The choice not to be at peace

For spiritual awakening through A Course in Miracles, that is, consistently choosing right-minded thinking over wrong-minded thinking, we must both study the textbook and practice the lessons in the workbook. Only the experience of the peace promised in the textbook will keep us motivated to keep the awakening process ongoing. In the introduction to the workbook, Jesus explains: “The workbook is divided into two main sections, the first dealing with the undoing of the way you see now, and the second with the acquisition of true perception.” (W-in.3:1). While part I of the workbook focuses on having us realize that we really do not want the ego’s specialness, part II instructs us in how to ‘hear’ the guidance of Jesus (or the Holy Spirit) ever more clearly and more consistently choose unconditional love throughout the day.

Unfortunately, many students take this to mean that by the time they reach part II in the workbook, they ought not to be bothered too much by recurring ego thoughts any more. Lesson titles such as “Let every voice but God’s be still in me” (W-pII.254) and “This day I choose to spend in perfect peace” (W-pII.255) seem to assume that the student, having reached this point in the workbook, should be able to apply the instructions successfully. However, almost all ACIM students experience disappointment or frustration when they notice that most of the time during the day, they are hardly free of ego thoughts at all. Kenneth Wapnick cautions us against the understandable but hardly helpful defenses that often seem to follow, namely denying the ego thoughts or fighting them. In his commentary on lesson 254, Ken writes: “Crucial to his process [of forgiveness] is learning not to deny our ego thoughts, nor to try not to have them. Rather, we simply ask for help when they occur. […] This is not a course in denial or in pretending we have no ego thoughts.”

The problem is always in the mind, and the block is always some aspect of guilt, in this case guilt over apparently still having ego thoughts. It simply does not help to pretend you no longer have any ego thoughts, or that they should be stubbornly repressed. Rather, Jesus invites us to look at why we apparently still choose ego thoughts. It is helpful to remember that ego thoughts do not come to us unbidden: they are a deliberate choice. As long as I have ego thoughts, some part of my mind obviously still believes they will bring me something I desire. We must therefore honestly look at our motivation to keep harboring ego thoughts, before we can truly choose against the ego and to “choose to spend the day in perfect peace”. So why do we still choose ego thoughts in spite of our intellectual conviction we don’t want them any more? Why do we deliberately choose not to be at peace?

The answer is plain once you consider the metaphysical nondualistic foundation of A Course in Miracles. Everything outside non-duality is illusory. This includes everything in space and time; everything composed of matter, and everything that seems to be fragmented and autonomous. The ultimate result of choosing against the ego would be that my individual self will disappear. This is what terrifies me. Yes, I want the peace of God; but I want it as an individual. I want eternal peace, but I also want to remain autonomous. And I certainly do not want to be reminded of my decision to try autonomy (i.e., the separation, labeled sin by the ego), since this reminds me of a mountain of guilt [over the separation] I could never surmount (or so I believe). So I constantly find fault in externals and other people. I want to be upset and in pain, so I can prove I am an individual, but I am not to be held responsible for that. I’m innocent; others are evil. And so I gladly choose not to be at peace, as this is a great defense against accepting responsibility for the separation. Without such ego fuel, I would sooner or later have to admit that lasting inner peace is only possible in oneness, without individuality, without autonomy. Will I accept that? Never! Or so my ego shrieks.

The way out of this is, first, to realize that all upsets and pains are not thrust upon us; they are a deliberate choice to keep the separation ongoing. It is only once we strengthen our acceptance of the truth that what God Wills for His Son (namely, eternal peace in Oneness or nonduality), is in fact our own will, since we are the Son of God. So Jesus presents to us the ultimate decision: would you rather be like a tiny frightened mouse, roaring at the universe in senseless squeaks, proclaiming its omnipotence (T-22.V.4:3); or would you rather be at one with God, forever safe and at peace? While intellectually we would find this an easy question with an obvious answer, our subconscious ego survival drives are sufficiently powerful to cause great resistance in studying and practicing A Course in Miracles. This is why the experience of inner peace induced by diligently doing the workbook lessons, in spite of fear and resistance, is so extremely important. Our greatest need, therefore, is the skill to be able to objectively look at what’s going on, so we can make a better choice.

An untrained mind can accomplish nothing (W-pI.In.1). By training the mind through the textbook and workbook, the next time I notice I am not at peace, I can remind myself that the upset does not come from externals. Distress is a deliberate choice to keep the ‘threat’ of oneness away. A trained mind can realize that “I could see peace instead of this.” (W-pI.34). This is not denying you have ego thoughts, or trying to repress them. This is dismissing the ego as silly. You’re merely being honest, recognizing your power to make another choice. The next time you notice you are not at peace, quickly switch on the observer in your mind and say: “I must have decided wrongly, because I am not at peace. I made the decision myself, but I can also decide otherwise. I want to decide otherwise, because I want to be at peace. I do not feel guilty, because the Holy Spirit will undo all the consequences of my wrong decision if I will let Him. I choose to let Him, by allowing Him to decide for God for me.” (T-30.XII.6:9). If you truly let Him, feel the peace flow through your system and know that this course really works. How could it not, if you align your will with God’s Will for His Son?

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


Road rage as a classroom

What is your typical reaction when you are cut off on the highway? For many of us, it’s a combination of an initial moment of fright (after all, traffic casualties rank high on the list of death causes) and anger. Chances are that thoughts run through your mind such as: “How dare such foul people put others in danger? It’s one thing if they want to risk their own life, but they have no right to jeopardize mine! Is a little bit of decency on the road too much to ask? Show a little respect!” In short, attention is fully focused on the ‘perpetrator’, at least for a while, until the adrenaline level slowly drops again.

Few people realize that such reactions, though fully understandable, are primarily an attack on themselves, while it achieves nothing in changing or punishing the other. On the physical level, you would probably be surprised to see the amount of toxins you are ordering your brain to inject into your own bloodstream through shock and anger. Taking good care of your body does not go well with frequent high levels of adrenaline and cortisol. If you fully realized this chemical attack on your own body, you might be inclined to think twice before giving in to anger so quickly. Now you might say that the cortisol was caused by the driver in front of you and that it was not your own choice to do so. But is it?

A Course in Miracles teaches us that there is no world, and therefore no reason to get angry, but the Course wouldn’t be very helpful if it stopped at that. in A Course in Miracles, Jesus teaches us not to deny our feelings, but to train the mind to look at what we think is going on — from a distance, without judgment. To then include the important teaching that projection makes perception (T-13.V.3:5, provides a whole new frame of reference from which to evaluate fright and anger after being cut off on the highway. Your ‘demand’ that you be noticed and treated with respect, is apparently a projection of something else. As good Course students, we of course know what the ‘something else’ is: we demand to be seen and respected by God, which He keeps failing to do. “You were at peace until you asked for special favor. And God did not give it for the request was alien to Him, and you could not ask this of a Father Who truly loved His Son. Therefore you made of Him an unloving father, demanding of Him what only such a father could give” (T-13.III.10:2). And so everyone who doesn’t notice or respect us, we label as unloving.

Oftentimes, an additional projection is involved concerning other authority figures; usually parents. People who have been largely ignored by their parents tend to be upset much more quickly whenever friends and/or colleagues do not constantly provide them with attention and respect. Even this projection originates back to the ontological instant when we (seemingly) decided to try autonomy on our own and demanded of God that He acknowledge our existence, which of course He does not. The reality of truth is changeless, being without concepts, without differences, without something being aware of something else. The Son of God can dream of a will that is not in accord with the Will of His Creator, but the Son cannot make that into reality. “The mind can think it sleeps, but that is all. It cannot change what is its waking state.” (W-pI.167.6:1)

We stubbornly keep clinging on to this hallucinatory nightmare of seeming autonomy, until the pain gets too much. Remember the comforting quote from chapter 2: “Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit. Eventually everyone begins to recognize, however dimly, that there must be a better way. As this recognition becomes more firmly established, it becomes a turning point. This ultimately reawakens spiritual vision, simultaneously weakening the investment in physical sight.” (T-2.III.3:1) Many people can attest to this turning point, after having gone through an experience of hitting rock bottom physically, mentally, financially, socially or emotionally. In the case A Course in Miracles announces itself on their life path, they begin to realize that forgiveness is the better way. But they also begin to realize that forgiveness as Jesus teaches it means something quite different from what they used to think it means.

If you find yourself being cut off on the highway and you’ve trained your mind to quickly respond in the vein of: “Yes, you’ve cut me off, you bastard, but I will forgive you since I am obviously spiritually more advanced than you are, and I will not hurt myself because of what you did to me”, then you are merely fooling yourself. As Jesus explains in the psychotherapy pamphlet (included in A Course in Miracles from the third edition on), this is “forgiveness-to-destroy” (S.II.2). By valuing my own worthiness higher than yours, I am really saying that I’m worthy of God and you are not. Moreover, I am saying that I am in a position to judge who is worthy or not. Worse than that: I am still convinced there are others out there who are fundamentally different from my special glorious self. This is obviously not an ideal frame of mind to practice true forgiveness from.

“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.6:1). True forgiveness becomes possible only when I realize that everyone is the same Son of God, seeming behavioral perception to the contrary. If I can train my mind to see all behavior from this frame of spiritual vision, I can change the meaning of what I perceive, turning it into true perception: “He may be making no sense at the time, and it is certain that, if he is speaking [or acting] from the ego, he will not be making sense. But your task is still to tell him he is right. You do not tell him this verbally, if he is speaking [or acting] foolishly.  He needs correction at another level, because his error is at another level. He is still right, because he is a Son of God. His ego is always wrong, no matter what it says or does. If you point out the errors of your brother’s ego you must be seeing through yours, because the Holy Spirit does not perceive his errors.” (T-9.III.2:5).

Jesus’ teaching is not about making us feel guilty whenever we experience fright or anger every time we’re being cut off on the freeway because we’re still holding on to our belief in individual existence. Again, the beauty of A Course in Miracles as a spirituality is that it doesn’t ask us to deny our experiences in duality. Rather, it provides a very effective way to train our minds to find peace where we used to find pain, by regarding everything that happens as useful lessons in the classroom we call duality. So the next time I find myself cut off on the highway, I will not feel guilty over being shocked and/or angry, but I will get myself a bit quicker to the point where I can look at my emotions without judgment, and conclude: “Ah, there I go again. This goes to show just how attached I still am to my individual body and personality. That’s OK for now. I’m being offered a forgiveness lesson in the classroom of life.” In this classroom, we have a very helpful guide, called the Holy Spirit (you can also choose Jesus, as manifestation of the Holy Spirit). Ask him in by saying to yourself: “Dear Holy Spirit (or Jesus), please help me see this differently. Regardless of behavior, each seemingly separated Son of God shares the same Life, the same Identity. Help me to choose peace instead of pain. Please help me to learn this lesson truly.”

The choice to let go of judgment / condemnation is the invitation to the Holy Spirit. Why not try it next time you step into the car. Decide to be a happy learner of Jesus’ curriculum. Experience the inner peace each time you succeed in learning the lesson. Such a change of mind also reflects itself in the body, since the quality of the chemicals in your bloodstream will be much better. And should you fail to learn the lesson today, you can at least reinforce your desire to try again next time, since you now realize the pain of judgment doesn’t serve anything anymore. This is a curriculum that you simply cannot fail to master. The only ‘freedom’ lies in the time you take to complete it. “The acceptance of the Atonement by everyone is only a matter of time. This may appear to contradict free will because of the inevitability of the final decision, but this is not so. You can temporize and you are capable of enormous procrastination… but the outcome is as certain as God (T.2.III.3:1).” So why wait any longer?

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


Relinquishment, depression and trust

Almost all seriously committed students of A Course in Miracles at several points in their practice encounter what might be summarized as disappointment. The seeming simplicity of Jesus’ plea to see no separate interests, to offer lilies to our brother where we tended to offer thorns, in the realization that no-one and nothing outside of us has any power over us if we so choose, turns out to be not so easy after all. Can you recall the last time you caught yourself in ego mode because something happened, or someone did something that was totally unacceptable? No matter how many times I vow to be more right-minded next time, sometimes it seems my spiritual progress is so slow that I’ll probably need a dozen more lives before I’ll truly make the choice that Jesus made. It may be a valuable insight to learn that I’m much, much more intensely attached to my little self than I thought possible, but the experience is one of disappointment, not of joy.

A Course in Miracles is not primarily a course about love; it’s a course about undoing the barriers we have built within ourselves against it (T-16.IV.6). These are not barriers that were unwillingly thrust upon us. We deliberately raised them ourselves, in an insane attempt to usurp the place of our Creator; to shut out God forever and rule our own little universe. Since we projected our guilt over this attack, we expect and experience attack all the time. Amidst our ongoing search for total happiness in our tiny little kingdom (which of course we never find), pain is never far away. Rather than trying to minimize pain (at which we have become very skilled), Jesus invites us to honestly look at the worthlessness of what we are hallucinating about, and choose the ‘better way’, as Bill Thetford and Helen Schucman decided in 1965, thereby inviting Jesus’ curriculum to come across.

Jesus in A Course in Miracles asks us to relinquish everything that up to now we thought we held dear. Step by step, we are taught that we really cannot tell the difference between the valuable and the valueless (W-pI.133). “Seek not outside yourself. For it will fail, and you will weep each time an idol falls”, we read in (T-29.VII.1). Patiently, Jesus invites us to shift figure and ground: all our possessions, passions, and special love-hate relationships that we focused on most of the time will not bring us peace, and so should recede to the background. Our deeply buried, but still fiercely burning desire for the love of God, expressed by perceiving everyone in the same loving, non-judgmental way, should be foremost in the mind during any day. Jesus promises us this is the way to the inner peace of the ‘real world’ wherein we choose not to hold on to “one dark spot in the mind to hide the face of Christ from anyone” (T-31.VIII.12:5). The real world is the gateway to Heaven, our Home. According to Jesus, at the end of this ‘journey without distance’ we will “disappear, not to be lost but found; not to be seen, but known” (T-19.IV-D.19:1).

Can we imagine what Heaven (which is “not a place, nor a condition, but merely an awareness of perfect Oneness”, T-18.VI.1:4) is like? No, our linearly programmed brains cannot picture this. Jesus makes one attempt in (W-pI.107.2): “Try to remember when there was a time, perhaps a minute, maybe even less – when nothing came to interrupt your peace; when you were certain you were loved and safe. Then try to picture what it would be like to have that moment be extended to the end of time and to eternity. Then let the sense of quiet that you felt be multiplied a hundred times, and then be multiplied another hundred more. And now you have a hint, not more than just the faintest intimation of the state your mind will rest in when the truth has come.” That’s all very nice, but the ‘price’ to pay for this is the relinquishment of all that I hold dear. Am I willing to pay that price? If I am truly honest, my answer is still “no”: I still prefer my own idols in duality, painful though it may feel at times.

If I feel Jesus takes away everything I hold dear, with only vague promises of something better, I will not be motivated to follow through on his course. Depression is likely to result. To fuel my motivation, a much deeper desire needs awakening and brought into awareness. The challenge Jesus faces as a teacher is that this deeper desire seems so terribly abstract. The ego has no difficulty in luring us back into the concrete world of petty wishes to continue to seek (and not find) fulfillment in time and space. This is why Jesus gave us a Manual for teachersan important part of which is about developing trust. We need complete trust in Jesus to be able to take on our role as Teacher of God, one who exemplifies and demonstrates, in the dream, the right-minded way of living from day to day. Again, if I am to follow Jesus’ advice and relinquish all that I hold dear in exchange for something vague, I will only do this if I fully trust him and his message.

How does Jesus guide us in developing the trust we need, to feel motivated to follow through on his Course? First, by emphasizing that trust is not about intellectual understanding, but about experience: “The teachers of God have trust in the world, because they have learned it is not governed by the laws the world made up. It is governed by a power that is in them but not of them. […] It is through this power that the teachers of God look on a forgiven world. When this power has once been experienced, it is impossible to trust one’s own petty strength again.” (M-4.I.1:4) Jesus then proceeds to describe the stages that induce students to “make the shift” in figure and ground, as mentioned above. The development of complete trust happens in stages. These are not strictly linear or sequential. They express the general path or process of how the experience of the relinquishment of idols turns from painful to grateful. Let’s briefly review these stages.

Jesus describes the first stage as a period of undoing. Although spiritually attentive, we are still deeply affected by what seems to be loss – a loved one’s death, illness, war, you name it. “It seems as if things are being taken away, and it is rarely understood that their lack of value is merely being recognized. […] The plan will sometimes call for changes in what seem to be external circumstances. These changes are always helpful.” (M-4.I.3) The lesson in this stage, therefore, is to accept that all changes can be seen as helpful, if we look at them properly. This is where the course’s metaphysics enter the stage, which bring us in a position to sort out the valuable from the valueless (stage 2). “Valueless” is everything that keeps us rooted in the dreamworld of time and space; “valuable” is anything that helps us end our identification with the ego’s dream world. And so we learn to re-evaluate the body with which identify so deeply, although we still cannot picture, let alone experience, what our reality as spirit is like.

In stage 3, “a period of relinquishment”, we tend to define relinquishment as ‘giving up the desirable’. “Few teachers of God escape this distress entirely. […] The period […] is apt to be one in which the teacher of God feels called to sacrifice his own best interests on behalf of truth.” (M-4.I.5). This is an all too-familiar feeling for most students of A Course in Miracles.  In the workbook lessons, we are urged to practice the exercises in spite of this obvious resistance: “You need not believe the ideas, you need not accept them, and you need not even welcome them. Some of them you may actively resist. None of this will matter, or decrease their efficacy. But do not allow yourself to make exceptions in applying the ideas the workbook contains, and whatever your reactions to the ideas may be, use them.” ( The major eyeopener is that by doing so, contradictory to what we expected, we find inner peace: “Through this [following through] he learns that where he anticipated grief, he finds a happy lightheartedness instead; where he thought something was asked of him, he finds a gift bestowed on him.” (M-4.I.5:8) Perhaps you recognize the feeling of peace that enveloped you once you really let go of something you previously felt attached to but now realize it really doesn’t matter. This course really does work!

This hails stage 4, “a period of settling down”. Through this experience, we come to see what is truly valuable. “Its potential is literally staggering, and the teacher of God is now at the point in his progress at which he sees in it his whole way out. ‘Give up what you do not want, and keep what you do.’ How simple is the obvious! And how easy to do!” (M-4.I.6). Inevitably, though, we now come to realize that we still hold on to our desire to be an individual. Now we slowly become ready for a new level of understanding about what is valuable and what is not. As Kenneth Wapnick frequently pointed out, A Course in Miracles is not about bolstering our sense of self, or becoming a happier person. The personality we think we are is inherently valueless. What is valuable is learning to truly relinquish the ego, which means letting go of all judgment. At first, this can be a deeply depressing stage, sometimes known as “the dark night of the soul”, because the true nature of our Identity as spirit is still so abstract. However, the experience of inner peace that comes through diligently doing the workbook lessons reinforces our trust. As Jesus comments: “Were not each step in this direction so heavily reinforced, it would be hard indeed.” (M-4.I.7:9). This experience of peace results in a tranquility that is the final stage of the development of trust. It is this trust that allows me to relinquish my cherished special idols and personality without becoming too depressed all the time. To conclude: keep practicing the workbook lessons daily, not just for a year but for the rest of your life. By their fruits shall ye know the inner peace which proves that trust in Jesus’ guidance is fully justified.

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


A kingdom to rule

One of the more cherished cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach is Bwv.82 (written in 1727), titled “Ich habe genug”, which translates to “I have enough”, in the sense of “I am content”. It is not a glorious choral hymn proclaiming praise to Heaven. On the contrary, it is a rather personal and introspective composition, as if sitting by the fireside, contemplating life. The singer concludes “I have enough” because he has Jesus the Savior to guide his life, which is really all he needs. At the end of the cantata, the singer even concludes that because of this, physical death doesn’t matter anymore.

The subconscious ego, however, does not agree with this statement at all. “Don’t be ridiculous”, we hear that persistent angry voice arguing, “there’s lack of just about everything. Consider: day in, day out, we work so hard, and yet there’s barely enough money to get food and shelter. But apart from such superficial necessities, the real lack is much worse. Don’t you feel incomplete and unfulfilled all the time? All these so-called friends of ours, they stole the priceless pearl that would make us complete! They stole our innocence and autonomy by attacking us unjustified, taking from us what they fear would be lacking in them! So, regrettably, they force us to do the same! No matter how loving we try to be, we’ll be betrayed sooner or later. Stop fooling yourself that you have enough; to secure peace is to prepare for war. This is the fate of everyone’s life. Now get back to work, you slave!”

A Course in Miracles offers genuine release from this ‘battleground’ by teaching us how to lift our consciousness above the battleground, and see it for what it truly is. Workbook lesson 236 aptly summarizes this by its title: “I rule my mind, which I alone must rule.” In this lesson, Jesus would have us say to ourselves: “I have a kingdom to rule. At times, it does not seem I am its king at all. It seems to triumph over me, and tell me what to think, and what to do and feel.” You and I probably agree there’s not a soul in the world to be found who does not recognize this experience. And then Jesus continues with the good news:  “And yet it has been given me to serve whatever purpose I perceive in it.” (W-pII.236.1).

For any spiritual aspirant, it is life-changing to not only learn about the power of the mind, but to accept that the quality of life depends so much on the quality of the choices we make in our minds. A Course in Miracles takes this to the max in workbook lesson 253, wherein Jesus would have us say to ourselves: “It is impossible that anything should come to be unbidden by myself. Even in this world It is I who rule my destiny. What happens is what I desire. What does not occur is what I do not want to happen. This I must accept.” (W-pII.253.1). As good Course students, we know that Jesus refers here to content, not form. Of course we’re not directly responsible for, say, a devastating earthquake to hit the fault line; but we are responsible for the measure of inner peace in our minds, or the lack of it. No one and nothing has the power to bring us pain, sorrow, happiness or peace. We must accept such states of mind as our own responsibility.

One of the unique characteristics of A Course in Miracles as a spirituality is its consistent reasoning of why events in the world are inherently irrelevant to our state of mind: this is because there is no world! (W-pI.132.6.2). Perception is not truth. The ego would have us convince that this is a ridiculous thought because, after all, our sensory organs instruct us otherwise. Wouldn’t it be foolish to deny what our eyes behold? And should your toe hit a rock, who would maintain that the pain is not real? It is only in recent scientific experiments with near-death experiences, survivors of which tell the most baffling stories of their ‘dead’ time in between, when their brain had no clinical activity whatsoever anymore, that we open up to the possibility that mind and brain are not the same. Moreover, new theories such as quantum physics clearly argue that ultimately, time and space are unreal. However, this is too inconvenient for most of us to accept.

Why is it too inconvenient? Because it points to the way out of the hell of clinging to the ‘old rugged cross’ of the ego, which we think is our identity. The entire physical universe is a seeming hallucination about autonomy and separation from God the Creator. It is the ‘quantum possibility’ of the Son pondering the scenario that God’s Love is not enough; that he could do a better job on his own. The entire fourteen billion years since the Big Bang are nothing more than a film in which this ‘quantum possibility’ is played out. Tragically, since the triggering mechanism of this scenario is ‘rejection, attack and separation’, this is what drives the entire dream of time and space. Outside time and space, nothing at all happened to disturb the peace of God and his Creations (W-pII.234.1). And now we have A Course in Miracles, wherein Jesus comforts us in our pain by explaining that “This need not be” (T-4.IV.3). Our mind is powerful enough to decide to look at that silly movie from above the battleground, realize its nothingness, and then choose a much better way.

Kenneth Wapnick often emphasized in his books and workshops how important it is to learn to realize that you and I are a decision maker. Most of the time in A Course in Miracles, when Jesus contrasts the ego with the Holy Spirit’s message, he addresses us as a decision maker; he invites us to decide to make a better choice just has he once did: “There is nothing about me that you cannot attain. I have nothing that does not come from God. The difference between us now is that I have nothing else [i.e., nothing else but unconditional Love]. This leaves me in a state which is only potential in you.” (T-1.II.3). The implication of this teaching is that I have been confused up to now about what my true will is. The ego is the attempt to have a will separate from the Will of God, but this is only (seemingly!) possible in the feverish nightmare we call time and space. If I am truly honest with myself, I must admit that this ‘experiment’ really does not work. In spite of my feverish wish to try autonomy, my will remains forever at one with the Will of my Creator: Unconditional Love. This is my will because this is what I am. In reality, the kingdom of my mind is at one with the Kingdom of Heaven, since in reality there is nothing outside Heaven.

In Chapter 6, Jesus confirms this notion: “No darkness abides anywhere in the Kingdom; your part is only to allow no darkness to abide in your own mind. This alignment with light is unlimited, because it is in alignment with the light of the world. Each of us is the light of the world, and by joining our minds in this light we proclaim the Kingdom of God together and as one.” (T-6.II.13:3). So indeed, I do have a kingdom to rule. Fortunately,  ruling this kingdom is easy if I choose the Holy Spirit as my royal adviser. As the king of my mind, it is given me to stand above the battleground of time and space, look non-judgmentally at what’s happening, and then give all perceived pain over to Jesus (or the Holy Spirit), thus purifying my mind. Inner peace is what remains.

We can still expect a devastating earthquake to hit the fault line sooner or later. We will no doubt be confronted with people who will let us down. The physical body will most certainly deteriorate and die. All this doesn’t matter anymore once I come to accept the fact that I am the sole ruler of the state of my mind. “If you think what you have made can tell you what you see and feel, and place your faith in its ability to do so, you are denying your Creator and believing that you made yourself. For if you think the world you made has any power to make you what it wills, you are confusing Son and Father, effect and Source.” (T-21.II.11:3). Let us be grateful that this is so, and then start a new day in the world, knowing we experience ourselves in it, but are not of it. Following the Holy Spirit’s advice, we forgive where we used to condemn. This is the royal road to inner peace! Hail yourself as the king of your own mind. Rule your kingdom wisely, your Majesty. You and I indeed do have enough, since we have Jesus and the Holy Spirit to guide us.

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


False Evidence that Appears Real

Have you ever made a top-5 list of your worst fears? Although the list is different for everyone, things that are usually high on the list are: being confronted with a terminal disease; a loss of income; a nature catastrophe such as an earthquake or flooding; or being abandoned by that special love partner you depend on so much. In Holland there’s a saying that man suffers most from fears that in his lifetime never manifest. Moreover, many personal development programs teach us that we’re not as helpless as we sometimes think we are. We can do much in our lives to minimize the risk of most of our fears actually materializing.

A Course in Miracles discusses the theme of fear on various deeper levels. For one, we are told that there are only two basic emotions: love and fear (T-13.V.1). Jesus of course speaks in terms of content. There are many forms of emotions, but in content there are only two; only one of which is real. Right at the Introduction of the textbook, Jesus tells us that “The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite.” At first, that’s pretty hard to swallow. After all, our fears feel very real. (T-in.1:8). In Chapter 13 Jesus says: “You have but two emotions; one you made [fear] and one was given you [love]” (T-13.V.10:1). In A Course in Miracles, the verb “making” almost always refers to illusions in the dream world of time and space. Since this entire physical world is an ego defense against love, it is made up entirely of fear. Since this fear feels so real, the Course’s main thrust is to help train the mind to let fear be undone, guided by the Holy Spirit, the Voice for Love. Great news, but the fear still feels very real… so what to do?

To undo fear, I must first understand why I am so fearful, and what exactly the fear is about. This is a process of peeling off layers. Studying A Course in Miracles, I come to realize that my fear of a terminal disease, or loss of income, or abandonment by a loved one are only shadows of a much deeper fear. Beneath this surface layer seems to boil a black cauldron of guilt — over having abandoned my Creator by attempting a life apart from Him. The ego is quite literally the thought of separation from Oneness. The ‘cardinal sin’ of separating from Unconditional Love (an apt synonym for God) must result in insurmountable guilt – it’s the most terrible thing imaginable. No wonder this guilt leads to fear of retaliation by a most vengeful Creator, who is obviously fully justified in punishing me. That’s quite a fearful situation I find myself in…!

Most of us are unaware of how many activities in our lives are aimed at pleasing some authority figure, hoping we won’t be punished. Many people suffer needlessly for years on end, just to prove that they do deserve mercy and should not be punished, since they already pay by punishing themselves. Also, we are very skilled in pointing at the “evil” outside of us, again to prove that others are sinful, but I am an innocent victim of forces beyond my control, so others should be punished; I rightfully deserve my place in Heaven. Each of these cases of course exemplifies the dynamic of projection: I feel guilty over having rejected God, but since I cannot tolerate this guilt, I project it out and see rejection and evil outside of me (including in God), which I subsequently fear so much. My fears about illness or money are nothing compared to this.

However, when we are ready to peel off another psychological layer, Jesus has a surprise in store for his students: this projected fear of attack is nothing compared to the fear of what lies beneath. “You could look even upon the ego’s darkest cornerstone without fear if you did not believe that, without the ego, you find within yourself something you fear even more. You are not really afraid of crucifixion. Your real terror is of redemption.” (T-13.III.1). Now at this point many an eyebrow is raised, to say the least. This, after all, seems ridiculous. Would I really be fearful of being told that I am loved by my Creator for ever and ever? Yet Jesus continues: “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. For this wish caused the separation, and you have protected it because you do not want the separation healed.” (T-13.III.2)

Now hold it for a second. What does Jesus mean by “I do not want the separation healed”? As a good Course in Miracles student, are not all my efforts aimed at healing the separation, by diligently looking at my unforgiving thoughts, and then choosing separation no more? The answer is: no, not as long as I still see myself and everyone around me as distinct individuals. This is where the nondualistic metaphysics of A Course in Miracles are so important to understand in some depth. The above sentence really reads: “You protect it [the separation] because you do not want individuality ended.” Our fear of redemption is our fear of Oneness, the negation of individuality. No matter how spiritually oriented I may have become, I obviously still regard myself as a body, separate from all other living things. As long as you and I still choose to remain asleep in time and space, the concept of a “Oneness joined as One” is meaningless to us (T-25.I.7). I believe I’d vanish into oblivion if I really gave up my individuality. To the ego, this would be hell. In reality, it is Heaven. So, again: what to do?

The message of Jesus’ curriculum is not to end the body by committing suicide. After all, (self-)attack only leads to more guilt, postponing the undoing of time and space a little longer (i.e., you’ll have one more re-incarnation to go through before you choose the ‘better way’). Instead, if I’m serious about the goal of attaining lasting inner peace, I should train my mind to undo the various psychological layers of fear. To this end, I must accept the metaphysical principles of nonduality to some degree. I do not have to fully fathom the principles of metaphysics (as this is virtually impossible while we think we live in time and space, with a linearly programmed brain), but I should be willing to accept that there is something much better than individuality. Two quotes that might be helpful in this regard: “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.6:1). And from the workbook: “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.11.4:1-5).” To the ego that’s the worst possible news.

Going through Jesus’ curriculum, we can slowly realize, without becoming overwhelmed by guilt, the simple truth of statements such as these: “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. For you believe that magnitude lies in defiance and that attack is grandeur. You think you have made a world which God would destroy; and by loving Him, which you do,you would throw this world away, which you would. […] You can accept insanity [fear] because you made it, but you cannot accept love, because you did not. You would rather be slaves of the crucifixion than Sons of God in redemption. […] You are more afraid of God than of the ego, and love cannot enter where it is not welcome.” (T-13.III.5)

Since fear is strictly of our own making, it is also in our power to completely undo it; or, rather, have it be undone for us. How? You guessed it: forgiveness, the central theme of A Course in Miracles. Forgiveness — not of what I think others did to me, but forgiveness of what they have not done to me, since all evil outside of me is only a projection of my own unforgiving thoughts. In the same vein, I forgive myself (as mind) for what I have not done, since the separation never happened in reality, as time and space are illusory. In (T-1:VI.5), we read: “Perfect love casts out fear. If fear exists, then there is not perfect love. But: Only perfect love exists. If there is fear, It produces a state that does not exist.”

The trick is not to deny feelings of fear, but to practice the workbook lessons and thus condition the mind to give new meaning to these feelings. Yes, I’m still choosing to perceive a dream world of time and space, but I can do so right-mindedly, from an attitude of forgiveness. I realize that FEAR is an acronym for “False Evidence that Appears Real”. In the Psychotherapy pamphlet, we read: “No one in this world escapes fear, but everyone can reconsider its causes and learn to evaluate them correctly. God has given everyone a Teacher Whose wisdom and help far exceed whatever contributions an earthly therapist can provide.” (P–1.1:3) By non-judgmentally looking at all my unforgiving thoughts and giving them over to Jesus (or the Holy Spirit), the guilt that fuels all this fear is undone. And you know what? Worries over income, disease, earthquakes or personal rejection silently float to the background of the mind, because it doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is that I can choose to be a happy learner of this curriculum, knowing that in reality we are already safe at home anyway. The world of fear becomes a classroom of forgiveness, in which it is given me to let miracles of healing work through me.

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