Upset over nothing

In our nightly dreams, we can get upset about the wildest imaginable things. We might chase someone or be chased, switching abruptly from one scene to another; we might even be in a heated discussion about problems in the scene or about the safety of the characters involved. Although dreams can be a helpful aid in clarifying what upsets us in our daily lives that we apparently suppress, when we wake up the morning we’re glad to realize that in the dream we were really upset over nothing. The challenges in our daily lives in ‘reality’, so we argue, are much more serious and understandably make us upset at times.

Enter A Course in Miracles, wherein Jesus informs his readers (students) that even in what we consider to be our daily reality, whenever we get upset, we get upset over nothing. This is because from Jesus’ point of view, this entire world is literally nothing, being a hallucinatory concept about consciousness, space and time in the mind of the seemingly sleeping Son of God. In chapter 27 of the text, we can hear Jesus emphatically assuring us that “…It is a joke to think that time can come to circumvent eternity, which means there is no time.” (T-27.VIII.6:5). Think about that statement for a moment. From the perspective of the Course, this entire world is cut from the same cloth as our nightly dreams: it’s all illusory. Once we awaken from this ‘dream world’, we will be relieved to realize that we were really upset over nothing.

But there’s a slight problem. Who or what would be the “we” when we would awaken? Whenever I wake up from my nightly dreams, I am glad to find myself back in what I utterly identify myself with: my body. But Jesus really cannot comprehensively explain what would be my identity should I wake from the dream of perception, time and space! Unfortunately, the voice of the ego, which is the voice for separate autonomy from God, does have a clear answer. Experiencing myself in a body is a clear sign that my mind chose – and still chooses – the ego as the primary guide of my thoughts, which are always aimed at keeping my precious individual autonomy, separated from the oneness love of God, alive and kicking. So what is the crystal-clear answer of the ego?

“Should you choose to discard the individuality that is my gift to you, assuming for the moment that you were capable of doing such a thing,” so the ego would argue, “you would obviously disappear into oblivion, since there would be nothing left for you to perceive anything with. Moreover, without the body you would instantly be noticed by God, Who will punish you severely for the cardinal sin of having rejected Him in the moment you chose my guidance. There will be nothing left for you to cherish. Your soul will burn eternally in hell. I’d stick with me if I were you.”

And sure enough, every time we blithely start to work at some serious spiritual progress, sooner or later we notice that we self-sabotage our efforts: we distract our minds with trivial matters that “seem so important”, or we simply forget to remind ourselves of our desired goal. There is not a single student who hasn’t experienced the utter frustration of self-sabotaging his or her own spiritual intentions and practice. That’s why Jesus explains in chapter 18 of the text: “Trust not your good intentions. They are not enough.” (T-18.IV.2:1-2). Why is that?

Course Scholar Kenneth Wapnick often told his audience that truly studying A Course in Miracles should engender tremendous anxiety about the fear of ‘being erased’ once we would really follow through. After all, Jesus in effect tells us that our very individual existence is a lie, and that our eyes that read his book don’t really see, and the brain that tries to make sense of it all doesn’t really think. And nobody likes to be told his existence is a lie, and that nothing here in this world is worth assigning any value whatsoever to, as for example Buddhists correctly observe.

A Course in Miracles would be a most depressing curriculum if it didn’t offer us the best banquet of all, instead of the measly crumbs of specialness we try to collect in our dream world. In various subtle ways, in a most careful tempo, with symphonic variations, Jesus tries to make us realize that without individuality, having left time and space behind us, we would not be annihilated, but we would be Christ again, meaning we would be everything. In reality – in truth – no distinctions are possible between God and Christ, since oneness knows of no distinctions. And since in reality we are all, in reality we have all. Right now. Except this is not really understandable from our experience in time and space.

Self-sabotaging our own spiritual practice should merely be regarded as nothing but the understandable fear of letting go of our own perceived precious individuality. It’s really nothing to get upset about, although our anxiety is perfectly understandable. We should allow ourselves some slack: after all, undoing a decision that has been going on for some fourteen billion years now, no matter how illusory it is, is not something that is easily done. And Jesus fully understands. He even quotes from Plato’s Cave allegory to comfort us in our upset: “Prisoners bound with heavy chains for years, […] with eyes so long cast down in darkness they remember not the light, do not leap in joy the instant they are made free. It takes a while for them to understand what freedom is.” (T-20.III.9:1-2).

So please be kind to yourself. Whenever you find yourself getting upset over this or that, remember that it’s really about nothing, since in reality each seemingly separated one of us is already Home, outside time and space, as Christ. Then quickly choose a miracle instead of murder; that is, choose to forgive. Please don’t bash yourself for once again having forgotten Jesus’ instructions. Don’t feel guilty. Try to be much more patient with yourself. Only infinite patience brings immediate results, as again the Buddhists say. Once you truly practice patience, you find that literally nothing that seems to happen is worth sacrificing the inner peace in your mind. 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


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:

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