In A Course in Miracles we are taught that no-one’s journey through time and space is at random, and therefore you and I and everyone are always in the right moment at the right place (WpI-42.2:3-6). Also, the current looming world wide crisis of suppression of everyone’s basic freedom (see the 17-minute video This Pivotal Moment) is hardly coincidental. Challenging years may lie ahead of us. However, as each crisis usually precedes some kind of awakening, and it may be that we’re merely preparing for a truly great awakening in, say, ten or twenty years from now. But Course students will see the major mistake in the video and such reasoning, that is: making the error real. By holding on to the basic premise that our sensory experiences in time and space are the one and only reality, such a video can be frightening indeed. The true way out of fear, as always, is once again remembering to smile at the “tiny, mad idea” (T-27.VIII.6:3) that separation from our Creator is possible and has indeed been accomplished, forgive ourselves, and simply choose differently once again.
Jesus nicely summarizes this in lesson 53, which is part of the first workbook review. Let’s follow his line of reasoning there. I will incidentally add some further explanatory comments by Kenneth Wapnick about this lesson. Jesus starts by reminding us that what we usually think of as our thoughts (our verbal thought stream), are not our real thoughts. Only the loving ‘thoughts’ (non-verbal) we think with God are our real thoughts. However, since we do not yet want the separation healed (as this would end our precious individuality), we stubbornly hold on to the tiny, mad idea of time, space, and perception, and the preposterous idea of private thoughts. So let’s follow Jesus in lesson 53, where he is deliberately putting words into our mouths (as affirmations), to fuel our motivation as his students to choose him (i.e., the Voice for Love) as our new guide for the lives that we believe we are living:
Since the thoughts of which I am aware do not mean anything, the world that pictures them can have no meaning. What is producing this world is insane, and so is what it produces. Reality is not insane, and I have real thoughts as well as insane ones. I can therefore see a real world, if I look to my real thoughts as my guide for seeing. (WpI.53.1)
Interestingly, while Jesus presents this as a choice everyone is free to make, he also assures us that in the end all things will have a happy outcome (Wp2.292), because eventually everyone will pass the pain threshold and realize that the only real pleasure comes from doing God’s will (T-1.VII.1:4):
… Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit. Eventually everyone begins to recognize, however dimly, that there must be a better way. As this recognition becomes more firmly established, it becomes a turning point (T-2.III.3:5-7).
However, until we reach that turning point we have work to do, through the lessons of love that are offered us (or that we choose to experience in this lifetime) from day to day, sometimes in the most trivial of circumstances and encounters. While these lessons do not always feel like something we want, they are certainly always exactly what we need (and can handle) on our spiritual path. Each lesson contributes in some way to the following understanding:
Insane thoughts are upsetting. They produce a world in which there is no order anywhere. Only chaos rules a world that represents chaotic thinking, and chaos has no laws. I cannot live in peace in such a world. I am grateful that this world is not real, and that I need not see it at all unless I choose to value it. And I do not choose to value what is totally insane and has no meaning. (W-pI.53.2)
As Ken succinctly points out, before we can truly and definitely choose against what what is valueless, we must see and acknowledge that the world of time and space is totally insane. A very effective (though not always attractive) way of reaching that point is realizing that our specialness desires do not bring us the fulfillment we seek. On the contrary; we may feel happy for a fleeting moment, but eventually they lead to disappointment, depression, upset, apprehension, and most of all: fear. Jesus continues lesson 53, stating exactly this point but also immediately proving us with the way out of hell:
The totally insane engenders fear because it is completely undependable, and offers no grounds for trust. Nothing in madness is dependable. It holds out no safety and no hope. But such a world is not real. I have given it the illusion of reality, and have suffered from my belief in it. Now I choose to withdraw this belief, and place my trust in reality. In choosing this, I will escape all the effects of the world of fear, because I am acknowledging that it does not exist. (W-pI.53.3)
To fully accept this, it is important that we realize the link between our fear, depression, misery, etcetera, and our thoughts of judgment, attack, and specialness. The latter are the cause of our experiences. In the end, the root cause is of course the belief in our decision that we actually separated from God, and created a world for ourselves, with the possibility of finding lasting happiness there. You might say this is tragic, but Jesus merely dismisses it as silly:
How can a meaningless world exist if God did not create it? He is the Source of all meaning, and everything that is real is in His Mind. It is in my mind too, because He created it with me. Why should I continue to suffer from the effects of my own insane thoughts, when the perfection of creation is my home? Let me remember the power of my decision, and recognize where I really abide. (W-pI.53.4:2-6)
Where you and I really abide is, of course, outside time and space as the one Son of God, who is merely the extension of God’s eternal changeless love. Therefore, the way out is actually quite simple, at least in principle: let me look at the dream I choose to experience now, realize its inherent silliness, forgive myself for choosing this darkness, and choose once again to follow the advice of the Holy Spirit in what to think, say, and do. A thousand times a day. This requires my willingness to look, as my own observer, at my thoughts about the world:
Whatever I see reflects my thoughts. It is my thoughts that tell me where I am and what I am. The fact that I see a world in which there is suffering and loss and death shows me that I am seeing only the representation of my insane thoughts, and am not allowing my real thoughts to cast their beneficent light on what I see. Yet God’s way is sure. The images I have made cannot prevail against Him because it is not my will that they do so. My will is His, and I will place no other gods before Him. (W-pI.53.5)
One last crucial point, which Ken often emphasized: Jesus does not ask us to deny what we see happening around us in the physical world. It may be tempting to dismiss everything we label as negative, since “it isn’t real anyway”. The tragic effect of such rose-colored reasoning is that we drive the true source of our worldly perception – our guilt over our continued choice for separation – still further underground in the mind. This makes it even harder to recognize and undo it. As Ken emphasizes: The only way we can return to the insanity in our minds [the cause] is by recognizing the insanity we perceive [the effect].
If we self-righteously insist that everything in the world is wonderful, we will never realize that everything in the world is a defense against making the better choice – the choice for the Voice for Love. Only this choice will safely guide you and me on our hardly coincidental life’s path through space and time, without misery and pain. You and I are always in the right place at the right time because we can always make this one essential choice. And be sure that once you choose to follow the Voice for Love, you may lovingly be directed to be very active in this world – where all your thoughts, words and actions will emanate from Love, because you have accepted Love first within yourself as your own Identity. Happy practicing!
Jan-Willem van Aalst, December 2021