How do we choose to see ourselves?

One of the more surprising aspects of Jesus’ message in A Course in Miracles is that beneath the surface of our everyday lives, we see ourselves quite differently from what we usually think. Generally, we consider ourselves to be well-meaning, kind, loving, and helpful people. However, in workbook lesson 93, Jesus has a surprise in store for us: “You think you are the home of evil, darkness and sin. You think that 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) This is of course not what we consciously think about ourselves… but deep down in the iceberg of the mind, this notion is “firmly fixed” (W-pI.93.2:1).

For Jesus (and the Holy Spirit) to be able to help us on our spiritual path of accepting the Atonement, this “firmly fixed belief” must be looked at and re-evaluated. If we are to be miracle-minded, that is, intrinsically willing to perceive only love and to express only love, we must be willing to correct this faulty perception of ourselves. Until then, our awareness of miracles will be impeded to a certain degree by the subtle viciousness of the ego, and we subsequently keep ourselves in darkness. As of workbook lesson 91, called “Miracles are seen in light”, Jesus explicitly addresses this fixed belief about ourselves, and helps to ready the mind for a true change in this regard. “While you remain in darkness, the miracle remains unseen. Thus you are convinced it is not there. […] The light is useless to you then, even though it is there. You cannot use it because its presence is unknown to you. And the seeming reality of the darkness makes the idea of light meaningless.” (W-pI.91.2:2-9).

To Jesus, any situation we find ourselves in is always very simple (at least in content, although the form may be quite confusing indeed). The way we choose to see ourselves equals the choice for the mind teacher we choose to listen to, and the options are but two: either the ego’s seductive voice of individuality, or the Holy Spirit’s Voice for the Oneness Love of God (meaning “not-two”, and therefore the end of individuality, which the ego dreads). To Jesus, then, this choice comes down to an identification with either weakness or with strength, respectively: “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. For you have brought your weakness unto Him, and He has given you His strength instead.” (T-31.VIII.2:3-7).

Put this way, it seems to be very simple indeed. Just choose to identify with the strength of Christ instead of the ego, and the rest of our days will be spent in the blissful perception of the real world, cleansed of all perceptions of darkness, both within you and without you, to paraphrase George Harrison. Alas; if it were that simple, you and I and everyone around us would already have done so. Jesus realizes this well, of course, and in workbook lesson 91 he highlights both the fact that though the principle is simple, the process of accepting its consequences is far from easy: “This [leaving the weakness behind of identifying with the ego] is accomplished very simply, as you instruct yourself that you are not a body. […] You can escape [your identification with] the body if you choose. You can experience the strength in you” (W-pI.91.5:2-6). That is the simple part.

Now the hard part, where Jesus would have us ask ourselves: “Miracles are seen in light. The body’s eyes do not perceive the light. But I am not a body. What am I?” (W-pI.91.6:2-5). This, of course, is the bottom line of almost all spiritual schools of thought. Though it may be hard to swallow if you chew on it for a while, as long as we stubbornly keep believing that we are an autonomous individual body, convinced that we know what’s best for us, we are really telling Jesus and the Holy Spirit to get lost; we are refusing our mind to let both the perception and expression of miracles flow through us; in fact, we are telling God that we’d rather be in the world where He can enter not (“The world was meant to be a place where God could enter not”, W-pII.3.2:1,4). And, as Jesus reminds us: “Faith goes to what you want, and you instruct your mind accordingly.” (W-pI.91.5:3). We want to be autonomous, answering the question of “What am I?” with “A body!”

Next, Jesus tells us that our own answer to the question “What am I?” has been a tragic mistake (for some 14 billion years now) that has not made us happy at all, if we consider it honestly. “What you think you are is a belief to be undone. But what you really are must be revealed to you. […] The truth of what you are calls on the strength [of Christ] in you to bring to your awareness what the mistake conceals. If you are not a body, what are you?” Again, to the ego, this question is terror because it points to its disappearance. The ego is therefore quick to tell the Son that merely asking this question will mean a certain death by the (justified) punishment by God. As Jesus explains: “You think you would be helpless in God’s Presence, and you would save yourself from His Love because you think it would crush you into nothingness. You are afraid it would sweep you away from yourself and make you little… […] You think you have made a world God would destroy, and by loving Him, which you do, you would throw this world away, which you would.” (T-13.III.4:1-3).

Given our complete and utter identification with a physical body, this perceived fear of the Love of God (meaning the end of individuality) is quite understandable. Elsewhere in the text Jesus comforts us that, yes, we will choose to return to the Love of God, but this will happen as a slow process with which our mind’s acceptance can keep pace: “Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality. Time is kind, and if you use it on behalf of reality, it will keep gentle pace with you in your transition. […] You will first dream of peace, and then awaken to it. Your first exchange of what you made for what you want is the exchange of nightmares for the happy dreams of love.” (T-16.VI.8:1-2; T-13.VII.9:1-2).

First, though, we need to actually experience the effects of choosing to let the Holy Spirit’s intuitive voice of Love to guide our thoughts and actions: “You need to be aware of what the Holy Spirit uses to replace the image of a body in your mind. You need to feel something to put your faith in, as you lift it from the body. You need a real experience of something else, something more solid and more sure; more worthy of your faith, and really there.” (W-pI.91.7:2-4). The answer, as always in A Course in Miracles, is forgiveness, that is, the complete relinquishment of judgment (condemnation, really) of both our brothers and ourselves. But to master that form of true forgiveness, we need the program of structured exercises that the workbook offers. Only by actually doing the exercises in the workbook can we experience the vision of Christ that we need, to ultimately attain the real world.

“it is important to remember that miracles and vision necessarily go together. This needs repeating, and frequent repeating“.  (W-pI.91.1:1-2; my italics). There are no shortcuts. You and I cannot say on some rainy afternoon: “Okay, that’s decided then. From now on I will only choose the Holy Spirit. This guarantees my happiness for the rest of my days.” Jesus is not joking when he asks us to pose the following question to ourselves: “‘Who walks with me?’ – This question should be asked a thousand times a day, till certainty has ended doubting and established peace.” (W-pI.156.8:1-2). Remember, enlightenment requires vigilance for the Kingdom of God. ‘Doing the workbook’ must include our following up on the practice periods, including the meditative times of silence in which the Holy Spirit’s Voice is given room to be heard. So after telling yourself, as in lesson 91: “I am not helpless, but all powerful. I am not weak, but strong. I cannot see in darkness, but in light.”, do spend time in silence to let the truth of this become your inner experience, if only for a moment. It will be enough. You will realize the one answer to the question “What am I?”, and know that it is only a matter of time before this truth will become your actual experience, and time does not really exist. Learn to use time constructively, that is, to render the need for more time unnecessary, through continued forgiveness of yourself, your brother, and the world.


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:

buy-now-amazon-button

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

Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page: ikzoekvrede.nl.

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