A Course summary in twelve lines

No Course in Miracles student is beyond fear, anger or depression all the time. Being a Course student means practicing vigilance for ‘the Kingdom’, which means checking as often as we can which guide we have chosen to direct our thoughts: either the ego or the Holy Spirit. In this practice, it is helpful to memorize some particularly striking statements that capture a key aspect of Jesus’ message. Let’s review some of these, summarized in a dozen lines. These may help you to quickly get on track again if you notice you just stumbled in your mind training practice, by rejecting something or someone. Jesus’ statements are printed in boldface.

I am never upset for the reason I think. I could see peace instead of this. (W-pI.5; W-pI.34). The first thing to realize whenever we feel not at peace and start blaming someone or something for it, is that “being-not-at-peace” always involves purposive projection. Therefore, my upset is really about some guilty belief within me that I projected out, because I still refuse to look at it. Before inspecting that belief, however, I need remember that I am a Son of God and therefore could choose to experience inner peace, instead of my disquiet. The very moment you actually follow up on this, you’ll feel better.

The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself. (T-27.VIII.10:1). The next step is to realize that nothing comes to me unbidden. My lack of inner peace has a purpose. Once I can ‘righteously’ point my finger at all the wrongs outside of me, I have a convincing case for God that I am an innocent victim and should therefore be accepted back into Heaven, while others should be sent to hell. Unconsciously, that’s the goal in mind whenever I choose not to be at peace. So indeed, whenever I feel fearful, angry or depressed, I am actually doing this to myself. Nothing outside of me can disturb the peace in my mind unless I grant it power to do so.

There is no world! This is the central thought the Course attempts to teach. (W-pI.132.6:2-3). The first two lines above are preposterous from the ego’s point of view. After all, I can make a long list of things that happened to me which were clearly entirely out of my sphere of influence. Only when I seriously consider the metaphysical foundation of A Course in Miracles, which states that everything in time and space is an illusory dream, our reality as spirit being completely outside time and space, does this become comprehensible. Five-senses perception keeps us imprisoned in a nightmare of separation! The Son of God is one in content, even in its seemingly fragmented state with many forms. Although each of us seems to have private thoughts, in content we are always choosing between ego or Holy Spirit, each and every instant.

I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me. (W-pI.201-220). If there is no world, then there are no bodies, which means that my body does not really exist. However, if the Course stayed at that, it would merely be depressive. The fact is that you and I are pure spirit, created by a wholly benign Creator in His likeness. We are not at peace solely because we took the ‘tiny, mad idea’ seriously that separation from God is in any way possible. We project our horrendous guilt about this mistake (the ego says: sin) because we are mortally afraid that God will hunt us down and punish us severely, and justifiably so.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I. There is no cruelty in God and none in me. (W-pI.R.V-in.10:8; W-pI.170). Most of us in the Western world were brainwashed early on with the fixed and fearful notion that God is both loving and punitive. However, in A Course in Miracles, Jesus clearly states that Love (=God) does not condemn, and therefore the wrathful attributes of God are solely projections of the guilt of the scholars who wrote the scrolls. That is why Jesus in his Course quotes the parable of the prodigal son: this son, who had squandered everything for nothing of any value, being afraid his father would punish him at his return, noticed to his astonishment that his father welcomed him back with joy, since the son was his treasure. Thus it is with our Father, too.

Teach only love, for that is what you are. The Holy Spirit is in you in a very literal sense. (T-6.I.13:2; T-5.II.3:7). Since God is only Love, we are only love. We do not regard ourselves that way because unconsciously we feel so wretched, which is ultimately about our decision to separate from God, which in reality never happened, but which will remain in the mind as long as we choose to remain asleep in time and space. Happily, the Holy Spirit is always present in this dream, and He can use everything in the dream to turn the tables on the ego, that is, turn an attack into a forgiveness lesson. This Holy Spirit is not some external agent; He is the Voice for Love, or our choice for right-minded thought. Since our essence is love, the Holy Spirit is indeed literally inside our mind.

Seek not outside yourself. For it will fail, and you will weep each time an idol falls. (T-29.VII.1.1-2). In the Course, an ‘idol’ is anything outside of us we associate salvation with: money; possessions; special relationships; you name it. However, since everything outside of us merely serves the purpose of distracting our minds so that we shall not look inside and see there is no sin and guilt, any focus on externals is bound to reinforce guilt and fear in some subtle way, since that is the essence of the separation thought we call the ego. We try a thousand idols to find lasting happiness, and of course none of these work for more than a little while. Jesus’ point by the way is not to turn our backs on the world, but merely to make no big deal of it, since the material world is nothing.

I need do nothing. I need only be vigilant for God and His Kingdom. (T-18.VII; T-6.V-C). Frantically pursuing idols makes sure we stay on the ego’s road to nowhere, which may affirm our seemingly separated individual autonomy; but it also keeps us in misery and pain, providing yet more opportunities to see evil and guilt outside of us, justifying the tragic cycle of attack — defense. Jesus is telling us that salvation is not found by frantically pursuing it, but merely by taking a step back and allowing the Holy Spirit (the Voice for Love) to guide our thoughts. Since this is a choice against the ego with which we still identify so deeply, this choice engenders enormous resistance. That is why Jesus implores us to be vigilant for this choice, the only one that will make us happy.

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. (T-16.IV.6:1) This is probably the most often quoted statement of the Course. And yet it is also probably the most ignored statement of the Course. Most students blissfully employ the Course to make themselves feel better in this dream world of time and space. We all yearn to find some lasting love amidst the devastation of our material lives. Instead, Jesus invites his students to start looking inside, in the mind where we have built our useless barriers against true love: the Love of God, which means that there is no individuality. And so again, we love the quote, but the unconscious resistance against it is enormous.

The way you see your brother is the way you see yourself. We will enter Heaven together, or not at all. (W-pI.181). Although these are not literal quotes, they nonetheless convey a central theme within A Course in Miracles: I cannot hope to find salvation without seeing all lifeforms as equally worthy of God’s Love. Remind yourself that each time you point your finger accusingly at someone or something, three of your fingers are pointing at yourself. Again, I’m only accusing a projection of some part in myself that I have not yet been willing to forgive. So every time I meet someone, I am given another chance at salvation, by making it a holy encounter, that is: forgive myself for the darkness that’s apparently still in my own mind.

Anger is never justified. I will forgive, and this will disappear. My salvation comes from me. (T-6.in.1:7; T-30.VI.1:1-2; W-pI.193.13:3; W-pI.70.10:5). This triad should be self-explanatory by now. The “this” in the second sentence refers to my upsets, which I have chosen with the purpose of holding on to my precious individuality and therefore keeping the oneness love of God at bay. When I forgive, I take back my own projections of fear, and acknowledge that all life is one, kept perfectly safe by a wholly benign Creator outside time and space. However, Jesus cannot change our mind for us. Therefore, my salvation must come from me, through my choosing a better Teacher to guide my thoughts.

To say these words is nothing. But to mean these words is everything. (W-pI.185.1:1-2) You and I could walk around for decades uttering the quotes above, but we won’t progress an inch unless we start to really mean them, that is: live them. We can do this at our own pace. As Jesus says in the introduction: “This is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary”. We won’t accept the truth overnight. The process is more or less as follows: “…at first to be but said and then repeated many times; and next to be accepted as but partly true, with many reservations. Then to be considered seriously more and more, and finally accepted as the truth.” (W-pII.284.1:5-6). It doesn’t matter, since time is already over anyway. We are merely seemingly reliving what is already over. Just nurture your willingness to focus on choosing the right Teacher, here and now, and you are well on your way to the real world, free of any condemnation.

— Jan-Willem van Aalst