The mainstream media is ever more ablaze with condemnation and criticism, sometimes about the most trifling things. To our egos, it is very tempting to ‘get sucked in’, to form our own (condemning) opinion, and tenaciously go along in the maelstrom of attack, defense, hate and yet more attack. This is not the way to the lasting inner peace we all desire so much. In A Course in Miracles, Jesus urges his students to make a habit of swiftly correcting wrong-minded impulses that drag us still further into this vicious cycle. Once we have developed this corrective thinking into a habit, we can look past the “seeming sin” to the call for help that always lies underneath all attack. In the final chapter of the text, Jesus puts it this way:
“As you prepare to make a choice that will result in different [i.e., more peaceful] outcomes, there is first one thing that must be overlearned. It must become a habit of response so typical of everything you do that it becomes your first response to all temptation, and to every situation that occurs. Learn this, and learn it well, for it is here delay of happiness is shortened by a span of time you cannot realize. You never hate your brother for his sins, but only for your own. Whatever form his sins appear to take, it but obscures the fact that you believe them to be yours, and therefore meriting a “just” attack” (T-31.III.1:2-6; my italics).
In other words, whenever we see someone on TV blaming, condemning or physically attacking someone, it’s always because this person is projecting a “sin” he doesn’t want to see in himself. And with my own attack thoughts, it’s exactly the same. Underneath all the hate there is always loneliness, sadness and despair, which ultimately is rooted in the ontological fear that God is angry and will never let me go back to Heaven. Even advanced Course students do not always escape this temptation. And that’s understandable. As Ken Wapnick often emphasized, Jesus is not saying we won’t be tempted no more, but that when temptation rises to condemn, whatever or whomever it is, we should call on his loving guidance for help. It should come as no surprise that we still find darkness in our own thinking; we should just learn not to justify it. Willingness to look at it with Jesus or the Holy Spirit is what gets us out of the dream.
This habit of learning to observe the battleground of your own mind and that of the stage of the dream world on which time and space are played out (that is, our interpretation of these) requires mind discipline and therefore daily diligent mind training, which sure is not always easy. But the rewards are great. Jesus again: “What worry can beset the one who gives his future to the loving Hands of God? What can he suffer? What can cause him pain, or bring experience of loss to him? What can he fear? And what can he regard except with love? For he who has escaped all fear of future pain has found his way to present peace, and certainty of care the world can never threaten. He is sure that his perception may be faulty, but will never lack correction. He is free to choose again when he has been deceived; to change his mind when he has made mistakes.“(W-194.7:1-8).
So the next time you notice yourself getting upset — again — over something you see (interpret) on the mainstream media, try to swiftly take your seat “way on high” above the battleground, and remember Jesus’ instructions. Remember, you and I are “never upset for the reason we think we are” (W-pI.5), and we always have the power to “see peace instead of this” (W-pI.34). Also remember that you don’t have to watch mainstream media, and you don’t have to indulge in the ego-maelstrom that it propagates. Choose to be a beacon of light, guided by the loving light of the Holy Spirit’s advice. Your loving light will be received and accepted by your brothers, even though it may not be immediately apparent. Happy practicing!
— Jan-Willem van Aalst, September 2022