A successful workbook practice

Many students of A Course in Miracles have a somewhat two-edged relationship with the workbook lessons, and that probably includes you and me. Once convinced that a diligent daily practice of these lessons is the way to reach the ‘real world‘, that is, the inner world of cleansed perception, we become really motivated to follow up on Jesus’ daily instructions. However, once we find that we cannot keep up even five minutes of mind training three times a day, feelings of disappointment, guilt, and a sense of inadequacy soon surface. What happens next is that we either set the workbook (and the Course) aside for a while (or for a long while), or hit ourselves over the head and try even harder, turning it into a heavy, demanding ritual that becomes a dark looming cloud in our minds.

Jesus of course wants neither. The very first workbook lesson stresses the latter point: “[…] These exercises should not become ritualistic.” (W-pI.1.3:5). In the manual for teachers, Jesus cautions his students once more: “Routines as such are dangerous, because they easily become gods in their own right, threatening the very goals for which they were set up.” (M-16.2:5). Also in the workbook, Jesus tells his students to focus on the general message of a lesson, and not be compulsive about exact wording: “It is not necessary to cover the comments that follow each idea either literally or thoroughly in the practice periods. Try, rather, to emphasize the central point…” (W-pI.R-I.3:1-2).

Whether we’re compulsive or forgetful, in either case Jesus knows there’s ego-resistance at work, for the road to the real world means the demise of the ego. Each successfully practiced workbook lesson brings the ego a little further to the background. As long as we still identify with our individual ego-personality, of course there’s going to be resistance. Jesus is very gentle and open with us on this phenomenon: “It is difficult at this point not to allow your mind to wander, if it undertakes extended practice. You  have surely realized this by now. You have seen the extent of your lack of mental discipline, and of your need for mind training. […] Structure, then, is necessary for you at this time, planned to include frequent reminders of your goal and regular attempts to reach it. Regularity in terms of time is not the ideal requirement for the most beneficial form of practice in salvation. It is advantageous, however, for those whose motivation is inconsistent, and who remain heavily defended against learning.” (W-pI.95.4:2-4;6:1) So while rituals are not our aim, regular structured practice periods are ‘beneficial’.

For those of us who tend to frequently forget about the practice periods (which would include virtually all Course students), Jesus calmly, gently yet sternly guides his students back to the ‘groove’ they need to find to once again make progress: “Do not, however, use your lapses from [the] schedule as an excuse not to return to it again as soon as you can. There may well be a temptation to regard the day as lost because you have already failed to do what is required. This should, however, merely be recognized as what it is: a refusal to let your mistake be corrected, and an unwillingness to try again.” (W-pI.95.7:3-5). And, in lesson 40: “You are urged to attempt this schedule and to adhere to it whenever possible. If you forget, try again. If there are long interruptions, try again. Whenever you remember, try again.” (W-pI.40.1:4-7). In other words, forgetfulness is not a sin or an inherent inadequacy; it’s a mistake, born out of the aforementioned resistance, that calls for correction, not for self-punishment or depression.

However, once we get that point, the next step is to realize that we should try to generalize our practice of the lessons to all situations we seem to find ourselves in from day to day. In a sense, you might say that the workbook offers two modes of practice. The first mode of practice happens in the place, usually at home, where you concentrate on reading the instructions and spend the required time to practice what Jesus asks. The second mode, however, comprises all the situations that upset us, in the turmoil of our lives: when we feel fearful, angry, depressed, desperate; whenever we are caught in special hate relationships. These are the hardest situations to practice the workbook lessons, but it is exactly the successful practice during just such events that will put us well ahead in our mind training.

Jesus elaborates on the importance of our ‘practice during distress‘ in the first review (of the first 50 lessons) in the workbook: “It will be necessary […] that you learn to require no special settings in which to apply what you have learned. You will need your learning most in situations that appear to be upsetting, rather than in those that already seem to be calm and quiet [for example, when reading the workbook lesson]. The purpose of your learning is to enable you to bring the quiet with you, and to heal distress and turmoil. This is not done by avoiding them and seeking a haven of isolation for yourself.” (W-pI.R-I.4:2-5).

At first, this may seem to contradict Jesus’ repeated instructions in several workbook lessons to practice our focus on a ‘haven of meditation’, for example in workbook lesson 44: “Try to sink into your mind, letting go every kind of interference and intrusion by gently sinking past them. Your mind cannot be stopped in this unless you choose to stop it. It is merely taking its natural course. […] While you practice in this way, you leave behind everything you now believe, and all the thoughts that you have made up. Properly speaking, this is the release from hell.” (W-pI.44.7:2-4;5:4-5). This might seem to suggest that we should especially practice in a meditative setting. However, the purpose of this meditative practice is to be able to always find the peace you need, however bad the situation seems to be: “You will yet learn that peace is part of you, and requires only that you be there to embrace any situation in which you are.” (W-pI.R-1.5:1). This certainly includes situations in which we find ourselves in arguments, accusations, sickness, terror, anxiety, you name it.

So Jesus’ meditative instructions are meant to enable us, as decision maker, to choose peace no matter what situation we find ourselves in. Meditation is therefore a means to an end, not a goal in itself. Some students make their meditative ritual into a false god, with a special altar, special candles, or special music. Before they know it, that’s the only place where they believe they can find the peace of God. The purpose of the workbook, however, is to develop the skill to reach and choose this inner peace anytime of the day, in any situation. “And finally you will learn that there is no limit to where you are, so that your peace is everywhere, as you are.” (W-pI.R-1.5:2). As long as we are not yet on such an advanced level, we need structured periods of quiet practice. However, we speed up our learning significantly if we can learn to connect with that inner tranquility in times of turbulence, in spite of the aforementioned resistance that will also be there. Why not try it today?

See also my “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:


See also my Feb. 2018 Course workshop at www.youtube.com.

I’ll do it my way!

Undoubtedly, among Frank Sinatra’s best-remembered songs is his 1969 single called “My way”, with lyrics by Paul Anka and music by Jacques Revaux and Claude François. This song spent 75 consecutive weeks in the UK Top 40, a record that still stands. One might call it the ultimate ego song, especially from the viewpoint of A Course in Miracles; after all, the main drive of the ego is to constantly tell God to get lost, because it can do better on its own. Wikipedia by the way mentions that Frank Sinatra detested singing this song because he feared the audience would take it as self-aggrandizement, and he hated boastfulness in others. Still, its obvious glorification of the ego is undoubtedly one of the reasons for its huge success. It’s a song about trusting in your own strength, believing that this is what will bring fulfillment in life. But does it?

In A Course in Miracles, Workbook lesson 47 has us reconsider exactly that notion: “If you are trusting in your own strength, you have every reason to be apprehensive, anxious and fearful. What can you predict or control? What is there in you that can be counted on? What would give you the ability to be aware of all the facets of any problem, and to resolve them in such a way that only good can come of it? What is there that gives you the recognition of the right solution, and the guarantee that it will be accomplished?” (W-pI.47.1). If you think carefully about it, the answer is plain to see, as Jesus immediately affirms: “Of yourself you can do none of these things. To believe that you can is to put your trust where trust is unwarranted, and to justify fear, anxiety, depression, anger and sorrow. Who can put his faith in weakness and feel safe?” (W-pI.47.2:1-3).

The trouble lies in our assumptions about ourselves being able to judge anything at all. Following the ontological judgment of the Son of God that he would be better off apart from his Source and Creator, which is really an illusory rejection of the Love that the Son both has and is, the Son is keeping his dream (nightmare, really) ongoing through constant judgment. Whenever your judgment is not a choice for Love, it’s a rejection, or a condemnation. That is why A Course in Miracles makes it clear that the mind, in spite of its seeming complexity, always chooses between only two choices or two voices (C-1.7): either the voice of the ego, proclaiming separation and individuality, or the Voice of the Holy Spirit, the Voice for Love that invites us to once again choose our inheritance as Love and Oneness. That is why “The ego analyzes [i.e., judges]; the Holy Spirit accepts” (T-11.V.13:1). In other words, the Course teaches us that judgment does not lead to happiness and fulfillment.

Section 10 in the Manual for teachers makes the same point: “It is necessary for the teacher of God to realize, not that he should not judge, but that he cannot… The aim of our curriculum, unlike the goal of the world’s learning, is the recognition that judgment in the usual sense is impossible. […] In order to judge anything rightly, one would have to be fully aware of an inconceivably wide range of things; past, present and to come. One would have to recognize in advance all the effects of his judgments on everyone and everything involved in them in any way. And one would have to be certain there is no distortion in his perception, so that his judgment would be wholly fair to everyone on whom it rests now and in the future. Who is in a position to do this?” (M-10.2:1;3:1,3-6). Obviously, no-one is.

Now, you might object that trying to live without judgment in this dualistic world of time and space is impossible. Not only would you become the proverbial doormat, but you probably wouldn’t even survive for very long. In other words, renouncing the ego without an alternative guide would be a hopeless quest. Luckily, in addition to the wrong-minded part in our minds that is called the ego, we also have the power to choose right-minded thinking, that is, listening to the Holy Spirit, the Voice for Love. This is usually not an audible inner voice; He’s more like a peaceful feeling of intuition, or what some call our “Inner Teacher”, or “Big Mind”. The good news is that this Voice is always available to us, whenever we choose to direct our thoughts away from the ego chattering, to the tranquil silence that lies beyond. As Jesus says in chapter 12  and 28, in a combined quote that Kenneth Wapnick often used: “Resign now as your own teacher […] for you were badly taught” (T-12.V.8:3; T-28.1.7:1).

In chapter 27 on salvation, Jesus puts it this way: “The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself” (T-27.VIII.10:1). Again, without a much better alternative, this would only lead to depression. That’s why Jesus explains in the same workbook lesson 47: “God [or the Holy Spirit, the Voice for God/Love] is your safety in every circumstance. His Voice [the Holy Spirit] speaks for Him in all situations and in every aspect of all situations, telling you exactly what to do to call upon His strength and His protection. There are no exceptions because God has no exceptions” (W-pI.47.3:1-3). And, from the end of the text: “You always choose between your weakness and the strength of Christ in you. And what you choose is what you think is real. Simply by never using weakness to direct your actions, you have given it no power. And the light of Christ in you is given charge of everything you do” (T-31.VIII.2:3-6).

A Course in Miracles is a curriculum in mind training. So the next time you find yourself thinking “I’ll do it my way!”, you should have developed (slowly but surely) the conditioned mind warning that this is the certain way to disappointment, loneliness and fear. We should instead find the courage to step back, forget the things we think we need (S-1.1.4:1) and ask the Holy Spirit for help in releasing our judgment about what to think, say and do. As Jesus told Helen: “You cannot ask, ‘What shall I say to him?’ and hear God’s answer. Rather ask instead, ‘Help me to see this brother through the eyes of truth and not of judgment,’ and the help of God and all His angels will respond” (Absence from felicity, p.381). Just ask this, and wait for the peaceful intuitive impulse to make itself known. You will then automatically do what’s most loving: “If it [the acceptance of this Voice] is used truly, it will inevitably be expressed in whatever way is most helpful to the receiver” (T-2.IV.5:2)  And although the ego is then quick to warn us that this “giving up of control” will probably lead to disaster, if you seriously try it (that is, follow through on this peaceful impulse), afterwards you will find to your astonishment that the situation did indeed turn out best for everyone.

A final, often-heard complaint is that this all sounds nice, but it’s very hard to discern the Voice of the Holy Spirit at all, since the mind is so cluttered with ego impulses. This is why Jesus invites us, already fairly early in the workbook, to train the mind to find the tranquility beyond the chatter (after looking at the darkness). One such example of this extremely important mind training, from lesson 47, will do as an example: “Spend a minute or two in searching for situations in your life which you have invested with fear, dismissing each one by telling yourself: God is the strength in which I trust. Now try to slip past all concerns related to your own sense of inadequacy. […] It is not by trusting yourself that you will gain confidence. But the strength of God in you is successful in all things. […] Try to reach down into your mind to a place of real safety. You will recognize that you have reached it if you feel a sense of deep peace, however briefly. Let go of all the trivial things that churn and bubble on the surface of your mind, and reach down and below them to the Kingdom of Heaven. There is a place in you where there is perfect peace” (W-pI.47.4:5-7:5). A safe rule of thumb (from Buddhism) for this training to be effective, is to do this exercise twice a day for at least fifteen minutes each time. Just watch your ego complain that this is too much or too hard, or impossible. Then gently smile about such silliness, and make this one of the most important things in your daily schedule. Thus do you affirm to yourself: “I’ll not do it my way; I’ll do it God’s way.” This is the royal road to lasting inner peace.

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:


See also my Feb. 2018 Course workshop at www.youtube.com.

We think we think

What would you say if someone were to ask you to describe the nature of your thoughts? Most of us would say it’s the verbal word stream in the brain that we usually are more or less aware of. We take that for granted: “I think, therefore I am” (Descartes). How startling, then, to read in workbook lesson 45 of A Course in Miracles that “Nothing that you think are your real thoughts resemble your real thoughts in any respect.” And a bit before that: “There is no relationship between what is real and what you think is real.” Jesus is bluntly saying that what we think we think are not our real thoughts, and, moreover, that what we think is real is nothing but illusion. That’s pretty radical. What does he mean?

As most Course students are well aware of, the seemingly sleeping one Son of God made up the dream of the physical universe in time, in an attempt to escape from an imagined wrathful God Who is out to punish His Son for the savage sin of trying to separate from Oneness. Ever since the Big Bang, the ego (i.e., the desire to be autonomous) has been in the driver’s seat in the mind of the seemingly fragmented Son of God. Its activity can be described as constant distraction. You and I tend to constantly focus on a zillion things outside of us, instead of turning inward to really see what’s there. That’s purposive. The ego’s greatest fear is that the sleeping Son might become aware of the Voice for Love (In A Course in Miracles He’s called the Holy Spirit) and renounce the ego, time, and space forever. To avoid that, we clutter the mind with senseless things that we feel are very important for our survival and happiness. But are they?

In the same lesson 45, we read: “Under all the senseless thoughts and mad ideas with which you have cluttered up your mind are the thoughts that you thought with God in the beginning [i.e., before the Big Bang]” (W-pI.45.7:1). And, earlier: “You think with the Mind of God. Therefore you share your thoughts with Him, as He shares His with you. […] Therefore, your thoughts are in the Mind of God, as you are. They are in your mind as well, where He is.” (W-pI.45.2:1-2,6-7). That’s not a statement the ego likes to hear, to say the very least. At a first surface reading, this can cause considerable confusion. If my verbal thoughts are not my real thoughts… if I share my real thoughts with the thoughts of God, Who is literally within me, how should I picture my real thoughts?

Let’s answer this question in two steps. First of all, if we expand the notion of ‘thinking’ to everything we do in response to a mind impulse, we can see that animals think as well. Of course they do not understand words and do not think verbally; however, as Pursah pointed out in Gary Renard’s latest book “The lifetimes when Jesus and Buddha knew each other”, animals think in pictures. When Gary focused his mind to ‘send’ loving pictures to his cat, she immediately calmed down. I’ve tried this myself while strolling around the neighborhood. I remember one dog (on a leash) who watched to see if I too, perhaps, was taking a dog with me (I wasn’t, I do not own a dog); but I took the opportunity to ‘send’ a blast of inner loving light to the pet. The result was startling. Tail straight up and barking gaily, he attempted vigorously to reach me in an attempt of unconditional embrace. It works from human to human too, by the way. Just try it in any meeting: the energy you emanate from your mind fills the room and noticeably influences the entire atmosphere.

Although this first step brings us a bit closer to the notion of the Thoughts of God, we are not quite there yet. God does not use words; God does not produce pictures. God is synonymous with Love (capital L, to emphasize that Love transcends time and space). Therefore, as our second step, the Mind (or Thoughts) of God can aptly be described as Love. This, and only this, makes up our real thoughts. This may sound terribly simplistic and even boring, but that is the bottom line. “Nothing that you think you see bears any resemblance to what vision will show you. […] Everything you have thought since then [the Big Bang] will change, but the Foundation on which it rests is wholly changeless. […] Here is your mind joined with the Mind of God [i.e., Love].” (W-pI.45.1:5,7:4,8:2). Most meditation practices are aimed towards slipping past the cluttered verbal thought stream to the silence that lies beyond it. In fact, the practice in workbook lesson 45 is to “try to go past all the unreal thoughts that cover the truth in your mind, and reach to the eternal [i.e., Love].” (W-pI.45.6:3)

Merely because the Son of God chose to fall asleep and listen to the constant distractions of the ego to prevent the mind from waking up again, does not mean our real thoughts are gone; that is, the Love of God still remains within the Son’s mind. As Jesus says in chapter 5 of the text: “Both Heaven and earth are in you, because the call of both is in your mind. The Voice for God [Love] comes from your own altars to Him. These altars are not things; they are devotions. Yet you have other devotions now. Your divided devotion has given you the two voices, and you must choose at which altar you want to serve. […] The decision is very simple. It is made on the basis of which call is worth more to you.” (T-5.II.8:5-12)

So this is why we exclaim, just like St. Paul in Jesus’ historic age: “Why is it that I keep doing the things I know I should not do, and I fail to do what I know is right?” This is because of our divided devotion. Somewhere deep inside we realize we yearn for the Love of God more than anything else, but on the other hand… the ‘price’ for that means giving up our cherished individual little selves, and we’re not yet willing to do that. So the mind is in constant conflict. A Course in Miracles offers us the way out of this hellish dilemma. It’s called, you guessed it: forgiveness. Not to appease a wrathful God (God cannot be angry because Love cannot be angry), but to forgive ourselves for the silly mistake of falling asleep in an ego dream that doesn’t work. And although forgiveness, needed in time and space, is an illusion itself and therefore not of God, in the world we think we are it is the one thought that points the way out of the dream, because it recognizes the inherent sameness and oneness in everyone and everything, and therefore provides the miracles the Holy Spirit uses to heal the collective mind of the sleeping Son of God.

“God does not forgive because He has never condemned [immortalized, by the way, in the movie “As it is in Heaven”]. And there must be condemnation before forgiveness is necessary. Forgiveness is the great need of this world, but that is because it is a world of illusions. Those who forgive are thus releasing themselves from illusions, while those who withhold forgiveness are binding themselves to them. As you condemn only yourself, so do yo forgive only yourself. Yet although God does not forgive, His Love is nevertheless the basis of forgiveness. Fear condemns and love forgives. Forgiveness thus undoes what fear has [seemingly] produced, returning the mind to the awareness of God [Love]” (W-pI.46-1:1-2:3). So our verbal thoughts turn out to be merely ego distractions, while forgiveness is the way to become aware of the Love that we both have and are, our real thoughts that we share with God. That is why our task is not to seek for love, but only to seek and find all of the barriers that we have built against it. (T-16.IV.6:1) “For this reason, forgiveness can truly be called salvation. It is the means by which illusions disappear.” (W-pI.46.2:4-5). 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:


See also my Feb. 2018 Course workshop at www.youtube.com.

Advancing to our return

Following a recent request to elaborate a bit on the notion of “We are but reviewing mentally what has gone by”, (W-pI.158.5), let’s briefly explore one of the most difficult topics in A Course in Miracles, namely time. One blog is certainly not enough to cover this topic extensively. If you would really like to delve into this most fascinating aspect of the Course, I would highly recommend Kenneth Wapnick’s “A vast illusion: Time according to A Course in Miracles“, at http://www.facim.org. A basic notion of the Course’s concept of time is indispensable, if a student is to make good progress in Jesus’ curriculum of forgiveness.

As I mention in almost every blog post, A Course in Miracles is a strictly nondualistic spirituality. This means that, according to the Course, only God is real, and God is beyond all forms, beyond time and space, beyond human comprehension. Consequently, everything in our dualistic world of perception, time and space is wholly illusory, like a dream. This isn’t just theoretical musing. As separated bodies, you and I literally do not truly exist, our sensory experience to the contrary. In reality, all of life is one collective spirit, still at Home in God, yet dreaming of exile (T-10.1.2:1), having fallen ‘asleep’ by musing what it would be like to be separate from God: this is the dream of time. The Course’s goal is to train the mind to clearly discern the difference between the conflict and misery of dualism, and the peace and Love of nondualism. The Course is here to take us out of the dream of time and space. If you are looking for a spirituality to keep your self-concept exactly as it is, but without your current suffering (P-2.In:2:3), A Course in Miracles is not for you. Salvation is found only outside time and space.

Workbook Lesson 167 elaborates on this notion of sleeping, and dreaming a dream of time: “What seems to be the opposite of life is merely sleeping. When the mind elects to be what it is not, and to assume an alien power which it does not have, a foreign state it cannot enter, or a false condition not within its Source, it merely seems to go to sleep a while. It dreams of time; an interval in which what seems to happen never has occurred, the changes wrought are substanceless, and all events are nowhere. When the mind awakes, it but continues as it always was.” (W-pI.167.9; my italics). This “continues”, mind you, is outside time and space. Since our brains cannot really grasp the abstract essence of nondualism, Jesus uses the word “continues” as if there were time in eternity, which is a contradictio in terminis.

The Jesus who has given us A Course in Miracles, through Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford, defines himself as a manifestation of the Holy Spirit (M-6.1), the Voice for Love. We should not confuse this manifestation with the Biblical Jesus, who is mostly a character portrayed through the egos of those who wrote the scrolls; it is therefore a much distorted picture, despite the undoubtedly sincere intentions. The Jesus of A Course in Miracles is completely outside time and space. He therefore knows when and how the end of time occurs. What’s more, Jesus assures us that when he awoke from time and space, we were there with him. So to us who are firmly convinced we are living an important life here in linear time, Jesus says: “Time is a trick, a sleight of hand, a vast illusion in which figures come and go as if by magic. Yet there is a plan behind appearances that does not change. 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)

Some students have misconstrued this statement to mean that everything in time is predetermined, and so it doesn’t matter what we think, say or do anyway. This, however, is not the case. It is true that when and how time will end is set, but time does not proceed linearly. We can save ourselves an enormous amount of time by practicing true forgiveness now, through the miracle which is (a) the realization that we are the dreamer of the dream, and (b) the conscious choice to choose love instead of anger, fear or depression. “The miracle shortens time by collapsing it, thus eliminating certain intervals within it. It does this, however, within the larger temporal sequence. […] The basic decision of the miracle-minded is not to wait on time any longer than is necessary. He [the miracle worker] recognizes that every collapse of time brings everyone closer to the ultimate release from time, in which the Son and Father are one [i.e., nondualism]” (T-1.II.6; T-1.V.2).

It may be hard to understand Jesus’ notion that the only real usefulness of time is to render the need for time unnecessary (T-5.VI.12). Perhaps the best explanation Jesus offers comes in chapter 26 of the text, where he compares our linear “horizontal” notion of time to his holographic “vertical” notion of time: “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). In other words, everything that has ever happened in time, and everything that will stil happen in time, is happening now, at least from Jesus’ perspective outside the dream of time and space: “[…] Now is the closest approximation of eternity that this world offers. It is in the reality of ‘now,’ without past or future, that the beginning of the appreciation of eternity lies. For only ‘now’ is here, and only ‘now’ presents the opportunities for the holy encounters in which salvation can be found.” (T-13.IV.7). So our constant preoccupation with the past and the future distracts us from the one choice to quicken the end of time: forgiveness now. Since this would mean the end of the ego, we keep distracting ourselves in time, to prevent us from making this choice.

“The Atonement is the device by which you can free yourself from the past as you go ahead. It undoes your past errors, thus making it unnecessary for you to keep retracing your steps without advancing to your return.” (T-2.II.6). This is because as we seem to go forward in time while practicing forgiveness (the miracle, accepting the Atonement), we are really going back to that ontological instant in time, just before the Big Bang, when we seemed to fall asleep and started the dream of time and space: “Evolution is a process in which you seem to proceed from one degree to the next. You correct your previous  missteps by stepping forward. This process is actually incomprehensible in temporal terms, because you return [to the Heaven we think we left] as you go forward.” (T-2.II.6).

“In this sense the Atonement saves time, but like the miracle it serves, does not abolish it. As long as there is need for Atonement, there is need for time. But the Atonement as a completed plan has a unique relationship to time. Until the Atonement is complete, its various phases will proceed in time, but the whole Atonement stands at time’s end. At that point the bridge of return has been built” (T-2.II.7). So the amount of time we choose to remain in the dream is dependent on our choice of mind teacher: either the ego, who will stimulate the making of more time, or the Holy Spirit, who stands outside of time with our real Self, and who patiently waits on our decision to awaken from the dream. This is why diligently practicing forgiveness might save us “a thousand years of time” (W-pI.97.3), that is, several incarnations in a body in time and space.

Time is therefore indeed “a trick, a sleight of hand, a vast illusion” – a false concept that we made by starting the dream of time and space to hide from God, and one that we can choose to end, by choosing the miracle. “Time and eternity are both in your mind, and will conflict until you perceive time solely as a means to regain eternity. […] You must learn that time is solely at your disposal, and that nothing in the world can take this responsibility from you” (T-22.II.10:2). Phew! We are not the slaves of time, contrary to our perception of decaying bodies: “While time lasts in your mind there will be choices. Time itself is your choice. […] If you would remember eternity, you must look only on the eternal.” (T.10.V.14:3-9).

How do we look on the eternal? By giving up all judgment; by seeing the “face of Christ” in everyone; by seeing no separate interests whatsoever anymore, since we all share the same fundamental interest (and longing) of returning to God our Creator. A Course in Miracles helps us to see this essential choice: “If you allow yourself to become preoccupied with the temporal, you are living in time. As always, your choice is determined by what you value. […] If you will accept only what is timeless (i.e., forgiveness, the miracle) as real, you will begin to understand eternity and make it yours. […] Time seems to go in one direction, but when you reach its end it will roll up like a long carpet spread along the past behind you, and will disappear. As long as you believe the Son of God [i.e., everyone around us and including ourselves] is guilty you will walk along this carpet, believing that it leads to death [this is the condition of the material world].” (T-10.V.14:6-9; T-13.I.3:5-6).

Once we happily choose to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can afford to be confident, patient, and trustful. Choosing a miracle produces immediate healing effects, for yourself as well as for those you probably never met, all according to the ‘plan’ of the Holy Spirit: “Now you must learn that only infinite patience produces immediate effects. This is the way in which time is exchanged for eternity. Infinite patience calls upon infinite love [i.e., choosing the miracle], and by producing results now it renders time unnecessary.” (T-5.VI.12).

To conclude: while we still believe we inhabit a physical body that is separate from other bodies, each with individual interests, we are allowing the ego to make more time for us to keep the Atonement at bay. But this our own choice, a choice we can change. When we shift teachers, realizing we “have been badly taught” (T-28.I.7:1), we acknowledge that we all share the same holy interest, and are all equally guiltless: “As you perceive the holy companions who travel with you [i.e., everyone around us, but seen in a different light], you will realize that there is no journey, but only an awakening.” (T-13.I.7:1). That is why graduating from A Course in Miracles is a “Journey without distance, to a goal that has never changed” (T-8.VI.9). “You who are beloved of God are wholly blessed. Learn this of me, and free the holy will of all those who are as blessed as you are [i.e., by practicing forgiveness and choosing the miracle]” (T-8.VI.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:


Holy me, holy you, holy all

In A Course in Miracles, the early workbook lessons 36 – 39 introduce the notion of our holiness, stating that “my holiness envelops everything I see”, “My holiness blesses the world”, “There is nothing my holiness cannot do”, and even “My holiness is my salvation”. This is certainly not the way we tend to see ourselves. In fact, many people would evaluate themselves, if they would honestly look inside, as “uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear” (T-31.VIII.7:1). As Jesus explains time and again in A Course in Miracles, this is because we have a split mind: on the one hand, we feel terribly guilty (about the separation) and unworthy of any kind of love; on the other hand, somewhere inside we do know we all share the same essence of being spirit, and that we’re all connected. How does the notion of our holiness relate to that conflicted state of mind?

This split in our mind is characterized in A Course in Miracles as the difference between wrong-minded thinking (whenever our thoughts are guided by the ego, the voice of separation) and right-minded thinking (when our thoughts are guided by the Holy Spirit, the Voice for Love). An important part of the purpose of these lessons is to train ourselves in gently observing our wrong-minded, or unholy thoughts. Jesus wants us to become aware of how much of the time we are not focusing on right-mindedness, that is, seeing fault in everything and everyone else, which is merely a projection of our own perceived worthlessness: “Damnation is your judgment on yourself, and this you will project upon the world. See it as damned, and all you see is what you did to hurt the Son of God. If you behold disaster and catastrophe, you tried to crucify him. If you see holiness and hope, you joined the Will of God to set him free” (T-21.in.2:1-4).

As long as we believe we are living in a separated body in a world of separation, we are caught in the condition of wrong-minded thinking. That is, we think we have sinned against God (by wanting to be on our own, apart from Oneness), for which we feel very guilty, which in turn results in morbid fear of punishment. So we hide in a fragmented world of separation, hoping against hope that God won’t find us and exacts his justified vengeance. We are usually not aware of this dynamic, but this is the unconscious damnation, or judgment on ourselves. This is why everyone feels “uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear”. These early workbook lessons, then, introduce a totally new way of thinking, or what in the text is called vision (T-12.VI). Right-minded thinking means we realize that this “tiny, mad idea” of separation (T-27.VIII.6) is a silly lie. The truth is that we have not sinned, God is not angry, we are not a body; the world we perceive is merely a dream. The reality of everything and everyone is pure spirit, in spite of what our eyes and ears report back to us.

The notion of our holiness does not pertain to the body or the material world around us; it points to our ability of right-minded thinking, specifically our decision maker’s ability to choose that, and only that. When I truly choose the holiness of right-minded thoughts within, my perception of the world around me changes accordingly. Remember the metaphysical notion of A Course in Miracles that the world outside is merely a projection of the thoughts I choose within. The inner and outer are ultimately the same. So if I am holy, you must be, too, and everyone must be, since holiness is about the essence of spirit, which is all there is. We can tell inasmuch we choose right-minded thinking, or vision, by carefully looking at how we regard our relationships: “Salvation is a collaborative venture” (T-4.VI.8:2); “The ark of peace is entered two by two” (T-20.IV.6:5), and of course the well-known quote “Together, or not at all” (T-19.IV-D.12:8).

This does not mean, however, that I need to convert people. Since our perception of the world is an effect of our choice of thoughts, we don’t need to proclaim our holiness through our external behavior. As Jesus says in lesson 37: “Your holiness is the salvation of the world. It lets you teach the world that it is one with you, not by preaching to it, not by telling it anything, but merely by your quiet recognition that in your holiness are all things blessed along with you.” (W-pI.37.3:1-2). That is a sobering thought. As Kenneth Wapnick pointed out many times: we don’t need to save the world; we don’t need to be saved from the world; we just need to save ourselves from our mistaken belief in the world. We don’t have to do anything behaviorally to save other people from their misery: “Concern yourself not with the extension of holiness, for the nature of miracles you do not understand.” (T-16.II.1:3-6); “Extension of forgiveness is the Holy Spirit’s function. Leave this to Him. Let your concern be only that you give to Him that which can be extended.” (T-22.VI.9:2-6); “Leave, then, the transfer of your learning to the One Who really understands its laws […] Your part is merely to apply what He has taught you to yourself, and He will do the rest.” (T-27.V.10:1-2).

So when Jesus says in workbook lesson 38: “There is nothing my holiness cannot do”, he is, again, not referring to curing the sick, finding a parking space, or moving a mountain. Instead, Jesus is referring to the power of the mind (the decision making part) to offer miracles (each miracle is a choice for Love, the end of judgment) to the Holy Spirit, which He then extends to heal the collective mind of the sleeping Son of God: “Your holiness is totally unlimited in its power because it establishes you as a Son of God, at one with the Mind of its Creator. Through your holiness the power of God is made manifest. […] And there is nothing the power of God cannot do. Your holiness, then, can remove all pain, can end all sorrow, and can solve all problems. It can do so in connection with yourself and with anyone else.” (W-pI.38.1:3-2:5).

To our linearly programmed brains, this really makes no sense. How could I remove all the pain my senses perceive in the world around me, merely by focusing on my essence as spirit, and my willingness to give up judgment through forgiveness? This is because the Holy Spirit, the Voice for Love, is the bridge between nondualism (truth) and the dualistic world of time and space. He is beyond every restriction of time, space, distance, and limits of any kind. We always need to keep the metaphysical notion in mind that a miracle, that is, the conscious choice to truly forgive, can have healing effects in parts of the world you and I have never been. Neither space nor time constricts the miracle. But again, we are not required to understand this; merely “giving to Him that which can be extended” (i.e., a forgiving thought) suffices, and constitutes our most important function here in the illusory world of time and space. And we are holy because we can make this choice.

If all this sounds terribly vague to you, the good news is that you and I can practice this in very specific situations throughout the day. Just be on your guard for any negative thoughts you become aware of: “Specific situations, events or personalities you associate with unloving thoughts of any kind are suitable subjects. […] It is imperative for your salvation that you see them differently. […] It is essential to [apply forgiveness] if anyone seems to cause an adverse reaction in you. Offer him the blessing of your holiness immediately, that you may learn to keep it in your own awareness.” (W-pI.39.7; W-pI.37.6:3-4). That final notion is important. You can only offer holiness if you believe you have it yourself: “How could you to whom your holiness belongs be excluded from it? Goed does not know unholiness. Can it be He does not know His Son? […] Your holiness means the end of guilt, and therefore the end of hell.” (W-pI.39.4:4-6;4:2).

My unloving thoughts about anyone (and therefore really about myself) are keeping me in hell. My holiness means I am capable of making another choice: the choice for vision, the choice to forgive, the choice to end the hell we believe we are in. This choice really is the most natural thing for us to do, but many times that certainly doesn’t seem to be the case. To be “Vigilant only for God and His Kingdom” (T-6.V-C) requires discipline, sustained attention and diligent practice. That is why, to once again quote one of the most important statements of Jesus in the Course: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers that you have built against it.” (T-16.IV.6:1). That sounds like hard work, and it is. The rewards, however, are fabulous: “Happiness, a quiet mind; a certainty of purpose, a sense of worth and beauty that transcends the world; care and safety, and the warmth of sure protection always; a quietness that cannot be disturbed, a gentleness that can never be hurt; a deep, abiding comfort, and a rest so perfect it can never be upset.” (W-pI.122.1:2-6). How’s that for motivation? 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: