A Course in Miracles teaches us that we are not trapped in a world that is beyond our sphere of influence, our daily experiences to the contrary. This is because the world we interpret and give meaning to, is merely “…the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition.” (T-21.in.1:5). This certainly doesn’t seem to be the case. After all, nothing in this world lasts. All things sooner or later become defective, and all life eventually deteriorates and dies. I tell myself my deepest desire is to have everlasting life in a world of everlasting love; yet eventually I appear to lose everything I love. So if “the world is the outside picture of an inward condition”, it must follow that my mind must be full of thoughts of decay and death, at least unconsciously, right?
This is true for anyone whose state of mind is in wrong-minded ego mode, which is true for 99 percent of the world population all the time, including my own state of mind. This is because when push comes to shove, my own selfish interests will have to be met first, at all cost. Self-preservation is this life’s primary driving force. Sure I want happiness, but I want it my way. This, of course, merely mirrors the ontological moment when the seemingly sleeping Son of God chose to follow the ego in the dream (nightmare, really) of autonomy, seemingly separating from God. Terrified at the prospect of being severely punished by God for this “sin of separation”, the Son made up time and space, including an entire universe, with the twofold purpose of (1) becoming untraceable to God, and (2) providing so many distractions to occupy the mind that the memory of the state of Oneness wouldn’t be able to ever dawn again in the Son’s mind.
So while my mind is in ego-mode, everything I perceive, think and do will reflect that ontological moment. “Each day, each minute, and each instant you but relive the time when terror took the place of love” (T-26.V.13:1). This is not to say, by the way, that we cannot reflect Heaven here in time and space. After all, I do have the choice to switch teachers at any instant of the day. Whenever I choose to do that, the Love that is my very inheritance will manifest in this world, through the miracle. Since projection makes perception (T-21.in.1), the world I behold will reflect my decision to either wrong-mindedly project, or to right-mindedly extend.
Beware, however: the ego is very clever at imitating the Holy Spirit. If I constantly behold only a good, lovable and joyful world, chances are that I have fallen into the trap of denying the darkness in my mind that I need to clean up. If the cause of this world is the ontological attack thought, salvation cannot lie in denying attack thoughts; it must lie in calmly looking at all attack thoughts, accompanied by Jesus (or the Holy Spirit). Only then can I see its silliness. I then realize I am the dreamer of the dream, and therefore the maker of all the images I see. Our one remaining freedom in this world is the power to choose a better Teacher to guide our thoughts, in the service of slowly undoing all attack thoughts that we become aware of. That’s why workbook lesson 23 says that “I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.” (W-pI.23).
In that lesson, we read that “If the cause of the world is attack thoughts, you must learn that it is these thoughts which you do not want. There is no point in lamenting the world. There is no point in trying to change the world. It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect [of my state of mind]. But there is indeed a point in changing your thoughts about the world. Here you are changing the cause. The effect will change automatically.” (T-23.2). To clarify this, Kenneth Wapnick often used the symbol of a cinema: if I don’t like what I see on the screen, I do not run to the wall to try to change the image; rather, I should go to the projection booth and switch movies. The choice for the movie is the cause; what I subsequently perceive the effect. In the Course, Jesus invites us to evaluate and change the cause, not the effect.
At first, this seems to be strictly in line with the well-known quote from chapter 18: “I need do nothing.” (T-18.VII.5). However, this does not mean that we literally are to do nothing in the world, as some students unfortunately interpret it. We may be tempted to stop caring for the environment, climate, sustainability, health, et cetera, because the world and its bodies are all illusory anyway — we merely need to change our mind and choose inner peace. However, as Kenneth Wapnick often pointed out, that is not what Jesus teaches in his curriculum. Yes, from a metaphysical viewpoint it is true that everything here is illusory and nothing here is of any value, since nothing lasts. However, as long as we still identify with our body so much, which virtually everyone still does, we have lots of “mind-work” to do in really bringing about the change of mind we so fervently desire.
‘Changing my mind and choose inner peace’ requires that I fully accept the message of the Atonement that says that nothing happened to disturb the innocent peace of the Son of God, and that I never really wanted the world I now behold. To get to that point, however, I should regard the world as a useful classroom in which I can be very active, but guided by a different teacher. Every chapter and every lesson in A Course in Miracles carries that same simple message in it, explicitly or implicitly: choose once again which teacher I will allow to guide my thoughts. Once we increasingly make the right choice, we come to realize that our thoughts in time and space are not our real thoughts at all; that is, only impulses of love are real, and it is through these that I can reflect a bit of Heaven here on earth, and cleanse my mind from all the dark spots I still hold on to, hoping against hope that my individual autonomy is indeed a fact. It is not; only God is Fact, and our spiritual journey consists of slowly and gratefully accepting that truth.
Therefore, there is really only one thing to fix in the world: the quality of my thoughts. I don’t do this by meditating for extended lengths of time in a mountain cave, although regular meditation does help to ease the constant stream of ego chatter, an essential prerequisite for mind training. The most important vehicle for changing the quality of my thoughts is accepting the lessons of love that are offered me on a daily basis in the world which I now regard as a useful classroom. On a practical level, this means I ask Jesus (or the HS) to help me see all situations that used to upset me differently, no matter how small the upset seems to be. As Ken Wapnick remarked: “We practice on the ‘little’ things of the body, so what we may come to learn about the magnitude of spirit”, which is what you and I really are.
So it’s perfectly fine for you and me to be very active in this world on “fixing” the environment, the climate, sustainability, healthcare, you name it — but the true “fix” is our choice with whom we do it as guiding teacher: the ego or the Holy Spirit? If I act from an ego frame of mind, my primary (though unconscious) motivation in working on climate, sustainability or healthcare will be to establish my special self-worth, and to show God that, yes, I sinned, but my good deeds should grant me a place in Heaven when I die. This way I merely keep making the error real. If, on the other hand, I act from the right-minded perspective of the Voice for Love, my primary motivation will be to reach the real world by seeing the sameness in everything I perceive. My thoughts and actions will emanate from kindness, which must result in inner peace, and ultimately in the returning awareness of our Home in the Heart of God, which we never really left anyway.
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. 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.