Students of A Course in Miracles, and spiritual aspirants in general, practice hard to learn to let go of their little separated self, and accept instead their identification with their larger Self, which somehow transcends the individual. They imagine that one day they’ll be enlightened, having left behind all the pain and sorrow that they still perceive at times. But in workbook lesson 188, which was by the way one of Bill Thetford’s favorites, Jesus says: “Why wait for Heaven? Those who seek the light are merely covering their eyes. The light is in them now. Enlightenment is but a recognition, not a change at all.” (W-pI.188.1:1-4).
Such a statement could easily lead to a massive spiritual guilt trip, as the simplicity of this call is apparently still too difficult for us, as sincere spiritual seekers, to turn into daily experience. In Chapter 26 of the text, Jesus also comments on this: “The one remaining problem that you have is that you see an interval between the time when you forgive, and will receive the benefits of trusting your brother […] You see eventual salvation, not immediate results. […] Be not content with future happiness. It has no meaning, and it is not your just reward. For you have cause for freedom now…” (T-26.VIII.1:1;3:1;9:1-3). So how do we do that?
Well, certainly not by thinking that we need to work still harder on being spiritual. Rather, A Course in Miracles invites you and me to do less, meaning: do less on my own. Happiness – now – means I step back as my own teacher, and ask the Holy Spirit what to think, say and do instead. Otherwise, I am tempted to instruct the Holy Spirit how to help me, which of course never works. Remember, one of the central themes of A Course in Miracles is: “I need do nothing” (T-18.VII). We should merely invite the Holy Spirit (i.e., the Voice for Love) in. In Chapter 18 of the text, we also read: “It is not necessary that you do more; indeed, it is necessary that you realize that you cannot do more. Do not attempt to give the Holy Spirit what He does not ask, or you will add the ego to Him and confuse the two.” (T-18.IV.1:5-6).
As with almost everything in A Course in Miracles, the principle is simple, but its application is far from easy. The core of our resistance to this simple rule of thumb is that each time we practice this, we make the ego slightly smaller; a bit less important. Should this become a habit, the ego would eventually diminish and disappear… which ultimately means that I would disappear! And so the ego seeks and finds all sorts of subtle strategies to keep judgment and condemnation alive and well, so that we can comfortably identify with a very special personal self, which was the root cause of the universe and the planet and all its billions of life forms on it anyway.
All students of A Course in Miracles are familiar with its teaching that the world we seem to live in is not our home. Happily, Jesus also speaks a lot about what our real Home is. Actually, much of his curriculum boils down to continually motivating its students to associate time and space with misery, and to accept the guidance of the Holy Spirit as the one way to return Home in the Heart of God. Again in Lesson 188, we read: “Light is not of the world, yet you who bear the Light in you are alien here as well. The Light came with you from your native home, and stayed with you because it is your own. It is the only thing you bring with you from Him Who is your Source. It shines in you because it lights your home, and leads you back to where it came from and you are at home. This light can not be lost. Why wait to find it in the future, or believe it has been lost already, or was never there?” (W-pI.188.1:5-2:2). In other words, why wait for Heaven?
In Chapter 3 of the text Jesus tells us that seemingly having lost something does not mean it is gone; is merely means we forgot where it is (T-3.VI.9). This implies that I am in control of my own happiness or unhappiness, not in the future, but right now: “Let the darkness go, and all you made [material misery] you will no longer see, for sight of it depends on denying vision. Yet from denying vision it does not follow that you cannot see…” (T-13.V.8:5-6). What do I need to do to see? Simply this: “Sit quietly and close your eyes. The light within you is sufficient.” (W-pI.188.6:1-2). A few lines further in the same lesson, Jesus then invites us to “…take your wandering thoughts [i.e., judgments], and gently bring them back to where they fall in line with all the thoughts we share with God. [i.e., non-judgment]”. We will not let them stray. […] We will forgive them [i.e., wandering thoughts] all, absolving all the world from what we thought it did to us. For it is we who make the world as we would have it.” (W-pI.188.9:2-10:3; my italics).
To summarize: Yes, accepting the Atonement is a slow process in time, which may take many lifetimes to master. At the same time, the choice for the Holy Spirit as the leading Guide of the mind can always be made now. In fact, this choice can only be made now, as now is the only time there is, as any reader of Eckart Tolle will remember. As Jesus concludes: “The peace of God passeth your understanding only in the past. Yet here it is, and you can understand it now. […] You will first dream of peace, and then awaken to it. Your first exchange of what you made [material misery] for what you want [the Love of God] is the exchange of nightmares for the happy dreams of love. In these lie your true perceptions, for the Holy Spirit corrects the world of dreams, where all perception is.” (T-13.VII.8:1-9:3).
So why not try it right now? Sit quietly and close your eyes. Calmly observe all your “wandering thoughts”, that is, anything you are not completely peaceful about, and realize these thoughts really do not serve you any longer, and so there is no reason anymore for you to focus on them. Then invite the Voice for Love, by silently saying: “The peace of God is shining in me now. Let all things shine upon me in that peace. And let me bless them with the light in me.” (W-pI.188.10:4-7). Happy practicing!
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.