Where does salvation come from?

Everyone is always looking for salvation, whether conscious of it or not. We all  desire a deep sense of lasting happiness, peacefulness and joy, without having any reason whatsoever to feel fearful, angry, or depressed. As long as we are still living purely on ego-autopilot, we hope and believe salvation is to be found in idols of the world: in having excess money, in having the perfect partner, in a million dollar hyper car, in making an impact on the state of this planet; you name it. Countless generations have persistently attempted such strategies. Alas; they found to their dismay that although their intentions and plans seemed fine, everything failed because they were at the mercy of a cruel and wicked world.

Spiritual aspirants, including students of A Course in Miracles, have learned the lesson that salvation can never be found in externals, because all externals are defective. Nothing lasts. Therefore, salvation must come from within. To cite a popular line from the Course: “Seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world” (T-21.In.1:7). Since the world is “an outside picture of an inward condition” (T-21.in.1:5), it follows that if I am to experience happiness, peacefulness and joy in my daily life, it must emanate from within. So salvation is not something that I can find outside of me. As many spiritualities teach, salvation is an inner choice. Once I make that choice, my perception of the world outside will invariably mirror that peaceful inner state of mind.

Still, at a first glance, A Course in Miracles seems to be rather inconsistent in where salvation comes from. A statement such as “My salvation comes from me” (W-pI.70) seems clear enough; but at other times we read that we need Jesus for our salvation: “You stand below me and I stand below God. In the process of “rising up,” I am higher because without me the distance between God and man would be too great for you to encompass.” (T-2.II.4:3-4). At still other places, we read about our brother being the source of salvation: “My brother is my savior. Let me not attack the savior You have given me.” (W-pII.288.1:7-8). So where does salvation actually come from, bottom line?

This question, of course, can only be asked by a mind that still turns others into external figures, including Jesus. The metaphysics of A Course in Miracles tell us that since there is no world (W-pI.132.6:2), there are no “others”. You and I are not bodies; we are spirit, which is joined as one. In the end, not only is there no difference between me and you, but there is also no difference between me and you and Jesus, as he himself explained to Helen early on in the text: “There is nothing about me that you cannot attain. I have nothing that does not come from God. The difference between us now is that I have nothing else. This leaves me in a state which is only potential in you.” (T-2.II.3:10-13). The answer to this confusion, then, is that my salvation solely lies in my choice in my mind to see all life as one, forever lovable and forever unchangeable, the eternal Son of God.

Although this change of mind seems to be an enormous task, it is actually our most natural state of mind. We do not need to seek for this love; we only need to seek and find all of the barriers that we have built against this natural state (T-16.IV.6:1), because we insisted on taking the ego-thought seriously that we could do better than God, and be a god in our own little universe. However, although we still seem to be separate creatures, you and I and everyone around us still remain as one free spirit. And so salvation lies in our choice to accept that as the truth, and nothing else, as we read in lesson 318, “In me salvation’s means and end are one”: “I am the means by which God’s Son is saved, because salvation’s purpose is to find the sinlessness that God has placed in me. I was created as the thing I seek. I am the goal the world is searching for. I am God’s Son, His one eternal Love. I am salvation’s means and end as well.” (W-pII.318.1:4-8)

It is also imperative to realize is that salvation is not something to be anticipated for in the distant future — salvation can only be found now. Recall the Course’s metaphysical notion that there is no time, and that to the Holy Spirit, time is solely a vehicle to provide us with the time we need to change our minds and make the right choice. See for example lesson 317: “I have a special place to fill; a role for me alone. Salvation waits until I take this part as what I choose to do. Until I make this choice, I am the slave of time and human destiny. But when I willingly and gladly go the way my Father’s plan appointed me to go, then will I recognize salvation is already here, already given all my brothers and already mine as well.” (W-pII.317.1)

Let’s read about salvation in section 14 of part II of the workbook, entitled: “What am I?”. This lovely poetic piece beautifully answers any remaining confusion about where salvation comes from: “The truth of what we are is not for words to speak of nor describe. Yet we can realize our function here, and words can speak of this and teach it, too, if we exemplify the words in us. We are the bringers of salvation. We accept our part as saviors of the world, which through our joint forgiveness is redeemed. And this, our gift, is therefore given us. We look on everyone as brother, and perceive all things as kindly and as good. We do not seek a function that is past the gate of Heaven. Knowledge will return when we have done our part. We are concerned only with giving welcome to the truth.” (W-pII.14.III; italics mine).

In our daily lives, this certainly does not mean we should walk around in a blissninny mood state, while in foolhardy denial of all the painful events that do happen here, or better, seem to happen here. Above all, we are asked to think and behave as normal people. For example, even from above the battleground it’s perfectly normal to mourn at the death of a loved one. At a funeral, you don’t go hitting people over the head with the metaphysics of the Course, saying they shouldn’t mourn because it’s all illusory anyway. That’s not kindness; that’s an attack. And as you see your brother, so do you see yourself. You and I bring salvation by acknowledging all life as ‘joined as one’ on the level of content (spirit), and practicing kindness on the level of form (the body). Learn to consistently choose the Voice for Love as the guide for your thoughts, no matter how often you may stumble. Salvation is given you, me, and every soul that still wanders here uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear. How many people are needed to save the world? One — you.


See also my “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles“. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com:

buy-now-amazon-button

See also my Feb. 2019 Course workshop at www.youtube.com called “Farewell to your self, to find your true Self”. (English captions/subtitles available)

Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page: ikzoekvrede.nl.

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A Course summary in 12 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 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.

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. 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 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 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 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.

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 don’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.


See also my “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles“. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com:

buy-now-amazon-button

See also my Feb. 2019 Course workshop at www.youtube.com called “Farewell to your self, to find your true Self”. (English captions/subtitles available)

Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page: ikzoekvrede.nl.

The past is gone; forget it

In order to maintain my sense of my special personality, my own unique individual self, I keep comparing myself to everyone around me. I especially focus on what makes me ‘better’ than someone else, especially those that I don’t really like. Unconsciously, I constantly manage of my list of arguments why I am right about something or someone, and others are wrong. The ego especially likes to emphasize situations that clearly illustrate that I have been treated unfairly. After all, such cases are plausible arguments for my unconscious plea to God that I am an innocent victim and should therefore be accepted back into Heaven, while the guilty ones should be punished and sent to hell.

From the perspective of A Course in Miracles, there’s a slight problem with that. Or better yet, a fundamental problem. After all, one of the central tenets of this non-dualistic message is that God does not condemn, since God is Love, and nothing else. Love does not condemn. See for example workbook lesson 170, which by the way states that not only there is no cruelty in God, but there is also none in you and me (W-pI.170). The ego has a big problem with that statement. Since the ego is the idea of condemnation, attack and separation, if this statement is true, this implies that the ego is not true. This is indeed the metaphysical premise on which Jesus’ entire curriculum rests. However, since you and I are still so thoroughly identified with this special individual ego self, we quickly read past such lines and primarily focus on how the Course can make us feel better in this dream world of time and space.

Again, the chief way of making myself feel better is to compare my own innocence to the faults (the Course says ‘sins’) of those around me. To do this, I must constantly focus on what happened in the past, or, better, on how I interpret what seemingly happened in the past. In fact, clinical research in the nineties showed that not only do we have some 50 to 60,000 thoughts a day, but also that over 98% of these thoughts focus either on the past, or on the future. Obviously, you and I plan the future based on our past experiences. And so I relentlessly clutter my thought stream with interpretations of the past, in order to be able to emphasize my special innocent self that may righteously condemn others, because their selfish egos keep treating me unfairly, preventing me from finding the Love of God that I want so much.

To find that Love, however, A Course in Miracles tells me that I should forget my brother’s past entirely. In workbook lesson 288, we read that this is the idea …”that leads the way to You [God], and brings me to my goal. I cannot come to You without my brother.” (W-pII.288.1:1-2). This is true because God is Love, and you and I, being the Son of God, were created in like fashion, and are therefore equally worthy of this Love. “To know my Source, I first must recognize what You created one with me [i.e., my brother]. My brother’s is the hand that leads me on the way to You. […] Let me not attack the savior You have given me [again, my brother]. But let me honor him who bears Your Name, and so remember that it is my own.” (W-pII.288.1:3-9).

This is of course directly antithetical to the ego’s dictum of one or the other. If I should regard myself as equally worthy of the Love of God as anyone else, then the ego is clearly out of business. This realization immediately fuels the fear of the disappearance of my very self. It is this realization that makes people close the dark blue book and forget about it for a long time. Until the pain of constant judgment gets too much, and the nagging notion resurfaces once again: there must be a better way. Once you and I become slowly willing to accept — with much reservations at first — that perhaps my essence is not a body, that time and space are a ‘vast illusion’ (W-pI.158), and that my perception and interpretation of the past only serves to keep up the illusion of false autonomy and individuality, real hope of salvation becomes possible.

A major form of forgiveness to this end is to learn to forget the past, since the past is gone. The past remains in my mind only as long I want to hold on to it, to nurture the ego. But the past is not here in and of itself. To recall once again lesson 288: “My brother’s sins are in the past along with mine, and I am saved because the past is gone. Let me not cherish it within my heart, or I will lose the way to walk to You. My brother is my savior.” (W-pII.288.1:4-6). This is true because, apart from form, the way I perceive my brother is the way I perceive myself, which is the content the Course always addresses.

The ego of course viciously objects: ‘That’s crazy! We cannot do without the past. If you forget the past, you wouldn’t know how to drink a cup of tea, or know how to brush your teeth. And we can learn from the past, for example to prevent world wars from happening again. This Course is obviously out of its mind!” Sounds plausible. The mistake here, however, is the ego’s perennial focus on forms: tea, tooth brushes, world wars. The Course never asks us to deny the forms in the world; the key is what the forms are used for. There are only two options: for attack (ego) or for healing (Love). We only hold on to the past because this way we can justify our condemnations. Once we choose to perceive everyone as equally worthy, the past becomes irrelevant except to serve as a classroom of the Holy Spirit in which we learn to forgive ourselves for our mistakes. So to say “forget the past” really means “forget my condemnations”. That’s the content.

The way to practice this is really quite simple (though not always easy). Try to sit quietly for a moment; close your eyes and pick someone whom you hold some grudge against. Try to imagine what would happen if this person’s past were completely gone, which really means: taking back the projections that you placed in the image you made of that person. In the resulting vacuum, you can now ask Jesus or the Holy Spirit to help you see the light of Love shine in that person. Stick with that for a while and make sure you mean it. The next time you meet this person, you may be astounded by the results this miracle has effectuated. You then realize that we are able to shift the ego’s purpose of time (“I’m innocent, you’re guilty”) to the Holy Spirit’s purpose of forgiveness (“You and I are the Son of God”). When I forgive (i.e., forget) my brother’s past, I am reminded of the oneness of all creation by a Creator Who is only Love. Always remember that we will awaken to the state of mind called Heaven together, or not at all.


See also my “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles“. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com:

buy-now-amazon-button

See also my Feb. 2019 Course workshop at www.youtube.com called “Farewell to your self, to find your true Self”. (English captions/subtitles available)

Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page: ikzoekvrede.nl.

Watching myself stumble

A Course in Miracles is a spiritual curriculum that aims to train the mind to consistently choose and experience inner peace. It promises us that a state of lasting inner peace is indeed possible — a peace that cannot be disturbed by anything, whatever seems to happen. The key to this, in one word, is called forgiveness, or the total relinquishment of any condemnation whatsoever, which makes room for Love to flow freely. This is possible by my sincerely asking for guidance by the Voice for Love in my choice of thoughts. This Voice for Love is called the Holy Spirit in the Course.

Although the principle may be simple, its daily application is far from easy. In the morning before breakfast, I may joyfully and peacefully review my workbook lesson and meditate about that for a while, and experience myself sinking into a deep inner peace. But before the hour strikes again, I find myself disliking various things, persons and events I perceive around me. These may be very, very small things. For example, I didn’t like the extremely ineffective operation of the traffic lights. I didn’t like those two scooter boys who with their reckless driving endanger elderly people in traffic. I didn’t like the cancellation of that particular important workshop because too few participants would attend, which only goes to show they probably aren’t interested in me.

By far most people regard this as the usual routine of daily life. They wearily ‘soldier on’ through their days, focusing on the fleeting pleasures and distractions that temporarily alleviate the pain. Students of A Course in Miracles, however, have the added pain of feeling guilty because they realize they could have chosen peace instead (W-pI.34), but obviously didn’t! So now I feel bad not only because of the aforementioned events, but also because I regard myself as a poor student, wondering in desperation if I will ever learn to master Jesus’ “simple” curriculum. To which the ego adds, whispering viciously: “Of course this stuff doesn’t work. Stop running away from reality, and only listen to me.”

However, in various places in the text and the workbook, Jesus is very clear in emphasizing that the problem is not primarily my continued choice for judgment and condemnation; my prime problem is the guilt I keep alive and well within myself by doing so. This guilt of course has its roots in the ontological guilt about the separation from God, which in reality never happened at all but which we still stubbornly hold on to, because we like our special individuality so much. After all, as long as I can experience guilt within myself, I “remind” myself that the original separation from God was indeed accomplished, and that I am still alive and well, and exist on my own. And everything that I perceive not to be perfect, is caused by events and people outside of me.

The metaphysical foundation of A Course in Miracles holds that life is not a collection of seemingly separated splintered fragments — life is one, our sensory perception to the contrary. I actually do not exist on my own. Although I like to think I have private thoughts, every thought boils down to a choice between the ego (the voice for separation and individuality) or the Holy Spirit (the Voice for Love and Oneness). This is ultimately the only choice you and I have. Everyone and everything around me merely serve as mirrors that reflect back to me the choices I have made in the mind. That’s why most of the time, Jesus in his Course addresses me as decision maker. His Course is primarily about training this decision maker to choose right sooner. This is a daily practice that takes time. Lots of time.

A common mistake many Course students make is that they think they must do the workbook perfectly in order to attain this much desired peace that cannot be disturbed by anything. However in workbook lesson 95, Jesus invites his students to honestly admit that they don’t practice the workbook lessons perfectly; in fact, far from it. “It is difficult […] not to allow your mind to wander, if it undertakes extended practice. You have surely realized this by now. You have seen the extent of your lack of mental discipline, and of your need for mind training. It is necessary that you be aware of this, for it is indeed a hindrance to your advance. […] In addition to recognizing your difficulties with sustained attention, you must also have noticed that, unless you are reminded of your purpose frequently, you tend to forget about it for long periods of time. You often fail to remember the short applications of the idea for the day, and you have not yet formed the habit of using the idea as an automatic response to temptation.” (W-pI.95.4:2-5:3).

At this point, Jesus wants his students to realize that feeling guilty about the lack of spiritual diligence that we notice in ourselves, is not going to help. We need the workbook precisely because the mind needs this training. This requires honesty, patience and the happy habit to just try again. So we read in the same lesson 95: “The Holy Spirit is not delayed in His teaching by your mistakes. He can be held back only by your unwillingness to let them go. Let us therefore be determined, particularly for the next week or so, to be willing to forgive ourselves for our lapses in diligence, and our failures to follow the instructions for practicing the day’s idea. This tolerance for weakness will enable us to overlook it, rather than give it power to delay our learning.” (W-pI.95:8:1-4). In other words, don’t feel guilty every time you notice you didn’t apply the workbook lesson perfectly and you feel not at peace. Forgiveness is primarily about forgiving yourself for not being perfect yet.

Jesus repeats this comforting message from time to time. In workbook lesson 273, after a practice of over 270 lessons which should have brought us quite close to the desired state of inner lasting peace, Jesus says: “Perhaps we are now ready for a day of undisturbed tranquility. If this is not yet feasible, we are content and even more than satisfied to learn how such a day can be achieved. If we give way to a disturbance, let us learn how to dismiss it and return to peace.” (W-pII.273.1:1-2:1). In other words, I should allow myself some slack. My decision making mind will not consistently choose peace after “doing” the workbook once. Or twice. I am still too enamored by the seductive ego tale of specialness, individuality and autonomy. This is not a Course in feeling better in the dream world. This is a Course that takes you and me, as the Son of God, straight out of the dream world; but not by being ‘hurled’ out of the dream into the reality of Heaven. The dream world of time and space and individuality will only end once its alternative (the Heart of God, Oneness) is wholly desired. Obviously, you and I are not yet at that point. That’s perfectly okay, since time itself is illusory anyway.

Until we can consistently choose the Holy Spirit to guide our daily thoughts, we merely need to practice in cultivating the characteristics of the Teacher of God: trust; honesty; tolerance; gentleness; joy; defenselessness; generosity; patience; faithfulness, and open-mindedness. And simply try again whenever we stumble. As we read in workbook lesson 40: “If you forget, try again. If there are long interruptions, try again. Whenever you remember, try again.” (W-pI.40). And lesson 74 again reminds us: “Joy characterizes peace. By this experience will you recognize that you have reached it. If you feel yourself slipping off into withdrawal, quickly repeat the idea for today and try again. Do this as often as necessary. There is definite gain in refusing to allow retreat into withdrawal, even if you do not experience the peace you seek.” (W-pI.74.6).

This way we can see how everything in life can be reinterpreted as a forgiveness lesson; that is, forgiving myself for not yet having reached the top of the ladder of Atonement. My sole responsibility in this life is to keep trying to choose right a little sooner; to let go of any accompanying guilt a little sooner. Jesus helps us with this at the end of Chapter 6 of the text, the “Lessons of love”, with the following prayer to ourselves: ” I must have decided wrongly, because I am not at peace. I made the decision myself, but I can also decide otherwise. I want to decide otherwise, because I want to be at peace. I do not feel guilty, because the Holy Spirit will undo all the consequences of my wrong decision if I will let Him. I choose to let Him, by allowing Him to decide for God for me.” (T-5.VII.6:7-11). So stop hitting yourself over the head for still not doing the workbook perfectly. That is precisely why we still need it. And remember, you and I and everyone will make it Home in the end. Happy practicing!


See also my “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles“. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com:

buy-now-amazon-button

See also my Feb. 2019 Course workshop at www.youtube.com called “Farewell to your self, to find your true Self”. (English captions/subtitles available)

Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page: ikzoekvrede.nl.

Sex and the Course

Spirituality and sex are often regarded as an awkward couple. And that’s generally because sex and religion are such fiendish enemies to each other. Many religious books particularly rage about women who focus on sex. Of course, more often than not, that’s merely a projection by the religious scholars who wrote these books to be able to cover their guilt about their own uncontrollable need for sexual intercourse, as the ongoing stream of scandals within the churches clearly illustrates.

Why is sex such a ‘hot topic’ for so many of us? This is because of two reasons, which are really the opposite sides of the same coin. Firstly, on our list of sought-after peak pleasures, sex usually ranks on top. In fact, if you ask anyone which feeling comes closest to the experience of the divine, the answer is usually: the height of the orgasm. In addition, we associate sex with our innate ability to create new life, which of course is the core of all expression of divinity: creation! We ignore the fact that the peak pleasure of sex is only of an instant’s duration. We become addicted to having more. And still more. Just to experience that ‘divine peak moment’.

The other side of the coin might be concisely summarized as guilt. This manifests on several levels. Firstly, there’s often the association with what we were told during our upbringing by the reverend, minister, priest or pastor, namely that sex is sinful and should not be sought after, since the body is filth. But we still crave for it. That’s guilt. The second level of this guilt is about what our focus on sex does to our relationship with God. We secretly acknowledge that the entire mechanism of sexual intercourse is a feeble parody on the divine power of the eternal Creator. We engage in sex only to tell ourselves that we are capable of divine creation as well, while deep down inside we know we are fooling ourselves, and will probably be severely punished in the afterlife.

And last but not least, guilt about sex is especially fueled because we realize that in the end it does not really satisfy at all. Sure, there’s great ecstasy at the peak of the orgasm, but there’s always the fear that some form of pain or misery will come of it. Especially the insatiable need of testosterone-driven men to repeatedly reproduce is the chief cause of countless marital fights, abuses, divorces and even murder (e.g., in the case of adultery). While on the one hand lovers think they find completion of themselves through sexual intercourse, there’s always the fear and suspicion that the other might find someone who is regarded as ‘even better’, as countless pop hits attest to. Moreover, if we have sexual intercourse with too many partners, we will inevitably call some horrible disease upon us. And so everyone associates to sex both pleasure and pain, however unconsciously this may be.

Oddly, in A course in Miracles we find absolutely nothing about sex. Just search your digital copy for the word ‘sex’; you won’t find it. The overly quick explanation is usually that this is because Jesus’ message is not about the body; it’s purely about the mind. We reason that since sex is obviously of the body and not of the mind, Jesus has no reason to mention it. Still, Jesus does talk a lot about the body in his Course. At a first glance it seems that Jesus, too, disregards the body as worthless. However, when one reads Jesus’ words more carefully, it becomes clear that in A Course in Miracles, the body is regarded as neutral, which is distinctively different from rejecting it, as so many religions and spiritualities do.

In the Course, Jesus explains to us that we might regard the body as a useful mirror of the mind. Contrary to widespread popular belief, the body is never the cause of what seems to happen to us; it’s merely the effect of a choice of thinking. This is perhaps best exemplified in Ken Wapnick’s “Love does not condemn”, which is by far the best resource available today to learn to forgive religion as a whole. In chapter 17, Ken mentions the Gnostic treatise “The Acts of John”, written somewhere between 100 – 300 A.D. In this somewhat bizarre story, John comes upon a young man who has killed his father for objecting to the son’s sexual affair with a married woman. John resurrects the father, causing such contrition in the young man that the son quickly cuts off his own genitals and presents them to his lover, exclaiming: “There you have the source of all this!” The young man proudly reports to John what he did, but he is quickly reproved by the apostle: “You should not have destroyed the place of your temptation, but the thought which showed its temper through those members; for it is not those organs which are harmful to man, but the unseen springs through which every harmful emotion is stirred up and comes to light” (Love does not condemn, p.558).

This Gnostic parable could have been taken right out of the Course. Now we can see why Jesus’ focus is always on the mind, since it is the thoughts we choose that automatically direct the actions of the body. More specifically, the core of every thought is its purpose, of which there are only two: (a) the ego’s purpose of attack and separation, and (b) the Holy Spirit’s purpose of forgiveness and inner peace. This also pertains to everything regarding the body: what do we use it for? Although we usually employ the body to reaffirm our belief in the separation, being the ego’s chief survival mechanism, the mind is perfectly free to choose to employ the body, including sex, for the right-minded purpose of forgiveness and inner peace.

This brings to mind Pursah’s Gospel of Thomas that was handed down to Gary Renard, in wich we read the following puzzling anecdote: “A woman in the crowd said to him [Jesus], ‘lucky are the womb that bore you and the breasts that fed you.’ He said to her, ‘lucky are those who have heard the word of the Father and have truly kept it. For there will be days when you will say, “Lucky are the womb that has not conceived and the breasts that have not given milk”.’ (Pursah’s gospel of Thomas, statement 79). Obviously, Jesus is not saying that sex is sinful. He is merely explaining that a change of mind from ‘more separation’ (being the chief goal of sex) to the forgiving lessons of the Holy Spirit will automatically lead to the much deeper desire of lasting inner peace, instead of the short, fleeting pleasure of sex.

The ego eagerly uses such reasoning to nurture the guilt in our minds: “See – since you are obviously still focused on sex (and the body in general), you will never make it back to heaven. Forget about it and keep listening to me.” Jesus and the Holy Spirit, however, remind us of the fact that we may very well use the body for their loving purpose of forgiveness and inner peace, as we read in the Workbook section called “What is the body?”: “The body is a dream. Like other dreams it sometimes seems to picture happiness, but can quite suddenly revert to fear, where every dream is born. […] Made to be fearful, must the body serve the purpose given it. But we can change the purpose that the body will obey by changing what we think that it is for. The body is the means by which God’s Son returns to sanity. […] The Son of God extends his hand to reach his brother, and to help him walk along the road with him. Now is the body holy. Now it serves to heal the mind that it was made to kill. […] You will identify with that you think will make you safe. […] Identify with love, and you are safe. Identify with love, and you are home. Identify with love, and find your Self.” (W-pII.5.3:1-5:3; italics mine).

To summarize, sex in and of itself is never sinful, and should therefore never give rise to guilt. Be sure, however, that you are aware of the purpose of your sexual life: is it (a) to indulge in the ego-need for still further separation and an imitation of divine creation; or is it (b) to forgive your own condemnation of everyone and everything, and to walk the Holy Spirit’s way back to the oneness of the Son of God? Sex only becomes problematic once you regard it as salvation in and of itself. Such a purpose will always fail. Jesus asks his students to employ their bodies as the eyes, the ears, the hands, the feet through which his healing message saves the world. The form of the bodily actions, including sex, then becomes completely irrelevant – it’s solely the content, or purpose of what we use the body for which guides our journey back Home. So happily dismiss the ego’s purpose for sex, and choose once again the oneness love of Christ as your prime focus, since that is what you and I are.


See also my “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles“. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com:

buy-now-amazon-button

See also my Feb. 2019 Course workshop at www.youtube.com called “Farewell to your self, to find your true Self”. (English captions/subtitles available)

Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page: ikzoekvrede.nl.

Nothing comes to me unbidden

A Course in Miracles is a spiritual message rooted in nonduality. It teaches not only that God did not create the universe; it even goes as far as to say that the universe, time and space, yes life as we think we know it, is ultimately just a dream; a hallucination. Or better yet: a nightmare, as it is the effect of the root thought of attack, separation, and autonomy. Filled with guilt over this imagined savage sin and fear of retaliation by the Almighty Creator, the seemingly sleeping Son (all of us combined) seemed to fragment in time and space into a zillion splintered fragments (all of us separated), hoping against hope to hide from God. At the same time we keep up the illusion that the separation was in fact accomplished. All challenges, decay and death “prove” that we in fact did shatter the perfection of the Oneness of God, and are now on our own.

Clearly, the implication of this message is that the sole responsibility for whatever seems to happen in the universe, let alone our interpretation of it, is purely our own. To the ego, that’s a most inconvenient conclusion. After all, the mechanism of projection allowed the Son to repress his guilt about the separation. Projection lets the guilt rest on everyone and everything, except on me. Obviously, the evil is “out there“; not in me. And I will gladly suffer at the hand of all this evil, just to “prove” that I am an innocent victim of a cruel world. Surely God will accept me back into Heaven when my brief candle as shameful sinner flickers and goes out…

Jesus in A Course in Miracles (who, incidentally, is the manifestation of the Voice for Love and should not be confused with the judgmental biblical Jesus) has some rather painful messages for his students in this regard. That is, “painful” for the frightened separated ego, as Jesus puts the responsibility for everything that happens in our lives right in our own lap. Remember what Jesus teaches about the secret of salvation: “You are doing this unto yourself” (T-27.VIII.10:1). The word “this” refers to everything we experience in the world we think we live in, which, if we are truly honest, boils down to a life in which all of us walk “uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear” (T-31.VIII.7:1).

Many students unconsciously skip such passages. For example, have a look at chapter 21 in the text, where Jesus implores us to honestly admit: “I am responsible for what I see. I choose the feelings I experience, and decide upon the goal I would achieve. And everything that seems to happen to me I ask for, and receive as I have asked.” (T-21.II.2:3-5). Wow. And as if that isn’t insulting enough, take a look at workbook lesson 253, where Jesus would have me say to myself: “It is impossible that anything should come to me unbidden by myself. Even in this world, it is I who rule my destiny. What happens is what I desire. What does not occur is what I do not want to happen. This I must accept” (W-pII.253.1:1-5; italics mine).

What? Watch your mind as you take this in. At this point, the ego raises a pile of seemingly valid objections: “That’s plain bullshit! So you’re telling me that I deliberately caused my own cancer, because I wanted to? Preposterous! So my cousin got hit by a car last week because he invited this? And you would maintain that deformity in newborn babies is the result of their own choice? Come on, Jesus, it’s quite obvious you are making a fool of yourself!” And so we slam the blue book shut. We throw it at the wall, or try to flush it down the toilet. There are even several reports of people having ritually set the book aflame.

However, as Course scholar Kenneth Wapnick never tired of explaining, this is merely a typical case of the pitfall of level confusion. Since A course in Miracles is rooted in nonduality, we should always consider Jesus’ messages on two levels: (I) the metaphysical level, and (II) the experiential level in time and space, where you and I believe we are. From the point of view of our level II daily experiences, Jesus’ quotes above indeed seem ridiculous. Of course I do not want cancer; of course my cousin doesn’t want to get hit by a car. Still, what we fail to realize is that although there seem to be many egos, in content the ego is one, with only one purpose: keeping up the illusion that the separation has indeed been accomplished; that we are assailed by evil in everyone and everything outside of us; that we are innocent victims of a world that caused us, instead of the world being an effect of that ego thought system.

What does that insight mean on a practical level, where I indeed get ill, am involved in accidents and eventually decay and die? It means that in all such cases, the one ego has yet again found a way of affirming its reality: “See?! We obviously are apart from God. Perfection and oneness are filthy lies. Look at what happens in the world! See what happens to you! Isn’t it obvious that God is cruel, and hellbent on your punishment? And look over there, and there; yet more evidence of the reality of this world. Jesus offers but fairy tales! Be afraid, be very afraid. Cherish your own innocence [projections, really] and hold on to the infinitely small chance that you might be accepted back into Heaven if you but suffer sufficiently in this dangerous life!”

And so we keep alive and well the silly madness of being a powerless victim in a world we did not cause, just to “prove” our innocence. In Chapter 18 of the text, Jesus says: “Call it not sin but madness, for such it was, and so it still remains. Invest it not with guilt, for guilt implies it was accomplished in reality. And above all, be not afraid of it. ” (T-18.I.6:7) The only way out of this hell is to shift the way we interpret what happens in the world, with the help of Jesus or the Holy Spirit. This shift is called the miracle, which does not look on love, but “…on devastation, and reminds the mind that what it sees is false” (W-pII.13.2). Changing the way we interpret this devastation, namely from “a just punishment” to “a useful classroom in which we learn to forgive”, allows us to ascend the ladder of the acceptance of the Atonement.

This may seem vague and impractical, but we could choose to apply this at any moment, in any circumstance. One workshop participant recently shared with the group how he was able to make this “mind-shift” while being hospitalized for surgery. Instead of feeling fearful, victimized and anxious, he chose to place his trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and just allowed all things to be as they were. The nurses were surprised to experience such a peaceful man in such an acutely dangerous situation. In fact, they admired the self-discipline this man had obviously mastered. In truth, it was just a gentle surrendering, a “quiet melting-in”, a choice for right-mindedness instead of the raucous shrieks of the ego. The surgery was successful, and he later reported that he had experienced hardly any pain during the whole event whatsoever.

The trick here is that once you are willing to lift the decision-making part of your mind to the place “above the battleground”, postponing all judgment, we realize that our imagined identity in this dream world of time and space, isn’t our real identity at all. The body may indeed seem to experience cancerous cells; however, we could choose to reinterpret this as a useful sign that we still need to forgive something, instead of a cruel punishment meted out by God. Your body mirrors your mind! Moreover, since this body is hardly the first that I have experienced in time, it’s quite possible that in previous lives I have had deformities. All this doesn’t matter from the metaphysical point of view. Instead of bemoaning the cruelty in the world, I could choose to see everything as a forgiveness opportunity offered me by the Holy Spirit. And the result of that choice is inner peace, my greatest gift to the world which is still ruled by “uncertainty, loneliness, and constant fear.”

So Jesus would say, “Why not admit that deep inside you know very well that this world is a place where starved and thirsty creatures come to die. Why not admit that deep inside you know you are an exile here, and that this desert you call the world is not your real home. You are dreaming about autonomy and separation, stubbornly maintaining that you know better than God. But do you want to be right or happy? For you cannot be both. Child of God, you have not sinned, but you have been much mistaken. Nothing has happened but that you have put yourself to sleep, imagining what it would be like to be apart from your Creator, which is obviously impossible. Your Father loves you and will call to you until you choose to come Home to Him in peace at last. Until then you are free to crucify yourself as often as you choose. But how long do you want to postpone peace? Allow me to help you change your mind about all this silliness.”

A Course in Miracles offers us a unique way to discover and accept – without guilt, fear, anger or depression – the simple fact that you and I still choose to have a split mind: on the one hand, we do want to experience our inheritance as the Love of God; on the other hand, we still crave to be a special individual, autonomous and on our own, stubbornly insisting we know better than the Voice for Love. Burying the guilt about that wish merely keeps the misery of the illusion of time and space intact. And time and space are always accompanied by attack, guilt and fear, since this was the root cause of the universe in the first place.

As always, it’s helpful to remember that the outcome of this struggle is certain, for you and for me, and for every seemingly separated living thing. Time and space will have an end. The universe will disappear, and we will return Home into the Heart of God. It doesn’t matter how many lives this might yet take. As the Epilogue of the Clarification of Terms reminds us: “Forget not once this journey is begun the end is certain. Doubt along the way will come and go and go to come again. Yet is the ending sure. No one can fail to do what God appointed him to do. When you forget, remember that you walk with Him and with His Word upon your heart. Who could despair when hope like this is his?” (C-ep.1:1-6).


See also my “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles“. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com:

buy-now-amazon-button

See also my Feb. 2019 Course workshop at www.youtube.com called “Farewell to your self, to find your true Self”. (English captions/subtitles available)

Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page: ikzoekvrede.nl.

Cherishing the nightmare

We all try to make the best of our time on earth while we are here. We try to be kind and loving; we work on personal development; we visit places that seem to exhibit the most beautiful aspects of nature. And yet, in spite of our efforts, life inevitably ends in sickness, entropy (decay, really) and death. “All things must pass”, as the saying goes. And so we try to protect the little lot we have, and we hope we never have to experience disaster or war. Yet it seems we are only born here to die again. What’s the meaning of it all? Many great minds have pondered this question.

A Course in Miracles, as a spiritual curriculum for attaining lasting inner peace, offers a rather uncompromising answer. Having come to us from outside time and space, we are taught that this entire world in time and space is nothing but a dream, and a bad dream at that. Section 4 in the Clarification of terms is especially clear about this: “The world you see is an illusion of a world. God did not create it, for what He creates must be eternal as Himself. Yet there is nothing in the world you see that will endure forever.” (C-4.1). And all Course students are familiar with Jesus’ bombshell in lesson 132: “There is no world! This is the central thought the Course attempts to teach.” (W-pI.132.6:1-2).

In other words, Jesus in A Course in Miracles bluntly tells us that the world we think is our daily reality, is nothing but a horrific illusion, which we made up, with the explicit purpose to experience autonomy and individuality, apart from God: “The world was made as an attack on God. It symbolizes fear [of retaliation]. And what is fear except love’s absence? Thus the world was meant to be a place where God could enter not, and where His Son could be apart from Him. Here was perception born, for knowledge could not cause such insane thoughts.” (W-pII.3.2:1-5).

At first it is very difficult to be told, let alone accept, that the physical world you and I seem to live in, including time and space and the universe itself, is nothing but a dream in which the One Son of God is dreaming of continuous fragmentation in billions and billions of seemingly separated pieces, all the while living “uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear” (T-31.VIII.7:1) because the guilt that the sin of separation caused, will sooner or later have to be paid for in inevitable death. And yet we do not doubt the reality of the world as we rise, eat, go to work, relax, and prepare for another night. Why is that?

Jesus’ simple answer is that we do this because we want to be asleep, however painful it might feel at times, and however dreary the eventual individual ending is. “[The world] will remain no longer than the thought that gave it birth is cherished.” (W-pII.3.1:3). As long as we do cherish the idea of living as a special individual, with special talents that can “make a difference”,  we will continue to believe in the dream of separation. As long as we do not doubt its reality we will continue to believe that all kinds of people and circumstances can influence us (read: hurt us). We firmly believe in the “stimulus-response” (or: attack-defend) paradigm of the world.

We know this all too well from our nightly dreams. Even though the weirdest things can happen while we are asleep, as long as we are dreaming we do not doubt the reality of the dream. The difference between our nightly dreams and the “waking dream” we call “the world”, is our reaction when waking up. Regardless of whether I had pleasant dreams or a nightmare, when I wake up I realize that “it was just a dream”. I realize I was dreaming a dream, which isn’t real. I forget about the dream and move on. However, I fail to realize that I am also the dreamer of the world which isn’t real either, and that I could also choose to forget about this “dream world”, and go back Home into the Heart of God.

Enter A Course in Miracles. As we read in section II of chapter 28: “Nothing at all has happened but that you have put yourself to sleep, and dreamed a dream in which you were an alien to yourself, and but a part of someone else’s dream. The miracle does not awaken you, but merely shows you who the dreamer is.” (T-28.II.4, italics mine). The dreamer is the one Son of God, seemingly asleep in the nightmare of separation which is pictured as a universe with millions of bodies, from planetary size to humanoid size, each one being “a tiny fence around a little part of a glorious idea”. However, just like our nightly dreams, the world and the universe are misty illusions.

This message would leave us deeply depressed, if Jesus wouldn’t offer us a much better alternative. However much the ego would like us to think that choosing to wake up from the dream world means annihilation, or “being erased”, as one workshop participant once put it, Jesus tells us that we will find the real world, the gateway back to Heaven. And it’s solely our own choice: “[The miracle] teaches you there is a choice of dreams while you are still asleep, depending on the purpose of your dreaming. Do you wish for dreams of healing, or for dreams of death?” (T-28.II.4:3-4)

The importance of this message warrants a further citation of this section: “The miracle is the first step in giving back to cause the function of causation, not effect. For this confusion has produced the dream, and while it lasts will wakening be feared. […] Like every lesson that the Holy Spirit requests you learn, the miracle is clear. It demonstrates what He would have you learn, and shows you its effects are what you want. In His forgiving dreams are the effects of yours undone, and hated enemies perceived as friends with merciful intent. Their enmity is seen as causeless now, because they did not make it. And you can accept the role of maker of their hate, because you see that it has no effects. Now are you freed.” (T-28.II.10).

In terms of personal development programs, Jesus’ call to us is something like: “What do you want? Do you want to go on living your life on auto-pilot, moving from one misery to the next, ending in death? Or do you want to become a happy learner and choose happy dreams in the real world, in the firm conviction that “disappearing into the heart of God” is much more preferable than remaining an autonomous separated individual who thinks he knows better than God?” Almost every Course student experiences this awkward balance between our desire for the Love of God on the one hand, and the desire for specialness on the other. And we would so much like to have both…

Again, A Course in Miracles is a veritable bombshell under the foundation of the ego. Jesus patiently explains to us, without judging us, just how much we still cherish the nightmare we think is our very essence. Its metaphysical non-dualistic foundation makes A Course in Miracles one of the most radical spiritualities available to us today. And yet, sooner or later each seemingly separated little self will get to the point where the pain of the nightmare becomes too much, and exclaim that there must be a better way, echoing Bill Thetford’s outcry and Helen’s agreement that set in motion the scribing of A Course in Miracles in 1965.

Before you hit yourself over the head about still failing to make the only right choice in this regard, please turn to the Manual for Teachers and read section 4 again about the characteristics of God’s teachers. These are not just about being honest with yourself, but especially about being tolerant, gentle, joyful, defenseless, generous, patient, faithful, and open-minded. And the most important characteristic is trust. Trust in the fact that you, too, will successfully make the journey Home, sooner or later. Just ask yourself every once in a while: “Why wait for Heaven?” And then happily choose the intuitive advice of the Holy Spirit again, being the Voice for Love, which is what you and I are. Congrats on your choice to be a happy learner!


See also my “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles“. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com:

buy-now-amazon-button

See also my Feb. 2019 Course workshop at www.youtube.com called “Farewell to your self, to find your true Self”. (English captions/subtitles available)

Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page: ikzoekvrede.nl.

Love your brother as you love yourself

The idea behind this all-famous biblical quote is that you and I will be much happier if we treat others in the same way we would treat ourselves, meaning that we value others just as much as we value ourselves. Alas; although most of us really like the principle, if we scan our thoughts of the previous day, it is hardly what we put into practice. If I’m truly honest with myself, I’ll admit that my own needs are of the utmost importance, and I’ll see to it that they are met, even at the expense of others. This doesn’t just apply to survival-based needs such as food, clothing and shelter. Even trying to get home through the traffic jam painstakingly exemplifies this reigning ego-principle.

So why do we tell ourselves that we do subscribe to Jesus’ point of view about loving my brother as myself, but fail to practice it? In A Course in Miracles, Jesus elaborates a lot on this topic, and provides us with some major eye-openers that seem shocking on the one hand, but which on the other hand provide the only way out of the ego hell that will really work. Let’s briefly review some major points that Jesus makes in this regard. While doing so, it’s helpful to read this from an observer point of view. Since A course in Miracles is all about the undoing of the ego, it helps to observe the ego’s reaction as you read it. Same here.

First of all, Jesus bluntly tells us that we have forgotten that we have a mind at all, and, more precisely, that our mind comes with a decision maker that can choose, at any instant in time, between non-loving thought (the ego) and loving thought (the Holy Spirit, also called the Voice for Love). All this constant, relentless verbal chatter that seems to flutter through the brain are not our real thoughts, so Jesus informs us (cf. W-pI.10; W-pI.45). In fact, the only true thoughts we have are those that we think with God — a word which, in the Course, symbolizes pure Oneness Love, outside time and space. In other words, only our loving thoughts are true, and everything else comes down to “image making” (W-pI.15) in order to keep up the illusion that we can be separate from God and that we actually did succeed in doing so. This is why this universe in time and space is called a dream world (see T-18.II).

So, the first shock is the realization that my verbal thoughts are not my real thoughts. Or, as one recent reader humorously commented: “I think, therefore I lie”. But that’s only the beginning. Next, Jesus explains to us that the reason we do not love our brother is because we do not love ourselves. However desperately we try to keep up the image of ourselves as a sympathetic, loving, innocent and well-meaning person, Jesus tells us that we actually despise ourselves: “You think you are the home of evil, darkness and sin. […] You think if what is true about you were revealed to you, you would be struck with horror so intense that you would rush to death by your own hand, living on after seeing this being impossible” (W-pI.93.1:1). While we would really like to deny such a statement about ourselves, something inside cringes, because we realize that, at some level deep down in the iceberg of our minds, we do believe it.

So it’s no wonder I don’t love my brother as I love myself. Or actually I do: since deep down I despise myself, I hate my brother like I hate myself. In fact, the core strategy of the ego to keep this self-hatred from surfacing, is to keep pointing fingers at everyone and everything else outside me: “I’m not evil — this or that other person is the culprit! Look at me: I’m just an innocent victim trying to be loving!” This principle, as all students of A Course in Miracles know well, is called projection: what we refuse to acknowledge in ourselves, we project out onto the world so that we can now see evil everywhere but in ourselves.

Why do you and I think so lowly of ourselves? Once we’ve attended Jesus’ lesson on the metaphysical foundation of this dream world, the explanation becomes crystal clear: I hate myself because I believe that am the one who rejected God and preferred separation, autonomy and individuality to my eternal place of peace in the Heart of God. As a result, there’s this gargantuan guilt about the savage sin of having separated from my Father. I can repress that guilt in a thousand ways by accusing others and constantly distracting my mind by focusing on idols (money, food, booze, special relationships, you name it), but… the guilt is still there, in the deepest recesses of the iceberg of my mind.

“To learn this course requires willingness to question every value that you hold. Not one can be kept hidden and obscure but it will jeopardize your learning”, so we read in (T-24.in.2:1-2). Literally everything that I believed to be true about my very self needs to be re-evaluated; looked at again; and then transformed to what the Voice for Love would tell me instead about what I am. It’s remarkable to notice in A Course in Miracles how Jesus uses the biblical story of the prodigal son, to illustrate how utterly mistaken we were about our own worth: “Listen to the story of the prodigal son, and learn what God’s treasure is and yours: This son of a loving father left his home and thought he squandered everything for nothing of any value, although he did not know its worthlessness at the time. He was ashamed to return to his father because he thought he had hurt him. Yet when he came home, the father welcomed him with joy because only the son himself was his father’s treasure. He wanted nothing else.” (T-8.VI.4).

So Jesus’ clarion call to “love my brother as I love myself” still stands, but I first need to change my mind about who and what I am; about the degree to which I am worthy of love; about how much my Creator loves me, and about what will really make me happy. That’s a big chunk. I can now see why Jesus tells me that “to learn his Course I need to question every value that I hold”. A Course in Miracles invites me to train my mind to lower my fear sufficiently to allow the Holy Spirit to guide my daily thoughts, instead of the fearful ego, always busy keeping the gargantuan guilt in my mind deeply buried.

The basic means, principle and exercise to this end is called, you guessed it, forgiveness. Although, bottom line, this is really about forgiveness of everything I despise about myself because I feel so guilty about rejecting God, the daily practice boils down to forgiving everyone and everything around me that I previously condemned. As we read in chapter 9 of the text: “If you would know your prayers are answered, never doubt a Son of God. Do not question him and do not confound him, for your faith in him is your faith in yourself.” (T-9.II.4). That final part is the key. Whenever I dislike someone or something, that’s a sure sign I still project my self-hatred. This is not something to feel guilty about. On the contrary, I’ve just been offered another “lesson of love” in the classroom of the Holy Spirit. I am now learning to observe the dream world as a dream. I am the dreamer of the dream, and I can choose to be a happy learner, and realize I am still the one Son of God the Father would gladly welcome back.

Of course, it’s diligently doing the workbook lessons that transfers this happy principle into daily experience. Review, for example, lessons 228 and 227 in the workbook: “God has condemned me not. No more do I.” (W-pII.228); “This is my holy instant of release.” (W-pII.227). Let’s review this lovely prayer from the latter: “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.”

This way I am being shown I can love my brother like I love myself. All I need to do is allow the Holy Spirit to clean up (“undo”) the darkness in my own mind. This does not mean I should renounce the world and become a monk, by the way. On the contrary: the Holy Spirit may impel you and me to be very active in the dream world. The difference is that my thoughts and actions are not guided by the ever-condemning ego anymore; they will be guided by the Voice for Love, which is the royal road to the peace which is my inheritance. So instead of projecting hate, attack and separation, I now extend love, thereby inviting others to make the same choice. And whenever I give love, I will receive it. Happy practicing!


See also my “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles“. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com:

buy-now-amazon-button

See also my Feb. 2018 Course workshop at www.youtube.com.

Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page: ikzoekvrede.nl.

Recipe for instant inner peace

Please take a minute or so to list the top 3 of the most obstructive stress factors in your life. They could be about time stress; concerns about money, about your health, or about authority figures like your parents, your spouse, your boss, or politicians. Try, however, to keep it close to yourself. So if you list things like ‘the climate’ or ‘starvation in Africa’, chances are that you should be able to list something more personal. Other than that, the form doesn’t really matter. What matters is that these stress factors seem to rob you of the inner peace you want so much.

A Course in Miracles as a spiritual curriculum provides us with a beautiful ‘recipe’ for instantly reconnecting with that inner peace, no matter what the stress is about. Let’s review this exercise. What follows is loosely based on section VII in chapter 5 of the text, called “The decision for God”, and the opening of chapter 30 of the text, called “Rules for decision”. It can be safely used at any stress situation you find yourself in, to quickly turn it around and sink back into a peaceful state of mind that is much more productive.

The key in this process is to train yourself to ever more quickly realize, very basically, that you are not at peace. That in itself is a most important step in “rising above the battleground” of the ego thought tyranny. What will further anchor your state of mind above the battleground is asking yourself the question: “Who is guiding my thoughts?”. Or, as Jesus invites us to ask ourselves “a thousand times a day” in workbook lesson 156: “Who walks with me?” (W-pI.156.8:1) The question is rhetorical, of course. If I observe that I’m not at peace, the answer is obviously “the ego”.

Now, before you immediately jump to the much desired step of affirming that you don’t want the ego and that you’ll switch to that Voice for Love we call The Holy Spirit, it can be most helpful to quickly recap why we apparently chose the ego. To be sure, don’t turn that into a complex analysis, since that would only keep you rooted in the ego. The answer, based on the Course’s metaphysics, is plain and simple: I only choose the ego because I think I can be on my own and do better than God. In fact, I am bitterly afraid of the Love of God because I fear His Oneness would “crush me into nothingness” (T-13.III.4). I fear that accepting God’s love would rob me of my individuality, which it would.  That’s much too frightening; so I choose the lure of blissful autonomy of the ego. I stubbornly forget that since the ego symbolizes separation, hate and attack, this is exactly what I ask for and will subsequently experience in my life. I’m insane, but at least I exist on my own.

Back to the observer in the mind, being also the decision maker, who has just concluded that he’s not at peace, and the reason is that his thought stream is guided by the ego, and that the choice for this guide has been a deliberate choice, albeit made unconsciously. Once I remember that the choice for the ego is silly, and will hardly make me happy, at that point I, as the decision maker, am perfectly free to “choose once again” (T-31.VIII) the Voice for Love instead of the voice for separation. As we read in chapter 5 of the text: “I made the decision [for the ego] myself, but I can also decide otherwise. I want to decide otherwise, because I want to be at peace.” (T-5.VII. 6:8-9).

The obvious silliness of the choice for the ego, our subconscious fear of God’s Oneness notwithstanding, impels me to conclude that switching to the Holy Spirit as my leading guide will inevitably make me happier. Jesus’ repeated question: “Why wait for Heaven?” has been answered: “My ego is bitterly afraid of Heaven. My ego would have me believe that I am a body in time and space, requiring me to suffer and to point to other people’s sins as a prerequisite for being accepted back into Heaven. But I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.” This leads me back to chapter 5 of the text, concluding: “I do not feel guilty, because the Holy Spirit will undo all the consequences of my wrong decision if I will let Him. I choose to let Him, by allowing Him to decide for God [i.e., Love] for me.” (T-5.VII.6:10-11).

By minutely dissecting this self-forgiveness process, it may seem like a large chunk, difficult to master. That, however, is merely the ego creeping in again through the back door. Each time you honestly attempt this, you recondition your mind a little more, until it becomes a habit that really sticks. The motivating drive for continued practice is the experience of inner peace, each time you succeed. You could further firmly install this willingness in your mind by repeating the following prayer, each night just before you doze off, and each morning right after waking up: I thank you, Father, for having created me as a perfect expression of perfect Love, in eternity. I thank Christ, for keeping united all life as One in that Love. I thank the Holy Spirit for patiently guiding me toward the real world, and to the peace I experience by following His guidance.” 

So the next time you find yourself experiencing one of your top-3 stress factors in any situation, any time of the day, instead of feeling guilty, bad or weak, you could choose to gladly realize you are once again being offered an opportunity to reinforce the only thought process that will really make you happy, namely the switch from the ego to the Holy Spirit. Once you can mildly laugh about the silliness of the ego instead of feeling guilty, bad or weak, the liberating light of Love cannot fail to fill the vacant void where searing stress used to rule your mind. Happy practicing!


See also my “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles“. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com:

buy-now-amazon-button

See also my Feb. 2018 Course workshop at www.youtube.com.

Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page: ikzoekvrede.nl.