This famous typing error by Bill Thetford, obviously caused by ego-resistance to the transcription process by Bill and Helen between 1965 and 1972, in a sense constitutes the core of Jesus’ message in A Course in Miracles, namely: the mindshift from seeing others as a bother, to seeing them as an equal brother. When meeting anyone, we unconsciously focus on finding something that we can dislike about them, or that would put the self in a subtly superior position to others. The core aim of A Course in Miracles is to train the mind to entirely shift from seeing differences to seeing sameness. How is that possible in a world that is clearly made up of differences?
We return once more to the crucial distinction the Course makes between form and content. This distinction cannot be discussed too often, for without a good grasp of the meaning of this distinction, a consistent focus on the sameness in everyone and everything would be very, very hard to attain. The core motivation for choosing to focus on sameness, by the way, would of course be that without differences, there is no need to dislike, judge, or condemn, which cancels out the root cause for fear. In other words, lasting inner peace is attained by undoing fear, which is attained by giving up judgment, which becomes possible once we perceive the sameness in everyone and everything.
This shift in perception, though, must happen in the mind. It cannot be done purely with the bodily senses such as the eyes and the ears, since these were made to see differences instead of sameness. Let’s see how this can work in practice. If you go for a walk in the park, or perhaps for a leisurely bicycle tour, you notice all sorts of people, with a wide range of characteristics. Some of these you may find instantly appealing, while others you judge as decidedly appalling. We usually see this as a normal thought mechanism in the human psyche. In A Course in Miracles though, Jesus focuses a lot on exactly this process of shifting and ranking. In one place, he summarizes it thus: “Each day and every minute in each day and every instant that each minute holds, you but relive the single instant when the time of terror took the place of love.” (T-26.V.13:1). Every dislike about another, however small it may seem, boils down to a choice to condemn instead of to love.
The core belief that’s behind such judgment is that you and I are distinctly separate beings, with nothing that inherently binds us to each other. However, when carefully reading the metaphysics of the Course in the text, we come to realize that not only the world of time and space is an illusion, but even more to the point that everything our senses perceive is the result of the projection of separation, that is, ultimately the ontological separation from God. The sleeping Son of God dreams about a material universe in which his self is split in billions and billions of tiny fragments, in a fearful attempt to hide from the supposed wrath of God about the separation. Every separated fragment projects the guilt and fear about this separation away, so that all evil now seems to be in others, while the fragment that I identify with can now be seen as an innocent victim.
It’s a mind-boggling shift in awareness of reality, but how does that apply to our everyday lives, which the Course certainly doesn’t ask us to deny? The body that you perceive yourself in perhaps encases your personality in this lifetime, but it is hardly what you and I fundamentally are. A Course in Miracles does not take a definite stand on reincarnation, but there are ample passages that hint at the notion that you and I have already been here in many, many bodies before, and will continue to return in bodies as long as the Lessons of Love (Text, chapter 6) have not yet been mastered (the Buddhist would say: as long as there is still bad karma to clean up). Every single body you see, including your own body, is like a brief glow in time. The sleeping Son of God will continue to seemingly separate in a new body, as long as the dreadful sin-guilt-fear thought trinity is not completely given up. That’s why Kenneth Wapnick once stated that “merely being born here is Self-sabotage!”
See how this insight might be applied during your stroll in the park, or on your bicycle tour. Each time you meet anyone (and no meeting is a coincidence, cf. Chapter 3 in the Manual), you have the ability to activate the decision maker in your mind, who, as it were, ‘stops the time’, and ponders: “Hmm. I see the form of a body, but that body is part of the dream world we choose to experience ourselves in. If I shift from form to content, I can see (not literally, but with the mind’s eye) the Light of Christ shining in that perceived person, just as I can see that same light shining in myself. In fact, it is the same light. I may not like the looks (or the behavior) of that person, but that’s form. In essence, each body is just a frightened fragment that – bottom line – yearns to return to the Oneness of God, but is simply still too uncertain, lonely and fearful to choose this. The inner light we share, however, is unchangeable, wholly lovable, and the ultimate reality of life.”
Just consider what happens to your state of mind once you would evaluate everyone you meet in this way. Would this leave any room for some sort of condemnation? Hardly. On the contrary, such an evaluation leaves only room for love, compassion and kindness. It opens up the heart to receive and give the miracles that the Holy Spirit wants to work through you. And what is the result in your own awareness? Joy, love and peace. Now, that’s exactly the experience Jesus wants us to practice in this lifelong curriculum. I do not master A Course in Miracles by diligently reading the text, workbook and manual for teachers over and over again; I need to apply this forgiveness principle (i.e., the separation never happened, and material form merely deceives) from moment to moment in my everyday doings. I will naturally stumble a zillion times each day, but each time I become aware of such a mistake, I can choose again: from ‘bother’ to ‘brother’. This is the practice that brings lasting inner peace a bit closer each day. Who could ask for anything more?
— Jan-Willem van Aalst, Oct. 2018