Joy as Child of God

In this blog I would like to invite you to remind yourself of the joy that is inextricably linked to your true Identity as a Child of God, along with all seemingly separated life in this woeful waking dream world. We do this by briefly examining some passages from Chapter 11 in the Text, where Jesus addresses us as little children; not that we are infantile, but that we simply do not yet understand the difference between illusion and reality: “The Bible tells you to become as little children. Little children recognize that they do not understand what they perceive, and so they ask what it means. Do not make the mistake of believing that you understand what you perceive, for its meaning is lost to you. […] You do not know the meaning of anything you perceive. Not one thought you hold is wholly true. The recognition of this is your firm beginning [of awakening to reality] (T-11.VIII.2:1-3;VIII.3:5)”.

And so Jesus attempts to cheer us up in our deluded sleeping state, wherein we all still choose to walk this bleak little world ‘uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear’ (T-31.VIII.7:1): “O my child, if you knew what God wills for you, your joy would be complete! And what He wills has happened, for it was always true. When the light comes and you have said, “God’s Will is mine,” you will see such beauty that you will know it is not of you. Out of your joy you will create beauty in His Name, for your joy could no more be contained than His. The bleak little world will vanish into nothingness, and your heart will be so filled with joy that it will leap into Heaven, and into the Presence of God (T11-III.3:1-5).” The problem, of course, is that we still secretly hope that our zillionth attempt at living as an individual apart from God may yet still succeed, even though somewhere deep inside we realize that nothing here works, and all things shall pass.

Jesus knows his students well, and calls upon our willingness to simply be honest about this: “I cannot tell you what this [joyful experience] will be like, for your heart is not ready. Yet I can tell you, and remind you often, that what God wills for Himself He wills for you, and what He wills for you is yours. […] Walk in light and do not see the dark companions, for they are not fit companions for the Son of God, who was created of light and in light. The Great Light always surrounds you and shines out from you. How can you see the dark companions in a light such as this? If you see them, it is only because you are denying the light. But deny them instead, for the light is here and the way is clear (T11-III.3:6-7;4:6-10).” The ‘dark companions’ are all the special relationships and devotions to which we still eagerly cling. That’s why Jesus corrects the first biblical Commandment as follows: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me because there are none” (T-4.III.6:6). Once we accept this, our fear turns to joy.

And so Jesus repeats his joyful message, and asks of us to repeat it as often as possible, for our own sake: “The children of light cannot abide in darkness, for darkness is not in them. Do not be deceived by the dark comforters, and never let them enter the mind of God’s Son, for they have no place in His temple. When you are tempted to deny Him, remember that there are no other gods to place before Him, and accept His Will for you in peace. For you cannot accept it otherwise (T-11.III.6).” You and I are asked to practice this looking at the dark devotions in our mind on a daily basis, with Jesus’ help and loving guidance. It is only our stubborn belief in guilt (about the separation) that makes this seem hard or fearful. Only once I’m willing to accept my true inheritance as a Child of God, as spirit, at one with all life, will I recognize the totality of the peace of God that must embrace all people all the time. Jesus’ message itself is not difficult, but it is difficult to completely reverse our beliefs, devotions and allegiance to the ego’s silly specialness. Practice, therefore, on a daily basis and be content with the pace at which you reach this turning point of experiencing the joy as a Child of God.

— Jan-Willem van Aalst, January 2022

Correcting error perceptions

As the current world seems to spin ever further away from peace as people make different choices in regulating their own physical health in the face of the pandemic (some say plandemic) and the government regulations, perhaps the resulting polarisation is even worse than the restrictions themselves. People have serious fights about the behavioral choices others make, sometimes even within the same household. And as most students of A Course in Miracles are still intimately identified with the ego-part of their mind just like everyone else (they’re just more aware of the mind mechanisms), they are oftentimes no exception. Therefore, it may be helpful to check in with Jesus and remind ourselves what he has to say regarding our perception of errors in others and our urge to start arguing about this.

Let’s look at Chapter 9 in the Text, where Jesus invites us to look at such thinking ‘from above the battleground’ and realize just how quickly we slip into mindless ego mode: “To the ego it is kind and right to point out errors and “correct” them. This makes perfect sense to the ego, which is unaware of what errors are and what correction is. Errors are of the ego, and correction of errors lies in the relinquishment of the ego” (T9-III.2:1-3). Phew! That final sentence acutely takes all the wind out of the ego’s sails. The ego is itself the one and only true error: the stubborn belief that we could be better off on our own, apart from God, as a little god in our own little separated kingdom. How silly! As long as we cling to such feeble wishes, how could anything but error, fear and attack result in our lives?

So Jesus continues: “When you correct a brother, you are telling him that he is wrong. He may be making no sense at the time, and it is certain that, if he is speaking from the ego, he will not be making sense. But your task is still to tell him he is right. You do not tell him this verbally, if he is speaking foolishly. He needs correction at another level, because his error is at another level. He is still right, because he is a Son of God. His ego is always wrong, no matter what it says or does” (T9-III.2:4-10). From the perspective of right-minded thinking, this is perfectly true. This, however, does not mean that we never disagree with people on the level of form or behavior. It also does not mean that we should never correct someone’s error on the level of form – we still need courtrooms and prisons. But it makes all the difference in which teacher you do choose to do this with – the punitive teacher called the ego, or the forgiving teacher called the Holy Spirit?

To make this choice easier, Jesus reminds us as follows: “If you point out the errors of your brother’s ego you must be seeing through yours, because the Holy Spirit does not perceive his errors. This must be true, since there is no communication between the ego and the Holy Spirit. The ego makes no sense, and the Holy Spirit does not attempt to understand anything that arises from it. […] When you react at all to errors, you are not listening to the Holy Spirit. He has merely disregarded them [your brother’s behavioral errors], and if you attend to them you are not hearing Him. If you do not hear Him, you are listening to your ego and making as little sense as the brother whose errors you perceive. This cannot be correction. Yet it is more than merely a lack of correction for him. It is the giving up of correction in yourself” (T9.III.3:1-3;4:1-2). In other words, my need to correct someone’s errors lasts only as long as I still believe I am my ego, and that salvation lies in upholding that belief.

The one solution that works, therefore, is the choice to switch teachers, and see the inherent sameness in everyone, beyond the five senses. This is where true salvation lies. So as soon as my ego signals a red light in someone, I should – as quickly as I can – turn on the observer ‘above the battleground’ and see what I am doing, without condemning myself: “Ah, here I go again. I see it. I’m obviously still fearful of letting my ego go, because I don’t know who I would be without it. That’s quite understandable. However, I know that such thinking will not bring me lasting happiness. So I will happily switch teachers, forgive myself for my mistake, and ask for help in seeing this situation and this brother differently.” Just notice the inner feeling of peace that immediately envelops you in this practice! That’s why Kenneth Wapnick always liked to say that to look at the ego – non-judgmentally – is the choice for the Holy Spirit.

Jesus continues in the same vein: “When a brother behaves insanely, you can heal him only by perceiving the sanity in him [i.e., the spirit]. If you perceive his errors and accept them, you are accepting yours. If you want to give yours over to the Holy Spirit, you must do this with his. Unless this becomes the one way in which you handle all errors, you cannot understand how all errors are undone. … Your brother is as right as you are, and if you think he is wrong you are condemning yourself. […] It is not up to you to change your brother, but merely to accept him as he is” (T-19.III.5:1-4,6;6:4). This, of course, means accepting that the essence of myself and my brother is pure spirit. As spirit, God has but one Son, and we are all the same. We share the same Source, and we even share the same silly ego.

This illustrates the simplicity of salvation: once I make the better choice of choosing to see this in my brother, I am also absolving myself from the hidden guilt in my mind that I would normally never dare to look at. Jesus puts it this way: “[The Holy Spirit] will teach you how to see yourself without condemnation, by learning how to look on [everyone and] everything without it. Condemnation will then not be real to you, and all your errors will be forgiven. […] Accept as true only what your brother is, if you would know yourself. Perceive what he is not and you cannot know what you are, because you see him falsely. Remember always that your Identity is shared, and that Its sharing is Its reality” (T-9.III.8:10-11;IV.1:4-6).

So we could also reinterpret the current polarization between people as lessons in Love, which we could gratefully accept. Every argument about differing opinions and health choices should immediately ring a bell in every Course student about the importance to shift teachers: from the senses to spirit; from the ego to the Holy Spirit. The importance of looking at how we perceive our brothers cannot be overemphasized. Jesus mentions it a lot in the Text, in the Workbook and in the Manual (not to mention the pamphlets). Let’s close by reviewing some of his statements about this from the same chapter in the Text:

If you would know your prayers are answered, never doubt a Son of God. Do not question him and do not confound him, for your faith in him is your faith in yourself (T-9.II.4:1-2).

Salvation is of your brother. The Holy Spirit extends from your mind to his, and answers you. You cannot hear the Voice for God in yourself alone, because you are not alone (T9.II.6:2-5).

Would God have created a Voice for you alone? Could you hear His answer except as He answers all of God’s Sons? Hear of your brother what you would have me hear of you, for you would not want me to be deceived (T9-II.6:10-12).

If you would hear me, hear my brothers in whom God’s Voice speaks. The answer to all prayers lies in them. You will be answered as you hear the answer in everyone (II.7:5-7).

Believe in your brothers because I believe in you, and you will learn that my belief in you is justified (II.8:1).

Hear only God’s Answer in His Sons, and you are answered (II.8:7).

Make a commitment to remind yourself of these truths, the next time you are tempted to slip into mindlessness mode and start an argument about someone else’s choices or behavior. Again, this does not mean that you never correct anything any longer on the level of form, but it does mean that you do it, if at all, guided by the better teacher. And this will always result in the best outcome for all who are involved. Happy practicing!

— Jan-Willem van Aalst, January 2022