Many concepts in A Course in Miracles such as God, Christ, love, death, mind, crucifixion and salvation have an entirely different meaning from how we once learned them. This is part of the reason why A Course in Miracles is so difficult to comprehend at first, and one of the main drivers for my book and blog called “Miracles or murder”. Although perhaps not apparent at first, gratitude is another concept that is completely redefined in the Course. Let’s briefly examine in what way.
In this world, we usually feel grateful if we feel we are fortunate, particularly when we experience ourselves to be more fortunate than others. As we read in workbook lesson 195: “Gratitude is a lesson hard to learn for those who look upon the world amiss. The most that they can do is see themselves as better off than others. And they try to be content because another seems to suffer more than they.” (W-pI.195.1-3). The number of people that thank God — consciously or unconsciously — for having ‘saved’ them from an accident, a serious illness, or a natural catastrophe, are countless.
As scholar Kenneth Wapnick remarked, the popular saying “There but for the grace of God go I” is hardly a kind and loving thought. I am grateful I have been spared, even though you may not have been. I am grateful I don’t have cancer, while many others are not so fortunate. I got what I wanted, but quite possibly at the expense of others. In other words, our gratitude is usually based on comparisons and differences, and upon a sense of inequality of worth between myself and others. Needless to say, this is hardly the concept of gratitude that Jesus in A Course in Miracles would want us to embrace .
Workbook lesson 195 explains: “Your gratitude is due to Him alone Who made all cause of sorrow disappear throughout the world. […] You do not offer God your gratitude because your brother is more slave than you; nor could you sanely be enraged if he seems freer. Love makes no comparisons. And gratitude can only be sincere if it be joined to love.” (W-pI.195.1:7;4:1-3). In other words, we should be grateful to God and our brothers for the fact that in truth all life is one, and that the ‘tiny, mad idea’ of the ego and its world of separation and differences is not true, and never will be.
In chapter 2 of the text, Jesus tells us: “It should especially be noted that God has only one Son. If all His creations are His Sons, every one must be an integral part of the whole Sonship. The Sonship in its Oneness transcends the sum of its parts.” (T-2.VII.6:1-3). So once again we see why it’s so important to keep the metaphysics of A Course in Miracles always in the back of your mind when you read it. Workbook lesson 195 thus emphasizes: “We thank our Father for one thing alone: that we are separate from no living thing, and therefore one with Him. […] Therefore give thanks, but in sincerity.” (W-pI.195.6:1;5:1).
To be sure, you should not feel guilty over, for example, being healthy while others are perhaps not so fortunate at the moment. Also, it is not very loving and kind to dismiss other people’s suffering, by saying: “This is all illusory anyway. In truth all life is One, so I’m only going to focus on that, and not try to mend anything that isn’t real at all.” Such thinking would be what Kenneth Wapnick calls level confusion. The staggering metaphysics of A Course in Miracles do not imply that we do not pay attention to the world in our everyday lives. On the contrary, this world can be seen as a useful classroom in which we learn how we can allow the ego to be gently undone completely, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
When you and I accept our function of true forgiveness here in this dualistic dream world, we become a Teacher of God. This means that our kind and loving demeanor serves a gentle reminder to others that they, too, can make the same choice of the relinquishment of judgment, in the grateful realization that all life is one and the ego is a silly mistake. Once more from workbook lesson 195: “Let your gratitude make room for all who will escape with you: the sick, the weak, the needy and afraid, and those who mourn a seeming loss or feel apparent pain, who suffer cold or hunger, or who walk the way of hatred and the path of death. All these go with you. […] Then let our brothers lean their tired heads against our shoulders as they rest a while. We offer thanks for them. For if we can direct them to the peace that we would find, the way is opening at last to us.” (W-pI.195.5:2-3;7:1-2).
Now to be sure, it may at first be hard to feel gratitude when asked to see the sameness in yourself and, say, the leading politicians of your nation. Or with others whom you really don’t like. Realize though, in gladness, that this is the great reconditioning of the mind that A Course in Miracles offers us; namely that from shifting form form (“he’s the president”) to content (“he’s merely a mirror of my own mind, as there are no others”). The only reason that we find this difficult is, as we read in chapter 15 of the text: “You have little faith in yourself because you are unwilling to accept the fact that perfect love is in you.” (T-15.VI.2:1). My gratitude should therefore come from the realization that perfect love is not only within me, but within ‘all living things’, regardless of form, since life is one.
We conclude with the lovely message from workbook lesson 195: “Walk, then, in gratitude the way of love. For hatred is forgotten when we lay comparisons aside. […] Gratitude becomes the single thought we substitute for our insane perceptions [of separation]. God has cared for us, and calls us Son. […] What more remains as obstacles to peace?” (W-pI.8:1-2; 9:4-5;8:3). The grace of God is not just for me, but for everyone, without exception. Practice this realization often during the day, so that eventually you can sincerely answer the question what your prevailing state of mind is with one word: gratitude.
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.
Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page: ikzoekvrede.nl.