The greatest gift to yourself (2)

When asked to describe A Course in Miracles in one word, most students would probably choose ‘forgiveness’. Indeed, the Course is replete with poetic descriptions of how the practice of forgiveness is the way out of all misery. Take for example lesson 122, called “Forgiveness offers everything I want”: “Do you want peace? Forgiveness offers it. Do you want happiness, a quiet mind, a certainty of purpose, and a sense of worth and beauty that transcends the world? Do you want care and safety, and the warmth of sure protection always? Do you want a quietness that cannot be disturbed, a gentleness that never can be hurt, a deep, abiding comfort, and a rest so perfect it can never be upset? All this forgiveness offers you, and more” (W-pI.122.1:2-2:1).

All these treasures, however, are unfortunately unattainable as long as one does not realize just what Jesus truly means when he talks about forgiveness. To really grasp Jesus’ notion of forgiveness, some basic understanding of the Course’s metaphysics is necessary. A Course in Miracles is a strictly nondualistic spirituality, which means it holds that God is the only reality; totally perfect, totally abstract, and completely outside time and space. God has but one Son (T-2.VII.6), Who is the extension of God’s Love. In the quantum possibility that God’s Son considered what it would be like to be separate from God was the ego-thought born. Desiring to be autonomous, the now split mind of the Son of God believed the ego’s conclusion that he had sinned against his Father, that this stain could never be removed, and that he was forced to flee and hide from the Creator by fragmenting into the billions of pieces we now call the physical universe.

In time, this seemed to happen long ago; in reality, it never really happened at all (M-2.2:7). “Not one note in Heaven’s song was missed” (T-26.V.5:4); God (Love) is completely unaware of this quantum tale, and we, as the now-sleeping Son of God, are in reality still safe at Home in His Love. However, seemingly fast asleep in the “waking dream” in time and space we call our lives, we all still stubbornly cling to the belief that this separation did indeed happen, for we still cherish our individual personalities so much. In reality though, there is still only one Son of God. And although there certainly seem to be billions of egos, in content all these egos are in fact of the one same ego. It’s only because we continually project out our own ego onto others that the illusion of many still stands.

So from the perspective of A Course in Miracles, forgiveness is not really about forgiving the bad behavior of others, as (1) behavior is only an effect, not a cause, and (2) in reality there is no-one else out there. Rather, forgiveness is only about forgiving myself, as the sleeping Son, for the projections of my own ego I had thrust upon everyone and everything around me, with the secret purpose to see evil everywhere save within myself. Since the seeming multiplicity in the dream we call our lives is an illusion, I am always upset at something that only seems to be outside of me, but which is really merely a projection of some dark spot that I refuse to see in my own conflicted mind. Still, though I may refuse to see it, unconsciously I realize this is my judgment upon myself, which no doubt is the way God judges me now, which is why everyone walks this planet “uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear” (T-31.VIII.7:1), however much we try to hide that.

I know this metaphysical talk might be a bit hard to follow. Therefore, let’s look at two common examples you and I encounter in our everyday lives. Firstly, let’s say that the neighbors are loudly partying in their back yard — again! — until about five o’clock at night, and this is keeping me from getting a good night’s sleep. Politely discussing this issue with them afterwards doesn’t seem to improve things. My frustration mounts as I accuse them of (a) wasting their lives, and (b) hindering me in my night rest and also probably my alertness in practicing my workbook lesson the next day. Should I then remember Jesus’ call to forgive, and all I subsequently do is secretly say to them (in my mind): “Okay, I hate you for your despicable juvenile behavior, but I’m going to forgive you anyway, for Jesus tells me this is the way out of pain”, I’m really getting nowhere. This is not at all what Jesus means by forgiveness.

Instead, Jesus would have me realize that their ‘despicable’ behavior is but form, which masks the underlying content of their fear. These neighbors are choosing to party all night long only as an unconscious distraction against a deep-rooted fear! What is the fear? Unconsciously, they fear that they are indeed miserable sinners, that their guilt is real and punishment by God totally justified. Also, following the blocks to Love that peace must flow across (T-19.IV.A-D), unconsciously they are deathly afraid of the Love of God which would mean the end of their individuality, personality and autonomy! Hey, but wait a minute, we just said there is no-one else out there! Ouch – I am really talking about my own fears here! Since I do not want to face these fears, I seek to see it in “others”. I choose to feel upset by these “others” so I don’t have to look within and conclude that there is no sin (T-21.IV.3:1). If I would look, I’d immediately sense the end of my own little separated self, and God knows I’m not yet willing to give that up (Well, God thinks otherwise actually (T-23.I.2). Once I can realize that my frustration (Jesus uses the imagery of a sword) is aimed solely at myself, I can forgive myself for my silly projections, and ask the Holy Spirit how I could see “peace instead of this” (W-pI.34). Seeing myself in another light, I can now see my neighbors in another light, and silently express to them the love that we all seek, knowing we are one.

A second common example is with the people whom we consider ‘authority figures’, which would include for example your parents and your boss. Whenever you notice you’re getting upset with them because of how awfully they treat you or accuse you of everything you do poorly, it’s no use saying to yourself: “I really hate you for your unjustified accusations, but I’m going to practice forgiveness anyway, because the Course tells me that my forgiveness of my brother is the way out of hell. I’m going to be spiritually superior here and discard all the ego-based feelings that are keeping me in chains.” Except that in this practice, the feelings (thoughts really) are not discarded at all; they are merely driven underground, only to resurface again the next time something ‘unreasonable’ comes up – and sooner or later it always does. That’s why Jesus calls this “forgiveness-to-destroy” (S-2.II).

Again, in cases like these Jesus wants us to realize that we’re never upset for the reason we think (W-pI.5). The behavior we dislike is merely form; it’s the effect of a deeply rooted underlying fear of being unworthy of the Love of God, and of having to give up our most cherished possession in the face of our reunification with Oneness: the relinquishment of the individual self. This is our (that is, the ego’s) fear of the Love of God, and we’ll do anything to distract our minds from discovering the road to the “real world”, in which our perception is cleansed of such silly perceptions. Taking it one step further, since there is no-one else out there, this underlying fear I sense in others, is really merely a shadowy projection of that very same fear I hold deep within myself. Having made it to that point, I can now ask Jesus or the Holy Spirit to help me see myself differently. To the extent I can muster the courage to allow the Holy Spirit to undo this darkness in my mind, will my perception of my parents and my boss change for the better as well. I now realize we’re all on the same journey Home. That is true healing.

Course scholar Kenneth Wapnick often remarked that, regardless of our interpretation of the behavior of others, people are either expressing love or expressing a call for love (T.14.X.7). Although the latter sometimes takes on rather vicious forms, both psychologically and physically, it’s still a (desperate) call for love. And since in reality there is no-one else out there, am either expressing love or expressing a call for love, regardless of the form this takes. Which will serve me best? Will I keep myself in misery through continued condemnation of everything I perceive outside of me, this being just a projection of what I refuse to see in my own mind? Or will I stop, raise my mind above the battleground (T-23.IV) and ask the Holy Spirit to help me “see peace instead of this” (W-pI.34)? The choice is mine to make. Jesus cannot make this choice for me. Keeping the Course’s metaphysics close to my heart, in the knowledge that you and I and everyone around us are still safe at Home in the Heart of God, I can take Jesus’ hand and affirm that “Forgiveness is my function as the light of the world” (W-pI.62). Only then can I understand the beautiful lesson 122 in the first paragraph of this blog post. And although forgiveness only exists within the dream and is itself illusory, it is the only illusion that breeds no others (W-pI.198.3); this can therefore truly be called the greatest gift I can give to myself. Happy practicing!

— Jan-Willem van Aalst

5 thoughts on “The greatest gift to yourself (2)

  1. Tertia Lotz

    Dear Jan-Willem,

    Thank you so much for all your reminders and beautiful clarifications, they are always exactly what I need to hear.

    I am very grateful for you in my dream.

    Initially I couldn’t help but fall in love with the form in which the message came; your unique style of teaching, even down to your particular dutch accent, strongly reminded me of my kind and gentle childhood teachers in Breskens where I grew up, only now the curriculum is truly helpful!

    For nine years my father was dominee in Breskens, and as a young child I felt the content of my father’s love, but could not understand much of what he was saying in form, but thankfully, draped over the altar was an embroidered cloth, and my mother had explained the words read: God is Liefde. It gave me great comfort focusing on the only words I needed to understand: such simplicity compared to the incomprehensible things my father’s voice produced from the pulpit.

    I did ask my father repeatedly, and with an urgency, coming from one so young, that amused him, “Hoe is het mogelijk dat God Liefde is en dan is er ook nog deze wereld?” He could not answer in a way that satisfied me, and it wasn’t until 2010 that the book that provided all the answers came into my life….

    Goodness knows where I am with things, but I am noticing that, increasingly, I am becoming a /happy/ learner, realizing forgiveness is the/only/ way out of the nightmare, and I am starting to actually welcome all the learning opportunities.

    I could really relate to your example below, about ‘noisy neighbours robbing you of sleep and the ability to do your practice’, LOL I was seemingly robbed of sleep for years because of menopausal issues, and eventually came to the happy realization that the endless tiredness, which was of course me trying to go home with the handbrake on, was used by the Holy Spirit to allow deeper layers of darkness to come up, and shatter the illusion of my spiritual ego that I was already quite advanced 😀

    It’s hilarious: to wake up is my heart’s desire and then I complain of sleep disturbances!

    I want to thank you for the many forms in which you allow the Light to pour through (your book, the blog, the YouTube videos…)  all so very appreciated!

    I wish you happy practicing too and increasing awareness of what is already the case.

    Love, Tertia

    On 07/03/2021 09:31, Miracles or Murder wrote

    > > miraclesormurder posted: ” When asked to describe A Course in > Miracles in one word, most students would probably choose > ‘forgiveness’. Indeed, the Course is replete with poetic descriptions > of how the practice of forgiveness is the way out of all misery. Take > for example” >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Tertia,
      Thank you for your lovely and very recognizable reply, especially on how the HS always manages to tap on our shoulder to offer the next forgiveness lessons when we think we’re already quite a bit on our way up on the ladder…
      As a matter of fact, I grew up in Vlissingen, on the opposite bank of the Westerschelde river! Small world after all.


  2. a couple of questions:

    1) why is there a (2) — is it because it is a repeat of a previous post OR because it is part 2 and there is a part 1 to this post?

    2) The quote of “anger is never justified” == I think I’ve asked you before — BUT here goes — Does it literally mean that anger is not a feeling that should happen??? Does it mean anger is not justified by pointing out all the reasons (justifications) that you should be angry.

    Thanks for everything.

    Mary Solomon



  3. Hello Mary,
    1. Post captions marked with a (2) means that this is the second time the post is published. The ones from three, four years ago are barely read anymore, while they are still as valid as ever. And in a sense, every story I post is always the same. Not in form, but in content.
    2. Anger: Jesus certainly nowhere tells us that feelings of anger are sinful; after all, while we still believe we are here, we are not yet at the top of the ladder of Atonement, so we will experience all sorts of emotions. That’s perfectly fine. But he *does* plead with us not to seek reasons to justify the anger, as that only makes the separation (error) real. So as soon as you notice you get angry, don’t feel guilty, but choose to “be lifted up” above the battleground and learn to switch teachers and gently smile at the silliness. For all anger is silliness. Why should you justify anger about something that is illusory?


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