Proud to be different?

Last week when I was queuing up in traffic, I noticed that the car in front of me had a prominent sign across his rear window, in all-caps, stating “Proud to be different”. I remember blinking my eyes and having a second look at that sign. Who would want to express that so loudly on his car? (I reckoned it’s probably a ‘his’, not a ‘her’). The obvious implication of such a statement is “I’m not like you, and I wouldn’t want to be. I’m special; I’m unique. I’m worthy.” Focusing on specialness is an attempt to affirm your self-esteem, at the same time implying that you are secretly in doubt about your worthiness.

The attempt, of course, harks right back to the original ontological moment of the seeming separation from God, causing the Big Bang.  It echoes the Son of God who considered the tiny, mad idea (T-27.VIII.6:2) of autonomy from Oneness, and then decided to take it seriously, telling God to ‘get lost’ because he preferred to try to be a god on his own; again, separate from the Oneness Love that is God. “I’m proud to be different from You” is an apt one-line summary of the thrust for this ego-decision for separation. And so, in a sense the Big Bang is still happening even now on a daily basis, as we are all proud to be a special individual.

As I sat there waiting for the traffic light, I wondered what might happen if I had a sticker on the rear window of my car stating “Glad to be the same as you”. I use the word ‘glad’ because ‘pride’ denotes the arrogance of the ego, while ‘glad’ mirrors the nature of the Holy Spirit, Who is defined in A course in Miracles as “The call to awaken and be glad” (T-5.II.10:5) . Glad for what? Glad for the recognition that all perceived differences, yes even time and space itself, are wholly illusory — in truth, the oneness of Heaven has never been shattered. You and I and all of us are still safe at Home in the Heart of God, who, again, is synonymous with Love. Therefore, this gladness really refers to gratitude.

To the ego, stating that you and I are the same is a sign of weakness. The ego thrives on accentuating differences. The entire dream world of duality can only exist because we perceive differences all around us: in various shapes, sizes, colors, behavior, change over time, you name it. In a world where differences would be meaningless because everything is the same, the ego is quite clearly out of business. So to focus on seeing differences, and above all being different, ultimately exposes the ego’s perennial fear: that the Son of God might change his mind, realize that he had been painfully mistaken about being different from God, and choose to “awaken [to oneness] and be glad” — the ultimate death blow for the ego, which we all still intimately identify with.

However, on a practical level, it’s no use denying the differences that we all perceive around us. As long as we still believe we are here in the dream world of time and space, we can use our perception of differences differently (pardon the pun), namely to learn the Holy Spirit’s lessons of Love. No student of A Course in Miracles should fear to be “abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality” (T-16.VI.8:1) and lose his special self before being ready for it. Time is kind; the Holy Spirit keeps gentle pace with the speed you and I can handle to nurture our readiness for awakening. I’m merely asked to patiently practice my willingness to forego all condemnation, that is, preferring to perceive sameness to perceiving differences.

That brings up an awkward point, though. Do I really perceive myself to be the same as the driver in the car in front of me, who still believes he’s “proud to be different”? Do I not say the exact same thing to myself when I compare myself to him? Few Course students escape the temptation to regard themselves as different (read: superior) to all those who are not yet aware of the dream nature of this world. This tragic dynamic subtly reinforces the very same specialness that they boldly claim to have laid aside, by having chosen to follow the voice of the Holy Spirit from day to day. But do they? Whenever a Course student expects special guidance from the Holy Spirit for special challenges, he can be sure to have missed Jesus’ plea to please “step back and let Him lead the way”.

Again, on the level of form, we cannot avoid perceiving differences and having preferences. This dream world thrives on attack and defense, and horrible people do horrible things here. A Course in Miracles certainly does not ask of us to walk around in blindfolded denial, while foolhardy affirming that “we’re all the same, we’re all the same.” However, we are asked to begin to question the reality of what we perceive, and to consider choosing another Teacher, Who shows us the difference between illusion (form) and truth (content). On the level of content, which is the level of the spirit that is beyond our sensory organs, you and I and all of us are indeed still the same, because we were created by the same Creator. All minds are joined; therefore, we all share the same wrong mind, the same right mind, and the same decision maker.

In his Course, Jesus pleads with us to train our decision making mind to increasingly focus on the content of the right mind, while not denying the form of the wrong mind, but gently allowing wrong-minded perception to be reinterpreted in the light of His Love, which knows not of differences. So my lesson that day was to realize that my interpretation of the car sign “Proud to be different” was a lesson of Love offered me by the Holy Spirit, in effect asking me: “Brother, choose again. Would you choose to see yourself as different from him, or would you choose to overlook the form and realize he’s still as much a Son of God as you are?” In other words, will I choose murder or will I choose a miracle?

To close, let’s recall the prayer in workbook lesson 342, entitled “I let forgiveness rest upon all things, for thus forgiveness will be given me”. It’s an affirmation to prefer to see the oneness of God, and gently forgive my faulty perception of differences, which merely serves to keep the Love of God at bay. “I stand before the gate of Heaven, wondering if I should enter in and be at Home. Let me not wait again today. Let me forgive all things, and let creation be as You would have it be and as it is. Let me remember I am Your Son, and opening the door at last, forget illusions [of differences] in the blazing light of truth, as memory of You returns to me.” (W-pII.342.1:5-8)


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. 2019 Course workshop at www.youtube.com called “Farewell to your self, to find your true Self”. (English captions/subtitles available)

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

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Seriously suffering sinful soul

Most of us are quite familiar with various sorts of self-sabotage. We either subtly avoid responsibilities at work, or we persistently work too hard, resulting in burn-out. We keep drinking or smoking, even though we know we are poisoning our bodies. We keep trying to make other people love us, even though somewhere we know our happiness does not depend on approval by others… The forms are countless. While some forms are more subtle than others, we all engage in some dynamic of serious suffering. Even though we try to be kind, oftentimes we’re not too kind for ourselves at all, and we regularly feel miserable because we obviously can’t control our impulses.

On the other hand, equally familiar in each of us is the desire to get rid of misery and find lasting happiness. We usually try to attain this by seeking solutions in the world around us. For example, we think we could be happy if only we would have enough money, or find that special love partner that complements the traits that I lack to find that perfect balance in life. Even when we acknowledge that happiness will not be found outside us, but only within, we indulge in personal development programs that aim at improving the effectiveness of our behavior, but without having to alter the concept of the self to any serious extent. Ten years later we once again try the newest self-help program. And we wonder why we keep sabotaging ourselves, as we are so sure we don’t want to…

A Course in Miracles offers us a decidedly different view on self-sabotage. To paraphrase lesson 5 in the workbook: “I never self-sabotage for the reason I think.” The Course’s metaphysics tell us that the material world which we believe is our reality, is merely a dream (nightmare, really), constructed to be a place wherein the sleeping Son of God believes he can hide from his Creator, Whom he thinks he has rejected and separated from. All this follows from the Son’s desire to experience himself on his own and therefore shatter the Oneness that is God. Terrified of being punished by the almighty Creator for this ‘cardinal sin’, each fragment of this sleeping Son indulges in suffering and projection, in a meager attempt to hold up the innocence that he seemingly threw away in the act of the separation.

In his Course, Jesus patiently explains that we deliberately suffer in order to appease the anticipated wrath of God about our decision to separate from Oneness: if I show God how much I suffer, He may have pity on me. He might consider accepting me back into Heaven, and punish someone else. That’s where projection enters the stage: since I refuse to see this perceived sinfulness in myself, I’ll see it in others, leading to an endless chain of blaming and finger-pointing: “Look over there God, there’s the culprit; he should be punished instead of me.” And so I fearfully engage in an endless cycle of attack and suffering, hoping against hope that God will be fooled by my sinful ploy.

However, all the while, I still want to keep experiencing myself as an autonomous individual, but have someone else be responsible for the sin of separation from oneness. The best proof dat perfect oneness has been shattered is the experience of sickness and death. And so my body decays and eventually dies. I ‘gladly’ pay this price as proof that I have the power to exist as an autonomous self, unique and on my own. And I ‘prove’ this to myself again and again, in a string of reincarnations that keep the illusion of individuality alive. As scholar Ken Wapnick semi-jokingly remarked: “Just being born here is the ultimate self-sabotage.” Ken actually refers to “Self-sabotage”with a capital S, because of the decision, as the one Son of God, to still remain asleep in the ego-dream of time and space, even though in the reality outside time and space, nothing happened.

So now I can see why I ‘never self-sabotage for the reason I think’. I self-sabotage because I think my suffering grants me the endorsement of God Himself. I project because this way I think I can persuade God to regard me as innocent; I should be spared; others are sinful and should be punished. In a sense, the goal of A Course in Miracles is to have us joyfully realize the silliness of this ego-dynamic, and change our minds about it. And so Jesus comforts us in the text: “Call it not sin but madness, for such it was and so it still remains. Invest it not with guilt, for guilt implies it was accomplished in reality. And above all, be not afraid of it.” (T-18.I.6).  He invites us to shift our self-concept from “seriously suffering sinful soul” to the happy learner who learns to hear “the call to awaken and be glad” (T5-II.10:5).

So, on a practical level, how do I learn to ‘hear the call to awaken and be glad’? The answer, as all Course students know, is called forgiveness, through my “choice to see my brother’s sinlessness” (W-pII.335) instead of his guilty sins. At a first glance, this may seem odd. Do I awaken by focusing on what’s outside of me? Doesn’t Jesus tell me time and again “not to seek outside myself, for it will fail”? (T-29.VII.1:1). The trick here is to realize, again based on the Course’s metaphysics, that there is no-one else ‘out there’ — everything I perceive is a projection of some split-off part of the mind. The way I see you comes from the way I see myself. “What I see in him [my brother] is merely what I wish to see because it stands for what I want to be the truth. It is to this alone that I respond, however much I seem to be impelled by outside happenings. […] My brother’s sinlessness shows me that I would look upon my own. And I will see it, having chosen to behold my brother in its holy light.” (W-pII.335.1:3-7).

So if I accept the metaphysical premise that sin never happened and is therefore not so, and that you and I and all lifeforms in the dream world are the same, at least in content, the entire cause for self-sabotage, suffering and projection simply vanishes into the nothingness from whence it came. Only one life compass remains: to be kind to everyone, including myself. And I don’t need a lifetime study in metaphysics to do that. As Ken Wapnick remarked in his final workshop in 2013: “I’d much rather have someone who got the metaphysics all mixed up and upside down and who is kind to everyone, much rather that, than someone who’s into metafetish but is unkind to even one person.”

So why not choose the only road that will really free you from all self-sabotage: choose to see the sameness in everyone, including yourself. Choose to see the innocence in your brother, and you will behold innocence in yourself. People commit horrendous acts on the level of the forms of the dream world, which should certainly not be denied, but also not seen as seriously sinful, as they are mistakes that call for correction in our own mind, and for nothing else. All events in the world are offered you and me as lessons of Love by the Holy Spirit to undo a little bit of our own projection of our own self-image as seriously suffering sinful soul. Undoing projection is the way to true lasting happiness; not in time as an individual body, but as spirit in the eternal Heart of the Oneness of God, which is what you and I are. Make today different by making it all the same, and suffer you no more!


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. 2019 Course workshop at www.youtube.com called “Farewell to your self, to find your true Self”. (English captions/subtitles available)

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

Heal thy what?

Last week I wasn’t feeling particularly well. My intestines kept stubbornly complaining, and I really couldn’t concentrate fully on anything whatsoever. After some self-inspection I simply concluded that I had been working too hard the past few weeks. So just before bedtime I took a standard painkiller and practiced visualizing that I immersed my entire body in loving light, as intensely as possible. Sure enough, after two nocturnal practice periods, the nagging pain went away and my body was happy again. You might say this is no big deal. After all, given enough rest, most symptoms gradually disappear ‘naturally’. It’s even a well-known public secret that most medicine does not really cure; it merely supports the self-healing process (salutogenesis) of the body.

Still, there’s more to it than that. In the past decade, many stories have reached me of remarkable physical healings. Almost all of them involved the invitation of love. These are not stories they just heard from others; they are stories of their own experiences. More than a few of these, for example, relate to the remission of serious cancer after sending sharply focused love or light to the location of the symptoms, leaving physicians baffled. One of the most well-known examples of this “self-healing” is of course published by Brandon Bays in her book “The Healing journey”. And there are many other shining examples of how we are much more powerful in our healing abilities than we usually realize.

But what do we actually heal in such cases? When Jesus in the Psychotherapy pamphlet of A Course in Miracles calls on us to “Heal thyself”, he is certainly not talking about the body. In fact, the Course repeatedly states that the body is merely an effect of the mind. Especially the Psychotherapy pamphlet is very clear on this: “All illness is mental illness. It is a judgment on the Son of God, and judgment is a mental activity. […] Once God’s Son is seen as guilty, illness becomes inevitable. It has been asked for and will be received.” (P-2.IV.1:1-2;2:1-2). So my physical symptoms reflect some form of unforgiveness in my mind, and it is there that the healing work needs to be done.

“Certain it is that all distress does not appear to be but unforgiveness. Yet that is the content underneath the form”, we read in (W-pI.193.4:1-2). It’s important here to be acutely aware of feelings of guilt or victimhood. With the former, I’m inclined to bash myself for obviously having made myself ill, while as a good Course student I should know better by now. In the latter case, I may protest that I do forgive, but my DNA is obviously stronger than my power to forgive. Both conclusions are ego-strategies that will not work, for both render my image of myself inadequate. They key here is to realize that, as again the Psychotherapy pamphlet says, my self is a concept that I made up. (P-1.I.3:3). That is, I still attribute some reality to my body. That is the illness. “Sickness is insanity because all sickness is mental illness […] Illness is therefore a mistake and needs correction.” (P-2.IV.8:1;7:1).

In both physical healing as well as in psychotherapy, most people want to be healed without having to give up their cherished self-concept of an individual body that can be happy on its own. And yet the most oft-repeated lesson in A Course in Miracles teaches us that “I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.” (W-pI.201-220). And so Workbook lesson 136 summarizes how we use sickness as a defense to having to recognize this truth: “Sickness is not an accident. Like all defenses, it is an insane device for self-deception. And like all the rest, its purpose is to hide reality, attack it, change it, render it inept, distort it, twist it, or reduce it to a little pile of unassembled parts. The aim of all defenses is to keep the truth from being whole. […] Sickness is a decision. It is not a thing that happens to you, quite unsought, which makes you weak and brings you suffering. It is a choice you make, a plan you lay, when for an instant truth arises in your own deluded mind, and all your world appears to totter and prepare to fall. Now are you sick, that truth may go away and threaten your establishments no more.” (w-pI.136.2:1-3;7).

So “heal thyself” means healing the mind — by accepting the truth of what I am, which is the same as what you and everybody else are: the one Son of God, albeit asleep in a dream of seeming separation. Accepting this truth means gently forgiving myself for still believing I am in a body in the world. For true healing, I am to look at that “tiny, mad idea” of separation from oneness, and stop seeing myself as the home of evil because of my cardinal sin of separation, however unconsciously buried. Healing means I once again choose to love my self as the Son of God. I once again choose to see all life as one. I once again choose to see this world as a classroom in which I happily learn the lessons of Love, offered me daily by the Holy Spirit.

In her book ‘Dying to be me’, Anita Moorjani shares with us her story of her near death experience, after a rapid terminal cancer process. Her spirit was told she had to go back since she still had a part to play in the dream world. Two of the most important lessons that she took back with her are: “Love yourself unconditionally” (since most of us, bottom line, despise ourselves) and “Live your life without fear”. So Jesus’ call to “Teach only Love, for that is what you are” (T-6.I.13:2) most certainly also means “Teach yourself only Love, since that is what you are.” Obviously, “self” refers to the self as spirit; however, since the body is merely a mirror of the mind, you should also love your body, in the sense that the body offers you countless opportunities for forgiveness, and so accept the Atonement.

To get back to my bowel misery and healing, and all the wonderful stories of physical healing through the engulfment of the self in loving inner light: the effectiveness of such practice depends on what it is used for. If it is used solely to ‘cure’ the bodily symptoms, while the underlying unforgiveness is not dealt with, the effects (if any) will bring temporary alleviation at best. The ‘light of Love’ ought to reflect your choice to identify with your Identity as Love, and that nothing else exists. As always, ask the help of the Holy Spirit, the Voice for Love, Who will not hesitate to help wherever He is welcomed.

How do you know you succeeded? “You will recognize you practiced well by this: The body should not feel at all. If you have been successful, there will be no sense of feeling ill or feeling well, of pain or pleasure. No response at all is in the mind to what the body does. Its usefulness remains, and nothing more.” (W-pI.136.17:2-3). So “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, might be corrected as: “A loving thought a day keeps the doctor away”. Seemingly separated fragment of the Son of God, heal thy mind; return to Love and accept God’s loving cure: “You are still My holy Son, forever innocent, forever loving and forever loved, as limitless as your Creator, and completely changeless and forever pure. Therefore awaken and return to Me. I am your Father and you are My Son.” (W-pII.12.5).


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. 2019 Course workshop at www.youtube.com called “Farewell to your self, to find your true Self”. (English captions/subtitles available)

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