In the spiritual curriculum called A Course in Miracles, we learn that true lasting happiness and inner peace can only be found by ‘choosing once again’ the Voice of the Holy Spirit (i.e., the Voice for Love) as the guide for all your thoughts. This is because any thought we experience that is not one hundred percent love is an illusion, meant to keep intact the silly notion of individuality, the hallucination that we can exist apart from God. Indeed, the most oft-repeated statement in the entire Course is: “I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me”; that is, as pure spirit, forever at one with all my brothers and with my Source, my Creator. In my daily life (‘dream life’, really) in time and space, anything that I still reject/condemn, I can learn to reinterpret — above the battleground — in line with the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of unconditional forgiveness (there is that key word again!), and my life becomes a daily classroom on the journey to the acceptance of the Atonement, heralding the disappearance of the universe.
It all sounds appealing enough, but there’s one prerequisite that might be experienced as a trifle painful, to put it mildly. In order to choose between the ego and the Holy Spirit, first I need to fully understand the essence of each guide; and second, I need to be fully aware of each ego thought I still cherish, without condemning myself. In our mind training program, each time we become aware of an ego thought, there’s often a strong temptation to repress it, ignore it, ridicule it, etc., while we subconsciously feel guilty about still having ego thoughts. This, of course, effectively keeps the ego in the driving seat of the mind, and defeats our spiritual purpose. The Course practice is all about looking at each ego thought as the observer, without guilt, without condemnation. Otherwise we won’t be able to ‘choose again’.
It is only when the hateful, vicious cauldron of the ego essence becomes crystal clear to the decision maker in the mind, that the only meaningful choice in which teacher to follow becomes obvious and desirable. However, seeing your ego thoughts this clear for what they are is obviously not a very pleasant experience. That’s why it’s so important to cultivate your skill in acting as the observer. After all, an observer doesn’t react; the observer observes. As lesson 170 teaches us: “Today we look upon this cruel god [the ego] dispassionately. And we note that though his lips are smeared with blood, and fire seems to flame from him, he is but made of stone. He can do nothing. We need not defy his power. He has none. And those who see in him their safety have no guardian, no strength to call upon in danger, and no mighty warrior to fight for them. This moment can be terrible. But it can also be the time of your release from abject slavery” (W-pI.170.7:1-8:2).
Interestingly enough, since our interpretation of the ‘outside world’ always mirrors how we perceive our inside world of thought, the same lesson equally applies to all the turbulence that we now experience around us the past few years, be it a virus, a regional war or an identity-debate. The overriding sentiment in all these topics seems to be blame: people ought to think and behave like this or that, or otherwise they are framed as either extreme right-wing nazis, conspiracy theorists, or as leftists or mindless sheep, to name but a few labels. And each accusation, particularly when through the media it reaches a lot of people, seems to ignite the battle of blame a little more. Again Lesson 170: “With love as enemy, must cruelty become a god. And gods demand that those who worship them obey their dictates, and refuse to question them. Harsh punishment is meted out relentlessly to those who ask if the demands are sensible or even sane. It is their enemies who are unreasonable and insane, while they are always merciful and just” (W-pI.170.6).
Isn’t this exactly what’s happening in the world today? Isn’t this what, in fact, has been happening all along in the Course of human history? The intensity is merely increasing because thanks to the Internet, the world has become a village. It can be tempting to get depressed about this (in fact, we do have a worldwide depression epidemic on our hands), but as with everything that we perceive, there’s also another way of looking at this. Just as we first need to fully realize the intensity of the viciousness of our own ego thoughts (without losing ourselves in this watching), before being able to make the better choice, the world first needs to see the full intensity of the viciousness of the ‘cruel god’ of polarisation for a worldwide awakening to become conceivable. The blaming must get loud enough for a majority of the people to fully realize the insanity of it all, before they will make the better choice.
And the blaming is getting loud indeed. Instead of feeling depressed, try to interpret the current turbulence as a prerequisite for the mind’s decision maker to fully realize the insanity of making love an enemy. Only then can it dawn on the mind that the insanity is in fact silliness. Our own task, as always, is simply to keep nurturing the light within, and act as a beacon of loving light each day, in all the circumstances and events we find ourselves in, with anyone we encounter, without exception. Remember, no circumstance, event or meeting is coincidental: each can be interpreted as a lesson in love, offered us by the Holy Spirit, Who knows exactly what we need on our journey to the acceptance of the Atonement. Therefore: know thyself; practice the observer in silence 20 minutes twice a day and know that you are “spirit, a Son of God, free of all limits, safe and healed and whole, free to forgive, and free to save the world” as a Teacher of God (W-pI.97.7). Take your mind, and therefore your interpretation of the world, from blame to bliss. Happy practicing!
— Jan-Willem van Aalst, April 2022