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.