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


See also my Feb. 2019 Course workshop at called “Farewell to your self, to find your true Self”. (English captions/subtitles available)

Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page:

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