Workbook lesson 97 is called “I am spirit”, and Jesus comments on this as follows: “Today’s idea […] simply states the truth. Practice this truth today as often as you can, for it will bring your mind from conflict to the quiet fields of peace.” (W-pI.97.1:1-4). That should be ample motivation to stick with the inner peace once I experience this. And so I mutter: “Yes, yes, I’m not a body, I am free, for I am still as God created me [i.e., as spirit]”. But apparently I don’t want to be pure spirit as yet. Why not? Because I forget about the lesson for hours on end and I still get upset over this and that! All Course students have experienced this frustration. So what to do to convince myself I really want to be pure spirit?
Most students are familiar with the somewhat disheartening opening of workbook lesson 185, entitled: “I want the peace of God”, wherein Jesus reminds us: “To say these words is nothing. But to mean these words is everything” (W-pI.185.1:1-2). The trouble is, yes, I do want the peace of God, but I want it on my own terms. I want God to be my sugar-daddy who will fix my perceived problems here, in my own personal little world. In other words, I still stubbornly “prefer to be right, rather than happy” (T-29.VII.1:9). This is because of my fear that if would truly accept that I am pure spirit, my personal self would be finished, and therefore I would cease to exist!
So if I were really honest with myself, I would admit that, no, I don’t want to be pure spirit yet, because this is much too frightening to my perceived identity as a unique separated individual. For many Course students, a most unfortunate consequence of such a conclusion is that it seems to induce loads of guilt over being such a poor, wretched, worthless spiritual pupil. “Sigh. This Course is the clearest guide to inner peace that one might think of, and yet I don’t follow through because I am too weak and fearful to find the motivation to practice what it says.” Obviously, such a conclusion is merely a clever ego tactic to keep itself alive and well: clearly separated from God, with no inner strength to ever switch on the inner light which would make the ego disappear.
As long as I succumb to the deceptive temptation of wrong-minded thinking, all my efforts to learn this Course seem futile indeed. Happily, the real power of A Course in Miracles lies in its gentle guidance to gradually make the shift from wrong-minded to right-minded thinking. And this is a slow process. One particularly helpful passage comes in chapter 15: “[This Course…] does not require that you have no thoughts that are not pure. But it does require that you have none that you would keep.… In your practice, then, try only to be vigilant against deception, and seek not to protect the thoughts you would keep to yourself. Let the Holy Spirit’s purity shine them away, and bring all your awareness to the readiness for purity He offers you” (T-15.IV.9:1-2,8-9).
So my real practice is merely to become aware of my negative thoughts slightly sooner than before, and then not judge myself for being “bad”, but merely realize above the battleground (T-23.IV) that this negativity clearly serves the purpose of wanting to keep the seeming separation intact because I’m still too fearful of the notion of being pure spirit. Then I will not feel guilty about being spiritually inadequate. Sure, I may not be fully enlightened as yet, but at least I’m on the right track in reconditioning my mind from wrong-minded thinking to right-minded thinking. Each time I can gently smile about my own silliness and ask myself what Love would do instead, and then follow the Holy Spirit’s loving impulse, I am choosing a miracle, and the experience of inner peace will inevitably follow.
Very early in the text, Jesus states that “[A] miracle substitutes for learning that might have taken thousands of years. […] The miracle shortens time by collapsing it, thus eliminating certain intervals within it” (T-1.II.6:5,8). This lofty metaphysical idea about cleaning up karma and ending the cycle of reincarnation, however, should be applied to the smallest things in our everyday lives. We still believe that, for example, when we offer a simple, genuine smile to a stranger on the street, this may not be a significant contribution to our own salvation. But Jesus gently reminds us that we have no clue whatsoever about our greatest advances and failures: “You cannot distinguish between advance and retreat. Some of your greatest advances you have judged as failures, and some of your deepest retreats you have evaluated as success” (T-18.V.1:5-6).
In chapter 31 of the text, Jesus further addresses this importance about our ‘little’ encounters in which we can affirm the mutual truth about ourselves as being pure spirit: “The holy ones whom God has given you to save are but everyone you meet or look upon, not knowing who they are; all those you saw an instant and forgot, and those you knew a long while since, and those you will yet meet […]” (T-31.VII.10:5). According to A Course in Miracles, the temple of the Holy Spirit is not the body (as St. Paul taught us in the Bible); it is a relationship. And this is with anyone and/or anything I perceive outside of me. The truth about myself that “I am spirit” will dawn on me when I practice in relinquishing my judgment of all that I perceive outside of me, even in seemingly insignificant encounters.
In practicing this, I will yet learn that where in my wrong mind I believe I am losing a bit of my unique special autonomy, my right mind brings the experience of the peace I want so much. It’s all a matter of being vigilant for which teacher I choose to guide my thoughts, moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day, year by year. That’s why the Manual for teachers closes with the inspiring plea: “And now in all your doings be you blessed. God turns to you for help to save the world. Teacher of God, His thanks He offers you, And all the world stands silent in the grace You bring from Him.” (M-29.8:1-3) And the unexpected moment will come when you will be astounded to realize with perfect clarity that, yes, I do want to be spirit, joined as one Self with the whole Sonship, on its way back Home! Could there be any greater joy than that?
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.