We are Loved

Today, let us rest content, grateful in the knowledge that our Creator loves us unconditionally. Everything that is not borne of love is unreal, superficial and transitory. This is not to say we should repress our unloving thoughts, nor deny what our senses interpret in the world outside… but we can learn to observe duality from above the battleground (T-23.IV), and choose to reinterpret all our experiences and thoughts as lessons that will lead us to this one realization: that you and I and everyone around us remain as God created us, no matter what seems to happen in the waking dream.

Today, let us recall the prayer Workbook lesson 238: “Father, Your trust in me has been so great, I must be worthy. You created me, and know me as I am. And yet You placed Your Son’s salvation in my hands, and let it rest on my decision. I must be beloved of You indeed. And I must be steadfast in holiness as well, that You would give Your Son to me in certainty that he is safe Who still is part of You, and yet is mine, because He is my Self.” (W-pII.238.1). This prayer, by the way, also reminds us that our interpretation of everyone we seemingly see ‘outside ourselves’, is actually a mirror of how I interpret my own worth. There are no others; God has but one Son.

As Course scholar Kenneth Wapnick often underscored, the difficult thing about these prayers is that it is so tempting to bring them into the waking dream we call our daily lives. Consciously or unconsciously, we magically expect God or Jesus to fix things for us here, which… would be a logical consequence of that unconditional Love, wouldn’t it? Nope. Ken puts it this way: “This is the challenge posed by the special relationship: to recognize in this seeming other the split-off part of the mind’s self. Re-uniting the fragments of the Sonship saves us all, and removes the interference to remembering our true Self.” (in: Journey through the Workbook, lesson 238).

The prayer in this workbook lesson might be taken as our glad and grateful answer to the inspiring call by God Himself at the very end of The Song of Prayer: “Return to Me Who never left My Son. Listen, My child, your Father calls to you. Do not refuse to hear the Call for Love. Do not deny to Christ what is His Own. Heaven is here and Heaven is your home.… How lovely are you, child of Holiness! How like to Me! How lovingly I hold you in My Heart and in My Arms.… Remember this: whatever you may think about yourself, whatever you may think about the world, your Father needs you and will call to you until you come to Him in peace at last” (S-3.IV.8:5-9; 9:4-6; 10:7).

Even if, for example, your body is terminally ill, your essence as spirit remains unchanged and unchangeable. When the time comes to discard our current physical costume, we as spirit merely continue on our “journey without distance to a goal that never changed” (T-8.VI.9:7). We are Loved by an unconditional Love that cannot fail to bring each and everyone of us Home, where in reality we already are, here and now. No matter what may seem to befall us, this remains forever true. Today we have reason to rest content, glad and grateful indeed.

— Jan-Willem van Aalst, August 2022

Free wishing

The ultimate ego song is probably “My way”, a 1969 single by Frank Sinatra, which back then spent no less than 75 consecutive weeks on the charts, making it one of the most successful singles ever. How come? Because this is the original thought everyone brings along at birth in the physical body, as in: “I don’t need God to experience happiness; I’ll decide for myself how to be happy.” The ego regards God (really a synonym for Love!) as a tyrant, hoping against hope that salvation may be found by leaving God [Love] and ruling a tiny kingdom of its own. Just look at the past few thousand years of the history of our planet to evaluate what has come of that. Even though it should be abundantly clear that this separation thought is a painful mistake, we still stubbornly hold on the wish to do it “my way”, fearful of what might happen if we would truly give up this insanity.

Enter A Course in Miracles, an important spiritual curriculum for cultivating lasting inner peace and the practice of forgiveness, the royal road to fully awaken from the illusory dream world of time and space. In the text, its author Jesus explains to his students the importance of choosing the inner Voice for Love: “Every decision you undertake alone but signifies that you would define what salvation is, and what you would be saved from. The Holy Spirit [i.e., the Voice for Love] knows that all salvation is escape from guilt. […] Let Him, therefore, be the only Guide that you would follow to salvation. He knows the way, and leads you gladly on it. With Him you will not fail to learn that what God wills for you is your will. Without His guidance you will think you know alone, and will decide against your peace as surely as you decided that salvation lay in you alone. Salvation is of Him to Whom God gave it for you. He has not forgotten it. Forget Him not and He will make every decision for you, for your salvation and the peace of God in you.” (T-14.III.13-14; my italics).

This notion of the fundamental shift from fear (the consequence of the ego’s will) to peace (the result of choosing to follow the Voice for Love) is even more apparent in Chapter 11: “Fear becomes more obviously inappropriate if you recognize the ego’s goal […].The ego’s goal is quite explicitly ego autonomy. To establish your personal autonomy you tried to create unlike your Father, believing that what you made is capable of being unlike Him. Yet everything true is like Him. […] Everything that stems from the ego is the natural outcome of its central belief, and the way to undo its results is merely to recognize that their source is not natural, being out of accord with your true nature. […] To will contrary to God is wishful thinking and not real willing. His Will is One because the extension of His Will cannot be unlike itself. The real conflict you experience, then, is between the ego’s idle wishes and the Will of God, which you share. Can this be a real conflict?” (T-11.V.4:3-5:6; my italics).

So, yes, within the dream world of time and space I do seem to have free will. I can decide to do things ‘my way’. However, as Jesus notes in the introduction of his Course: “This is a course in miracles. It is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary. Free will does not mean that you can establish the curriculum. It means only that you can elect what you want to take at a given time.” (T-In.1:1-5). The issue is not whether or not free will is the case or not (this would be the same as asking why the ego could ever have come about at all, which is a sensible question only as long as you believe in the illusion of time-space); the issue lies in deciding where salvation, lasting inner peace and eternal happiness are to be found. The entire thrust of A Course in Miracles is to remind its students of the importance of that particular choice. Until we reach that point, we are free to ‘crucify ourselves as often as we choose’ (T-4.In.3). But why wait for Heaven? Answer: because unconsciously, I still want to do it my way.

Jesus knows his students well, and so he has to nurture their motivation to gradually shift their mode of thinking 180 degrees. This means he both exposes the silly nature of wrong-minded thinking as well as providing regular ‘pep talks’ to remind us of our true inner desire, as for example in Chapter 11: “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. I cannot tell you what this 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.” (T-11.III.3:1-7).

And so we happily conclude with the inspiring prayer about our own will and choosing our ‘holy instant of release’, found in lesson 227 of the Workbook: “Father, it is today that I am free, because my will is Yours. I thought to make another will. Yet nothing that I thought apart from You exists. And I am free because I was mistaken, and did not affect my own reality at all by my illusions. Now I give them up, and lay them down before the feet of truth, to be removed forever from my mind. This is my holy instant of release. Father, I know my will is one with Yours.” (W-pII.227.1). Happy practicing!

— Jan-Willem van Aalst, August 2022