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:
See also my Feb. 2018 Course workshop at www.youtube.com.
Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page: ikzoekvrede.nl.