The light beacon

To many people, the past few years the world seems to have become a rather fearful place. A two-year pandemic is followed by a regional military conflict with the potential to turn into world war 3 (some argue that this is already the case since 2019, carefully organized by a small elite who want to copy-paste the Chinese population control system to the entire world). What happens in the mind is that the ongoing stream of verbal thoughts gets increasingly flooded by fear-inducing input, which triggers ego-impulses of defense and attack. After all, Workbook lesson 135 in A Course in Miracles is aptly titled “If I defend myself I am attacked”, meaning that if I feel the need to defend myself, I obviously see myself als weak, fragile and threatened, which calls for attack in order to preserve the image that I made of myself and of what it means to be safe.

This constant flood of waves of mental terror can make it hard to remember key lessons Jesus offers us in his Course, such as 132 (“There is no world! This is the central thought the Course attempts to teach”, W-pI.132.5:1); lesson 133 (“I will not value what is valueless”, which includes anything that does not last, anything that is about taking from others, and anything that induces guilt over thoughts of separation and attack); Lesson 134, which explains that forgiveness can only work if I acknowledge the sameness in myself and all my brothers, including all my ‘enemies’; and last but not least, the aforementioned lesson 135, which invites us to question every belief we still hold about being separate, weak and vulnerable. Rather, the course invites us to practice to learn that we are the extension of God’s Love, which cannot be attacked.

Jesus’ point, however, is not that we should deny our concrete experiences in time and space, as in “Hey, I will ignore all of this, as it is all illusory anyway”. Theoretically this may be true, but our mind training requires these worldly experiences to learn to make the right choice for the Holy Spirit as our guide for thinking. In this learning process, it is almost impossible to deny our experienced existence as a body. In fact, as early as chapter 2 in the text, Jesus underscores this point: “Those who do so [deny their existence as a body] are engaging in a particularly unworthy form of denial” (T-2.IV.3:11). This does not contradict Jesus’ earlier statements that there is no world. It does mean that our experiences (as a part of our learning process) have very little to do with reality, which in the Course is equated with God (including the collective Son of God as the extension of His Love).

So rather than repeating to myself “There is no crisis. There is no war. There is no threat”, it is much more helpful to increasingly learn to turn on the “observer above the battlefield” (T-23.IV), and then non-judgmentally examine my thought stream, my feelings and emotions, and conclude: “I apparently fill my mind with thoughts of fear. This is my choice. Obviously I still believe my essence is a fragile body that can easily be threatened, is threatened, and must be defended at all cost. Watching the world news clearly fuels such impulses. But I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me. Like all my brothers, I am one spirit, eternally safe in the Heart of God. This is the ultimate truth, and only this. My current state of mind and body are not supportive in my process of awakening. Rather than feeling threatened, I could see this as yet another lesson to learn to forgive completely. Why should I choose to remain in fear about illusions, when I could just as easily choose to change my mind about what my true reality is?”

What would happen if you would decide, on a daily basis, a thousand times a day, decide to be a beacon of Light instead of a placeholder for fear? What if you would take the time, thirty minutes twice a day, instead of turning on the TV, to just sit quietly, and non-judgmentally watch your verbal thought stream of worries and fear float by, and then turn on the light in your mind? Unexpectedly, the body can be a great vehicle in this practice. Just visualise a love/light beacon shining forth from your heart and your lower belly (fourth and third chakra, respectively) and then slowly expand and intensify the light to encompass your entire body. Know that you are connecting to your true essence, your true heritage. And since you also know that God’s Light cannot be contained, you start to envelop your environment, your land, and eventually the entire world in this light, including everyone who is now being portrayed as evil by the regular media. For we remember that God’s Son is one. If I want to escape from the hell we call the material universe, I must be willing to see all my brothers as sinless, without exception. Forgiving all others is the means to absolve myself from all guilt, that is, from all illusory ephemeral specialness thoughts about separation.

The ego (the part of our mind that still likes to be apart from God) will still try to find a myriad of ways to distract our thinking from such healing practice. After all, a complete willingness to have the ego be completely undone for once and for all, is not mustered up overnight. Do allow yourself some slack in this learning process, reminding yourself that only infinite patience brings immediate results. Tell yourself often today that you are one spirit, united with your Creator and with all your brothers, and that the final outcome of the silly game of time, space and perception is certain: “A happy outcome to all things is sure” (W-pII.292), and “All real pleasure comes from doing God’s Will, which is Love” (T1.VII.1:4); “Do God’s Will, and not one seeming difficulty but will melt away before you reach it. You need take thought for nothing, careless of everything except the only purpose that you would fulfill” (T-20.IV.8:7). There is indeed nothing to fear (W-pI.48). Happy practicing!

Jan-Willem van Aalst, March 2022

The changeless other world

A Course in Miracles explains to us that we always see what we value, because what we value is what we want to see and therefore invite in, and then perceive. Projection makes perception: we first see within, choosing either the ego or the Voice for Love, and consequently outwardly perceive either guilt or the reflection of Love. Our ‘problems’, therefore, are never caused by what we perceive outside, but mirror the choice we made for the wrong inner teacher. A Course in Miracles may be seen as a curriculum in mind training so that we (a) clearly learn to distinguish between the two inner teachers, and (b) allow ourselves to be guided to consistently choose the only teacher that represents anything of lasting value, meaning the Holy Spirit, the Voice for Love.

In this slow learning process, we gradually learn to admit that the ephemeral, illusory world of time and space really holds nothing that we want; nothing inherently in it will bring us salvation (cf. W-p1.128). Since we all still cherish our multitudinous special relationships so much, that’s a rather painful message, which is one of the reasons the Course will never be hugely popular. The good news is that we can still choose to reflect God’s Love here in time and space, through complete unconditional forgiveness; indeed, that remains our main function throughout our days . As Jesus accedes in lesson 129: “You cannot stop with the idea that the world is worthless, for unless you see that there is something else to hope for, you will only be depressed” (W-p1.129.1:2).

Jesus already introduced this very same idea in Chapter 31 of the text: “All [the world’s] roads but lead to disappointment, nothingness and death. […] It is true indeed there is no choice at all within the world. But this is not the lesson in itself. The lesson has a purpose, and in this you come to understand what it is for.… Its purpose is the answer to the search that all must undertake who still believe there is another answer to be found. Learn now, without despair, there is no hope of answer in the world.… No longer look for hope where there is none. Make fast your learning now, and understand you but waste time unless you go beyond what you have learned to what is yet to learn. For from this lowest point will learning lead to heights of happiness, in which you see the purpose of the lesson shining clear, and perfectly within your learning grasp” (T-31.IV.2:3; 3:7-10; 4:2-3,6-8).

When we learn the happy lesson that we are not a body in time and space, but pure spirit – eternally safe within the Heart of our Creator – our days in the illusory waking dream simply become a classroom in which we gradually learn to accept the Atonement, until every remaining dark spot in our unforgiving mind has been brought to light. Talk about reasons to be cheerful! Or, as Jesus puts it in the same lesson: “Our emphasis is not on giving up the world, but on exchanging it for what is far more satisfying, filled with joy, and capable of offering you peace. Think you this world can offer that to you?” (W-p1.129.1:3-4). So it need not be depressing at all to realize that in this world no lasting love can be found, as it is the world of time, where all things shall pass. This, by the way, does not merely refer to how we perceive (i.e., interpret) the world. In chapter 29 of the text, Jesus reminds us: “The stars will disappear, and night and day will be no more. All things that come and go, the tides, the seasons and the lives of men; all things that change with time and bloom and fade will not return. Where time has set an end is not where the eternal is” (T-29.VI.2:8-10).

Still, we can always (and are invited to try to) choose to shift our perception to reflect the real world here and now – the experience of the changeless realm “where love endures forever, hate cannot exist and vengeance has no meaning”. This is not a choice to be made sometime in the future; there is no future. Each and every instant, we choose between the ego dream world and the reflection of God’s Love now. We make this choice by connecting with the stillness in us: “There is a place in you where this whole world has been forgotten; where no memory of sin and of illusion lingers still. There is a place in you which time has left, and echoes of eternity are heard. There is a resting place so still no sound except a hymn to Heaven rises up to gladden God the Father and the Son. Where Both abide are They remembered, Both. And where They are is Heaven and is peace” (T.29.V.1). Many of us experience something approaching this thought state of eternity during times of meditation, which is why a consistent meditation practice is so important.

Again, this changeless Home we all share is not something we lost; we merely chose to forget a while where it is, lured by the ego’s promise of specialness, autonomy and individuality. Yet all the while in this dream world, the communication link between God and His Son remains unbroken, unchanged and undisturbed. We’ve just seemingly clouded our Home, our eternal heritage in clouds of imagined sin, guilt and fear. Although we stubbornly tell ourselves this individuality is what we want and are, in reality it is merely a feeble wish, a petty parody of God’s Kingdom. As Jesus puts it in the same lesson 129: “How far away from this [the real world] are you who stay bound to this [dream] world. And yet how near are you, when you exchange it for the world you want” (W-p1.129.4:5-6).

The principle of learning to accept where salvation lies is simple; however, fully accepting and living it is hard work (“To say these words is nothing. But to mean these words is everything”, W-p1.185.1:1-2). This is why awakening from the dark dream is a slow process. We don’t skyrocket from hell to Heaven overnight. The daily practice boils down to giving up the value we place on all our special relationships; not as a sacrifice, but because we finally see the happy alternative that represents our true changeless home.

We end with a lovely combined quote from Jesus from Chapter 18 and workbook lesson 129: “When the memory of God has come to you in the holy place of forgiveness you will remember nothing else, and memory will be as useless as learning, for your only purpose will be creating. Yet this you cannot know until every perception has been cleansed and purified, and finally removed forever. Forgiveness removes only the untrue, lifting the shadows from the world and carrying it, safe and sure within its gentleness, to the bright world of new and clean perception. There is your purpose now. And it is there that peace awaits you” (T-18.IX.14). “Here is the world that comes to take its place, as you unbind your mind from little things the world sets forth to keep you prisoner. Value them not, and they will disappear” (W-p1.129.5:3-5). Happy practicing!

Jan-Willem van Aalst, March 2022