Make this year different…

“…by making it all the same,” is Jesus’ tongue-in-cheek counsel to his students at New Year’s eve (T-15.XI.10:11). We smile because of the nice play on words, but few students fully realize just what Jesus is proposing here. What does he actually mean when he wants us to “make it all the same”? Its implications have far-reaching consequences for everything we think, say, and do in our lives. If we merely glance over this ‘pun’ and not follow through, we’ll soon find ourselves wondering why we do not spiritually progress, as is generally the case with new year’s resolutions. So let’s briefly review a few of the more important applications of Jesus’ New Year resolution counsel.

The first major application of this principle is to be determined to see everyone – yes, literally everyone – as the same sinless Son of God, just like you and I are. As Jesus emphasizes several times in his Course: “Never doubt a Son of God. Do not question him and do not confound him, for your faith in him is your faith in yourself.” (T-9.II.4:1-2). “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.3:1). Now, you may be able to apply that to your friends and neighbors, but perhaps not to the President. Or your parents. Or your boss. Or any authority figure for that matter. As good egos, there are always a few persons that we still hold grudges against, no matter how unconscious these might be, surfacing only when our buttons are pushed. So why is this so important?

Jesus’ point on perceiving the inherent sameness in all people has of course nothing to do with form. We should “never doubt a brother” because all of us are made of the same spirit-stuff. In essence, the content of the same light of the Holy Spirit, of God’s Love, shines in all of us, including the President, our boss, crooks and criminals; you name it. It’s true that in the illusory dualistic world of time and space they haven’t chosen right as yet. It’s true that they might have committed crimes which should be brought to justice. But regardless of what they did (or failed to do) in form, in content they are still the Son of God, just as you and I are. Remember the metaphysical basis of the Course that states that “the world is an outside picture of an inward condition” (T-21.in.1:5). When we choose to limit our perception to what the eyes of the body behold, we’re still caught in the illusion of duality, and we are not practicing the vision of spiritual sight.

So “making it all the same” means that all these authority figures that I dislike ought to be looked at in a different light, if I am really serious about my own desire to find lasting inner peace. Remember that no-one can enter Heaven alone; it must be “together, or not at all” (T-19.IV-D.12:8). Hence the sentence that immediately follows Jesus’ New Year’s counsel: “And let all your relationships be made holy for you” (T-15.XI.10:12). Therefore, the next time I notice myself becoming upset about the President, I can catch myself before I live it out, bring my awareness to an honest examination of my state of mind now, and realize that I’m being taken in by my own little ego again, because I’m still convinced my salvation lies in being an autonomous individual, separated from everyone and everything.

could choose to see this person as the light-bulb of love that we all are. Phew, I’ve just been offered an excellent forgiveness opportunity by the Holy Spirit! Will I follow through by “making it all the same”, or will I wait a while and try later? Although Jesus has infinite patience (since his reality is outside time and time does not really exist anyway), we should fully realize just how much we keep ourselves in pain by clinging to the old rugged ego: “How long, O Son of God, will you maintain the game of sin? […] There is no sin. Creation is unchanged. Would you still hold return to Heaven back? How long, O holy Son of God, how long?” (W-pII.251.4.5)

A second application of Jesus’ counsel to “make it all the same”, which is really just another form of the same principle, is to realize that there are no different categories of negative emotions. “A slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury” (W-pI.21.2:5). Most of us would agree that intensely hating someone is far worse than the occasional ‘twinge of annoyance’ that we feel daily with many people and situations. In this same lesson, Jesus cautions us to “not let these ‘little’ thoughts of anger escape our attention” (W-pI.21.3:1), since we are “never upset for the reason we think” (W-pI.5). The real reason for any negative emotion is that we unconsciously realize that the ontological separation from God did not make us omnipotent on our own — on the contrary, we find that we are prone to being helplessly tossed around in an uncontrollable world, with much struggling and sacrifice before we die.

So be determined to see all negativity as expressions of the same dynamic: rejecting and attacking God, and then realizing that it was all wrong: “Each day, and every minute in each day, and every instant that each minute holds, you but relive the single instant when the time of terror took the place of love” (T-26.V.13:1). As in the aforementioned first application, the trick is, once again, to bring your awareness to that liberating place “above the battleground”, and honestly realize which teacher you’ve chosen in the mind, and then asking Jesus (or the Holy Spirit) to guide you in looking at this differently. Again, Jesus wants us to re-interpret any negative feeling as yet another forgiveness opportunity in the Holy Spirit’s classroom. So don’t feel guilty when you notice you become frustrated once again — be thankful for the lesson. Realize that all negativity is the same — it’s one problem that calls for one solution: forgiveness, again from the basic premise that there really is no world and that I am no longer willing to keep my own mind in chains.

We find a third, much more basic application of Jesus’ counsel to ‘make it all the same’ in the first few lessons in the workbook. These deceptively simple lessons ask us to glance around us indiscriminately, and then affirm to ourselves that nothing that we see means anything, because we are not looking at it from the perspective of spiritual sight, or vision. Obviously, we are all convinced that, for example, bodies are more important than tea cups or pencils. In his Course, Jesus would have us realize that everything in time and space that’s composed of form shares the same basic characteristic: it is unreal. Paraphrasing the statement in the context of different forms of sickness, Jesus says in the Manual for teachers: “ The body’s eyes will continue to see differences. […] But the healed mind will put them all in one category: they are unreal.” (M-8.6:1-4). While in our daily lives in the dualistic dream we will still treat our body differently than we do a pencil (Kenneth Wapnick’s “Level II” awareness), this insight does help us to become less attached to the world of specifics and forms, and to bring our awareness of our Identity as Son of God (“Level I” awareness) to the foreground in our minds.

By now, you may have noticed that all these exemplary applications of Jesus’ call to “make it all the same” are really examples of the very first miracle principle that there is no order of difficulty in miracles. In our daily experience we see hierarchies in all the forms we perceive, but Jesus’ curriculum teaches us that such perception merely serves to distract the mind from reconsidering the true nature of the world, our identity, and above all our mistaken choice for the ego as prime teacher. Once we realize that all forms are equally illusory, we can truly choose to shift our focus from form to content, only to happily realize that the content in all things is the same: “God is in everything I see” (W-pI.29), that is: I can see God’s purpose (i.e., the content of Love) in everything I see. And this also means that “all expressions of love are maximal” (T-1.I.1).

To summarize: when Jesus counsels us to “Make this year different by making it all the same”, he is really asking us to try to avoid the perception of orders of difficulties. To revisit the aforementioned section 8 in the Manual of Teachers: “Where do all these differences come from? Certainly they seem to be in the world outside. Yet it is surely the mind that judges what the eyes behold. It is the mind that […] gives it meaning. And this meaning does not exist in the outside world at all. What is seen as “reality” is simply what the mind prefers. […] It alone decides whether what is seen is real or illusory, desirable or undesirable, pleasurable or painful. It is in the sorting out and categorizing activities of the mind that errors in perception occur. And it is here correction must be made.” (M-8.3:1-4:2). Hence Jesus’ New Year resolution!

The way forward, then, is to choose to shift teachers in the mind, from ego to Holy Spirit, Who will guide the mind in discerning between illusions and truth: “This is the gift of its Teacher: the understanding that only two categories are meaningful in sorting out the messages the mind receives from what appears to be the outside world. And of these two, but one is real.” (M-8.6:5-6). So be determined, indeed, to make this year different, by choosing to allow the Holy Spirit to guide you to true perception. You and I will still perceive forms and differences, but we won’t be taken in by them, mistaking them for reality. Never again will we feel we are aimlessly tossed about in the world. In the Holy Spirit’s classroom, you and I can learn that we “can become a spotless mirror, in which the Holiness of your Creator shines forth from you to all around you […] Clean but the mirror [by making it all the same; seeing only the content of Love], and the message that shines forth from what the mirror holds out for everyone to see, no one can fail to understand” (T-14.IX.5:1,5; 6:5).


See also “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

Advertisements

Jesus in the dream

The fact that A Course in Miracles clearly presents itself as coming from Jesus, who throughout most of the curriculum speaks of himself in the first person, is a source of considerable confusion and bewilderment for many people. What reason would he have, if at all possible, to make himself known in our time? Is this an announcement of his Second Coming, as the Bible promised? Such confusion arises, of course, through our direct association of the name Jesus with the Biblical figure portrayed in the New Testament, and subsequently by two thousand years of western church doctrine. In both cases, Jesus is very much pictured as a body, albeit a divine one, being the only Son of God, Whom we also unconsciously picture as a body. A careful reading of A Course in Miracles, especially the Clarification of Terms, sheds light on this unfortunate misunderstanding.

To briefly recap the metaphysical foundation of A Course in Miracles: God is the only reality; everything that we perceive in time and space to have form, is unreal. Our senses are therefore perceiving a dualistic dream that does not exist in reality. While this implies that you and I as bodies do not exist, you and I as spirit are an indivisible part of God and are therefore eternal as God Himself. According to A Course in Miracles, God did not make the universe; the Son of God did so, by imagining what it would be like to be apart from his Creator, forgetting to laugh about that silly idea, feeling horribly guilty about this perceived ‘sin’, and making up a universe — through the Big Bang — composed of billions of fragments to hide from the supposed wrath of his vengeful Father, Who, again, knows absolutely nothing about this, since in nonduality there is only a constant, unchangeable Love, a state which our linearly programmed brains cannot really grasp.

When the Son seemed to fall asleep in the dream you and I call the physical universe, which has been going on for about fourteen billion years now, the memory of our true Identity as spirit, that is, our identity as an idea of perfect Love, came with us in the dream, because the connection with God can never be wholly severed. In A Course in Miracles, this memory is called The Holy Spirit, the Voice for God (not of God). This is a crystal clear voice that continually calls us to awaken and return Home to nonduality. However, this voice is effectively drowned out by the ego, that is, the desire to be separate and autonomous, by constant mind chatter and distractions, presenting us with a zillion things that we can dislike, reject, condemn, and make constant fuss about, while remaining asleep as an illusory individual in an illusory world.

So the sleeping Son of God finds himself in the state of a split mind: on the one hand, the desire, or better yet: yearning, to return back Home to God remains deep inside us; but on the other hand, we also really like to be an autonomous individual, deciding for ourselves what’s best and how to achieve fulfillment. The latter, of course, is the ego’s voice, which, by its very nature, can only think in terms of rejection and separation. And so we, as individuals, keep rejecting and condemning all the time, whether we’re consciously aware of it or not. This is the source of all discord in our lives, from simple quarrels to complex civil wars. And yet A Course in Miracles promises us that time, and therefore the dream, will have an end (cf. W-pI.158), as the ego may be fool-proof, but not God-proof (T-5.VI.10:6). In reality, time is already over; we are mentally reviewing what has already gone by (W-pI.158.4:5). The illusion will dissolve into the truth. However, the world needs a concrete dualistic manifestation of this principle, as a wake-up call as it were, to set the Atonement in motion in the mind of the sleeping Son.

This manifestation is what in the Course is called Jesus, who is not a body, but the part in the “non-local” mind of the sleeping Son of God that wasn’t fooled by the ego, and kept the remembrance of God in awareness. This Jesus, once again, is on a completely different level than the body called Jesus which is portrayed in the gospels. As such, the name of Jesus “…is but a symbol, but one that stands for the love that is not of this world” (M-23.4:1). In Chapter 1 of the text, Jesus speaks about himself: “I am in charge of the process of Atonement, which I undertook to begin.” (T-1.III.1:1). Two thousand years ago in the region of Palestine, the figure we call Jesus manifested this Atonement principle, by virtue of introducing to people the idea that identity is not about a body, but about spirit. Moreover, in the text, Jesus makes it clear that in essence he does not differ from us, and that he should be regarded as an elder brother: “Awe is an inappropriate reaction to me. An elder brother is entitled to respect for his greater experience, and obedience for his greater wisdom. […] 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. This leaves me in a state which is only potential in you.” (T-1.II.3:6-13)

This “state” he refers to is the state of spirit outside the dream. Jesus therefore urges us to return to the mind, look at our silly attachment to the illusory dream there, realize it really brings us nothing but misery, and choose to take his hand in accepting the Atonement process, taking us Home out of the illusion. This is the same message he presented two thousand years ago in Palestine. Unfortunately, the people didn’t understand, which is understandable in the light of their own choice to identify with a body. Kenneth Wapnick has sometimes used the analogy with a telephone: When you are dreaming and the phone rings, your brain can either choose to wake up, or it can decide to make the ringing phone a part of the dream. This is what happened back then. When they saw him performing physical miracles, they at first perceived him as a ‘champion of the body’, since his body could clearly do more than theirs. When, however, he made it clear that salvation can only be found by renouncing the body, denial and projection quickly took the upper hand in their minds: Jesus was the one who apparently stole the innocence that should have been rightly theirs! “I became the symbol of your sin, and so I had to die instead of you. […] Salvation is looked upon as a way by which the Son of God [Jesus] was killed instead of you. (T-19.IV-A.17:2-4)

Yet Jesus knew very well that his message would result in him being crucified. As Jesus says about this: “The crucifixion is nothing more than an extreme example. […] I elected, for your sake and for mine, to demonstrate that the most outrageous assault, as judged by the ego, does not matter.” (T-6.I.9:1-2). In other words, Jesus wanted to demonstrate that the killing of his bodily manifestation in the dream had absolutely no effect on his reality as spirit, and, moreover, that this principle holds for everyone who still finds himself in this dualistic world of time and space, which includes you and me. That’s why the crucifixion was therefore, in essence, a reassuring message. Again Jesus: “If you interpret the crucifixion in any other way, you are using it as a weapon for assault rather than as the call for peace for which it was intended. The Apostles often misunderstood it, and for the same reason that anyone misunderstands it. Their own imperfect love made them vulnerable to projection, and out of their own fear they spoke of the “wrath of God” as His retaliatory weapon.” (T-6.I.14).

In other words, Jesus was trying to invite people to bring their illusions about their identities to the truth, instead of trying to bring his reality as spirit (truth) to the illusion of the world. The gospel scribes and the Christian churches, however, chose to cling to the variation of trying to bring the truth of Jesus into this illusory world. Consider: The Bible talks about Jesus being born into a body, which performs miracles for other bodies, and whose body is finally killed by other bodies. His body is then magically resurrected and appears to other bodies before it ascends to Heaven, to sit at the right hand of God’s body. Also, especially the rituals in the Catholic church still focus on the body of Jesus Christ. Again, this is understandable, as we “cannot even think of God without a body” (T-18.VIII.1:7) Jesus now corrects this: “The Prince of Peace was born to re-establish the condition of love by teaching that communication remains unbroken even if the body is destroyed… The lesson I was born to teach, and still would teach to all my brothers, is that sacrifice is nowhere and love is everywhere” (T-15.XI.7:2,5).

So why A Course in Miracles in our time and age, presented by Jesus, being that part of the mind that never forgot God? Apparently, the Holy Spirit figured that mankind in the dream is now sufficiently psychologically advanced to learn about his own denial and projection in the mind, and find the willingness to reconsider these. “This Course has come from him [Jesus] because his words have reached you in a language you can love and understand” (M-23.7:1). Jesus immediately proceeds to say that he is not the only symbol with the same message: “Are other teachers possible, to lead the way to those who speak in different tongues and appeal to different symbols? Certainly there are. […] Yet do we need a many-faceted curriculum, […] because symbols must shift and change to suit the need. Jesus has come to answer yours. In him you find God’s Answer.” (M-23.7:2-7). In the Course’s preface, Jesus says that the Course “…is but one version of the universal curriculum. There are many others, this one differing from them only in form. They all lead to God in the end.”

Jesus, as body in the illusory dream, is the distorted Biblical portrayal of the idea of perfect Love that is his reality, and yours and mine as well. It’s helpful to keep that in mind when studying and practicing A Course in Miracles: “Let me be to you the symbol of the end of guilt, and look upon your brother as you would look on me. Forgive me all the sins you think the Son of God committed. And in the light of your forgiveness he will remember who he is, and forget what never was. […] Would you see in me the symbol of guilt or of the end of guilt, remembering that what I signify to you you see within yourself?” (T-19.IV-B.6) In our Western world, Jesus answers our need for a symbol of the eternal Love of God, which is what we are. By diligently practicing this loving message, we will return Home to nonduality, where God would have us be. (T-31.VIII.12:8)


See also “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

Guilty of being ill

Severe physical illness is often seen as a subject too awkward to discuss, especially when it comes to the cause of the illness. This is not only so in general, but perhaps even more in spiritual circles, which tend to reject the body, and are therefore doubly shocked to see it ‘strike back’. The underlying issue is always about guilt. Being confronted with a serious physical illness sooner or later brings up the unconscious question about the root cause of it: did I cause my own sickness? A fair number of people engage in spirituality partly because in it they see a possible way to protect the body from being struck by a terrible disease. This of course does not work, since denial of anything does not mean it is not there anymore, nor that one does not still secretly believe in it anymore.

In regular healthcare research, the role of the individual in the cause of illness, especially his or her lifestyle, is now increasingly seriously investigated. For example, recently we’ve come to accept that a lifetime of heavy smoking results in a fair chance of developing lethal lung cancer. Also, excessive overweight combined with little exercise is now generally accepted as significantly increasing the chance of manifesting diabetes. “Lifestyle medicine” is the new hype. It posits that sickness we are susceptible to, DNA-wise or otherwise, might be prevented or postponed by living healthy. However, while a healthy lifestyle no doubt contributes to a healthy body, it does not address the role of the unconscious part of the mind in orchestrating the functioning of the body. Some of the more bold researchers such as Bruce Lipton (“The biology of belief”) and Joe Dispenza (“You are the placebo”; both highly recommended) are now fortunately headed in this direction; but the main focus is still more on changing “bad” beliefs about the individual personality, than on the undoing of ontological guilt over the separation.

In A Course in Miracles, Jesus is totally uncompromising on the issue of health and sickness, as he is on so many topics. A few illustrative examples:  “All illness is mental illness” (P-2.IV.1:2); “Sickness is of the mind, and has nothing to do with the body” (M-5.II.3:2); “Illness of any kind may be defined as the result of a view of the self as weak, vulnerable, evil and endangered, and thus in need of constant defense” (P-2.IV.6:1). That’s pretty radical. Jesus is actually saying that if the body experiences symptoms of illness, these are solely an effect of the mind that has chosen illness. The mind does this by choosing to reject and condemn. Such judgment could be about anything, but it is ultimately all about the ontological moment in which we attempted to attack God and separate from Him, which in reality is not possible and therefore in reality never happened. Unconsciously though, we still believe we did it.

The reason for physical symptoms then, according to Jesus, is that “All attack is Self attack.” (T-10.II.5:1). The mind attacks, and the body merely mirrors this. However, unlike most spiritualities, A Course in Miracles does not denigrate the body, not even in this dualistic dream world. It merely sees the body as a neutral effect of the state of the mind. Contrary to our daily experience, it does not operate on its own: “It [the body] does not seek to make of pain a joy and look for lasting pleasure in the dust. It does not tell you what its purpose is and cannot understand what it is for. […]. It behaves in ways you want, but never makes the choice. It is not born and does not die. It can but follow aimlessly the path on which it has been set (T-28.VI.1:4-5; 2:2-5). The phrase about not being born and not dying relates, of course, to the metaphysical foundation of non-dualism of the Course: since everything in time and space is illusory, nothing here can be born or die: it merely seems to be so to our senses. It is the mind that dreams this dream. An illusion remains an illusion.

Physical illness is one of the ego’s favorite instruments to ‘prove’ to the Son of God that the separation has indeed occurred. Oneness has been shattered, and lack is now the prevailing state the Son finds himself in, including lack of total health. One expression of this ego strategy is to see physical symptoms as God’s punishment for our savage sin of separation; or better yet, as a foretaste of the punishment that will inevitably follow once the body really succumbs to death. Indeed, many who experience a serious illness secretly wonder if they are being punished by God for their “badness”. Others, including those more spiritually inclined, may use the symptoms as ‘proof’ of their ‘face of innocence’: in a cruel world, the good will inevitably suffer. “Look at me, God. I’ve been faithful all my life, and yet the world treats me cruelly. I suffer in spite of my goodness. Please accept me back into Heaven and punish all the evil others!”

Both strategies, however, merely veer the awareness of the patient away from where the true solution lies: in our power to change the mind. “The acceptance of sickness as a decision of the mind, for a purpose for which it would use the body, is the basis of healing. And this is so for healing in all forms.” (M-5.II.2:1-2). “Illness is therefore a mistake and needs correction.” (P-2.IV.7:1)). The correction, from a metaphysical point of view, lies of course in the realization that “Son of God, you have not sinned, but you have been much mistaken” (T-10.V.6:1). Therefore, if I heal my mind by seeing I was mistaken and forgiving myself for that, the body will follow (though perhaps not instantly, since matter is sluggish). The problem is that everyone who still experiences himself in a physical body has an unhealed mind, which includes virtually everyone on this planet. This is why a large portion of A Course in Miracles is devoted to undoing our core belief that we are a body. Lessons 201 to 220 would have us repeat daily that “I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.” (W-pI.201-220). The underlying hope is that the more I identify with Self (capital S) instead of the little ego-self, the less likely I am to become ill.

This insight, though, does not convince students of A Course in Miracles, and also most other spiritual students, at all. After all, it is rather painful to believe you’ve made good spiritual progress, and then to suddenly find yourself becoming ill after all. Again, this is a powerful ego strategy to convince you of its reality: “See? Spirituality is a farce. It doesn’t work, as you can plainly see. Not for you, and not for others. I can cite dozens of so-called enlightened spiritual gurus who died prematurely of various horrible diseases. You had better go back to feeling a guilty sinner, for at least then you’re being honest about what you are — yes, miserable and lonely on the one hand, but at least an autonomous individual, separate and independent from God. That was the purpose from the very beginning, was it not? Well, this illness at least proves it is true!”

The result for many spiritual study groups is that sickness is not considered an easy topic to discuss, to say the least. And this is no different for students of A Course in Miracles. For example, the fact that both Helen Schucman and Kenneth Wapnick died of a serious illness at the age of merely 71, not to mention Bill Thetford — seen by many as ACIM’s “first graduate” — who died from a heart attack at the age of 65, is for some a serious cause of doubt about whether or not this spiritual curriculum works. This focus on others, however, is an ego attempt to distract the mind from its true homework: accepting the Atonement for oneself — in the mind. As long as the mind is obsessed with finding ways to lengthen the lifespan of the physical body, it is trapped in duality, and is therefore unhealed. In reality, there is no such thing as time! Why, then, seek to make more time for the body? Although reincarnation is part of this dream and therefore as illusory as time itself, you can be pretty certain that you’ve had hundreds of bodies before this one, some of which have experienced a terrible ending. So why not take a broader perspective on your life than just this one body, which, according to Buddhism, is a “coat you exchange from lifetime to lifetime”, until you’ve cleansed your karma (i.e., dark spots in the mind)?

So if you find yourself — or a loved one — confronted with serious physical symptoms, instead of quickly jumping into the guilt or victim mode, you could choose to see this is as a useful sign of dark spots in the mind. These call for forgiveness, and nothing else. Seen this way, illness becomes one of the means the Holy Spirit uses in his classroom of spiritual awakening from self to Self. Not that He causes the illness; but He does make you aware of its message. It may not feel comfortable, to say the least, certainly when a painful disease process causes a loved one’s death, but in essence it’s still a call to the mind to become aware of the illusory nature of the world, and to practice the forgiveness of any remaining dark spots. The key is to remain normal. If a loved one dies, take the time to grieve and mourn. Take the time to weep. Eventually, though, you might realize that these emotions reflect the mind’s continued attachment to physical bodies, and therefore to individuality, and therefore to separation. In other words, the Holy Spirit is offering yet another forgiveness lesson.

All this does not mean, by the way, that you do never do anything in medical terms. It would be a tragic mistake to refuse to visit a doctor or a hospital because “the cure must come from the mind”. Medical effort may be a form of magic, but Jesus nowhere says magic is evil — he merely wants us to realize that we should not expect salvation to come from magic. A well-balanced Course student practices forgiveness and takes good care of the body, while fully realizing that the mind is the cause and the body the effect, and that everyone is guaranteed to awaken from the dream of dualism; if not in this lifetime, then certainly in lifetimes that follow. Feeling guilty over being ill, then, is about the worst thing that you can do to yourself. Just realize that this is a feeble ego attempt at keeping the separation ongoing, and then move on in your spiritual awakening.

A final note about the ‘premature’ deaths of Helen, Bill, and Ken: while Helen herself obviously realized very well that she clung to her ego to the very end, refusing the full acceptance of Jesus’ offering, which her cancer was merely an expression of, for Bill and Ken the situation, I believe, was different. Personally, I think they had merely completed their task in this lifetime, and had no real reason to ‘hang around’ any longer. To many students, it is well known that Bill recognized his own graduation from ACIM late in his life, when he joyfully exclaimed “I am free!”. Kenneth Wapnick in his final year assured those around him that he was not dying. This had nothing to do with his body; this was a statement that he fully realized that he was not a body. I very much doubt if Bill or Ken will reincarnate once more. However, once again, a preoccupation about others is not helpful for your own path of learning to accept the Atonement. The Holy Spirit is the only Teacher you need. He will take you Home. Do not feel guilty about illness; do not be afraid of death. Simply allow the Holy Spirit to use these as a classroom. To conclude with the lovely ending of “The gifts of God”, scribed by Helen in 1978: “Forget all things except My changeless Love. Forget all things except that I am here.” (the Gifts of God, p.128).


See also “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

The misty monster inside

An important reason why many people give up on their study and practice of A Course in Miracles is that this is not your everyday “feel-good spirituality”. In fact, scholar Ken Wapnick once said that to the ego this spiritual curriculum is a horror story, as it signifies its inevitable demise. This is because A Course in Miracles teaches us how to look at the darkness of the large chunk of the mind’s ‘underwater’ part of the iceberg, together with The Holy Spirit, and how we can learn to allow the Holy Spirit to shine that darkness away forever. In other words, unlike most spiritualities, A Course in Miracles does not teach us to deny or ignore the darkness inside the mind; it rather teaches us to look at it and evaluate it correctly, after which it may gently be undone. Still, we have to be willing to look first. This engenders tremendous resistance, since we are all afraid of what we might find should we truly look at the unconscious, which is unconscious because we are too fearful to allow it into awareness.

To make his students realize just how fearful they are of this large chunk of their mind ‘below the watershed’, Jesus uses some rather forceful language: “You think you are the home of evil, darkness and sin. You think if anyone could see the truth about you he would be repelled, recoiling from you as if from a poisonous snake. You think if what is true about you were revealed to you, you would be struck with horror so intense that you would rush to death by your own hand, living on after seeing this being impossible.” (W-pI.93.1). Jesus is serious about this. And although in the same lesson Jesus explains to us that this horrid image of self is an illusion, since our “sinlessness is guaranteed by God” (W-pI.93.6:1), we nevertheless cannot undo these beliefs if we do not honestly examine them, together with him. “No one can escape from illusions unless he looks at them, for not looking is the way they are protected. […] We are ready to look more closely at the ego’s thought system because together we have the lamp that will dispel it, and since you realize you do not want it, you must be ready. Let us be very calm in doing this, for we are merely looking honestly for truth.” (T-11.V.1:1-4).

Again, many students do not recognize themselves at all in this frightening description of self. On the contrary, they see themselves as kind, loving beings who are learning to focus solely on love, and sharing that. After all, in the very same Course Jesus also says: “Teach only love, for that is what you are.” (T-6.III.2:4). While this is true, this doesn’t mean that we already fully believe this about ourselves, certainly not unconsciously. Spending your days repeating blissful affirmations about the love that you are, without examining the dark unconscious beliefs Jesus talks about, is like ignoring your garden while you keep saying to yourself: “There’s no weeds, there’s no weeds, there’s no weeds.” And guess what? They’ll take your garden! An infallible test for assessing just how much darkness still lurks in your mind is in writing down a list of all the little dislikes, irritations, regrets and rejections you manifest during the day. Even the smallest annoyance offers a valuable message. Remember, “A slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury.”(W-pI.21.2:5) Just try it for at least one day; you’ll be surprised. The key point in this exercise, by the way, is not to feel guilty or dismayed by seeing more items on the list than you had expected, concluding that you are such a lousy spiritual aspirant.

Then, of course, there are those unfortunate students who pretend to see nothing negative at all in the world, and do not allow any negative interpretation to come into awareness. As Ken Wapnick has emphasized in many a workshop, such an attitude is really born of double denial; first, the denial of the misery of the world, and secondly the denial of the fact that the world is merely a projection — a mirror if you will — of what’s in the mind, which is where the world’s misery actually resides. If we refuse to see this misery, the Holy Spirit has no classroom to bring us the forgiveness lessons that truly heal the mind. As Ken Wapnick notes in The message of A Course in Miracles: “Teachers are rendered superfluous if there is no classroom for their students, and no curriculum to teach them. The sorrow of the world we made as a substitute for God is the very classroom Jesus uses, that he may instruct us through the curriculum of our special relationships how the world reflects the real problem of our minds’ decision for guilt and individuality.” (pI, p.178). This way, I’ll never get to the turning point where I exclaim that “there must be a better way”. Twenty years from now I’ll unhappily conclude that I still have an ego. Workbook lesson 135 puts it this way: “You merely take away the hope of healing, for you fail to see where hope must lie [i.e., in the mind].” (W-pI.135.10:5)

A Course in Miracles therefore urges us not to deny any negativity that we feel, however small it may seem. Rather, we should pay careful attention to it, from ‘above the battleground’. The smallest annoyance I become aware of can be reinterpreted as yet another forgiveness lesson offered me by the Holy Spirit. If I can catch myself before I live it out, and instead ask the Holy Spirit: “I am making a mistake. Please help me look at this differently“, I am undoing condemnation, which is the invitation for love to take its rightful place in the mind. This is why A Course in Miracles in so many places stresses the importance of our special relationships: with people, with hobbies, with possessions, you name it. These can act as the royal road to the dark kingdom of the subconscious mind. Of this kingdom, Jesus reflects back to us how we feel about it: “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.” (W-pII.236.1:2). This is because we have rendered it unconscious, believing we have (and are!) a monster inside, ultimately because in the ontological unholy instant we sinned by attempting to separate from God, and pushing the guilt over that sin out of awareness, because it is too horrible to face.

A Course in Miracles shows us that, indeed, you and I do believe we have a monster inside, but this monster is made solely of mist: it’s a flimsy veil which we constructed out of our horror over a sin which never happened. Therefore, the same mind that made the veil can decide to end its investment in it. Jesus cannot do this for us, but with his help, our work of undoing it cannot fail to succeed. Many Course students know the following prayer by heart: “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.6:7-10) “Be very firm with yourself in this [prayer] and keep yourself fully aware that the undoing process, which does not come from you, is nevertheless within you because God placed it there. Your part is merely to return your thinking to the point at which the error was made, and give it over to the Atonement in peace.” (T-30.XII.6:1-2).

To conclude: A Course in Miracles is a spirituality that goes way deeper than just having you focus superficially on the love and oneness in yourself, in others, in everything. While this is a focus towards the truth, you and I will not truly awaken if we do not honestly examine, with the Holy Spirit’s help, the secret sins and hidden hates that we have pushed ‘underwater’ out of awareness. Spiritual awakening does not come from ignoring the misty monster inside “because it is illusory anyway”. Awakening comes from shining the mist (Jesus uses the word ‘clouds’) away with the lamp that we hold together with Jesus: “Since all illusions of salvation have failed you, surely you do not want to remain in the clouds, looking vainly for idols there, when you could so easily walk on into the light of real salvation. Try to pass the clouds by whatever means appeals to you. If it helps you, think of me holding your hand and leading you. And I assure you this will be no idle fantasy. […] Remind yourself that your salvation comes from you, and nothing but your own thoughts can hamper your progress. […] You are in charge of your salvation.” (W-pI.70.10)


See also “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

No one comes to you by mistake

This blog post is a bit different than usual, in the sense that I’ll be presenting a ‘Kennish’ commentary on the section called “The selection of patients” in the Psychotherapy pamphlet. Not that I feel like imitating Ken, but as Gary Renard noted in his new book, which is dedicated to Kenneth Wapnick: “I cannot be you, but like you, I can stick to the truth”. The two pamphlets (“Psychotherapy” and “The Song of Prayer”) have a slight tendency to be overlooked. They were not included in A Course in Miracles until the current third edition, and had to be acquired separately. In my view, Jesus presents in these pamphlets not only some very important study material, but also some of the most poetically moving messages in the entire Course, to help us attain that deeply desired lasting inner peace. The section at hand (P.3.I) proceeds from the notion that everyone in this world is both pupil and teacher; both patient as well as therapist, as everybody demonstrates and learns all the time. Everyone’s behavior mirrors the beliefs or devotions (altars) in his mind, and minds are joined. We can therefore choose to see our own salvation in anyone we meet. Plus, there is no such thing as a chance meeting:

“Everyone who is sent to you is a patient of yours. This does not mean that you select him, nor that you choose the kind of treatment that is suitable. But it does mean that no one comes to you by mistake. There are no errors in God’s plan. It would be an error, however, to assume that you know what to offer everyone who comes. This is not up to you to decide. There is a tendency to assume that you are being called on constantly to make sacrifices on behalf of yourself for those who come. This could hardly be true. To demand sacrifice of yourself is to demand a sacrifice of God, and He knows nothing of sacrifice. Who could ask of Perfection that He be imperfect?” (P-3.I.1)

If someone passes us by on the street, we do not usually think of this person as someone who is deliberately brought to us as a forgiveness lesson. Yet Jesus assures us that there are no chance encounters. Everyone we meet offers us an opportunity to undo our own unconscious guilt and fear; that is, if we choose to have the meeting, however brief, be a holy encounter. This is the Course’s term for the decision to see no separate interests between you and whom you meet. We may look differently, behave differently, have different ideas, values, and plans, but in essence we are the same (i.e., pure spirit) and we yearn for the same: returning to the Love of God. This oneness in being and purpose is explained for example in chapter 8: “When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him you will see yourself. As you treat him you will treat yourself. As you think of him you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself. Whenever two Sons of God meet, they are given another chance at salvation. Do not leave anyone without giving salvation to him and receiving it yourself.” (T-8.III.4)

When we try to behave like this on our own, that is, from the ego, an unconscious pain of seeming sacrifice will never be far behind, as the ego’s maxim is always one or the other. If my ego gives kindness, I unconsciously experience this as giving something away I would really rather keep for myself. That’s why Jesus says that on my own I cannot know what to offer everyone who comes. But there is a Teacher within me Who knows: The Holy Spirit, the true Psychotherapist. Only by giving the guidance of my thoughts to the Holy Spirit, by not judging, will the encounter become a Holy encounter, and will the both of us (me and the person whom I meet) benefit fully. The pamphlet continues in the same vein:

“Who, then, decides what each brother needs? Surely not you, who do not yet recognize who he is who asks. There is Something in him that will tell you, if you listen. And that is the answer: listen. Do not demand, do not decide, do not sacrifice. Listen. What you hear is true. Would God send His Son to you and not be sure you recognize his needs? Think what God is telling you; He needs your voice to speak for Him. Could anything be holier? Or a greater gift to you? Would you rather choose who would be god, or hear the Voice of Him Who is God in you?” (P-3.I.2)

How often have you and I been sure what would be best for a particular person, and pressed this on them? Yet in doing so, we are merely projecting away some ego pain in ourselves that we refuse to face. And although the pamphlet comes in the specific context of an earthly patient—therapist relationship, for psychotherapists the advice is no different: stop judging, convinced you know best, and listen. “Most of the world’s teaching follows a curriculum in judgment, with the aim of making the therapist a judge”. (P-3.II.2:4). Remember: “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. […] When you react at all to errors, you are not listening to the Holy Spirit. […] If you do not hear Him [the Holy Spirit], you are listening to your ego and making as little sense as the brother whose errors you perceive.” (T-9.III.3:1;4:1-4). Again, practicing Jesus’ Course in Miracles requires us to humbly step back and let the Voice for God lead our thoughts.

Next, Jesus states that these principles do not apply just to people we physically meet, but equally so to people we think of: “Your patients need not be physically present for you to serve them in the Name of God. This may be hard to remember, but God will not have His gifts to you limited to the few you actually see. You can see others as well, for seeing is not limited to the body’s eyes. Some do not need your physical presence. They need you as much, and perhaps even more, at the instant they are sent. You will recognize them in whatever way can be most helpful to both of you. […] A name, a thought, a picture, an idea, or perhaps just a feeling of reaching out to someone somewhere. The joining is in the hands of the Holy Spirit. It cannot fail to be accomplished.” (P-3.I.3)

This can indeed be tough to remember. If we sincerely smile at someone we meet, we usually experience an immediate effect (or reward, depending on which teacher looks at it). However, to read that thinking kindly of someone has at least as powerful an effect, sounds odd (or uncomfortable) to us. However, if we remember the Course’s metaphysical principle that minds are joined, this principle suddenly becomes obvious. Even in the case of a physical encounter, the real joining — and therefore healing — takes place on the level of the mind. So why should physical distance matter? Or even time, the fourth dimension of space, for that matter? As Jesus says in Chapter 28: “Join not your brother’s dreams but join with him [his mind, not his body], and where you join His Son the Father is.” (T-28.IV.10:1)

“A holy therapist, an advanced teacher of God, never forgets one thing: he did not make the curriculum of salvation, nor did he establish his part in it. He understands that his part is necessary to the whole, and that through it he will recognize the whole when his part is complete. Meanwhile he must learn, and his patients are the means sent to him for his learning. What could he be but grateful for them and to them? They come bearing God. Would he refuse this Gift for a pebble, or would he close the door on the Savior of the world to let in a ghost? […] Who calls on him is far beyond his understanding. Yet would he not rejoice that he can answer, when only thus will he be able to hear the call and understand that it is his?” (P-3.I.4)

I’m sure you and I do not know of many psychotherapists who think and act this way. Yet see how simple it is (though not necessarily easy) for you and me to make this a daily practice! After all, we usually meet dozens of people a day, and we can think of hundreds more if we so choose. That’s hundreds of opportunities to give the Holy Spirit permission to heal the mind! This requires that I choose to withhold my own judgment, turn inward, and ask the Holy Spirit to lovingly guide me. Combine that with the realization that you and I are not bodies, but spirit joined in one Mind — the Christ Mind — with the guarantee to make it Home to the Heart of God (we actually never left, but we need a different experience to realize this), then I’d say you and I are offered a very attractive curriculum by Jesus, one that we cannot fail to pass. And should we not fully succeed in this lifetime, we’ll at least have given ourselves a great gift for our next lifetime, in which we can finish this “journey without distance to a goal that has never changed” (T-8.VI.9:7). Happy practicing!


See also “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