The Holy Spirit as a symbol

A Course in Miracles comes to us in Christian terminology and symbology because that is what most of us in the Western world have been growing up with. Heck, we even number our years according to what we estimate was the birth year of Jesus Christ. Its content, however, is universal, containing elements from both Christianity as well as, for example, Buddhism. In the Course, terms such as “Christ” and “The Holy Spirit” are obviously rooted in Christianity, but they are defined in a markedly different way from how they are presented in the Bible. For one, “Christ” does not exclusively refer to Jesus, but to all seemingly separated life combined; and “the Holy Spirit” is not seen as some divine ghost that comes to bless people, but rather as the Voice for Love that is always available within each and everyone, patiently waiting to be heard and accepted again.

Nevertheless, in A Course in Miracles, the Holy Spirit is often referred to as some entity outside of us, since that is what our deluded, sleepy minds are capable of to understand. In section 7 of part II of the Workbook, just after lesson 280, Jesus specifically addresses the question “What is the Holy Spirit?” (W-pII.7). Some excerpts: “The Holy Spirit mediates between illusions and the truth. Since He must bridge the gap between reality and dreams, perception leads to knowledge through the grace that God has given Him, to be His gift to everyone who turns to Him for truth” (W-pII.7:1); “From knowledge, where He has been placed by God, the Holy Spirit calls to you, to let forgiveness rest upon your dreams, and be restored to sanity and peace of mind. Without forgiveness will your dreams remain to terrify you” (W-pII.7:4).

However, students should never forget that words are “symbols of symbols, and therefore twice removed from reality” (M-21.1:10). In reality, the Holy Spirit is merely the part of our mind that reflects God’s Will, which Jesus assures us is our own will, since it is our deepest desire. After all, “God” in the Course is equated with unconditional Love, and the Sonship (all seemingly separated life combined) as the extension of that unconditional Love. You and I were created — as spirit — by God as the extension of His Love! This is what you and I truly are. Therefore, the Holy Spirit represents all my truly loving thoughts, which I still choose to bury a while because I am still enamoured of the concept of individuality, and therefore afraid to give it up and ‘disappear’ forever into the Oneness of the Love of God.

As a symbool, therefore, we should never forget that the Holy Spirit is not a separate being, but rather a simple (yet all-powerful) reminder of our heritage. Jesus emphasized this quite early in his Textbook (Chapter 5); let’s revisit: “The Voice of the Holy Spirit does not command, because It is incapable of arrogance. It does not demand, because It does not seek control. It does not overcome, because It does not attack. It merely reminds. It is compelling only because of what It reminds you of. It brings to your mind the other way, remaining quiet even in the midst of the turmoil you may make” (T-5.II.7:1-6).

Therefore, do not feel inadequate if you feel you cannot hear, or connect with, this Voice for Love all the time. It’s much better to simply acknowledge the two voices in your mind: the ego on the one hand, and the Voice for Love on the other hand. In each incarnation in the dream world, you and I are simply on a journey to learn to distinguish the two, and to learn to ever more often choose the Voice that we really want, because this guide will lead us back Home to the Love of God, instead of the pain and loss that the ego always leads to, brief pleasures notwithstanding. What else is new? Remind yourself often today to love yourself unconditionally; accept that you are where you are on the spiritual ladder, and be glad that the Holy Spirit is always available to ‘choose once again’: “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.… [….] 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; 10:7).

— Jan-Willem van Aalst, October 2022

The wish to be special

As an ego-incarnation in time and space, life is about being special, being different, having value of yourself. The ego itself is literally the thought of wanting to be different from Oneness, in which no meaningful distinction between anything whatsoever exists. In our individual lives, we yearn to become as special as possible. In the current media this manifests, for example, in the gender discussions. If you examine these temper tantrums a bit closer, these always focus on some aspect of form (i.e., the body) and are swiftly translated to state that the specialness of the body must mean that the content of that person (i.e., the personality, the ego) must be special as well. It is as if the quality of the form would determine the quality of the content.

In his spiritual curriculum A Course in Miracles, Jesus thinks otherwise, as we read in for example chapter 24: “You are not special. If you think you are, and would defend your specialness against the truth of what you really are, how can you know the truth? What answer that the Holy Spirit [i.e., the Voice for Love] gives can reach you, when it is your specialness to which you listen, and which asks and answers? Its tiny answer, soundless in the melody that pours from God to you eternally in loving praise of what you are, is all you listen to. And that vast song of honor and of love for what you are seems silent and unheard before its “mightiness.” You strain your ears to hear its soundless voice, and yet the Call of God Himself is soundless to you” (T-24.II.4). In referring to “…what you are…”, Jesus of course points to our unchangeable essence as sprit, which has nothing whatsoever to do with how we try to mould the body, which, although in the Course marked as strictly neutral, is referred to as a “little mound of clay” (T-19.IV-B.4:8) and a “little pile of dust” (W-pI.186.7:4).

Jesus continues: “You can defend your specialness, but never will you hear the Voice for God beside it. They speak a different language and they fall on different ears. To every special one a different message, and one with different meaning, is the truth. Yet how can truth be different to each one? The special messages the special hear convince them they are different and apart; each in his special sins and “safe” from love, which does not see his specialness at all. Christ’s vision is their “enemy,” for it sees not what they would look upon, and it would show them that the specialness they think they see is an illusion” (T-24.II.5). And indeed, you need only watch the media for a little while to see that all the vicious attacks are always aimed at not seeing ‘the face of Christ’ in the targeted people at hand.

The special ones believe that attack brings safety, because they themselves secretly feel extremely vulnerable because they deny the Christ in themselves, which is the only true rock of safety that is beyond all fear. Jesus puts it this way: “It is not you who are so vulnerable and open to attack that just a word, a little whisper that you do not like, a circumstance that suits you not, or an event that you did not anticipate upsets your world, and hurls it into chaos. Truth is not frail. Illusions leave it perfectly unmoved and undisturbed. But specialness is not the truth in you. It [i.e., specialness] can be thrown off balance by anything. […] It is your specialness that is attacked by everything that walks and breathes, or creeps or crawls, or even lives at all. Nothing is safe from its attack, and it is safe from nothing. It will forevermore be unforgiving, for that is what it is; a secret vow that what God wants for you will never be, and that you will oppose His Will forever.” (T-24.III.3-4:6).

It struck me that this is exactly what we see so often in the mainstream media nowadays: be forevermore unforgiving, and oppose God’s Will forever. In a rather graphic passage, Jesus further reveals the bitter truth about the tenacious focus on specialness: “What would you save it [your special body] for? For in that choice lie both its health and harm. Save it for show, as bait to catch another fish, to house your specialness in better style, or weave a frame of loveliness around your hate, and you condemn it to decay and death. And if you see this purpose in your brother’s, such is your condemnation of your own. […] Specialness is a lack of trust in anyone except yourself. Faith is invested in yourself alone. Everything else becomes your enemy; feared and attacked, deadly and dangerous, hated and worthy only of destruction. What could the purpose of the body be but specialness? And it is this that makes it frail and helpless in its own defense. It was conceived to make you frail and helpless” (T-24.VII.4.4-7;IV.1:1-2:3).

The solution, as always, lies in our freedom to decide what purpose we want our lives to be about, how we will use time: as a journey towards further separation, or as a journey towards accepting the Atonement? Therefore, Jesus’ simple conclusion is: “Purpose is of the mind. And minds can change as they desire. What they are, and all their attributes, they cannot change. But what they hold as purpose can be changed, and body states must shift accordingly. Of itself the body can do nothing. See it as means to hurt, and it is hurt. See it as means to heal, and it is healed. You can but hurt yourself. This has been oft repeated, but is difficult to grasp as yet. To minds intent on specialness it is impossible. Yet to those who wish to heal and not attack, it is quite obvious.” (T-24.IV.2:6-3:5). So ask yourself a thousand times today which guide you would choose to direct your thinking: the ego or the Voice for Love?

— Jan-Willem van Aalst, October 2022