The body that reads he’s not a body

In A Course in Miracles, a mind training curriculum that sets the direction towards the experience of lasting inner peace, its author Jesus faces the challenge of convincing us, who still believe we are a body reading his book, that we are not a body; in fact, that in truth there is no physical world whatsoever (W-pI.132.6.2), and that everything we perceive is no more real than the dreams we dream at night. Clearly, this is one of the reasons Jesus uses so much symbolism and poetic metaphoric language in his Course, for a message this radical does not lend itself well to a purely scientific approach, since by far most of science is itself rooted in the basic assumption that time and space are real; that we can observe and influence the world through well-controlled experiments. Again, in the Course Jesus tries to get his message across that we are not a body, but pure collective spirit, still at home in the Heart of God, though asleep in a nightmare from which we can awaken. It comes down to conveying a purely nondualistic message to a dualistic audience that still identifies itself thoroughly with a body, whether conscious of that or not. How does Jesus try to pull that off?

In chapter 18 of the text, Jesus asks us: “Can you who see yourself within a body know yourself as an idea? Everything you recognize you identify with externals, something outside itself. You cannot even think of God without a body, or in some form you think you recognize.” (T-18.VIII.1:5-7). Think a while about that! One chapter later, Jesus summarizes the inherent unreality of the physical body: “The body no more dies than it can feel. It does nothing. Of itself it is neither corruptible nor incorruptible. It is nothing.” (T-19.IV-C.5:2-5). To further convince us that we could do very well without the body, he says about his own experience: “I was a man who remembered spirit and his knowledge” (T-3.IV.7:3), and from the manual, where he speaks of himself in the third person: “The name of Jesus is the name of one who was a man but saw the face of Christ in all his brothers and remembered God. So he became identified with Christ, a man no longer, but at one with God. The man was an illusion, for he seemed to be a separate being, walking by himself, within a body that appeared to hold his self from Self, as all illusions do. […] In his complete identification with the Christ — the perfect Son of God […] — Jesus became what all of you must be. […] He led the way for you to follow him.” (M-5.2:1-3:2)

Again, the difficult thing about this message that this is a nondualistic message, read by those who still feel that duality is their daily experience. To completely give that up and enter into a completely unknown state is somewhat frightening to imagine, to say the least. Jesus realizes this well, and his teaching is always gentle and patient. Nowhere does Jesus “order” us to give up the body we still cherish so much: “It is almost impossible to deny its existence in the world. Those who do so are engaging in a particularly unworthy form of denial. […] The body can act wrongly only when it is responding to misthought.” (T-2.IV.3:10-11;2:5). In effect, the Holy Spirit, of which Jesus as author of A Course in Miracles is a manifestation, can use the concept of the body, which was made by the one ego of the one Son of God, to turn the tables on the ego, to point the way out of the dream: “The body was not made by love. Yet love does not condemn it and can use it lovingly, respecting what the Son of God has made and using it to save him from illusions” (T-18.VI.4:7-8). So the body isn’t rejected as something negative, as in many other spiritualities; rather, it becomes a useful tool for learning the Holy Spirit’s lessons of love (T-6.5).

That is also why, although only one teacher of God is necessary to save the world (M-12), this one teacher appears to us as many bodies that remind other bodies of the Alternative, the choice for Love. Jesus explains: “Why is the illusion of many necessary? Only because reality [nonduality] is not understandable to the deluded. Only very few can hear God’s Voice at all […] They need a medium through which communication becomes possible to those who do not realize that they are spirit. A body they can see. A voice they understand and listen to, without the fear that truth [nonduality] would encounter in them. Do not forget that truth can come only where it is welcomed without fear. So God’s teachers need a body, for their unity could not be recognized directly.” (M-12.2:8). This is how Jesus uses duality to bring his message of nonduality across: “This course remains within the ego framework [duality], where it is needed. It is not concerned with what is beyond all error [nonduality], because it is planned only to set the direction towards it.” (C-in.3:1-2)

Nowhere does Jesus push his students to give up the body before his message of nonduality is welcomed without fear. In fact, his focus is always on the mind that ultimately is the cause of the body. That’s why A Course in Miracles is a course in mind training. When the mind is completely healed, the body will cease to be valued, and will merely vanish because it will simply be forgotten, together with everything in time and space (which is why Gary Renard’s first book is called “The disappearance of the universe”). But we’re not there yet: “Our emphasis is now on healing [the mind]. The miracle [through forgiveness] is the means, the Atonement is the principle, and healing is the result.” (T-2.IV.1:1-2; my italics).

True salvation, or the acceptance of the Atonement, is therefore a slow process within the dualistic dream of time and space, which is exactly what we need to handle our fear of renouncing our individuality and autonomy, illusory though they may be: “Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality” (T-16.VI.8:1). In Chapter 27 of the text we read why Jesus emphasizes this: “So fearful is the dream, so seeming real, he [the Son of God] could not waken to reality without the sweat of terror and a scream of mortal fear, unless a gentler dream preceded his awaking, and allowed his calmer mind to welcome, not to fear, the Voice that calls with love to waken him; a gentler dream, in which his suffering was healed and where his brother was his friend. God willed he waken gently and with joy, and gave him means to waken without fear” (T-27.VII.13:4-5).

Realize though, that when you study A Course in Miracles, Jesus is not promising a “better” life to remain in the dualistic dream world of time and space, as many other spiritualities promise. The Course is uncompromising in its metaphysical foundation: lasting inner peace can never be found within a body in the dualistic dream of time and space. Jesus uses poetic dualistic language only to help ready the mind for an honest evaluation of dualism (the ego) versus nondualism (God, being Oneness Love). It may perhaps be comforting to know that salvation is guaranteed. That is, everyone is guaranteed to discard the body sooner or later, not with regret, but with a sigh of relief: “The script is written. When experience will come to end your doubting has been set. For we but see the journey from the point at which it ended, looking back on it, imagining we make it once again; reviewing mentally what has gone by” (W-pI.158.4:3-5).

So whenever you find yourself reading that blue book of Jesus’ mind training curriculum, try to be aware of the nondualistic message he tries to bring across that lies beyond the often beautiful poetic dualistic language. Accept for now that you still identify deeply with a physical body — there’s absolutely no need to feel guilty about that. But following Jesus’ instructions in the text, the workbook and the manual, you can perhaps train your mind in seeing yourself as the formless, abstract, eternal light of Love that all of us are, and which collectively makes up the one Son of God who has in truth never left his Home in the Heart of God. We have not sinned. Our Father loves His Son and wants nothing but His Son. Don’t reject the body, but bring it ever so slowly a bit more to the background. At the same time, bring the light of oneness slightly more to the foreground. You will find the world around you will light up as well, for your experience of the world around you merely mirrors the state of your own mind.

To conclude with the lovely workbook lesson 190: “My holy brother, think of this awhile: The world you see does nothing. It has no effects at all. It merely represents your thoughts. And it will change entirely as you elect to change your mind, and choose the joy of God as what you really want. Your Self is radiant in this holy joy, unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable, forever and forever. […]  Lay down your arms, and come without defense into the quiet place where Heaven’s peace holds all things still at last. Lay down all thoughts of danger and of fear. Let no attack enter with you. Lay down the cruel sword of judgment that you hold against your throat, and put aside the withering assaults with which you seek to hide your holiness. Here will you understand there is no pain. Here does the joy of God belong to you.” (W-pI.190.6:1-3;9).


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:

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Which dream do we want?

In the early workbook lessons 31 and 32 in A Course in Miracles, we read that we are not the victim of the world we see, because we invented it (W-pI.32.1:2). Jesus goes on to state that “You can give it up as easily as you made it up. You will see it or not see it, as you wish.” (W-pI.32.1:3-4). At first, this seems rather odd, if not insulting. Did I make up everything I see in the world news? Did I make up the illness that I see striking the loved ones around me? Did I make up all the things that seem to go terribly wrong in my life? What is Jesus talking about?

In these early workbook lessons, Jesus is subtly and gently introducing the Course’s metaphysics to us. Its strictly nondualistic essence is rather radical to say the least, and needs careful introduction if it is to be accepted to any degree. Consider: according to the Course, the world you and I seem to live in, is just as much a dream as our nocturnal dreams are. When we wake up in the morning, we actually wake up to the “waking dream”, which is just as illusory as our nightly dreams. In fact, time and space are itself unreal. The body was strictly made to experience a life within time and space; it cannot go beyond them. Our essence is therefore not a body, but spirit, outside time and space. Bodies are forms; spirit is content. Although there seem to be billions of bodies (forms), they all emanate from the same content, which is spirit.

To any seemingly separated body living here, this whole story seems preposterous, at least while we are convinced our sensory organs report the truth to us. But is it the truth? Quantum physicists have found that ultimately, both time and space are indeed illusory. But most scientists are still in great resistance to this conclusion, for it ultimately means that many decades of ‘scientific evidence’ will have to be reconsidered, which, again, is way too radical and, since we still trust our sensory organs, lacks any practical application for our daily lives. But the real reason we don’t follow through on that conclusion, according to Jesus in A Course in Miracles,  is that we don’t want to give up this world, since that would mean giving up our perceived individual autonomy of the self we think we are.

Again speaking from a nondualistic metaphysical point of view, the cause of the world was the “tiny, mad idea” (T-27.VIII.6:2-3) of wanting to be on our own, separate from the Oneness Love which is God. We, as Christ, the One Son of God, are the effect of that Love. The “tiny, mad idea” is the quantum possibility of the One Son of God musing about how it would be to not be an effect, but to be a creator himself; to be on his own. At that point consciousness was born and the ego with it. The ego is not some evil entity on its own. The ego is merely the thought system of separation, of individuality, and therefore of attack on oneness, which the One Son of God seemed to consider seriously. When the Son realized the consequences of this seriousness, his mind was flooded with guilt. Deathly afraid of the perceived wrath of God the Creator, the terrified amnesiac Son of God followed the advice of the ego to fragment into billions of pieces, to hide from the vengeful Creator. This caused the Big Bang and the beginning of the dream of time and space.

So when Jesus says we invented the world we see, in one sense he means this literally: every separated from we see around us is but part of the ‘waking dream’ in which we invented to hide in a myriad of forms so God cannot find us and punish us. But here’s the trick: since the Son of God finds the guilt over his heinous ‘sin of separation‘ too terrible to face, he projects this away, so that all evil now seems to be outside him. So every fragmented form in the dream of time and space thinks that sin and guilt are in everyone and everything else. Consequently, anything and anyone can attack the innocent little I, and so each of us walks this dream-like planet “uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear” (T-31.VIII.7:1). That’s why the Course describes the making of this world as an attack on God (W-pII.3.2:1), and summarizes it as a veritable hell (P.2.IV.3:1) — a hell, mind you, that we made up, and which remains nothing more than a dream (a nightmare really), from which we could choose to awaken as soon as we want to.

One of the most confronting aspects of A Course in Miracles is Jesus’ message that this world — this hell — was not thrust upon us: we wanted it and we made it; we still want it; we still make it; we still choose it. This is the ego’s strategy of maintaining the illusion of separation from God, but having all others but me be responsible for it: “The world you see depicts exactly what you thought you did. Except that now you think that what you did is being done to you. The guilt for what you thought is being placed outside yourself… […] But once deluded into blaming them you will not see the cause of what they do, because you want the guilt to rest on them” (T-27.VIII.7:2-4; 8:2). At least I can keep up the illusion that I am an innocent separated individual, not to be punished by God.

So when Jesus says we invented the world we see, he means this also in the sense that “I have invented my perception of the world I see”. I’ve chosen to interpret the world as guilty, hostile, and poised to attack me as an innocent individual — in short, I’ve chosen the ego as my guide in the world. And precisely because my interpretation is my choice, my mind is able to choose another interpretation. This freedom of choice is my only hope of finding a way out of pain, a way out of the dream, out of time and space, and back to my true inheritance as an effect of the oneness Love of God. The way out of the nightmare is to change my perception of the world, by choosing another Teacher, Who fortunately came with us into the dream of time and space, since our link with God can never be broken .

This other Teacher is called the Holy Spirit in A Course in Miracles. In the workbook, he is more or less introduced in lesson 34: “I could see peace instead of this”. The lesson’s title might as easily have been: “I could see The Holy Spirit instead of this”, or “I could see God’s Love instead of this”, or “I could see Jesus instead of this” — these are all expressions of the same content. As soon as I realize that the world is not being done to me, but I (as holographic part of the sleeping Son of God) am the dreamer of this dream of time and space, I can withdraw my investment in the myriad of forms, and focus on the content in my mind. And this content is always either fear (ego) or love (Holy Spirit). Instead of seeing guilt, hate, attack and pain all around me (which is a sure sign that I also unconsciously think this is within myself, my conscious thoughts to the contrary), I could choose to see past the forms to the loving content of light that’s the essence of all that I perceive. This is what Jesus calls true perception.  And this is a choice — the most important choice to be made in life.

“It is from your peace of mind that a peaceful perception of the world arises.” (W-pI.34.1:4). That is why A Course in Miracles is a course in mind training (T-1.VII.4:1). Our mind is usually not very much at peace, but this need not be (T-4.IV.1). A peaceful mind is a choice, and A Course in Miracles can be a useful aid in training the mind in true perception and find peace. Now, this inner peace will certainly not immediately put an end to all the horrors we see on the world news. But instead of believing in the reality of the dream and trying to fix the dream (which will never work because it doesn’t solve the cause of the world), we could learn to think beyond the dream and once again identify with the Holy Spirit, the Voice for God’s Love, which is our true inheritance. If I want to experience any measure of peace in my life, I will have to start with my self, that is, within my mind, and not hope for something external to magically bring me peace. Remember: “Seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world” (T-21.in.1:7).

Changing my mind about the world results in true perception and ushers in the real world, which is still within the dream world of time and space, but doesn’t breed any more separation, guilt, and fear. How’s that for motivation? As you practice this new perception (through your daily practice of A Course in Miracles), you become a light of love in this world that shines away the darkness of uncertainty, loneliness, and constant fear. And this will not go unnoticed: emanating peace results in peacefulness around you. Which dream would you choose; that is: which teacher would you choose in this dream world? This is ultimately the only remaining freedom of choice in this dream world. Choose wisely, in spite of doubts and fears. “Concentrate only on this [your willingness to choose another teacher], and do not be disturbed that shadows surround it. That is why you came. If you could come without them you would not need the holy instant [of choosing Love once again]” (T-18.IV.2:4-6).


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:

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Workshop: “What is valuable?”

On Feb. 4, 2018, I did a workshop in Amersfoort at “Miracles in Contact“, which is the Dutch Course community, about “What is valuable”, based, of course, on the teachings of A Course in Miracles. The workshop is in Dutch; however, English subtitles are available.
You can view the video recording of the workshop here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhpG1U2FvmI .

Enjoy! Comments and questions are welcome.


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:

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Stop fearing and fighting the world

In our lives, we are constantly looking for ways to minimize pain and to maximize pleasure. These are the basic motivating drives in all living things. In both cases, we attempt to meet these needs by manipulating — or at least adjusting to — an external world. And although at some level we grudgingly admit that we will never wholly succeed, that is, there will always be some form of pain to perturb our pleasure, we stubbornly soldier on, accepting this as a ‘fact of life’. In stark contrast, A Course in Miracles teaches us that “this need not be” (T-4.IV). In fact, Jesus assures us that we can leave all pain behind, not by changing the world, but simply through forgiveness. How could this be?

In the Course’s Workbook, lesson 23 states that “I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.” When Jesus uses the word ‘world’, he equates this to a place of fear, anger, depression, hate, vengeance; in short: pain. Although we may sometimes experience the world as beautiful, wonderful, and blissful, sooner or later we realize that this does not last. Eventually, nothing in this world lasts. Even the most solid mountain ranges will eventually crumble. Beneath each fleeting perception of happiness, deep inside we realize that pain is never far away. Why is this so? Fasten your seat belt as Jesus puts the ultimate truth to us: We made this world as an attack on God. (W-pII.3.2:1). I challenge you to find a spirituality that proclaims this very same message!

The ‘we’ is the collective mind of the sleeping Son of God, who (metaphorically) considered the idea of what it would be like to be separate from his Creator. In taking this silly notion seriously, consciousness (and the ego with it ) seemed to come into existence: the Son being aware of himself and of something else (his Father). Guilt floods the mind of the Son over having shattered the oneness of eternity (or so he hallucinates). The ego counsels the Son to hide from the Creator through further separation, that is, by fragmenting into billions and billions of splintered bits, which we now know as the Big Bang and the origin of the material universe. Therefore, everything our senses behold is no more and no less than an effect of this fearful fragmentation, which is in turn an effect of the guilt and fear resulting from our imagined attack on God.

A Course in Miracles is a purely nondualistic spirituality, in that nonduality is defined as the only true reality. Nothing in the universe, including time itself, could ever have happened, and therefore never truly happened. Everything in time and space is but a silly dream, fearful though it may seem. The world we experience ourselves in therefore does not really exist! In the Workbook, Jesus puts it this way: “Each of your perceptions of ‘external reality’ is a pictorial representation of your own attack thoughts.” (W-pI.23.3:2); and, from the text: “It [the world] is the witness to your state of mind; the outside picture of an inward condition.” (T-21.in.1:5). We have therefore made the world we experience, in an attempt to remain separate from God, cherishing our ‘autonomy’. These teachings put the responsibility for the pain and pleasure you and I experience, straight in our own hands! Why is this so?

Jesus explains: “If the cause of the world you see is attack thoughts, you must learn that it is these thoughts which you do not want. There is no point in lamenting the world. There is no point in trying to change the world. It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect. But there is indeed a point in changing your thoughts about the world. Here you are changing the cause. The effect will change automatically.” (W-pI.23.2). Again, this is because we did not come into the world unbidden; we made up this world in our crazy notion we had to hide from a vengeful God Who would most certainly punish us for our attack of separation. Jesus comforts us: “Nothing more fearful than an idle dream has terrified God’s Son, and made him think that he has lost his innocence, denied his Father, and made war upon himself.” (T-27.VII.13:3)

Jesus teaches us that the only reason we perceive attack, hate, and pain, is because we chose to have such thoughts in the mind. “It is with your thoughts, then, that we must work.” (W-pI.23.1:5). A Course in Miracles explains to us that we really only have two types of thoughts: either loving thoughts or non-loving thoughts. Consequently, there are only two teachers for our thoughts that we can choose to listen to: either the Voice for Love (called the Holy Spirit) or the Voice for fear (the ego).  Jesus tries to make us see that we can indeed undo all the pain in our lives, merely by giving up attack thoughts, thereby undoing the ego. We do this simply by consistently choosing to listen to another teacher: the Voice for Love.

Well, to say “simply” is not really fair. The principle may be simple, but following through is extremely difficult. Why? Because although we want the happiness that Jesus promises us, we want it as an ego-individual. Attaining the promised state of happiness means we must choose to relinquish our very personality and individuality, and that is sort of frightening, to put it mildly. We may tell ourselves rationally that it will be great, because it means returning back to the unchanging eternity of nonduality, where there is only Love that never fades, but in our gut we still cling to this life on earth. To avoid spiritual discouragement, Jesus promises that spiritual awakening is a slow process that need not be painful or frightening: “So fearful is the dream, so seeming real, he [i.e., the Son of God; all of us] could not waken to reality without the sweat of terror and a scream of mortal fear, unless a gentler dream preceded his awaking, and allowed his calmer mind to welcome, not to fear, the Voice that calls with love to waken him. […] God willed he waken gently and with joy, and gave him means to waken without fear.” (T-27.VII.13:3-5)

The means constitute the practice of forgiveness of every dark spot that still hides out in our unforgiving mind. This curriculum is called A Course in Miracles because the miracle is the realization that you and I are the dreamer of the dream we call the world, that we are doing all of this unto ourselves (we are not victims!) (T-27.VIII.10:1), and that by consistently choosing the Teacher of Love (i.e., the Holy Spirit, or Jesus, as his manifestation) we can gradually undo all the fear and pain in our lives. Again, this puts the responsibility for the happiness in our lives solely in our own hands: “The correction of fear is your responsibility. When you ask for release from fear, you are implying that it is not. You should ask, instead, for help in the conditions that have brought the fear about. These conditions always entail a willingness to be separate.” (T-2.VI.4:1-3). Practicing forgiveness means choosing to overlook all the silly forms in the world and accept the content of love and shared interests in everyone — including yourself! — as the focus in your mind.

This Course does not ask us to deny what we see on the world news. There will still be crime and misery everywhere. We still need courtrooms and prisons. We still need medicine to ease acute physical pain. The Course simply calls on us to realize that all perception of pain calls for forgiveness, not for anger, fear, or depression. To once again cite one of the most oft-quoted lines in the Course: “Seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world” (T-21.In.1:7). Any darkness I perceive around me has nothing to do with anything or anyone around me: it is merely a sure sign of a dark spot in my own mind. This is where the work needs to be done. How could you save the world if you cannot even control the darkness in your own mind?

A Course in Miracles is a course in mind training. It is not a Course in Love, but a Course in finding and undoing all the barriers that we have built against Love (T-16.IV.6). Jesus continually reminds us that we can find lasting happiness, if we bring our attention back from fearing and fighting the world (the outside) to examining our thoughts (the inside) and allowing Jesus, as manifestation of the Voice for Love, to gradually and gently undo all this pain and darkness for us. So resign as your own teacher (T-12.V.8:3) and choose to identify once again with your own inheritance: pure love. Be vigilant only for God and His Kingdom [that is, Love] (T-6.V-C). “Teach only Love, for that is what you are” (T-6.III.2:5). Your experience of the world and of your life will change accordingly.


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:

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