Although each New Year’s eve we all formulate an impressive list of good intentions for the year to come, for most of us it takes but a few weeks — or even days — to conclude that it’s sort of tough to keep that up. We want to be loving, joyful, patient, and understanding, but soon we notice that we keep falling back into being judgmental, impatient, angry, fearful, uncertain; you name it. It’s a frustrating experience, that does not really contribute to our self-esteem, to put it mildly. Why is it so hard to keep up the things that we know will bring us more peace in our lives, while we keep slipping back into old habitual patterns that merely lead to more misery in life?
Psychology tells us that beneath the superficial notions of the qualities of our own personality, deep within us we keep hidden a veritable cauldron of negative notions about ourselves. For example, if we feel parents did not provide us with the love we feel we need — and this includes virtually all of us, since no parent was able to be there for us all the time — somewhere deep inside we secretly conclude that the fault is ours; we are evidently not worthy of being loved. In A Course in Miracles, Jesus formulates this inner conviction to the extreme: “You think you are the home of evil, darkness and sin. […] You think if what is true about you were revealed to you, you would be struck with horror so intense that you would rush to death by your own hand, living on after seeing this being impossible.” (W-pI.93.1:1,3).
The metaphysics of A Course in Miracles clearly explain to us the source of these silly inner convictions. They stem from the original ontological instant of the separation (which, holographically speaking, is still here in each instant we prefer the ego), when the Son of God appeared to decide His Father’s Love was not enough; and so he seemed to attempt to separate from Oneness Love, and be god in his own little universe. The guilt over that seeming savage sin, plus the fear of God’s punishment for being so unloving, was so frightfully intense that we had to suppress and project it, in order to remain an individual without terror constantly striking at our hearts. This is why we consciously see all evil outside of us. But psychology also tells us that what is projected merely strengthens its hold on the unconscious part of the mind. Sooner or later it will rear its ugly head in our thought stream. And this is why all new year’s resolutions sooner or later fall prey to these suppressed but very active beliefs about our own unworthiness.
While the metaphysics of A Course in Miracles unmask the frightful beliefs about ourselves that we keep so well hidden (which is one of the main reasons people throw the book at the wall), the truly liberating aspect is that the Course convincingly explains to us that “This need not be” (T-4.IV), because “all these firmly fixed beliefs are based on nothing” (W-pI.93.2:1). The Course’s metaphysics teach me that “I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me” (W-pI.201-220). The only reason we cling to these silly frightful beliefs is that a part of our mind (the ego) is still enamored by the idea of being a body — an autonomous, individual personality that can be a god in its own right in its tiny part of the universe. And although we fear physical death, it’s also a great way of raising the middle finger at God, effectively saying: “See? Perfection is a lie, and so are you. My separation from you is real.” And then we reincarnate in a feeble attempt to try it yet again. And of course we fail once again. And so on and on this karmic cycle seems to go.
Although we constantly decide to want to be a little autonomous separated individual instead of a holographic part of the one glorious — albeit seemingly sleeping — Son of God, the power of decision remains our own (W-pI.152). In the Course, Jesus teaches us that there is really only one decision to make: the choice between the ego (separation, fear) and the Holy Spirit (oneness, Love). As Jesus teaches us: “The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself. […] No one can suffer loss unless it be his own decision. […] Nothing occurs but represents your wish, and nothing is omitted that you choose.” (T-27.VIII.10:1; w-pI.152.1:1;5). In other words, we are what Kenneth Wapnick calls the decision maker, with the power to choose either the ego or the Holy Spirit, from instant to instant. Hence the insistent calls of Jesus to us, such as “Heaven is the decision I must make” (W-pI.138); “I will accept Atonement for myself” (W-pI.139), and “Choose once again if you would take your place among the saviors of the world, or would remain in hell, and hold your brothers there” (T-31.VIII.1:5).
You and I are worthy of the Love of God (since we are that Love), just as all our brothers are. In fact, in the very first section of chapter 1 of the text, Jesus states: “You are a miracle, capable of creating in the likeness of your Creator. Everything else is your own nightmare.” (T-1.I.24). Even in this hallucinatory material dream world, you and I have been given talents at birth that we can employ to bring salvation of the Son of God a little nearer, if we but choose to let the Holy Spirit employ these talents as He thinks best. Deciding to become a willing vehicle for the Holy Spirit as the prime meaning of our lives, is the ‘royal road’ to have all these silly, frightful notions about sin, guilt and unworthiness be undone forever.
The problem is that if you ask anyone about what their talents are, the majority of people do not really have a clue. In the light of the potential threat to the ego’s existence of knowing and lovingly employing your talents, it’s no wonder that the ego makes up a myriad of distractions to prevent our decision maker from choosing again. As long as 99 problems confront our daily lives, we have a fair chance of staying mindless, and thus keeping the dream of dualistic autonomy alive. We will do so until the pain gets too much, and we exclaim that there must be a better way. A Course in Miracles helps us look at the ego for what it truly is; the Course helps us reach that turning point more quickly, with more clarity and conviction.
The Buddhist notion of “Dharma” can be a great aid in facilitating this process of thought reversal. In short, Dharma more or less means that true happiness in this life can be found by ‘optimally employing your own unique talents to make yourself and others happy.’ Sounds good, doesn’t it? Realize, though, that you and I need to be constantly vigilant for which teacher we choose while expressing our talents. You don’t live ‘in Dharma’ by making rational, ego-driven plans that would turn you into the ‘savior of the world’. Rather, you take a step back and let the Holy Spirit lead the way. Only this way will your days become effortless while your intuitive, miracle-inspired actions turn out best for everyone. Letting go (of thinking you know best), and letting come (the Holy Spirit’s intuitive inspiration)!
— Jan-Willem van Aalst, sept. 2018