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.

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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.

To call upon the Name of God

At first reading, A Course in Miracles seems to be firmly rooted in Christianity. After all, we read a lot about God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, not to mention the fact that its author is no-one less than Jesus. The text contains hundreds of implicit and explicit references to biblical passages. And although in A Course in Miracles God is stripped from His vengeful traits we read about in the bible, much of the text is about learning how to focus more and more on our love for God each day.

Moreover, in A Course in Miracles God is definitely pictured anthropomorph, in the likeness of us human beings. We read that God is lonely without His children (T-2.III.5:11), that He weeps for us having forgotten Him (as if He has a body that can produce tears), and that at the end of our spiritual journey He will come down and lift us up into Heaven (cf. W-pI.69.7; W-pI.168.3). At the same time, though, other passages seem to contradict this image of a humanoid God. Although the workbook contains many prayers directly addressed to God, the manual emphasizes that “God does not understand words, as they were made to keep us separate from Him” (M-21.I.7). In workbook lesson 183 we read about praying to God: “Think not He hears the little prayers of those who call on Him with names of idols cherished by the world. They cannot reach Him thus.” (W-pI.183.7:3-4).

Other passages go even further, and hold that time itself is one “vast illusion” (W-pI.158.4), and that God did not create this material world (C-4.1); we made it, as the one collective ego that chose to seemingly fall asleep in a dream of separation from the Oneness that is God. We made the world as an attack on God, to proclaim a space of our own where God could enter not (W-pII.3.2:1,4), so that the ego can contentedly conclude that the separation from God succeeded. In short, A Coure in Miracles seems, at a first glance, to be full of contradiction about the nature of God, the universe and ourselves. To many readers, the confusion that this engenders does not really motivate them to study the core of its message more thoroughly, to put it mildly.

This is why it’s so useful to add the many published works of Kenneth Wapnick to your spiritual reading list. Ken never tired of addressing such potential sources of confusion and explaining with great patience and honesty how we should interpret the message of A Course in Miracles in terms of the difference between form and its underlying content. Briefly summarized, we should realize that A Course in Miracles only uses anthropomorphic images and Christian language because that is the level of understanding we can initially relate to. Once we progress in our spiritual study, however, we are invited to look beyond these symbols to the real content of its message, which is not rooted in Christianity, but more in nondualistic metaphysics. It is only because phrases such as “a Oneness joined as One” are utterly meaningless to us who experience ourselves as separated individuals, that Jesus (himself a symbol, more about that later) uses language that we can relate to, love and understand.

As an example, let’s look at lesson 183, where we are invited to “call upon God’s Name and on our own”, as a means to find the inner peace we so desperately desire. Why should I call upon God’s Name if I am simultaneously told that God doesn’t understand words, that He doesn’t hear “little prayers with words”, and in fact does not even know about this world? The answer, as always, lies in being able to distinguish clearly between form and its underlying content. God is not anthropomorphic; God has no form. The word “God” is merely a symbol for the eternal Love that is our Source and Inheritance. Likewise, the “Name of God” is just a symbol for the reflection of that Love that we can personally experience by choosing to focus on the Holy Spirit as our guide (being Himself a symbol for the Voice for Love), instead of a focus on the ego, which, also, is merely a symbol for our choice for wrong-minded thinking or separation, attack, sin, guilt and fear.

So when Jesus invites me to “call upon the Name of God and on my own”, he isn’t being inconsistent. Jesus invites me to “choose once again” the Voice for Love (the Holy Spirit) as the primary focus of my thoughts, to eventually realize that my loving thoughts actually reflect my real Identity much closer than all my usual thoughts of specialness, individuality, autonomy and separation. To “call upon the Name of God and on my own” is therefore a poetic way of saying: “Choose again the Love that is not of this world, and realize this is your true Identity”.

Realize, though, that this is a nondualistic statement. Actually, Jesus’ entire curriculum called A Course in Miracles is, in a sense, a guide to motivate our mind to eventually honestly prefer nonduality (reality) to duality (the ego-dream). However, since we are all still convinced that dualistic time and space comprise our daily reality, Jesus needs to use anthropomorphic words to which we can relate to, which we can love and understand. As we progress on our spiritual journey-without-distance, we increasingly learn to see the consistent content where we used to perceive only inconsistent form.

In this way, eventually we realize it’s the same with Jesus himself, whom we unconsciously still identify with the figure that walked this planet some two thousand years ago. It’s tempting to regard Jesus as the most divine humanoid life form, having conquered the ego entirely, and who at some point decided to dictate his liberating message to a woman called Helen Schucman. Instead, Kenneth Wapnick clearly explains that “Jesus” should be seen as a symbolic manifestation of the Voice for Love, which is available to all of us all the time. Helen herself, in fact, never felt she had any particular special talent. She once said that, at least in principle, everyone is able to experience this Voice for Love.

We should not, however, focus on the voice as form. Most of us experience this Voice for Love not as a voice, but as peaceful intuition in the heart or hara (lower belly) area. The ‘Voice’ is then experienced as a loving impulse, which, as most of us know, always leads to the best imaginable outcome for everyone. So I should always try to remember that “The name of Jesus Christ as such is but a symbol. But it stands for love that is not of this world.” (M23.4:1-2). The happy message of A Course in Miracles is that this Love is also my own inheritance.  So to “call upon the Name of God”, meaning: to invite the help of the symbols called “Holy Spirit” or “Jesus”, reminds me that there is indeed an alternative to the ego-clutter in my mind, and that the Name of God is my Name, because this Oneness Love is my inheritance. As we read in the poetic concluding chapter of the text: “God has ordained I cannot call in vain, and in His certainty I rest content.” (T-31.VIII.9:5).

____________________________


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.

But for the grace of God

Many concepts in A Course in Miracles such as God, Christ, love, death, mind, crucifixion and salvation have an entirely different meaning from how we once learned them. This is part of the reason why A Course in Miracles is so difficult to comprehend at first, and one of the main drivers for my book and blog called “Miracles or murder”. Although perhaps not apparent at first, gratitude is another concept that is completely redefined in the Course. Let’s briefly examine in what way.

In this world, we usually feel grateful if we feel we are fortunate, particularly when we experience ourselves to be more fortunate than others. As we read in workbook lesson 195: “Gratitude is a lesson hard to learn for those who look upon the world amiss. The most that they can do is see themselves as better off than others. And they try to be content because another seems to suffer more than they.” (W-pI.195.1-3). The number of people that thank God — consciously or unconsciously — for having ‘saved’ them from an accident, a serious illness, or a natural catastrophe, are countless.

As scholar Kenneth Wapnick remarked, the popular saying “There but for the grace of God go I” is hardly a kind and loving thought. I am grateful I have been spared, even though you may not have been. I am grateful I don’t have cancer, while many others are not so fortunate. I got what I wanted, but quite possibly at the expense of others. In other words, our gratitude is usually based on comparisons and differences, and upon a sense of inequality of worth between myself and others. Needless to say, this is hardly the concept of gratitude that Jesus in A Course in Miracles would want us to embrace .

Workbook lesson 195 explains: “Your gratitude is due to Him alone Who made all cause of sorrow disappear throughout the world. […] You do not offer God your gratitude because your brother is more slave than you; nor could you sanely be enraged if he seems freer. Love makes no comparisons. And gratitude can only be sincere if it be joined to love.” (W-pI.195.1:7;4:1-3). In other words, we should be grateful to God and our brothers for the fact that in truth all life is one, and that the ‘tiny, mad idea’ of the ego and its world of separation and differences is not true, and never will be.

In chapter 2 of the text, Jesus tells us: “It should especially be noted that God has only one Son. If all His creations are His Sons, every one must be an integral part of the whole Sonship. The Sonship in its Oneness transcends the sum of its parts.” (T-2.VII.6:1-3). So once again we see why it’s so important to keep the metaphysics of A Course in Miracles  always in the back of your mind when you read it. Workbook lesson 195 thus emphasizes: “We thank our Father for one thing alone: that we are separate from no living thing, and therefore one with Him. […] Therefore give thanks, but in sincerity.” (W-pI.195.6:1;5:1).

To be sure, you should not feel guilty over, for example, being healthy while others are perhaps not so fortunate at the moment. Also, it is not very loving and kind to dismiss other people’s suffering, by saying: “This is all illusory anyway. In truth all life is One, so I’m only going to focus on that, and not try to mend anything that isn’t real at all.” Such thinking would be what Kenneth Wapnick calls level confusion. The staggering metaphysics of A Course in Miracles do not imply that we do not pay attention to the world in our everyday lives. On the contrary, this world can be seen as a useful classroom in which we learn how we can allow the ego to be gently undone completely, with the help of the Holy Spirit.

When you and I accept our function of true forgiveness here in this dualistic dream world, we become a Teacher of God. This means that our kind and loving demeanor serves a gentle reminder to others that they, too, can make the same choice of the relinquishment of judgment, in the grateful realization that all life is one and the ego is a silly mistake. Once more from workbook lesson 195: “Let your gratitude make room for all who will escape with you: the sick, the weak, the needy and afraid, and those who mourn a seeming loss or feel apparent pain, who suffer cold or hunger, or who walk the way of hatred and the path of death. All these go with you. […] Then let our brothers lean their tired heads against our shoulders as they rest a while. We offer thanks for them. For if we can direct them to the peace that we would find, the way is opening at last to us.” (W-pI.195.5:2-3;7:1-2).

Now to be sure, it may at first be hard to feel gratitude when asked to see the sameness in yourself and, say, the leading politicians of your nation. Or with others whom you really don’t like. Realize though, in gladness, that this is the great reconditioning of the mind that A Course in Miracles offers us; namely that from shifting form form (“he’s the president”) to content (“he’s merely a mirror of my own mind, as there are no others”). The only reason that we find this difficult is, as we read in chapter 15 of the text: “You have little faith in yourself because you are unwilling to accept the fact that perfect love is in you.” (T-15.VI.2:1). My gratitude should therefore come from the realization that perfect love is not only within me, but within ‘all living things’, regardless of form, since life is one.

We conclude with the lovely message from workbook lesson 195: “Walk, then, in gratitude the way of love. For hatred is forgotten when we lay comparisons aside. […] Gratitude becomes the single thought we substitute for our insane perceptions [of separation]. God has cared for us, and calls us Son. […] What more remains as obstacles to peace?” (W-pI.8:1-2; 9:4-5;8:3). The grace of God is not just for me, but for everyone, without exception. Practice this realization often during the day, so that eventually you can sincerely answer the question what your prevailing state of mind is with one word: gratitude.

 


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.

The immediacy of salvation

Students of A Course in Miracles, and spiritual aspirants in general, practice hard to learn to let go of their little separated self, and accept instead their identification with their larger Self, which somehow transcends the individual. They imagine that one day they’ll be enlightened, having left behind all the pain and sorrow that they still perceive at times. But in workbook lesson 188, which was by the way one of Bill Thetford’s favorites, Jesus says: “Why wait for Heaven? Those who seek the light are merely covering their eyes. The light is in them now. Enlightenment is but a recognition, not a change at all.” (W-pI.188.1:1-4).

Such a statement could easily lead to a massive spiritual guilt trip, as the simplicity of this call is apparently still too difficult for us, as sincere spiritual seekers, to turn into daily experience. In Chapter 26 of the text, Jesus also comments on this: “The one remaining problem that you have is that you see an interval between the time when you forgive, and will receive the benefits of trusting your brother […] You see eventual salvation, not immediate results. […] Be not content with future happiness. It has no meaning, and it is not your just reward. For you have cause for freedom now…” (T-26.VIII.1:1;3:1;9:1-3). So how do we do that?

Well, certainly not by thinking that we need to work still harder on being spiritual. Rather, A Course in Miracles invites you and me to do less, meaning: do less on my own. Happiness – now – means I step back as my own teacher, and ask the Holy Spirit what to think, say and do instead. Otherwise, I am tempted to instruct the Holy Spirit how to help me, which of course never works. Remember, one of the central themes of A Course in Miracles is: “I need do nothing” (T-18.VII). We should merely invite the Holy Spirit (i.e., the Voice for Love) in. In Chapter 18 of the text, we also read: “It is not necessary that you do more; indeed, it is necessary that you realize that you cannot do more. Do not attempt to give the Holy Spirit what He does not ask, or you will add the ego to Him and confuse the two.” (T-18.IV.1:5-6).

As with almost everything in A Course in Miracles, the principle is simple, but its application is far from easy. The core of our resistance to this simple rule of thumb is that each time we practice this, we make the ego slightly smaller; a bit less important. Should this become a habit, the ego would eventually diminish and disappear… which ultimately means that would disappear! And so the ego seeks and finds all sorts of subtle strategies to keep judgment and condemnation alive and well, so that we can comfortably identify with a very special personal self, which was the root cause of the universe and the planet and all its billions of life forms on it anyway.

All students of A Course in Miracles are familiar with its teaching that the world we seem to live in is not our home. Happily, Jesus also speaks a lot about what our real Home is. Actually, much of his curriculum boils down to continually motivating its students to associate time and space with misery, and to accept the guidance of the Holy Spirit as the one way to return Home in the Heart of God. Again in Lesson 188, we read: “Light is not of the world, yet you who bear the Light in you are alien here as well. The Light came with you from your native home, and stayed with you because it is your own. It is the only thing you bring with you from Him Who is your Source. It shines in you because it lights your home, and leads you back to where it came from and you are at home. This light can not be lost. Why wait to find it in the future, or believe it has been lost already, or was never there?” (W-pI.188.1:5-2:2). In other words, why wait for Heaven?

In Chapter 3 of the text Jesus tells us that seemingly having lost something does not mean it is gone; is merely means we forgot where it is (T-3.VI.9). This implies that I am in control of my own happiness or unhappiness, not in the future, but right now: “Let the darkness go, and all you made [material misery] you will no longer see, for sight of it depends on denying vision. Yet from denying vision it does not follow that you cannot see…” (T-13.V.8:5-6). What do I need to do to see? Simply this: “Sit quietly and close your eyes. The light within you is sufficient.” (W-pI.188.6:1-2). A few lines further in the same lesson, Jesus then invites us to “…take your wandering thoughts [i.e., judgments], and gently bring them back to where they fall in line with all the thoughts we share with God. [i.e., non-judgment]”. We will not let them stray. […] We will forgive them [i.e., wandering thoughts] all, absolving all the world from what we thought it did to us. For it is we who make the world as we would have it.”  (W-pI.188.9:2-10:3; my italics).

To summarize: Yes, accepting the Atonement is a slow process in time, which may take many lifetimes to master. At the same time, the choice for the Holy Spirit as the leading Guide of the mind can always be made now. In fact, this choice can only be made now, as now is the only time there is, as any reader of Eckart Tolle will remember. As Jesus concludes: “The peace of God passeth your understanding only in the past. Yet here it is, and you can understand it now. […] You will first dream of peace, and then awaken to it. Your first exchange of what you made [material misery] for what you want [the Love of God] is the exchange of nightmares for the happy dreams of love. In these lie your true perceptions, for the Holy Spirit corrects the world of dreams, where all perception is.” (T-13.VII.8:1-9:3).

So why not try it right now? Sit quietly and close your eyes. Calmly observe all your “wandering thoughts”, that is, anything you are not completely peaceful about, and realize these thoughts really do not serve you any longer, and so there is no reason anymore for you to focus on them. Then invite the Voice for Love, by silently saying: “The peace of God is shining in me now. Let all things shine upon me in that peace. And let me bless them with the light in me.”  (W-pI.188.10:4-7). 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.

What a wonderful world

This evergreen by Louis Armstrong, initially released in 1967 and covered by many artists since, invites us all to look only at the good things in life, and focus on the inherent love that is our desire beneath our superficial daily doings. It is often sung at spiritual events as well, where it is used as an affirmation to remind us of the beauty of life that is there for all of us, but for the choosing. All the ‘bad’ things and people that subsequently seem to cross our path are then at least not our fault, and we can continue to feel blissful about our advanced spiritual focus.

In A Course in Miracles, this world is depicted quite differently, namely as “…a dry and dusty place, where starved and thirsty creatures come to die” (W.pII.13.5:1). That’s hardly a wonderful world! Moreover, the Course’s workbook starts out by letting us know that nothing here means anything. What!? A Course in Miracles is one of the very few spiritualities that offer such a shocking view on the world and the material universe, and it is completely consistent about this stance throughout. So how could this be, if the goal of the Course is to attain a lasting state of unshakable inner peace, in the awareness that all life is one, and all the hurts in the world are illusory? This sounds somewhat contradictory, to say the least.

The explanation, of course, lies in the metaphysics that are the rock on which its message rests securely. When we say we want lasting inner peace, we usually mean we would like to experience that as a good healthy individual ego. A Course in Miracles brings us the most uncomfortable message that the entire ego, yea individuality whatsoever, is completely illusory, and even more so, the entire phenomenal universe and all our senses that behold it as well. The Course more or less equates the material world with hell, and summarizes the combined aspects of time and space as a hallucinatory nightmare. Why? Because the material universe is nothing but the imagined effect of the thought of separation from Oneness (God), and the body is nothing but a pitiful attempt to hide from the supposed wrath of the Creator over this ‘savage sin’, by splitting up in billions of fragments that now seem to have a life of their own. Jesus, in summary, is telling us that our seemingly individual autonomous personalities really do not exist in truth.

Now before you head for a deep depression about Jesus’ message (which would again be an ego tactic), hold on, and bear with him. A Course in Miracles would not be of much use if it stayed at that. There is, of course, a much better experience for us, one that reflects the truth of what we collectively are, namely the One Son of God (albeit seemingly asleep). The secret of salvation is but the realization that all the pain and misery in our lives come from choosing the wrong focus, or teacher, in the mind. As long as we focus on individuality, we continue to invite separation. It is only when we choose to step back and let the Voice for Love (i.e., he Holy Spirit) be the guide of our mind, that peace not only becomes possible but inevitable.

We will, however, only make this choice for a better mind teacher once we fully realize the silliness of the “joke” of thinking we can actually exist, separated from God, in a material universe that was made as a place where He could enter not and we could be on our own. Our continuous wish to see separation is mirrored in how our physical senses work: “All idols of the world were made to keep the truth from being known to you, and to maintain allegiance to the dream that you must find what is outside yourself to be complete and happy. It is vain to worship idols in the hope of peace. God dwells within, and your completion lies in Him. […] Look not to idols. Do not seek outside yourself.” (T-29.VII.6).

So this is why A Course in Miracles is not your everyday spirituality that states that this world can be a place of love. It does promise that love can be a consistent experience in the mind, but only if we fully realize that the material world itself is merely illusory, and not at all what we want. Yet the Course does not ask us to deny our experiences in this ‘nightmare’ we seem to live in. Rather, it invites us to calmly and honestly look (in the mind) at what it is we choose to focus on each and every minute of the day, and then happily “choose again” to experience this world as a classroom for real spiritual growth, which ultimately leads us entirely out of the world, to real eternal peace.

The world cannot be a wonderful world, if all things inevitably decay and die and pass away. The world cannot be wonderful as long as we perceive politicians and crooks that we exclude from the light in us. The world only becomes wonderful once we realize, with gladness and in gratitude, that there is no world! (W-pI.132.6:2). Having chosen the Holy Spirit as the one guide to our thoughts, all the various competing forms the senses behold shift to the background, while we bring to the foreground the content of the light of Love we all share. And this is no idle wish; it is the way out of hell. “The body’s eyes will continue to see differences, […] but the healed mind will put them all in one category: they are unreal.” (M-8.6:1-5). Now we can forgive every unforgiving thought we hold in our own mind. Now we can see past all seeming differences. “Now can you say to everyone who comes to you in prayer with you: “I cannot go without you, for you are a part of me.” And so he is in truth.” (S-1.V.3:8-10).

To summarize: this world only becomes a ‘wonderful world’ once we realize that there is no material world, and that all life that we perceive around is us but a mirror of the mind. This perception can be guided either by the ego or the Holy Spirit. And it is entirely up to you and me which guide we choose; this power of choice is our one remaining freedom. And what a power it is! The world becomes wonderful once we choose to regard it solely as a classroom in which there is only love or calls for love, to which only one answer suffices: the answer the Holy Spirit gives us. And so Jesus says to us in the Song of Prayer pamphlet: “Hold out your hand. This enemy has come to bless you. […] He is a Son of God, along with you. He is no jailer, but a messenger of Christ. Be this to him, that you may see him thus.” (S-1.III.5:3-9). Practice in seeing this not in some, but in all people you meet, regardless of behavior. The world is wonderful because through it we can learn to end the separation.


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.

Reading versus doing

Although over three million people worldwide own a copy of A Course in Miracles, that certainly doesn’t mean that three million people have mastered its message. In fact, as scholar Kenneth Wapnick often remarked, many times when people say they are “doing” the Course, they are actually only reading the workbook lessons, and perhaps practice its instructions once or twice a day. This is not because people are lazy or stupid. After all, A Course in Miracles aims at reversing each and every belief that you and I hold about everything that we now consider to be of value in life. Jesus promises peace, love, and joy, but at the “expense” of our own ego-personality. No wonder there’s tremendous resistance!

Jesus wants us to want to study and “do” his Course. Like any learning theorist, he must nurture the motivation, or desire, in his students to follow up on his teachings. In doing so, he is of course fully aware of the ego-resistance against everything he presents us. As he states in the introduction to the workbook: “It is doing the exercices that will make the goal of the course possible. An untrained mind can accomplish nothing. It is the purpose of this workbook to train your mind to think along the lines the text sets forth. […] Some of the ideas the workbook presents you will find hard to believe, and others may seem to be quite startling. […] Some of them you may actively resist. […] This does not matter. […]” (W-pI.In.1:2-4;8:1-2;9:2).

In several places in both text and workbook, Jesus addresses his students directly about the issue of their motivation. Usually the ego attempts to skip such sections, but they are worth reviewing from time to time. As early as Chapter 4 in the text, Jesus reassures his students: “You have very little trust in me as yet, but it will increase as you turn more and more often to me instead of to your ego for guidance. The results [of following through on my advice] will convince you increasingly that this choice is the only sane one you can make. No one who learns from experience that one choice brings peace and joy while another brings chaos and disaster needs additional convincing.” (T-4.VI.3:1-3).

As any good learning theorist knows, learning through rewards is more effective than learning through pain. So Jesus’ aim is to have us experience the joy and peace that applying his teachings will bring. It is this experience alone that will motivate us to practice even more, and more often. And so even after 180 workbook lessons, Jesus comforts and guides his students thus: “You are not asked for total dedication all the time as yet. But you are asked to practice now in order to attain the sense of peace such unified commitment will bestow, if only intermittently. It is experiencing this that makes it sure that you will give your total willingness to following the way the course sets forth.” (W-pI.181.In.1:2-4).

Again, the ego part of the mind senses – very acutely – that following up on Jesus’ instructions will ultimately mean its demise. Since we are all intimately identified with our own ego personality, unconscious fear about its undoing leads to all sorts of subtle self-sabotaging behavior. We might, for example, fall asleep while reading a workbook lesson. Or perhaps we’re suddenly distracted by tasks that we realize are overdue. Or perhaps the subtlety transforms into outright rage about the sheer impossibility of such “preposterous” lessons, and we throw the book at the wall. Or close it for a long time. There are many, many ways in which we can find justifiable excuses to not follow through on Jesus’ message. That’s why we need the experience of the peace and joy that doing the exercices will bring, if we are to ascend the “ladder of the Atonement”.

Jesus motivates his students by repeatedly assuring them that diligently doing the exercices requires almost nothing on their behalf: “Remember only this: you need not believe the ideas, you need not accept them, and you need not even welcome them. […] None of this will matter, or decrease their efficacy. […] The overall aim of the exercises is to increase your ability to extend the ideas you will be practicing to include everything. This will require no effort on your part. The exercices themselves meet the conditions necessary for this kind of transfer.” (W-pI.9:1-3;7:1; my italics). Again, Jesus appeals to the part of our mind that does want to experience the peace and joy he promises.

The core of what we should be willing to do is to give up judgment totally, if only for a little while: “You have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting yourself and your brothers totally without judgment.” (T-3.VI.3:1). And, again from the introduction to workbook lessons 181-200: “The experience of freedom and of peace that comes as you give up your tight control of what you see speaks for itself. Your motivation will be so intensified that words become of little consequence. You will be sure of what you want, and what is valueless.” (W-pI.181.In.2:4-6).

This is why Jesus assures us in chapter 20 of the text that “This course requires almost nothing of you. It is impossible to imagine one that asks to little, or could offer more.” What it offers is eternal love, peace and joy, albeit at the expense of our precious little individuality., which we’ll slowly come to realize we never wanted anyway, as it mostly leads to misery and pain. At the same time, Jesus admits that “It takes great learning to understand that all things, events, encounters and circumstances are helpful [if we give up judgment and ask the Holy Spirit for help].” (M-4.I-A.4:4). Therefore, no-one suddenly jumps (in his mind) from dualistic illusions to nondualistic truth in one leap; it’s a slow, life-long learning process.

So you and I can afford to be patient, and accept that the pace of the learning process does not seem very rapid. Jesus knows that a happy outcome is certain for everyone: “Those who are certain of the outcome can afford to wait, and wait without anxiety. Patience is natural to the teacher of God. All he sees is certain outcome, at a time perhaps unknown to him as yet, but not in doubt.” (M-4.VIII.1:1-3). Of course, the ego can use this assurance as yet another excuse not to practice the workbook lessons. So this is why we need to be “vigilant for the Kingdom” and do practice the workbook lessons as often as we can, no matter where we are. The more you muster the courage to give up judgment completely and ask for help. the more often you will notice that warm, peaceful feeling in your body and mind. And it is this experience that will increase “…your total willingness to following the way the course sets forth”. So don’t just read the exercises; apply them as often as you can, in spite of unconscious resistance. 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.

Waking up in a dream world

When we dream at night, the wildest things can seem to happen. And while we experience ourselves in the dream, we usually do not doubt its reality. Scenes may abruptly shift from one place to another; people and creatures may pop up unexpectedly; and situations and happenings seem to come to us unbidden. We can experience ourselves as the hero of the dream, or as an innocent victim being chased or tossed about without any control. In some dreams we might even experience ourselves as the perpetrator, the murderer. The purpose of all this, or so psychologists would briefly summarize, is to be able to process repressed emotions that we installed in the unconscious part of the mind.

When we wake up in the morning we may or may not remember what we had been dreaming that night. When we do remember, regardless of whether the dream was pleasant or frightful, we remind ourselves that it was only a dream, having nothing to do with reality. We smile about the various impossible events that had seemingly occurred. Conversely, we do not even remotely doubt the reality of the world we just woke up to. We’re glad we found ourselves awake, safe and well in our own bedroom, and we prepare for another day in the world of time and space we call our life.

One of the great surprises that A Course in Miracles as a spiritual curriculum offers its readers, is the notion that what we call reality, is nothing more than just another form of dreaming. As we read in chapter 18 of the text: “What you seem to wake to is but another form of this same world you see in dreams. All your time is spent in dreaming. Your sleeping and your waking dreams have different forms, and that is all. Their content is the same.” (T-18.II.5:12-14). Thus, Jesus concludes in workbook part II:  “There is no world! This is the central thought the Course attempts to teach.” (W-pI.132.6:2).

People with a background in quantum physics can perhaps subscribe to this mind-boggling idea that ‘all our time is spent in dreaming’, as they also pose the fundamental theorem that time and space are ultimately unreal. For the vast majority of us, though, this notion is very, very hard to accept. If the world I work, eat, sleep and live in is merely a dream, why would I choose to be in such a situation, and how would I be able to wake up? And to what? In A Course in Miracles, Jesus asserts that not only is this material world a dream, we deliberately chose it and still choose it, because we want to be the God of our own universe: “Dreams are perceptual temper tantrums in which you literally scream, “I want it thus!” And thus it seems to be. […] Dreams show you that you have the power to make a world as you would have it be, and that because you want it, you see it. And while you see it, you do not doubt that it is real. […]  [Dreams] are your protest against reality, [they are] your fixed and insane idea that you can change it.” (T-18.II.4:1;5:1;6:3)

One of the main thrusts of A Course in Miracles is to bring the realization to our full awareness — slowly and gently — that each of us is keeping himself willingly in a nightmare because we believe we can usurp the throne of our Creator, and be the God of the universe ourselves. This is the fundamental characteristic of the thought we call the ego. It is the root cause of what we call the Big Bang, which set into motion the dream world of time and space. And just as we are perfectly capable of awakening from a nightly dream, so too are we perfectly able to end this dream world of time and space: “You are at home in God, dreaming of exile but perfectly capable of awakening to reality. [But] Is it your decision to do so? […]” (T-10.I.2:1-2) As a pep talk, Jesus adds: “You will remember everything the instant you desire it wholly, for if to desire wholly is to create, you will have willed away the separation, returning your mind simultaneously to your Creator and your creations. Knowing Them you will have no wish to sleep, but only the desire to waken and be glad. Dreams will be impossible because you will want only truth, and being at last your will, it will be yours.” (T-10.I.2:4)

Jesus repeatedly tells his students that his Course is simple, at least in principle: “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. […] The miracle establishes you dream a dream and that its content is not true. This is a crucial step in dealing with illusions.” (T-28.II.4:6-5:1;7:1). And in chapter 27: “The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself”. (T-27.VIII.10:1). In a sense, the entire curriculum of A Course in Miracles is a motivation training for giving up the dream world of time and space, and accepting instead the real world of cleansed perception; wholly forgiven, devoid of any condemnation.

Inherent in this approach is the necessity of dealing with the huge resistance that such a complete reversal of all our values and beliefs must include. In his Course, Jesus never forces his students to think or do anything, for how could the Voice for Love employ any form of attack? And although Jesus does urge his students to reconsider everything their material, body-centered house of cards rests on, he also explicitly and honestly discusses the resistance that we inevitably feel against choosing the real world. If you think you don’t resist Jesus’ plea (“after all, I do want his promise of lasting inner peace, joy and love, do I not?”) it is because you want it as an individual — in other words, you want to have your ego’s cake and eat it too. Unfortunately for the ego, accepting the real world (the gateway to Oneness) and maintaining the ego (the choice for separation) do not go well together.

You and I need not fear that we will be rudely awakened from this dream world, and abruptly hurled into our reality as the one Son of God. We will only awaken from the material dream world to reality once we accept it without any fear. Following Jesus’ guidance in this process of undoing fear turns your everyday life into a much gentler dream, however often we seem to stumble and fall. The fifth workbook review (after lesson 170) can be a particularly helpful consolation in this regard: “We recognize we are preparing for another phase of understanding [about our reality]. […] Our footsteps have not been unwavering, and doubts have made us walk uncertainly and slowly on the road this course sets forth. But now we hasten on, for we approach a greater certainty, a firmer purpose and a surer goal.” Jesus then presents us with this lovely prayer:

“Steady our feet, Father. Let our doubts be quiet and our holy minds be still, and speak to us. We have no words to give to You. We would but listen to Your Word, and make it ours. Lead our practicing as does a father lead a little child along a way he does not understand. Yet does he follow, sure that he is safe because his father leads the way for him. So do we bring our practicing to You. And if we stumble, You will raise us up. If we forget the way, we count upon Your sure remembering. We wander off, but You will not forget to call us back. Quicken our footsteps now, that we may walk with more certainty and quickly unto You. And we accept the Word You offer us to unify our 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.

Curse God and die

This infamous line from the Bible (Job 2:9) by Job’s wife symbolizes our accusing finger at God for all the misery and pain in the world and in our own personal lives. At the same time, though, from an ego-perspective, it also acknowledges that it is indeed possible for us to oppose the Will of God; therefore, the (ontological) separation from God did indeed succeed. We obviously exist as autonomous individuals! So when Job responds by saying to his wife that man should expect from God not only good, but also adversity  (as this would help us grow spiritually), he is again affirming the distinction between what God wills and what we as humans want. Apparently, the ego was heavily involved in writing the Bible.

A Course in Miracles, as a spiritual curriculum for inner peace from Jesus, undoes such tragic mistakes. Referring to the Holy Spirit, the Voice for Love, Jesus assures us in workbook lesson 166: “One walks with you Who gently answers all your fears with this one merciful reply, ‘It is not so.'” (W-pI.166.11:3) We think we have overthrown God and can be a god in our own little world; that is, until He exacts his revenge and takes back the life-light we stole from Him. But this is not so. The reason this is not so is that our firmly fixed notions about the reality of the world and of what we are, turn out to be plain faulty. Again in the same lesson, we read: “This world is not the Will of God, and so it is not real.” (W-pI.166.2:2; my italics).

Ouch. That statement leaves no room for avoiding manoeuvres, such as that ‘God did not create the evil in the world (since that’s our own choice), but he did create the material world’. Jesus in his Course is very clear in stating that this world is not the Will of God, and so it cannot be real. This is one of the many places in A Course in Miracles where the ego gets profoundly afraid and retaliates, for example by closing the book or furiously throwing it against the wall. Small wonder, as such statements go against everything we believe is reality; everything we think we know we can count on. If this world is not real, that must mean am not real. But who, then, is reading these words in this book? The beauty of workbook lesson 166 is that Jesus explains why we experience such resistance in accepting his message of love, joy, and peace. Let’s have a look at how he does that.

Jesus starts out by asking: “What would make you think there is another will than His?” (W-pI.166.1:6). He then explains: “Those who think it [the world] real must still believe there is another will, and one that leads to opposite effects from those He wills. […] Every mind that looks upon the world and judges it as certain, solid, trustworthy and true believes in two creators; or in one, himself alone. But never in one God.” (W-pI.166.1:6-2:5). This echoes the heart of the truth Jesus presents to us as early as chapter 3 in the text: “You can perceive yourself as self-creating, but you cannot do more than believe it. You cannot make it true. […] the belief that you can is the foundation stone for your thought system.” (T-3.VII.4-6,8). This is the condition everyone on this planet finds himself in: we are distinctly separate individual beings, constantly threatened by others, by viruses, by politicians, by natural catastrophes, you name it. The joy, peace and love of God are certainly not available here, save perhaps in short, fleeting moments of pleasure.

One of the key points of lesson 166 is that God’s joy, peace and love are with us all the time; in fact, these comprise the essence of what we are. However, we do not experience these, because of our distorted image of reality and of ourselves. Consider how Jesus describes the archetypal human being: “He wanders on, aware of the futility he sees about him everywhere, perceiving how his little lot but dwindles, as he goes ahead to nowhere. […] He seems a sorry figure, weary, worn, in threadbare clothing, and with feet that bleed a little from the rocky road he walks. No one but has identified with him, for everyone who comes here has pursued the path he follows, and has felt defeat and hopelessness as he is feeling them.” (W-pI.166.5:3-6:2). No wonder Job’s wife counseled him to “…curse God and die!”

The beauty of A Course in Miracles lies not only in a convincing explanation of why this unconscious image of ourselves is not true, but it also explains why we need to calmly and honestly look at this firmly fixed belief, in order to allow the Holy Spirit to have this silliness be undone forever. Therefore, in A Course in Miracles, Jesus gently invites us to ‘turn on’ spiritual vision and be glad: “Yet is he really tragic, when you see that he is following the way he chose, and need but realize Who walks with him and open up his treasures to be free?” (W-pI.166.6:3; my italics). The answer, of course, is: “No!” We are not tragic; all the misery we perceive and experience is our own choice. “The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself.” (T-27.VIII.10:1). Given that truth, you would think it easy enough for us, as the hallucinating Son of God, to consistently choose joy, peace and love to misery, pain, and death. But if that were so, everyone would already be enlightened. Apparently, there’s resistance at work, and it is this we need to carefully examine; without fear, without guilt, without anger.

Jesus explains: “You cower fearfully lest you should feel Christ’s touch upon your shoulder, and perceive His gentle hand directing you to look upon your [own] gifts. How could you then proclaim your poverty in exile [from Heaven]? He would make you laugh at this perception of yourself. Where is self-pity then?” (W-pI.166.8:1-4). A part of our mind leaps up in joy at reading these words, but another part (the ego part) cringes sharply, as this ultimately means that Oneness is the only reality, and therefore my individual existence is indeed a lie. As Workbook Review VI would have us repeat for twenty days on a row: “I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.” (W-pI.201-220). Until we muster the willingness to allow the Holy Spirit to change these firmly fixed beliefs about individual autonomy versus a ‘Oneness joined as One’ (T-25.I.7:1), we will resist Jesus’ message in A Course in Miracles, and keep ourselves in pain.

A Course in Miracles is not a spirituality to make you feel better as an individual. It goes all the way to the core of the problem of the material universe, the only way back to what we really are: the eternal extension of the Love of God. As we read in the same lesson 166, describing the experience which doing the Course will give us: “Christ’s hand has touched your shoulder, and you feel that you are not alone. You even think the miserable self you thought was you may not be your Identity. Perhaps God’s Word is truer than your own. Perhaps His gifts to you are real. […] God’s Will does not oppose. It merely is. […] He does not know about a plan so alien to His Will. There was a need He did not understand [the desire to be on our own], to which He gave an answer [the Holy Spirit]. That is all.  And you who have this Answer given you have need no more of anything than this.” (W-pI.166.9:1-10:7).

So each time you are tempted to become depressed, fearful or outraged while studying (and practicing!) A Course in Miracles, be sure to realize that his is merely your ego resistance at work to accepting Jesus’ message that individual existence is not only a silly lie, it’s also what we really do not want, if we compare the world of time and space to the eternal gifts of joy, love and peace of God. Still, this is a slow learning process. The thing to do, as always, is to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance, by giving up condemnation: “I could see peace instead of this” (W-pI.34). The more often you resign as your own teacher and let the intuitive advice of the Holy Spirit be your guide, the happier your days become. You can curse God as often as you like, but you and I — as spirit — cannot die. God’s gifts are ours. So why wait to choose Heaven?


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.

You and your bother

This famous typing error by Bill Thetford, obviously caused by ego-resistance to the transcription process by Bill and Helen between 1965 and 1972, in a sense constitues the core of Jesus’ message in A Course in Miracles, namely: the mindshift from seeing others as a bother, to seeing them as an equal brother. When meeting anyone, we unconsciously focus on finding something that we can dislike about them, or that would put the self in a subtly superior position to others. The core aim of A Course in Miracles is to train the mind to entirely shift from seeing differences to seeing sameness. How is that possible in a world that is clearly made up of differences?

We return once more to the crucial distinction the Course makes between form and content. This distinction cannot be discussed too often, for without a good grasp of the meaning of this distinction, a consistent focus on the sameness in everyone and everything would be very, very hard to attain. The core motivation for choosing to focus on sameness, by the way, would of course be that without differences, there is no need to dislike, judge, or condemn, which cancels out the root cause for fear. In other words, lasting inner peace is attained by undoing fear, which is attained by giving up judgment, which becomes possible once we perceive the sameness in everyone and everything.

This shift in perception, though, must happen in the mind. It cannot be done purely with the bodily senses such as the eyes and the ears, since these were made to see differences instead of sameness. Let’s see how this can work in practice. If you go for a walk in the park, or perhaps for a leisurely bicycle tour, you notice all sorts of people, with a wide range of characteristics. Some of these you may find instantly appealing, while others you judge as decidedly appalling. We usually see this as a normal thought mechanism in the human psyche. In A Course in Miracles though, Jesus focuses a lot on exactly this process of shifting and ranking. In one place, he summarizes it thus: “Each day and every minute in each day and every instant that each minute holds, you but relive the single instant when the time of terror took the place of love.” (T-26.V.13:1). Every dislike about another, however small it may seem, boils down to a choice to condemn instead of to love.

The core belief that’s behind such judgment is that you and I are distinctly separate beings, with nothing that inherently binds us to each other. However, when carefully reading the metaphysics of the Course in the text, we come to realize that not only the world of time and space is an illusion, but even more to the point that everything our senses perceive is the result of the projection of separation, that is, ultimately the ontological separation from God. The sleeping Son of God dreams about a material universe in which his self is split in billions and billions of tiny fragments, in a fearful attempt to hide from the supposed wrath of God about the separation. Every separated fragment projects the guilt and fear about this separation away, so that all evil now seems to be in others, while the fragment that I identify with can now be seen as an innocent victim.

It’s a mind-boggling shift in awareness of reality, but how does that apply to our everyday lives, which the Course certainly doesn’t ask us to deny? The body that you perceive yourself in perhaps encases your personality in this lifetime, but it is hardly what you and I fundamentally are. A Course in Miracles does not take a definite stand on reincarnation, but there are ample passages that hint at the  notion that you and I have already been here in many, many bodies before, and will continue to return in bodies as long as the Lessons of Love (Text, chapter 6) have not yet been mastered (the Buddhist would say: as long as there is still bad karma to clean up). Every single body you see, including your own body, is like a brief glow in time. The sleeping Son of God will continue to seemingly separate in a new body, as long as the dreadful sin-guilt-fear thought trinity is not completely given up. That’s why Kenneth Wapnick once stated that  “merely being born here is Self-sabotage!”

See how this insight might be applied during your stroll in the park, or on your bicycle tour. Each time you meet anyone (and no meeting is a coincidence, cf. Chapter 3 in the Manual), you have the ability to activate the decision maker in your mind, who, as it were, ‘stops the time’, and ponders: “Hmm. I see the form of a body, but that body is part of the dream world we choose to experience ourselves in. If I shift from form to content, I can see (not literally, but with the mind’s eye) the Light of Christ shining in that perceived person, just as I can see that same light shining in myself. In fact, it is the same light. I may not like the looks (or the behavior) of that person, but that’s form. In essence, each body is just a frightened fragment that – bottom line – yearns to return to the Oneness of God, but is simply still too uncertain, lonely and fearful to choose this. The inner light we share, however, is unchangeable, wholly lovable, and the ultimate reality of life.”

Just consider what happens to your state of mind once you evaluate everyone you meet in this way. Would this leave any room for some sort of condemnation? Hardly. On the contrary, such an evaluation leaves only room for love, compassion and kindness. It opens up the heart to receive and give the miracles that the Holy Spirit wants to work through you. And what is the result in your own awareness? Joy, love and peace. Now, that’s exactly the experience Jesus wants us to practice in this lifelong curriculum. I do not master A Course in Miracles by diligently reading the text, workbook and manual for teachers over and over again; I need to apply this forgiveness principle (i.e., the separation never happened, and material form merely deceives) from moment to moment in my everyday doings. I will naturally stumble a zillion times each day, but each time I become aware of such a mistake, I can choose again: from ‘bother’ to ‘brother’. This is the practice that brings lasting inner peace a bit closer each day. Who could ask for anything more?


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.