Recipe for instant inner peace

Please take a minute or so to list the top 3 of the most obstructive stress factors in your life. They could be about time stress; concerns about money, about your health, or about authority figures like your parents, your spouse, your boss, or politicians. Try, however, to keep it close to yourself. So if you list things like ‘the climate’ or ‘starvation in Africa’, chances are that you should be able to list something more personal. Other than that, the form doesn’t really matter. What matters is that these stress factors seem to rob you of the inner peace you want so much.

A Course in Miracles as a spiritual curriculum provides us with a beautiful ‘recipe’ for instantly reconnecting with that inner peace, no matter what the stress is about. Let’s review this exercise. What follows is loosely based on section VII in chapter 5 of the text, called “The decision for God”, and the opening of chapter 30 of the text, called “Rules for decision”. It can be safely used at any stress situation you find yourself in, to quickly turn it around and sink back into a peaceful state of mind that is much more productive.

The key in this process is to train yourself to ever more quickly realize, very basically, that you are not at peace. That in itself is a most important step in “rising above the battleground” of the ego thought tyranny. What will further anchor your state of mind above the battleground is asking yourself the question: “Who is guiding my thoughts?”. Or, as Jesus invites us to ask ourselves “a thousand times a day” in workbook lesson 156: “Who walks with me?” (W-pI.156.8:1) The question is rhetorical, of course. If I observe that I’m not at peace, the answer is obviously “the ego”.

Now, before you immediately jump to the much desired step of affirming that you don’t want the ego and that you’ll switch to that Voice for Love we call The Holy Spirit, it can be most helpful to quickly recap why we apparently chose the ego. To be sure, don’t turn that into a complex analysis, since that would only keep you rooted in the ego. The answer, based on the Course’s metaphysics, is plain and simple: I only choose the ego because I think I can be on my own and do better than God. In fact, I am bitterly afraid of the Love of God because I fear His Oneness would “crush me into nothingness” (T-13.III.4). I fear that accepting God’s love would rob me of my individuality, which it would.  That’s much too frightening; so I choose the lure of blissful autonomy of the ego. I stubbornly forget that since the ego symbolizes separation, hate and attack, this is exactly what I ask for and will subsequently experience in my life. I’m insane, but at least I exist on my own.

Back to the observer in the mind, being also the decision maker, who has just concluded that he’s not at peace, and the reason is that his thought stream is guided by the ego, and that the choice for this guide has been a deliberate choice, albeit made unconsciously. Once I remember that the choice for the ego is silly, and will hardly make me happy, at that point I, as the decision maker, am perfectly free to “choose once again” (T-31.VIII) the Voice for Love instead of the voice for separation. As we read in chapter 5 of the text: “I made the decision [for the ego] myself, but I can also decide otherwise. I want to decide otherwise, because I want to be at peace.” (T-5.VII. 6:8-9).

The obvious silliness of the choice for the ego, our subconscious fear of God’s Oneness notwithstanding, impels me to conclude that switching to the Holy Spirit as my leading guide will inevitably make me happier. Jesus’ repeated question: “Why wait for Heaven?” has been answered: “My ego is bitterly afraid of Heaven. My ego would have me believe that I am a body in time and space, requiring me to suffer and to point to other people’s sins as a prerequisite for being accepted back into Heaven. But I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.” This leads me back to chapter 5 of the text, concluding: “I do not feel guilty, because the Holy Spirit will undo all the consequences of my wrong decision if I will let Him. I choose to let Him, by allowing Him to decide for God [i.e., Love] for me.” (T-5.VII.6:10-11).

By minutely dissecting this self-forgiveness process, it may seem like a large chunk, difficult to master. That, however, is merely the ego creeping in again through the back door. Each time you honestly attempt this, you recondition your mind a little more, until it becomes a habit that really sticks. The motivating drive for continued practice is the experience of inner peace, each time you succeed. You could further firmly install this willingness in your mind by repeating the following prayer, each night just before you doze off, and each morning right after waking up: I thank you, Father, for having created me as a perfect expression of perfect Love, in eternity. I thank Christ, for keeping united all life as One in that Love. I thank the Holy Spirit for patiently guiding me toward the real world, and to the peace I experience by following His guidance.” 

So the next time you find yourself experiencing one of your top-3 stress factors in any situation, any time of the day, instead of feeling guilty, bad or weak, you could choose to gladly realize you are once again being offered an opportunity to reinforce the only thought process that will really make you happy, namely the switch from the ego to the Holy Spirit. Once you can mildly laugh about the silliness of the ego instead of feeling guilty, bad or weak, the liberating light of Love cannot fail to fill the vacant void where searing stress used to rule your mind. 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:

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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To call upon the Name of God

At first reading, A Course in Miracles seems to be firmly rooted in Christianity. After all, we read a lot about God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, not to mention the fact that its author is no-one less than Jesus. The text contains hundreds of implicit and explicit references to biblical passages. And although in A Course in Miracles God is stripped from His vengeful traits we read about in the bible, much of the text is about learning how to focus more and more on our love for God each day.

Moreover, in A Course in Miracles God is definitely pictured anthropomorph, in the likeness of us human beings. We read that God is lonely without His children (T-2.III.5:11), that He weeps for us having forgotten Him (as if He has a body that can produce tears), and that at the end of our spiritual journey He will come down and lift us up into Heaven (cf. W-pI.69.7; W-pI.168.3). At the same time, though, other passages seem to contradict this image of a humanoid God. Although the workbook contains many prayers directly addressed to God, the manual emphasizes that “God does not understand words, as they were made to keep us separate from Him” (M-21.I.7). In workbook lesson 183 we read about praying to God: “Think not He hears the little prayers of those who call on Him with names of idols cherished by the world. They cannot reach Him thus.” (W-pI.183.7:3-4).

Other passages go even further, and hold that time itself is one “vast illusion” (W-pI.158.4), and that God did not create this material world (C-4.1); we made it, as the one collective ego that chose to seemingly fall asleep in a dream of separation from the Oneness that is God. We made the world as an attack on God, to proclaim a space of our own where God could enter not (W-pII.3.2:1,4), so that the ego can contentedly conclude that the separation from God succeeded. In short, A Coure in Miracles seems, at a first glance, to be full of contradiction about the nature of God, the universe and ourselves. To many readers, the confusion that this engenders does not really motivate them to study the core of its message more thoroughly, to put it mildly.

This is why it’s so useful to add the many published works of Kenneth Wapnick to your spiritual reading list. Ken never tired of addressing such potential sources of confusion and explaining with great patience and honesty how we should interpret the message of A Course in Miracles in terms of the difference between form and its underlying content. Briefly summarized, we should realize that A Course in Miracles only uses anthropomorphic images and Christian language because that is the level of understanding we can initially relate to. Once we progress in our spiritual study, however, we are invited to look beyond these symbols to the real content of its message, which is not rooted in Christianity, but more in nondualistic metaphysics. It is only because phrases such as “a Oneness joined as One” are utterly meaningless to us who experience ourselves as separated individuals, that Jesus (himself a symbol, more about that later) uses language that we can relate to, love and understand.

As an example, let’s look at lesson 183, where we are invited to “call upon God’s Name and on our own”, as a means to find the inner peace we so desperately desire. Why should I call upon God’s Name if I am simultaneously told that God doesn’t understand words, that He doesn’t hear “little prayers with words”, and in fact does not even know about this world? The answer, as always, lies in being able to distinguish clearly between form and its underlying content. God is not anthropomorphic; God has no form. The word “God” is merely a symbol for the eternal Love that is our Source and Inheritance. Likewise, the “Name of God” is just a symbol for the reflection of that Love that we can personally experience by choosing to focus on the Holy Spirit as our guide (being Himself a symbol for the Voice for Love), instead of a focus on the ego, which, also, is merely a symbol for our choice for wrong-minded thinking or separation, attack, sin, guilt and fear.

So when Jesus invites me to “call upon the Name of God and on my own”, he isn’t being inconsistent. Jesus invites me to “choose once again” the Voice for Love (the Holy Spirit) as the primary focus of my thoughts, to eventually realize that my loving thoughts actually reflect my real Identity much closer than all my usual thoughts of specialness, individuality, autonomy and separation. To “call upon the Name of God and on my own” is therefore a poetic way of saying: “Choose again the Love that is not of this world, and realize this is your true Identity”.

Realize, though, that this is a nondualistic statement. Actually, Jesus’ entire curriculum called A Course in Miracles is, in a sense, a guide to motivate our mind to eventually honestly prefer nonduality (reality) to duality (the ego-dream). However, since we are all still convinced that dualistic time and space comprise our daily reality, Jesus needs to use anthropomorphic words to which we can relate to, which we can love and understand. As we progress on our spiritual journey-without-distance, we increasingly learn to see the consistent content where we used to perceive only inconsistent form.

In this way, eventually we realize it’s the same with Jesus himself, whom we unconsciously still identify with the figure that walked this planet some two thousand years ago. It’s tempting to regard Jesus as the most divine humanoid life form, having conquered the ego entirely, and who at some point decided to dictate his liberating message to a woman called Helen Schucman. Instead, Kenneth Wapnick clearly explains that “Jesus” should be seen as a symbolic manifestation of the Voice for Love, which is available to all of us all the time. Helen herself, in fact, never felt she had any particular special talent. She once said that, at least in principle, everyone is able to experience this Voice for Love.

We should not, however, focus on the voice as form. Most of us experience this Voice for Love not as a voice, but as peaceful intuition in the heart or hara (lower belly) area. The ‘Voice’ is then experienced as a loving impulse, which, as most of us know, always leads to the best imaginable outcome for everyone. So I should always try to remember that “The name of Jesus Christ as such is but a symbol. But it stands for love that is not of this world.” (M23.4:1-2). The happy message of A Course in Miracles is that this Love is also my own inheritance.  So to “call upon the Name of God”, meaning: to invite the help of the symbols called “Holy Spirit” or “Jesus”, reminds me that there is indeed an alternative to the ego-clutter in my mind, and that the Name of God is my Name, because this Oneness Love is my inheritance. As we read in the poetic concluding chapter of the text: “God has ordained I cannot call in vain, and in His certainty I rest content.” (T-31.VIII.9:5).

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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.