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: