday gift, for example. Why is it a horror story? Because Jesus tells us over and over again, in many different ways, that not only the ego is a lie, a hallucination that is wholly unreal, but that my very personality / individuality is a lie! No-one likes to read a book that concludes, in wholly consistent reasoning, that you simply do not exist as an individual.

In Chapter 8 of the Textbook, Jesus addresses us, knowing our resistance: “I can teach you, but only you can choose to listen to my teaching. How else can it be, if God’s Kingdom is freedom?” (T-8-IV.6:5). Such incisive calls remind me of the teachings of Jiddu Krishnamurti, one of the world’s truly great nondualistic spiritual teachers (cf. his book “As one is”). You’ll find him frequently quoted by Ken Wapnick as well. Krishnamurti was known for his oft-repeated pleas to please pay attention. “Are you listening to what I am saying? No; obviously you are not.” This was not to chide or scold his audience. He was merely trying to make them realize that there’s a world of difference between listening from an ego state of mind as opposed to listening from an observer state of mind.

It may be that the book called A Course in Miracles has been sold over three million times, but we certainly do not have three million ACIM students walking around on the globe. Helen Schucman herself once remarked that this course is probably “only for a handful”: the ones who are truly willing to go through the “dark night of the soul”, reaching the point of fully accepting that everything we used to believe was wrong, and Jesus is right. By far the majority of those who bought A Course in Miracles do not get to the point of actually studying the text, let alone practice the workbook lessons as Jesus gently instructs us to. Instead, we read snippets containing lovely passages. To quote but a few: “I am free. For I am still as God created me” (W-pII.208.1); “Teach only love, for that is what you are” (T-6.I.13); “In our remembrance of each other lies our remembrance of God.” (T-8.IV.7), and “Your grace is given me. […] I am the Son You love.” (W-pI.168.6). Such affirmations sound lovely when surface-read, but we fail to grasp the implication of Jesus’ message if we do not truly study the text and practice the lessons.

Students who do persist in diving into Jesus’ nondualistic teaching succeed only because they somehow hear the call of Love, however faintly, shining through the thick layers of mind distraction that the ego has constructed to keep the notion (hallucination) of individuality alive. Such students begin to realize that the price for individuality (the separation from Oneness) is, bottom line, a state of uncertainty, loneliness, and constant fear (T-31.VIII.7:1). Since the separation from Oneness invariably comes with a (suppressed) notion of sin (in the past), guilt (in the present) and fear of God’s vengeance (in the future), we constantly seek for misery caused by others, just to be able to “prove” to God that yes, I separated, but it wasn’t my fault – evil is outside of me, and I should be accepted back into Heaven – as an individual. The never-ending strife and struggle in the world, from household level to global wars, are nothing but different forms of this same dynamic of denial and projection: others are evil, and I am innocent. That’s why, incidentally, so many people suffer from poor self-esteem: the perceived wickedness around them unconsciously reminds them of their own wickedness (for having separated from Oneness).

It is only when we start to realize that there must be a better way, to once again repeat the famous heart cry of Bill Thetford to Helen Schucman in 1965, a short while before the scribing of the Course began, that we begin to truly see the alternative Jesus offers us, and why we refuse to accept it. Jesus describes this beautifully in Chapter 13: “Under the ego’s dark foundation is the memory of God, and it is of this that you are really afraid. For this memory would instantly restore you to your proper place, and it is this place that you have sought to leave [i.e., the separation, resulting in the Big Bang]. Your fear of attack is nothing compared to your fear of love [i.e., of Oneness]. You would be willing to look even upon your savage wish to kill God’s Son, if you did not believe that it saves you from love [Oneness]. For this wish caused the separation, and you have projected it because you do not want the separation healed [i.e., individuality ended]. You realize that, by removing the dark cloud that obscures it, your love for your Father would impel you to answer His Call and leap into Heaven. You believe that attack is salvation because it would prevent you from this. For still deeper than the ego’s foundation, and much stronger that it will ever be, is your intense and burning love of God, and His for you.” (T-13.III.1). Truly choosing this intense and burning love will bring about the disappearance of the Universe. No wonder we’re in resistance, denial and projection!

So in A Course in Miracles, Jesus exposes the core of our mind’s madness: if I am truly honest about what’s most dear to me, it’s the intense longing to collectively return to God as His One Son. On the other hand, the great terror in my life is the prospect of death, that is, the end of my precious individual personality. So I spend my days “proving” to myself and everyone around me that focusing on personality issues is salvation, instead of focusing on Jesus’ message that individuality equals hell; literally. That’s why even Bill Thetford, “assistant scribe” to Helen Schucman, once found himself typing “You and your bother” instead of “You and your brother”. Jesus’ message is clearly an inconvenient teaching to our ego. You could reads snippets from A Course in Miracles for decades on end, without ever hearing Jesus’ message. Practicing A Course in Miracles requires, first, that we fully realize just how inconvenient Jesus’ teaching is to the ego, and then, second, learning to direct our mind’s thinking from the foundation of our “intense and burning love of God”, the only reality there is. So Krishnamurti’s appeal to his audience was very profound indeed: are you sure you want to listen to what this inconvenient teaching is really saying? Do I really want to pay attention to the meaning behind the phrase: “I am free. For I am still as God created me”…?

To conclude with some snippets of Jesus’ inconvenient teaching: “It should especially be noted that God has only one Son. If all His creations are His Sons, every one must be an integral part of the whole Sonship. The Sonship in its oneness transcends the sum of its parts” (T-2.VII.6). “We are creation; we the Sons of God. We seem to be discrete, and unaware of our eternal unity with Him. Yet back of all our doubts, past all our fears, there still is certainty. For love remains with all its Thoughts, its sureness being theirs. God’s memory is in our holy minds, which know their oneness and their unity with their Creator” (W-pII.11.4).


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:

buy-now-amazon-button