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 Amazon.com: