Goodbye gargantuan God

What do you associate with the word “God”? Since the brain functions spatially, most of us cannot help but visualizing some kind of image. And more often than not, this image is sort of hominoid. For several millennia, God has been pictured as a giant omnipotent king who perceives and judges every single act in the universe. The French philosopher Voltaire once remarked: “God made man in his own image, and then man returned the favor.” Even if you don’t picture something anthropomorphic, there’s still bound to be some cosmic image of stars or light. In A Course in Miracles, Jesus tells 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 need to visualize something externally is the problem, Jesus would say. By attempting to construe any image of God, we are really attempting to bring God into this illusory world of time and space. This is not the way to reach God. The metaphysical foundation of A Course in Miracles is that nonduality (“not-two”) is the only reality. Everything we perceive in time and space is an illusion the seemingly sleeping Son of God made up as a means to hide from a perceived vengeful Creator, intent on punishing us for our savage sin of leaving Him. To be sure, even in A Course in Miracles God is often depicted as some being Who is “lonely without His children” (T-2.III.5:11), Who gives us the Holy Spirit to bring us back Home (T-5.II.2:5), and Who even has tear ducts since He apparently weeps for His children (T-5.VII.4:5).

However, as Kenneth Wapnick remarked, this must be seen as the pedagogical wisdom of Jesus, who needs to meet his students where they believe they are, that is, in the world of time and space. To motivate us, Jesus needs to use the language that we are capable of understanding now. As we progress, we will be able to understand truth more and more: “A miracle (i.e., an expression of love) […] must be expressed in a language that the recipient can understand without fear. This does not necessarily mean that this is the highest level of communication of which he is capable. It does mean, however, that it is the highest level of communication of which he is capable now.” (T-2.IV.5:3) So Jesus uses symbols and metaphors that we can recognize in our current state of mind. It would be a mistake, however, to take these symbols as literal truth only because of our mind conditioning of the past millennia.

So what is God, then, and why would we make a punishing image of our Creator if we profess that we love Him? Well, to answer the first question, we are invited in A Course in Miracles to accept an entirely different image of our own self. The one-line summary of this message is: “God is but love, and therefore so am I.” (cf. W-pI.177) In chapter 28 we read: “This world was over long ago. The thoughts that made it are no longer in the mind that thought of them and loved them for a little while.” (T-28.I.1:6). Although our brains cannot really picture a state without form or concept, this is exactly Jesus’ message: you and I are a holographic part of the same pure spirit that abides eternally and changelessly in God, who is literally love, and only love. The world you and I think we can achieve meaningful things in such as saving the climate, is only an “afterimage” (Ken Wapnick’s term) of the time-space dream that is already over. Once we embrace our true Identity as spirit of pure Love, this entire dream world of time and space will simply vanish, forever to be forgotten in eternity, since it never really existed anyway.

Many can at least intellectually follow such reasoning to some degree, especially if you’re into spirituality or quantum physics. At the same time, this is the source of our deepest fear: to disappear entirely as an individual. “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. … 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. … And it is this that frightens you. (T-13.III.4:1) I know I often quote this line, and I think it cannot be repeated too often. It is this realization that our ego feverishly attempts to hide from the mind, for this heralds the end of the ego itself, with which we identify so fervently.

The ego part of our mind obviously shrieks that a state of pure spirit without time and space is preposterous. And we should never underestimate the vicious cleverness of the ego. After all, the ego reasons: “Isn’t it foolhardy to be in denial of the pain you constantly experience within you and without you? You can paint pink scenes of blissfulness, but in the end you inevitably deteriorate and die. Oh, and before that, you’re gonna experience a load of loneliness, doubts and fears, no matter how diligently you try to hide your head in the sand. And this ‘God’ of yours won’t help you here. He’ll judge you when you die, but don’t expect any salvation from him. Ha!” Indeed, as long as we identify with our body, this seems a veritable description of life. However, once we experience the inner peace of our expressions of love (i..e, miracles), we’ll have more and more moments in which we realize that we are not a body. We are spirit. “God is but love, and therefore so am I.”

Try to lighten the load in your mind about all the little worries in your life. It doesn’t matter if you are delayed in a traffic jam. It doesn’t matter if people seem to treat you unfairly. It doesn’t matter if the stock market plummets. It doesn’t matter if your partner leaves you. It doesn’t matter that your body decays and dies. You’ve probably gone through hundreds or thousands of lives (incarnations) of such fleeting, changing experiences. None of these matter for salvation. What matters is forgiveness — of your brother, and therefore ultimately of yourself, since everything around you is a projection of a part of you. Realize that you experience yourself in this world, but you are not of it. Learn to forgive where you used to condemn. Become a happy learner of the Holy Spirit, and you’ll experience the reflection of God’s law of love in this world. “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.” (M-4.I.1:4). This is the power of Love (= God = nonduality), in which you and I are already at Home, even though we are usually not aware of that.

Accept the help of the Holy Spirit to make you fully aware of this shabby substitute for Love that we made, and allow him to change his mind for you. God (= Love) will dawn on your mind. At the end of your journey of awakening, Jesus assures us that “Together we will disappear into the Presence beyond the veil, not to be lost but found; not to be seen, but known” (T-19.IV-D.19:1). Please do take your time for this learning process. Patience is an important characteristic of a teacher of God. As we read in lesson 184: “It would indeed be strange if you were asked to go beyond all symbols of the world, forgetting them forever; yet were asked to take a teaching function. You have need to use the symbols of the world a while. But be you not deceived by them as well. They do not stand for anything at all, and in your practicing it is this thought that will release you from them. They become but means by which you can communicate in ways the world can understand, but which you recognize is not the unity where true communication can be found.

Thus what you need are intervals each day in which the learning of the world becomes a transitory phase; a prison house from which you go into the sunlight and forget the darkness. Here you understand the Word, the Name which God has given you; the one Identity which all things share; the one acknowledgment of what is true. And then step back to darkness, not because you think it real, but only to proclaim its unreality in terms which still have meaning in the world that darkness rules. Use all the little names and symbols which delineate the world of darkness. Yet accept them not as your reality. The Holy Spirit uses all of them, but He does not forget creation has one Name, one meaning, and a single Source which unifies all things within Itself. Use all the names the world bestows on them but for convenience, yet do not forget they share the Name of God along with you. God has no name. And yet His Name (i.e., expressing Love) becomes the final lesson that all things are one, and at this lesson does all learning end.” (W-pI.184)

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 recipe for inner peace

Many first-time readers of A Course in Miracles notice how each chapter in the text seems to say more or less the same thing. As you progress in your study, it becomes clear that Jesus indeed presents the same message in each chapter. He just says it a little different each time, and structures these variations as a symphony. Remember, repetition is the mother of skill. One particularly lovely summary of the Course’s message, I think, is given in workbook lessons 281 through 284. The titles of the lessons proceed as follows: (281) “I can be hurt by nothing but my thoughts.” Therefore, (282) “I will not be afraid of love today.” This I can do safely, for (283) “My true Identity abides in You [i.e., God]”. Therefore, (284) “I can elect to change all thoughts that hurt.” It’s a recipe for inner peace, one that can be applied daily, in any circumstance or event. How do these four steps work? How does this bring the inner peace I want so much?

Although the first title, “I can be hurt by nothing but my thoughts”, is a key principle in many spiritualities, this does not seem to be case at all as long as I experience myself as a body in a dangerous world. After all, I could wind up in a wheelchair for life if someone hits me in a car accident. Therefore, Jesus begins this lesson with a prayer, reminding us that we are not bodies: “When I think that I am hurt in any way, it is because I have forgotten who I am, and that I am as You created me.” (W-pII.281.1:2). This ‘hurt’ also applies to verbal attacks and thoughts. If someone deliberately insults me, it is up to me, and only me, to decide whether or not that attack will have any effect on my state of mind. Remember workbook lesson 34: “I could see peace instead of this”.  This is true because you and I are pure spirit, already safe at Home with God. Any hurt that I perceive, internal or external, is a projection of my foolish wish to be separate from God and prove that it succeeded. A large part of A Course in Miracles is devoted to have us realize this, and then invite us to choose “a better way”, to recall Bill Thetford’s famous words which ignited the process of Helen’s scribing in 1965.

Choosing this ‘better way’ means we realize at last that God’s nondualistic love does not mean annihilation into oblivion: it means everlasting peace. Thus Jesus urges us in lesson 282: “I will not be afraid of love today.” In Chapter 13 Jesus explains that we may not like pain and death (summarized by the symbol of crucifixion), but this is nothing compared to our fear of God’s Love: “You are not really afraid of crucifixion. Your real terror is of redemption” (T-13.III.1:10-11). A little further on Jesus explains why this is so: “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. […] 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. […] And it is this that frightens you.” (T-13.III.4:1-3,5). In A Course in Miracles, Jesus unmasks this ego defense against God’s Love by showing that “God is but love, and therefore so am I.” (W-pI.173).

By practicing the workbook lessons I can experience the reflection of God’s Law of Love at work in my earthly life. This strengthens my conviction that I am indeed not a body, but pure spirit: “He will speak to you, reminding you that you are spirit, one with Him and God, your brothers and your Self. Listen for His assurance every time you speak the words He offers you today, and let Him tell your mind that they are true.” (W-pI.97.8:2). Therefore, through our experience of the reflection of God’s Love, we can indeed subscribe to Lesson 283 which teaches that “My true Identity abides in You.” Jesus begins this lesson with a prayer: “Father, I made an image of myself [i.e., a separated body], and it is this I call the Son of God. Yet is creation as it always was, for Your creation is unchangeable. Let me not worship idols. I am he my Father loves.” In this prayer, ‘idols’ is just about anything in time and space that we feel is valuable, especially the body, and the “he my Father loves” is the Son of God — as spirit, which in our dream of time and space we experience as separated beings, who are nonetheless united in spirit as one.

Workbook lesson 96 concludes: “If you are spirit, then the body must be meaningless to your reality”. The willingness to gradually accept this is a prerequisite for truly applying lesson 284: “I can elect to change all thoughts that hurt.” Or, again quoting workbook lesson 34: “I could see peace instead of this.” This certainly does not seem to be the case in the world where we perceive sickness, starvation, poverty, war, and death. Jesus remarks that we can laugh at these things (W-pI.187.6:4) , not out of malicious pleasure, but because this is merely the silliness that we invented to ‘prove’ that the separation from God was actually accomplished. I can elect to change all thoughts that hurt because “All things are lessons God would have me learn.” (W-pI.193) If I see myself as a ‘happy learner’ in the classroom of love that the Holy Spirit offers me, I can indeed see peace instead of malice.

Of course, Jesus knows very well that no-one switches the button in his mind in an instant (although theoretically we could). Instant enlightenment is rare indeed! Therefore, in lesson 284 Jesus comforts us: “This is the truth, at first to be but said and then repeated many times [many, many, many times, as Ken Wapnick remarked]; and next to be accepted as but partly true, with many reservations. Then to be considered seriously more and more, and finally accepted as the truth.” (W-pII.284.1:5). The pearl here is that once I can accept the message of these four lessons, I can see everything I think and experience in my life as helpful in learning Jesus’ curriculum of love. Jesus mentions in the Manual for Teachers that… “The plan will sometimes call for changes in what seem to be external circumstances. These changes are always helpful.” (M-4.I.A.1). To most of us these are often not experienced as helpful, but as a happy learner I can reinterpret all circumstances as helpful.

What reason is there left, then, to feel anxious, angry or depressed, when I realize that (a) I can be hurt by nothing but my thoughts”, (b) “I need not be afraid of love today”, for (c) “my true Identity abides in You”, and therefore (d) “I can elect to change all thoughts that hurt”? Any time you are tempted to judge (i.e., condemn), quickly step back and ask yourself: “Who walks with me?” Jesus stresses that “…This question should be asked a thousand times a day” (W-pI.156.8). If you feel you lack inner peace, you can be sure the ego walks with you, and you have pushed Jesus in the gutter. Recalling the four lesson titles today can help you to more quickly change your mind and take Jesus’ hand again. Be not afraid of love today! As you and I are the same pure spirit in essence, You and I can be hurt by nothing but our own thoughts.

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


You teach what you want to believe

If you think about the teachers you’ve known in your childhood days, you probably don’t remember which topic they taught at what moment. But you no doubt remember which teachers radiated stability and kindness, and which ones were prone to anger or anxiety. In other words, we usually remember very well how they taught. Many of us can remember a particularly wise teacher who may have contributed significantly to our own self-image and how we meet the world.

In A Course in Miracles, Jesus defines ‘teaching’ quite differently from how we usually see it. In the introduction to the Manual for teachers, Jesus explains: “Teaching is a constant process; it goes on every moment of the day, and continues into sleeping thoughts as well. To teach is to demonstrate. […] From your demonstration others learn, and so do you. The question is not whether you will teach, for in that there is no choice. […] Teaching is but a call to witnesses to attest to what you believe. […] To this the verbal content of your teaching is quite irrelevant. It may coincide with it, or it may not. […] Teaching but reinforces what you believe about yourself.” (M-In.2:1;3:2-7).

In this view, teaching and learning are not special activities in which a pupil and a teacher engage only a short period of time. Everyone teaches all the time. If teaching is “a call to witnesses to attest to what you believe”, then at every meeting, at every gathering, at every party, even in every casual encounter you and I are constantly teaching and learning, even if we don’t regard it that way. So why do we do this? We demonstrate to emphasize what we think is important and true. Jesus emphasizes that teaching “is a method of conversion” (M-In.2:8). Whatever I say to you is therefore a demonstration of what I believe is important and true; and of course I want you to reciprocate.

Jesus, moreover, reminds us that anything we demonstrate to others we also demonstrate to ourselves, since in reality there is no-one else out there — everyone we meet is a projection of some part of the mind. “You cannot give to someone else, but only to yourself. […] Teaching but reinforces what you believe about yourself. Its fundamental purpose is to diminish self-doubt.” (M-In.3:7-8) In other words, any interaction I have with you serves to affirm to myself my beliefs about what the world is, about what I am, and what you are to me. (M-In.2:9). Cognitive topics are quite irrelevant in this process. It’s all about what I want to believe is true. Since A Course in Miracles emphasizes that there are only two thought systems, I therefore continually teach and learn either the ego’s thought system of specialness, or the Holy Spirit’s thought system of sameness.

Kenneth Wapnick in his workshops often used the metaphor of a dance floor to describe the thought system of the ego. Since the goal of the ego is to demonstrate that separation and differences are true and desirable, I constantly invite you on this “dance floor of specialness” to demonstrate that you and I differ a great deal, and that this is great, since this clearly affirms our uniqueness. It’s a ‘dance floor’ since, following the laws of chaos (T-23.II.2) unconsciously you and I are always out to take from the other what we feel we lack to be happy. My needs can only be fulfilled at another’s expense. I need to feel unfairly treated by you for trying to take from me what you covet to have your needs met, so that I can justify my vengeful attack. Therefore, there are always victims and victimizers. It doesn’t matter if it’s special hate or special love we’re expressing to each other. In the ego’s thought system, we’ll do anything to demonstrate that separation is real and condemnation is justified.

This ‘dance floor of death’ is one big smoke screen to keep up the illusion that the ego’s dualistic world of time, space, and perception, forever separate from God, is very real. Jesus explains: “Everyone who follows the world’s curriculum, and everyone here does follow it until he changes his mind, teaches solely to convince himself that he is what he is not. Herein is the purpose of the world. What else, then, would its curriculum be? Into this hopeless and closed learning situation, which teaches nothing but despair and death, God sends His teachers.” (M-In.4:4-7). Jesus here flatly states, as the Bhagavad Gita did over three thousand years ago, that your life is completely wasted as long as you solely focus on selfish desires. The only meaningful thing you and I can do (i.e., demonstrate) in our lives, is to choose the thought system of the Holy Spirit. All else is irrelevant in terms of salvation.

Once I have decided to choose the thought system of the Holy Spirit, my teaching — i.e., my demonstrating from minute to minute — becomes quite different. From my right-minded state of mind, the way I respond to fear and attack is with kindness and love. I do not join you on the dance floor of death. On the contrary, I invite you to share the same inner peace that I experience. I teach you that you and I are not as different as we thought we were. In fact, by doing so, I reinforce these ideas in myself. I am training my mind to once again choose the inner peace of the Holy Spirit instead of the ego’s harshness. This does not mean that I become the meek proverbial doormat. I may still be stern at times in what needs to be done on a practical level, but as long as I choose to do this from a right-minded frame of kindness, the love of the Holy Spirit will shine through. Again, no doubt you will remember a teacher who could be very directive, but who unmistakably radiated a universal kindness and love at the same time.

A Course in Miracles offers us a crystal-clear means of consciously choosing what we want to teach — to others, and ultimately to ourselves — about what we want to learn about the nature of the world, about the nature of our being, and the meaning of life. I but need to decide which thought system I want to guide my thoughts; the rest follows automatically. It seems like a simple choice. What makes this simple choice certainly not easy is that this involves a decision about what I want myself to be. It’s about answering the questions: “What am I?”, and “What is life?” Bottom line: I write the script of my life. “The curriculum you set up is therefore determined exclusively by what you think you are, and what you believe the relationship of others is to you.” (M-In.3:1)

While I choose the ego’s thought system, I tell myself I want to be a separated individual with a special personality, even if this means that my happiness depends on what I can snatch from others. Only when I consciously decide that individuality apparently doesn’t bring the salvation that I thought it would — in fact, that it offers nothing but being “uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear” (T-31.VIII.7:1), and that the Holy Spirit’s alternative is much better, do happiness and salvation become inevitable. “The Holy Spirit needs a happy learner, in whom His mission can be happily accomplished” (T-14.II.1) Once I decide to become the Holy Spirit’s happy learner, I teach (demonstrate) to others that they could make the same choice: the peace I radiate could also be yours. Thus, I need do nothing but choose to give up condemnation and let my thoughts be guided by the Holy Spirit.

“Except for God’s teachers there would be no hope of salvation, for the world of sin would seem forever real. […] It is their mission to become perfect here, and to teach perfection over and over, in many, many ways, until they have learned it.” (M-In.5:1) That’s why Jesus included the Manual for teachers in his curriculum of inner peace. If you feel invited to become this happy learner, please do take some time to study the Manual, and apply forgiveness through practicing the Workbook lessons. You’ll find that not only your own days will feel increasingly peaceful, but the days of those close around you as well, as they cannot fail to hear and answer your irresistible call of the non-judgmental love of the Holy Spirit, the Voice for God, which is what the deepest yearning in everyone is about.

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


Love your neighbor as yourself

Recently, Harvard published the results of what might be the longest running scientific research project ever. During a period of no less than 75 years, a few hundred men (and later, women too) were followed throughout their lives, while the researchers focused on the question: “What’s the real key to happiness?” Well, as it turned out, these research subjects did not find happiness in financial wealth, a booming career, or becoming famous. The single most important factor for happiness turned out to be the quality of their relationships. There was a clear proportional correlation between between loving relationships and happiness and longevity. (View a 12-minute clip about this study.)

“Small wonder,” Jesus would probably say. “Didn’t I tell you over two thousand years ago to love your neighbor as yourself?” In Ephesians 4:2, we read: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Paul wrote in Romanians 12:18: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” So we might as well forget about the personal development programs that promise abundant wealth overnight. Having money is nice, but it will not make you happy, in the sense of leading to fulfillment. So why are relationships so much more important than anything else that we might put on the list of fulfillment factors?

In A Course in Miracles, the main theme is forgiveness. Although forgiveness initially seems to be directed towards people around me, Jesus teaches us that in the end I forgive myself for what I blame others of, since everyone around me mirrors some aspect of how I perceive myself. This is because projection makes perception (W-XX): what I perceive in you is a projection of what I have made real in myself. If I see hate around me, I have projected out my unconscious self-hate. If I see gentleness around me, it is because in my mind I have chosen gentleness. The outer and the inner are really the same, as many other spiritualities teach as well. A Course in Miracles makes this explicit by the metaphysical principle that there are no others out there; duality is one big illusion. That’s why Jesus says to us: “If you would know your prayers are answered, never doubt a Son of God.” (T-9.II.4:1), meaning our neighbor, who is our brother, who is the same Son of God as we are, since God only has one Son (T-2.VII.6:1).

Jesus’ clearest teaching on this perhaps comes in workbook lesson 122, “Forgiveness offers everything I want”: “Forgiveness lets the veil be lifted up that hides the face of Christ from those who look with unforgiving eyes upon the world. It lets you recognize the Son of God, and clears your memory of all dead thoughts so that remembrance of your Father can arise across the threshold of your mind. What would you want forgiveness cannot give? What gifts but these are worthy to be sought? What fancied value, trivial effect or transient promise, never to be kept, can hold more hope than what forgiveness brings? […] Sink into happiness as you begin these practice periods, for they hold out the sure rewards of questions answered and what your acceptance of the answer brings. Today it will be given you to feel the peace forgiveness offers, and the joy the lifting of the veil holds out to you.” (W-pI.122.3;11)

We can now easily see how the Harvard study relates to this. People who have chosen to invest in loving relationships must first have chosen right-mindedness over wrong-mindedness; love over condemnation. They’ve chosen to focus on the sameness in all of us, instead of on the differences between us. Although that choice is usually unconsciously made, it is the single most important choice that Jesus urges us to make throughout his course in miracles (cf. T-31.VIII.3:2). Small wonder then, that the ones in the Harvard study who chose this as the primary focus of their life, experienced by far the most happiness, good health and well-being!

A Course in Miracles offers us a unique curriculum to train our minds to consistently focus on love and speak the Word of God to everyone we meet, as for example workbook lesson 276 “The Word of God is given me to speak” points out: “Father, Your Word is mine. And it is this that I would speak to all my brothers, who are given me to cherish as my own, as I am loved and blessed and saved by You.” (W-pII.276.2:1). This means that we affirm that life is not composed of separate creatures who are at odds with each other. As Kenneth Wapnick comments on these lines: “Whatever I have accused you of doing, whatever you think you have done, whatever pain you are in, has not changed the fact that you [and I] remain God’s holy Son, perfectly at one with our source.”

So the Harvard study has merely confirmed what spiritual masters have taught for millennia on end: collecting “stacks of green paper strips and piles of metal discs” (w-pI.76.3:2) or an endless list of other things we do not really need, is a very meager substitute for what will really make us happy. Love your neighbor as yourself. Forgive the Son of God for whatever sins you think he or you committed, for the outer and the inner mirror each other. As you nurture your relationship with the Holy Spirit in your mind, you will experience much more happiness within you and around you. And although wars and other suffering will not immediately seem to stop, you have chosen to be a light in this world, which is just what Jesus needs to save the world, that is, jointly end the dream of duality and return Home, where God would have us be.

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