Enlightenment right now, please

The central theme in A Course in Miracles is to learn how to forgive all the remaining dark spots in our own mind. To this end, we should work on a daily basis with the special relationships that we have formed with people, with possessions, with events, you name it. Anyone and anything can be transformed from a lesson-in-separation to a lesson-in-oneness, by re-evaluating what the relationship is for. Where we used to think the special relationship would bring us happiness, the Course’s re-evaluation shows us that it brings us only pain, and invites us to choose a different teacher to interpret the particular relationship.

Once we experience the inner peace that results from that other choice, forgiveness becomes more desirable, and so we put its practice somewhat more on the foreground in the mind each day. What we oftentimes fail to recognize, though, is that this only means we are now ready for forgiveness. That’s not the same as having mastered forgiveness. As Jesus reminds us in the text: “Readiness is only the prerequisite for accomplishment. The two should not be confused. As soon as a state of readiness occurs, there is usually some degree of desire to accomplish, but it is by no means necessarily undivided. The state does not imply more than a potential for a change of mind. Confidence cannot develop fully until mastery has been accomplished” (T-2.VII.7:2-6).

Once we experience the inner peace we want so much, there’s a tendency to demand instant enlightenment, simply because we want to feel good all the time. However, Jesus’ marked tempo in the Course is molto adagio (“very slow”), and with good reason. For example, whenever I think I truly forgive someone, and yet after a while I still notice feelings of hurt, resentment, rejection, anger, bitterness, and so on, I can be sure I have not yet truly forgiven that person, or better, my chosen relationship to that person. For many Course students, that’s an all-too familiar experience. Unfortunately, what oftentimes happens is that instead of patiently trying again and yet again, we make ourselves feel guilty for being such an inadequate spiritual student. And with guilt firmly in place, the ego has the last laugh, for guilt means its continuance is ensured.

For many Course students, a major eye-opener is the realization that it is exactly the unconscious devotion to the ego’s special individuality that’s the greatest block to true forgiveness. After all, true forgiveness ‘requires’ of me to see no differences whatsoever anymore between myself and the person (or situation) I condemned. Forgiveness will never be total until I can honestly say and mean: “I would rather be at one with you in Heaven outside time and space, than perceive us as separate in this dream world.” Until then, forgiveness remains “[…] a scourge; a curse where it was meant to bless, a cruel mockery of grace, a parody upon the holy peace of God.” (S-2.I.1:2). This is because deep down, I still judge myself as ‘better’ than you. Sure, as I am so enlightened I will not consciously condemn you anymore, but I still think I’m a better Son of God than you are.

In the Song of Prayer pamphlet, Jesus cautions his students against such thinking, which truly is a major obstacle in the process of going from readiness to mastery: “There are the [forgiveness] forms in which a “better” person deigns to stoop to save a “baser” one from what he truly is. Forgiveness here rests on an attitude of gracious lordliness so far from love that arrogance could never be dislodged. Who can forgive and yet despise? And who can tell another he is steeped in sin, and yet perceive him as the Son of God? Who makes a slave to teach what freedom is? There is no union here, but only grief. This is not really mercy. This is death” (S-2.II.2).

We should never forget that although the Course’s principles are simple, going from readiness to mastery is far from easy. The reason is obvious: I want to be enlightened, but I want it on my conditions. I want to experience the Love of God, but I want to keep experiencing it as a special individual. That’s because somewhere deep down, I still believe that this unique autonomous personality is all I have and all I am. What would I be if I were to give that up? I really couldn’t tell. The ego tells me I would be obliterated into nothingness (as punishment by God), but in A Course in Miracles, Jesus assures me that the only thing that would be obliterated is the ego itself, after which only love remains: “[…] You believe that without the ego, all would be chaos. Yet I assure you that without the ego, all would be love.” (T-15.V.1:7).

“You have built your whole insane belief system [i.e., separation; a dream world; time; bodies; fear] because you think you would be helpless in God’s Presence, and you would save yourself from His Love because you think it would crush you into nothingness” (T-13.III.4). Enlightenment, then, comes down to the reversal of exactly that belief. And you and I can hardly expect that to be instantaneous; while you and I still firmly believe we are a body living in space and time (and that includes virtually all of us), it’s no use telling ourselves that time doesn’t exist. We need to patiently work in time with time, to ultimately learn we don’t need time. And no, suicide isn’t a shortcut in time; it’s merely a guarantee you will need still more time [i.e., lives] to ultimately learn Jesus’ curriculum of love.

It’s hardly weak to admit that you’re still afraid of the oneness Love of God. On the contrary; once you can acknowledge this, you’re being more honest to yourself than you’ve ever been before. But now at least you’ve obtained readiness to learn Jesus’ curriculum. It also means you acknowledge that you cannot go from readiness to mastery on ego-strength alone. Luckily, the decision maker in the mind is still free to choose one of two available guides: the ego (the choice for continuing separation), or the Holy Spirit, the choice for oneness. The practice of ‘making the better choice’ is a lifelong practice. That’s why in the workbook Jesus encourages his students to frequently ask ourselves: ““Who walks with me?” This question should be asked a thousand times a day, till certainty has ended doubting and established peace.” (W-pI.156.8:1-2). This may seem to take a long time, but as you nurture the skill of patience, time becomes irrelevant. As the Buddhist saying goes: “Immediate results require infinite patience”. Or, in the context of this blog: “Instant enlightenment requires infinite patience”. 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 my Feb. 2020 Course workshop on YouTube called “A kingdom to rule” (English captions/subtitles available).

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

Re-evaluating the world we see

The current covid-19 global fear wave goes to illustrate just how intimately we still identify ourselves with a body, and a weak one at that, even though the covid mortality rates are still comparable to the well-known influenza mortality rates, which few people still worry about anymore. In a sense, it also goes to show the inherent sameness in all the seemingly separated fragments of the Son of God: whether you live in America, Africa, Asia or Europe, we basically share the same fears and we share the same ideas about what will make us happy. And virtually everyone still shares the same firm belief that in spite of all the apparent fears, happiness can yet be found in something in the world in which we experience our lives in, even if only for a brief moment.

As with almost every page in A Course Miracles, its message is that this entire world and everything we seem to perceive in it is entirely hallucinatory, including time and space itself. This is in line with the staggering conclusion of quantum physicists that time and space are ultimately not real, and that the observer by definition influences everything that is observed. However, just as quantum physics is still widely ignored by the majority of scientists, the nondualistic message of A Course in Miracles isn’t exactly warmly embraced in spiritual circles either, let alone in society at large. This is because both deny our notion of where we believe we may still find happiness in this world. The alternative view, ‘a reality outside time and space’, is way too vague, abstract and frightening.

In A Course in Miracles, workbook lessons 128 to 130 form a triad on a re-evaluation of the world and the body we still so intimately identify with. Lesson 128 starts off with the seemingly rather depressive notion that “The world I see holds nothing that I want” (W-pI.128). Since everyone and everything sooner or later pass away, the Course concludes: “Nothing is here to cherish. Nothing here is worth one instant of delay and pain; one moment of uncertainty and doubt. The worthless offer nothing.” (W-pI.128.4:2-3). And yet, Jesus cannot leave it at that, for if that were the final conclusion, this Course would merely be depressive. Therefore, lesson 129 follows right after that: “Beyond this world is a world I want.” (W-pI.129). This, of course, is the world the mind perceives when all forms of condemnation have been laid by. This is when the purpose of the mind chooses to shift from sin-guilt-fear-thinking (thereby keeping the ego alive), to the experience of the oneness Love of God (restoring our awareness of our one collective Self in the mind).

In the final chapter of the text, Jesus summarizes this process from concluding that the world offers nothing of value to the awareness of the real world, a world freed of all condemnation: “All its [the world’s] roads but lead to disappointment, nothingness and death. […] Men have died on seeing this, because they saw no way except the pathways offered by the world. And learning they led nowhere, lost their hope. And yet this was the time they could have learned their greatest lesson. […] It is true indeed there is no choice at all within the world. But this is not the lesson in itself. The lesson has a purpose, and in this you come to understand what it is for. […] Learn now, without despair, there is no hope of answer in the world. […] No longer look for hope where there is none. Make fast your learning now, and understand you but waste time unless you go beyond what you have learned to what is yet to learn. For from this lowest point will learning lead to heights of happiness, in which you see the purpose of the lesson shining clear, and perfectly within your learning grasp.” (T-31.IV.2:3;3:3-10;4:2-3,6-8).

The lesson, briefly summarized, is that you and I are not the seemingly separated special body you and I think we are. You and I are pure spirit, still at Home in the Heart of God, outside time and space. You and I are merely dreaming an almost endless sequence of reincarnations in increasingly complex bodies, time and again attempting to be happy on our own apart from God. We keep this dream alive by finding things to fear, accuse and attack, just so we won’t have to face the deeply buried guilt we feel about initially having rejected the Love of our Creator. If you look at the course of history for the past few millennia, we’ve always found something fearful to distract the mind, preventing it from looking within: ‘natural’ catastrophes, civil wars, climate pollution… and now we have invented a global virus pandemic. And next year there’ll be yet another fearful something. Although the forms seem to differ greatly, the content remains the same: yet another reason to be very fearful, and above all not calmly, silently and honestly re-evaluate the truth of the world and the body we experience.

Recapturing lesson 129, Jesus pleads with us: “Is it a loss to find a world instead where losing is impossible; where love endures forever, hate cannot exist and vengeance has no meaning? Is it loss to find all things you really want, and know they have no ending and they will remain exactly as you want them throughout time?” (W-pI.129.3:1-2). Again, Jesus is referring to the real world, in which we still experience time, but which at the same time heralds the end of time and the disappearance of the universe, as we complete our lessons of total forgiveness (without exception!) and realize we are the sleeping Son of God, about to awaken to His true Home: the unchangeable Oneness Love of God outside time and space.

The trouble, of course, is that by far most of us are still too intimately identified with the body to say and really mean: “I don’t want to be an individual anymore. I want the peace of God as the one Son of God“. We may intellectually accept that this ephemeral world is not our true Home and that forgiveness makes us much happier than accusing, fearing and attacking… but we are not yet ready to turn that into our daily reality. Our faith and conviction will grow a little each time we succeed in truly forgiving a person or a situation, but we still need to be very, very patient with ourselves. Climbing the ‘spiritual ladder’ to the acceptance of the Atonement, we most certainly cannot skip rungs.

To help us reach the top a little quicker, Jesus offers us lesson 130: “It is impossible to see two worlds” (W-pI.130). So he explains: “Fear has made everything you think you see. All separation, all distinctions, and the multitude of differences you believe make up the world. They are not there. Love’s enemy has made them up. Yet love can have no enemy, and so they have no cause, no being and no consequence. They can be valued, but remain unreal.” (W-pI.130.4:1-8). So A Course in Miracles is essentially a mind-training program to condition the decision making mind to ask itself a thousand times a day: “Do I want to condemn or do I want to forgive?” “Do I want fear, or do I want love?” “Do I choose the weakness of fear, or the strength of love?” “Do I want to be right, or do I want to happy?” We cannot be both. It is impossible to see two worlds.

Our wrong-minded thoughts fear the covid virus because you and I still largely experience ourselves as a vulnerable body, rather than invulnerable spirit. We fear it much more than the well-known influenza viruses with comparable mortality rates because we constantly need to find something new to fear, just to keep up our faulty belief that we have indeed succeeded in separating from God as an autonomous individual being. Should I then deny the entire virus and ignore all the government policies that attempt to control it? Certainly not. As always, good Course students meet people where they are, and they act and behave as any normal ego would, and they abide by the law. They’re just not taken in by the dream anymore. Be a shining beacon of peace. The Holy Spirit will waste no time in extending this peace to the minds of those who still walk about in fear, including fear of this virus. Emanating peace is much more powerful than verbally trying to convince others of their faulty thinking. You might strengthen the immune system of thousands of people you don’t even know, just by emanating peace. Leave this to the Holy Spirit; that is His function.

Let’s conclude by reminding ourselves of the the ever-practical advice Jesus gives us in lesson 184 on how to act in an effective way in this dream world: “It would indeed be strange if you were asked to go beyond all symbols of the world, forgetting them forever; yet were asked to take a teaching function. You have need to use the symbols of the world a while. But be you not deceived by them as well. They do not stand for anything at all, and in your practicing it is this thought that will release you from them. They become but means by which you can communicate in ways the world can understand, but which you recognize is not the unity where true communication can be found. Thus what you need are intervals each day in which the learning of the world becomes a transitory phase; a prison house from which you go into the sunlight and forget the darkness. Here you understand the Word, the Name which God has given you; the one Identity which all things share; the one acknowledgment of what is true. And then step back to darkness, not because you think it real, but only to proclaim its unreality in terms which still have meaning in the world that darkness rules.”  (W-pI.184.9:1-10:3). Again, you do this by being a beacon of peace. 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 my Feb. 2020 Course workshop on YouTube called “A kingdom to rule” (English captions/subtitles available).

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