A self-forgiveness dialogue

In the mind training curriculum that is A Course in Miracles, students learn that enlightenment is not attained overnight: it is a slow process, in which we stumble, get up and move on; not only once, but many times: “Doubt along the way will come and go and go to come again.” (C-ep.1:2). And although in the same paragraph we read that “Forget not once this journey is begun the end is certain. […] No one can fail to do what God appointed him to do” (C-ep.1:1,3), many times we notice that we got off track once again, despite our best intentions. Usually this is followed by a load of guilt, which is actually the last thing Jesus would want us to choose, since guilt is the problem. A Course in Miracles is therefore first and foremost a course in self-forgiveness, from the happy realization that there is no-one else out there to forgive: everything we perceive and interpret around us happens in the mind.

The prime goal of A Course in Miracles is to set us on the road to lasting inner peace, by learning how to allow the Holy Spirit to gently undo the ego regime that we cherish so much. We still cherish it because we want to keep up the illusion that we can be on our own, separate from Oneness: “The world is an illusion. Those who choose to come to it are seeking for a place where they can be illusions, and avoid their own reality [as spirit, as Christ].” (W-pI.155.2:1-2). It is therefore imperative that each time you notice you’ve chosen illusions (the ego) again, to stop judging yourself, honestly look at what’s going on (from ‘above the battleground’, T-23.IV), and then simply choose once again, this time for the guidance by the Holy Spirit.

The following quasi-Platonic dialogue may help in this process. It is, of course, in the same vein as the “Rules for decision” in chapter 30 of the text (T-30.I). Practice this dialogue (or any variation on it) at the moment you realize you’ve chosen the ego again.Think of it as the Holy Spirit addressing the decision making part in your mind. Most statements are literal quotes from the text, the workbook or the manual.

Wherein lies salvation?
In listening to the Holy Spirit; in hearing the Voice for Love.

Wherein have you been seeking salvation?
In devotion to idols; in achieving silly goals; in gratification by others.

Where does that lead to?
To misery and pain. I may experience moments of ecstasy, but it never lasts.

Why would you choose this?
Because I still have some lingering hope that I can be happy here, on my own in the world of time and space.

What are you?
I am not a body; I am spirit. I am free, for I am still as God created me.

What would make you truly happy?
Forgiveness offers me everything I want. Heaven is the decision I must make.

What do you need to decide for Heaven?
To fully realize what brings pain and what brings joy, and then to choose again. The power of decision is my own. No one can fail who seeks to reach the truth.

What do you need to remember to make this choice again?
Let me remember I am one with God. And there is no love but God’s.

Why would the world be anything to you?
The world I see holds nothing that I want. I will not value what is valueless. I loose the world from all I thought it was.

What’s the alternative?
Beyond this world there is a world I want. I want the real world, devoid of judgment.

Where does the real world lead to?
To my Self as Christ, my true Identity. I therefore thank my Father for His gifts to me: eternal Love; eternal joy; eternal peace; eternal happiness.

What will you do in this world of perception?
I am among the ministers of God. I choose to be a teacher of God. I will step back and let the Holy Spirit lead the way. I will give the miracles that I receive, and not place any demands on where their healing effects are bestowed.

What is the key to happiness?
Forgiveness is the key to happiness. And I will perceive forgiveness as it is: a declaration of the unity of the Son of God, which eliminates all cause for any condemnation. I will  therefore trust my brothers, who are one with me.

What does lasting happiness depend on?
Salvation of the world depends on me. I will look past form, however ugly I perceive it to be, and focus instead on the content of Love alone.

Please grant yourself a moment of silence to experience the joy of the essence of these messages. At this point, if you are sure these answers are honestly chosen, you can be pretty sure that the decision making part of your mind has decidedly chosen to follow the Holy Spirit’s path. Practicing this will be helpful each time you realize you have chosen the ego once again, only to find yourself on the road to pain. And although, to recap, “Doubt along the way will come and go and go to come again”, also remember that each time you successfully make this choice, you are saving yourself perhaps thousands of years of misery in ego-reincarnations, that you won’t have to go through anymore. How’s that for motivation? 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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Stubborn presuppositions

Although each New Year’s eve we all formulate an impressive list of good intentions for the year to come, for most of us it takes but a few weeks — or even days — to conclude that it’s sort of tough to keep that up. We want to be loving, joyful, patient, and understanding, but soon we notice that we keep falling back into being judgmental, impatient, angry, fearful, uncertain; you name it. It’s a frustrating experience, that does not really contribute to our self-esteem, to put it mildly. Why is it so hard to keep up the things that we know will bring us more peace in our lives, while we keep slipping back into old habitual patterns that merely lead to more misery in life?

Psychology tells us that beneath the superficial notions of the qualities of our own personality, deep within us we keep hidden a veritable cauldron of negative notions about ourselves. For example, if we feel parents did not provide us with the love we feel we need — and this includes virtually all of us, since no parent was able to be there for us all the time — somewhere deep inside we secretly conclude that the fault is ours; we are evidently not worthy of being loved. In A Course in Miracles, Jesus formulates this inner conviction to the extreme: “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.93.1:1,3).

The metaphysics of A Course in Miracles clearly explain to us the source of these silly inner convictions. They stem from the original ontological instant of the separation (which, holographically speaking, is still here in each instant we prefer the ego), when the Son of God appeared to decide His Father’s Love was not enough; and so he seemed to attempt to separate from Oneness Love, and be god in his own little universe. The guilt over that seeming savage sin, plus the fear of God’s punishment for being so unloving, was so frightfully intense that we had to suppress and project it, in order to remain an individual without terror constantly striking at our hearts. This is why we consciously see all evil outside of us. But psychology also tells us that what is projected merely strengthens its hold on the unconscious part of the mind. Sooner or later it will rear its ugly head in our thought stream. And this is why all new year’s resolutions sooner or later fall prey to these suppressed but very active beliefs about our own unworthiness.

While the metaphysics of A Course in Miracles unmask the frightful beliefs about ourselves that we keep so well hidden (which is one of the main reasons people throw the book at the wall), the truly liberating aspect is that the Course convincingly explains to us that “This need not be” (T-4.IV), because “all these firmly fixed beliefs are based on nothing” (W-pI.93.2:1). The Course’s metaphysics teach me that “I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me” (W-pI.201-220). The only reason we cling to these silly frightful beliefs is that a part of our mind (the ego) is still enamored by the idea of being a body — an autonomous, individual personality that can be a god in its own right in its tiny part of the universe. And although we fear physical death, it’s also a great way of raising the middle finger at God, effectively saying: “See? Perfection is a lie, and so you are, too. My separation from you is real.” And then we reincarnate in a feeble attempt to try it again. And of course we fail once again. And so on and on this karmic cycle seems to go.

Although we constantly decide to want to be a little autonomous separated individual instead of a holographic part of the one glorious — albeit seemingly sleeping — Son of God, the power of decision remains our own (W-pI.152). In the Course, Jesus teaches us that there is really only one decision to make: the choice between the ego (separation, fear) and the Holy Spirit (oneness, Love). As Jesus teaches us: “The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself. […] No one can suffer loss unless it be his own decision. […] Nothing occurs but represents your wish, and nothing is omitted that you choose.” (T-27.VIII.10:1; w-pI.152.1:1;5). In other words, we are what Kenneth Wapnick calls a decision maker, with the power to choose either the ego or the Holy Spirit, from instant to instant. Hence the insistent calls of Jesus to us, such as “Heaven is the decision I must make” (W-pI.138); “I will accept Atonement for myself” (W-pI.139), and “Choose once again if you would take your place among the saviors of the world, or would remain in hell, and hold your brothers there” (T-31.VIII.1:5).

You and I are worthy of the Love of God (since we are that Love), just as all our brothers are. In fact, in the very first section of chapter 1 of the text, Jesus states: “You are a miracle, capable of creating in the likeness of your Creator. Everything else is your own nightmare.” (T-1.I.24). Even in this hallucinatory material dream world, you and I have been given talents at birth that we can employ to bring salvation of the Son of God a little nearer, if we but choose to let the Holy Spirit employ these talents as He thinks best. Deciding to become a willing vehicle for the Holy Spirit as the prime meaning of our lives, is the ‘royal road’ to have all these silly, frightful notions about sin, guilt and unworthiness be undone forever.

The problem is that if you ask anyone about what their talents are, the majority of people do not really have a clue. In the light of the potential threat to the ego’s existence of knowing and lovingly employing your talents, it’s no wonder that the ego makes up a myriad of distractions to prevent our decision maker from choosing again. As long as 99 problems confront our daily lives, we have a fair chance of staying mindless, and thus keeping the dream of dualistic autonomy alive. We will do so until the pain gets too much, and we exclaim that there must be a better way. A Course in Miracles helps us look at the ego for what it truly is; the Course helps us reach that turning point more quickly, with more clarity and conviction.

The Buddhist notion of “Dharma” can be a great aid in facilitating this process of thought reversal. In short, it more or less means that true happiness in this life can be found by ‘optimally employing your own unique talents to make yourself and others happy.’ Sounds good, doesn’t it? Realize, though, that you and I need to be constantly vigilant for which teacher we choose while expressing our talents. You don’t live ‘in Dharma’ by making rational, ego-driven plans that would turn you into the ‘savior of the world’. Rather, you take a step back and let the Holy Spirit lead the way. Only this way will your days become effortless while your intuitive, miracle-inspired actions turn out best for everyone. Letting go (of thinking you know best), and letting come (the Holy Spirit’s intuitive inspiration)!


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 crux of meaningful choice

In A Course in Miracles, Jesus teaches us that although we seem to have to make a thousand choices each day between the myriad of forms in the dualistic dream world, in content each choice boils down to a choice between the ego or God. In content, it is always the choice between fear or Love; between illusion or truth: “It is still up to you to choose to join with truth or with illusion. But remember that to choose one is to let the other go. Which one you choose you will endow with beauty and reality, because the choice depends on which you value more. […] For you can never choose except between God and the ego.” (T-17.III.9:1-2,7).

A major frustration with all students of A Course in Miracles is that although they consciously tell themselves they want to relinquish the ego and verily choose God, day in day out they notice that they almost invariably keep choosing the ego, even though they realize the pain this brings. In short, many feel they are a slave to the ego. But in the Course, Jesus offers us a major psychological eye-opener in this regard: “Under the ego’s dark foundation is the memory of God, and it is of this that you are really afraid. For this memory would instantly restore you to your proper place [as Christ], and it is this place that you have sought to leave. […] You believe that, by removing the dark cloud that obscures it, your love for your Father would impel you to answer His Call and leap into Heaven. […] For still deeper than the ego’s foundation, and much stronger than it will ever be, is your intense and burning love of God, and His for you. This is what you really want to hide.” (T-13.III.2.1-9).

So yes, we do want the Love of God, but at the same time we are also unconsciously afraid of this, since that would mean giving up our precious special individuality, fueled by the not-so-gentle ego whispering that God will severely punish us for our cardinal sin of separation. So, A Course in Miracles teaches us we have a conflicted mind. This conflict is always rooted in doubt about what we are: “There is no conflict that does not entail the simple, single question, ‘What am I?'” (W-pI.139.1:6). However, to Jesus, the answer is plain and clear: “Only refusal to accept yourself could make the question seem to be sincere. […] Uncertainty about what you must be is self-deception on a scale so vast, its magnitude can hardly be conceived. […] It is for this denial that you need Atonement.” (W-pI.139.2:2;3:1;5:2).

So the choice between God or the ego — between Love or fear, between Heaven and hell — only seems difficult because we stubbornly keep wanting to be an illusory separated special individual, instead of accepting our true reality as Christ, the One Son of God. And yet, since time and space are inherently illusory as well, Jesus tells us that this seemingly difficult choice is not a choice at all, once we clearly see what we are choosing between: “Heaven is chosen consciously. The choice cannot be made until alternatives are accurately seen and understood. All that is veiled in shadows must be raised to understanding, to be judged again, this time with Heaven’s help. And all mistakes in judgment that the mind had made before are open to correction, as the truth dismisses them as causeless. Now […] their nothingness is recognized.” (W-pI.138.9:1-4;6).

Jesus is in effect telling us: ‘The only reason you do not choose Heaven as yet, is because you are not really honestly comparing the alternatives and seeing the ego for what it is.’ That’s why we read passages such as: “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. It is not necessary to seek for what is true, but it is necessary to seek for what is false.” (T-16.IV.6:1-2). And in chapter 11: “No one can escape from illusions unless he looks at them, for not looking is the way they are protected. […]  The “dynamics” of the ego will be our lesson for a while, for we must look first at this to look beyond it since you have made it real. […] How else can one dispel illusions except by looking at them directly without protecting them?”  (T-11.V.1:1;1:5;2:2).

But how vigilant are you and I in looking at the ‘dynamics’ of our ego? Are we really looking with Jesus beside us from minute to minute? Hardly. Let’s say I go out for a bicycle ride, with the intention of making each encounter with everyone else a holy instant, and never to leave a brother without a silent blessing. In the first few minutes, I radiate the light of love all around me and I love and bless everyone I meet, if not in form, then at least in content. But after half an hour, I suddenly notice how quickly I forgot to keep that up. Quite rapidly I fell back to merely judging form, and finding something to dislike in almost everyone I meet, however insignificant it seems.

This is why teachers such as Kenneth Wapnick constantly urge students to train their vigilance in looking, looking, looking non-judgmentally at what’s going on in the mind. Jesus gently reminds us that “Each day, each hour and minute, even each second, you are deciding between the crucifixion and the resurrection; between the ego and the Holy Spirit.” (T-14.III.4:1). It is also why I never tire of quoting Jesus’ ultimate vigilance training tip in lesson 156: “”Who walks with me?’ This question should be asked a thousand times a day, till certainty has ended doubting and established peace. Today let doubting cease.” (W-pI.156.8:1-3). This is the only way to become fully aware of the importance of the only choice that we can and need make in life: for the ego or for God.

The ego is and remains one hundred percent condemnation, hate, attack and separation. The only reason you and I still keep Heaven at bay is because, in spite of all the pain the ego brings, there is still some lingering hope that as an individual, can be God in my own world and find some sort of happiness there. Coupled with the fear that the ego had us associate with Truth, the ego seems to have made us perennially mindless. That is, until we choose to look within, and realize there is no sin. The ego’s tale of sin, guilt and fear is all made up. In fact, time, space and individuality are all made up. That’s why Jesus says that the only meaningful choice we must make (between God and the ego) is actually no choice at all: “You make but one [choice]. And when that one is made, you will perceive it was no choice at all. For truth is true, and nothing else is true. There is no opposite to choose instead. There is no contradiction to the truth.” (W-pI.138.4:4-8).

So by honestly and vigilantly looking at what’s going on in the mind, we facilitate our own process of making the only meaningful choice we can make in our lives, as we read in workbook lesson 138: “Who can fail to make a choice between alternatives when only one is seen as valuable; the other seen as a wholly worthless thing, a but imagined source of guilt and pain? Who hesitates to make a choice like this? And shall we hesitate to choose today?” (W-pI.138.10:3-4). Or, as Jesus asks us in the closing paragraph of chapter 23, to which this blog site owes its name: “Who with the Love of God upholding him could find the choice of miracles or murder hard to make?” (T-23.IV.9:8). 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 plan or not to plan

A Course in Miracles is a mind-training curriculum for learning how to attain lasting inner peace. Students notice that during their Course study, they are asked to completely transform one firmly held belief after another: “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” (T-24.in.2:1-2). This seems to apply in particular to the aspect of planning. In chapter 18 of the text, Jesus assures me that “I need do nothing” (T-18.VII), since the purpose of all this doing, doing, doing is merely to keep myself convinced of the reality of the body and the world. Workbook lesson 135 in particular stresses that “The mind engaged in planning for itself is occupied in setting up control of future happenings. It does not think that it will be provided for, unless it makes its own provisions. […] The mind that plans is thus refusing to allow for change. […] A healed mind does not plan.” (W-pI.135.15:1,16:1,11:1).

This principle, however, seems most impractical in this world, if not outright impossible. How am I to make it through the day if I don’t organize my life to some extent? Am I really to give up planning for my groceries, my laundry, my general well-being? Does Jesus say that I should cancel my insurance policies and medical coverage, since a healed mind does not need to plan? Moreover, on a larger temporal scale, should I stop planning for my work career, for my retirement, and for how I will spend my leisure time? This seems to be a recipe for total disaster; more likely to lead to immense anxiety than to the promised lasting inner peace. So what does Jesus actually mean?

As course scholar Kenneth Wapnick often pointed out, Jesus by no means tells us not to make plans. If we read workbook lesson 135 carefully, we can see that Jesus tells us not to make any plans on our own, but rather to consult with him (or the Holy Spirit) first. To continue with the quote from paragraph 11 in lesson 135: “A healed mind does not plan. It carries out the plans that it receives through listening to wisdom that is not its own. It waits until it has been taught what should be done, and then proceeds to do it. It does not depend on itself for anything except its adequacy to fulfill the plans assigned to it. […] A healed mind is relieved of the belief that it must plan [on its own].” (W-pI.135.11:1-12:1).

The bottom line, therefore, is not that we should stop planning, but that we should make plans with the right teacher. As all Course students know, there are only two: we always choose either the ego or the Holy Spirit as our guide. As we read in workbook lesson 156: “Who walks with me?’ This question should be asked a thousand times a day, till certainty has ended doubting and established peace.” (W-pI.156.8:1-2). Each time I decide with the ego as my guide, I am unconsciously asking for failure and misery (which does ‘prove’ the reality of the separation and individuality, but doesn’t bring happiness). It is only when I consult with the Holy Spirit (I like to call it true intuition) first, that things will work out best for all.

Since asking the Holy Spirit means stepping back, in the humble recognition that I do not know my best interests, this is usually not our favorite option, and so we rarely do it. Yet if we think about it, how could we ever plan and decide anything on our own, with absolute certainty of the outcome? “In order to judge anything rightly, one would have to be fully aware of an inconceivably wide range of things, past, present, and to come. One would have to recognize in advance all the effects of his judgments on everyone and everything involved in them in any way. And one would have to be certain there is no distortion in his perception, so that his judgment would be wholly fair to everyone on whom it rests, now and in the future. Who is in a position to do this? Who except in grandiose fantasies would claim this for himself?” (M-10.3:3-7).

We are all familiar with the experience of finding it difficult to choose between a rational option and a more intuitive (or “gut-feeling”) option. In retrospect, the intuitive option usually made the situation turn out best for everyone. And if it didn’t, one might well ask if the advice really came through intuition. After all, the ego loves to disguise itself as the voice of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, one of the most useful daily exercises is learning to discern between ego-advice and the counsel of the Holy Spirit. If there is the slightest strain, pressure, discomfort or anxiety involved in the decision, you can be pretty sure that the ego is in the driving seat. Luckily, you can always choose again.

A frequently occurring pitfall while planning with the Holy Spirit is that we think we ask from the place of true intuition, but we do this to solve something specific in the world. So, for example, we might ask Jesus which parking garage we ought to choose for our visit to a nearby city. The lesson in asking for specifics, though, is to learn to generalize such questions, because we slowly learn that forms (and therefore specifics) do not matter. In chapter 10 we read that “The Holy Spirit will answer every specific problem as long as you believe that problems are specific. His answer is both many and one, as long as you believe that the one is many.” In the Song of Prayer, Jesus adds: “[…] Forget the things you think you need. […] In prayer, you overlook your specific needs as you see them, and let them go into God’s Hands. There they become your gifts to Him, for they tell Him that you would have no gods before Him.” (S-1.I.4).

Despite this nondualistic truth, as with everything in the illusory dualistic world of time and space, the key thing in making plans is to remain a normal person. So you don’t cancel your medical insurance, and you do take care of regular income and retirement deposits. Remember, “Even the most advanced therapist has some earthly needs while he is here.” (P.3.III.3). The key, again, is to learn to ask yourself with which guide you make decisions: the ego, or the Holy Spirit? For those who still find this difficult (which includes almost all of us), it can be useful to revisit section 1 of chapter 30 (“Rules for Decision”) once and a while: “If I make no decisions by myself, this is the day that will be given me.” (T-30.I.4:2). And should you feel upset, a great instant response is: “Perhaps there is another way to look at this. What can I lose by asking?” (T-30.I.12:3). Happy asking!


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.

Different kinds of love

We are all brought up with the notion that there are many different kinds of love. We are all convinced, for example, that the love between a marital couple is clearly different from the love between friends; the love of parents for their children differs from the love we feel for, let’s say, the planet. And the love we might feel for Jesus or God is of course of an altogether entirely different order. At least that is how we were conditioned to think.

However, in A Course in Miracles, workbook lesson 127 bluntly states that “There is no love but God’s”. In this lesson, Jesus proceeds to explain: “Love is one. It has no separate parts and no degrees, no kinds nor levels, no divergencies and no distinctions. It is like itself, unchanged throughout. It never alters with a person or a circumstance. It is the Heart of God, and also of His Son.” (W-pI.1:3-7). That’s a rather uncompromising viewpoint on the definition of love. How could this be possible in this world, from a practical viewpoint? Should I say to my wife that I love her just like I love everyone in the world?

The key thing to remember here is that Jesus in the paragraph above defines the content of love from a nondualistic viewpoint, whereas the opening paragraph refers, rather, to the different forms that we experience love in, given the dualistic world that we are convinced is our daily reality. Scholar Kenneth Wapnick used this example to explain the difference between special love, which is inherent here in the dualistic dream, and the Oneness love that you and I both have and are, as our true reality in the nondualistic realm of Heaven, which we actually never left, but have merely ‘forgotten’ for now.

In the same lesson, Jesus also explains why we, as the seemingly separated Son of God, prefer to perceive special love instead of the Oneness Love of God. By seeing a hierarchy in forms of love (which is the negation of the first miracle principle that there is no order of difficulties in miracles, T-1.I.1:1), you and I can now point to where there is absence of love. This, of course, is always seen in some person or situation outside of us. Now we can put on our ‘face of innocence’ and hold others responsible for everything that is not lovable in the world, even justifying our own incidental attacks: “The face of innocence the concept of the self so proudly wears can tolerate attack in self-defense, for is it not a well-known fact the world deals harshly with defenseless innocence?” (T-31.V.4:1).

In A course in Miracles, Jesus teaches his students to reconsider their notion of the volatility of love, and train their minds to become consistently and persistently miracle-minded, that is, choosing to perceive only love and express only love. That is, the unchangeable content of love. Jesus explains this principle as follows: “You cannot love parts of reality and understand what love means. If you would love unlike God, Who knows no special love, how can you understand it? To believe that special relationships, with special love, can offer you salvation is the belief that separation [ultimately from God] is salvation. […] How can you decide that special aspects of the Sonship can give you more than others?” (T-15.V.3:1-5)

Although Jesus’ plea to consistently focus on the content of love is clear, this does not mean that you and I will not express that love in different forms in our daily lives. For example, it’s not very helpful to tell your spouse that you love him or her just as much as any other, since ‘all love is one’. Especially with spouses who are not familiar with the two different teaching levels of A Course in Miracles, this would obviously not deepen the relationship to any significant extent, to say the very least. Nor would it be very practical to try to express the same form of love to everyone you meet during the say, simply because you have been told by Jesus that love is one, and so you ought to love everyone as you love yourself, that is, as the Son of God loves God.

Jesus’ lesson, therefore, is to practice on both levels at the same time. On the nondualistic level I, you practice ‘seeing’ the same light of God’s Love in everyone. The way to do this is called forgiveness, or the relinquishment of judgment, and the choice to switch teachers, as Jesus explains: “When you unite with me you are uniting without the ego, because I have renounced the ego in myself and therefore cannot unite with yours. Our union is therefore the way to renounce the ego in you.” (T-8.V.4:1-2). At the same time, in the dualistic world of level II, you express that love in the form which is most suited to the particular seemingly separated part of the Sonship that you are presented with from day to day in the classroom of the Holy Spirit.

And so you express the special love that you feel for your special life partner in a decidedly different way than the special love that you feel for some of your best friends, or sports team mates, or family members, you name it. It doesn’t matter, for the content of the oneness of Love will also be in the forefront of your mind. So, while you might honestly and passionately exclaim to your spouse that he or she is the greatest treasure in your life (which is a form of love), you can still, without any dishonesty whatsoever, silently bless him or her (and everyone you meet) for having and being the content of the Love of God. In the words of workbook lesson 127: “I bless you, brother, with the Love of God, which I would share with you. For I would learn the joyous lesson that there is no love but God’s and yours and mine and everyone’s.” (W-pI.127.12:3-5). 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 lighten the weight of death

Each time we are confronted with the death of a loved one, be it through illness, an accident, suicide, or simply old age, we are sharply reminded of the impermanence of all life. What’s more, we are simultaneously reminded that our own life is finite, which sometimes leads to a rethinking about what’s the use of all we do (though also what’s the use of all our worrying). On a spiritual level, each death we perceive is an unconscious affirmation (by the ego) that God has indeed not forgotten about our cardinal sin of separation from Him (which each death ‘proves’ was actually accomplished) and that in due time He will snatch back the life we stole from Him, though only after much suffering on our part.

No matter how much we distract the mind by busying ourselves with family, career, hobbies, and other personal ‘goals’, this is a basic fear that lurks in all of us, no matter how deep is it is repressed. How refreshing, then, to read a completely different view on the whole concept of death in A Course in Miracles! This is because of the unique metaphysical foundation of strict nonduality that its entire thought system rests on. It’s a unique view on what is reality and what is illusory. To attain the inner peace that is A Course in Miracles‘ goal, a basic understanding of the distinction between nonduality and duality is required, so let’s recap. I know I do this a lot in my blog posts, but since repetition is the mother of skill, another summary, in this case from the perspective of life and death, may be helpful.

Whenever we’re confronted with the passing of a loved one, we might realize that we see that person as a body; and consequently, we see ourselves as a body as well. A Course in Miracles, however, teaches us that you and I are not a body; we are pure spirit — but not in the sense of a ‘light’ or a ‘soul’ that’s ‘trapped’ in a specific body. Spirit is completely outside time, space, and perception. While in the world we think we live in everything is characterized by differences and change, in the world of spirit everything is one. So when we read in A Course in Miracles that you and I are pure spirit (cf. W-pI.97), one spirit is not different from another spirit — you and I are the very same spirit. Only in the world of time and space does this spirit seem to manifest itself as a myriad of separated bodies.

Scholar Kenneth Wapnick often used the very helpful distinction of a Level I and Level II view of reality. Level I equals nonduality, in which God is the only reality, and you and I and all life combined are but the unified extension of God’s changeless Love. Our linearly programmed brains cannot really grasp this, but according to A Course in Miracles you and I are not made of flesh and blood and bone (W-pI.107.8:2). You and I are one changeless spirit, eternally united with God (Who equals Love) in a ‘oneness joined as one’ (T-25.I.7:1).  This is Level I, the only true reality. This is certainly not our daily experience. Level II comprises the totality of time and space: the universe, the world, our lives, in short, what we generally think of as reality. A Course in Miracles calls this ‘the waking dream’ and states that this is completely illusory. The Son of God has seemingly fallen asleep in a dream of time and space, hoping to retain his imagined autonomy and hide from God, Who must be very angry about what His Son did to Him.

This is why Jesus says in chapter 24 of the text: “You may be surprised to hear how very different is reality from what you see. You do not realize the magnitude of that one error [of seriously considering separation from God]. It was so vast and so completely incredible that from it a world of total unreality had to emerge.” (T-24.I.5:1-3). In this ‘waking dream’ of time and space, we have forgotten what our true reality is. But that does not mean it is gone or lost. “Can you imagine what a state of mind without illusion is? How would it feel? Try to remember when there was a time — perhaps a minute, may be even less — when nothing came to interrupt your peace; when you were certain you were loved and safe. Then try to picture what it would be like to have that moment be extended to the end of time and to eternity. Then let the sense of quiet that you felt be multiplied a hundred times, and then be multiplied another hundred more. And now you have a hint, not more than just the faintest intimation of the state your mind will rest in when the truth has come.” (W-pI.107.2:1-3:1).

So when someone passes away, it’s the seeming end of what never had any reality anyway. It’s one fragment within the dream of the sleeping Son of God, on its journey to fragmenting yet once again. Although A Course in Miracles does not take a definite stand on the issue of reincarnation (cf. M-24), since that would give the concept of time a reality it simply does not have, both the text and workbook contain several allusions to us repeatedly coming back in different bodies, each with the same wrong-minded goal of separation from oneness, and with the same right-minded goal of learning the forgiveness lessons of the Holy Spirit (cf. T-6, the lessons of love). Also, in one of Gary Renard’s books, he was treated by Arten and Pursah on a rollercoaster experience of all the bodies he had inhabited on his journey home. So you and I can be reasonably sure that — at least from the perspective of Level II — we’re been here before many times. As long as we have not yet fully accepted the Atonement (“see the face of Christ in all your brothers and remember God”, M-5.2:1), you and I will be here for several lifetimes to come, until we have learned the final lesson, and only peace remains.

That places the concepts of birth and death in an entirely different perspective. You need never be afraid of death again! This is not to say, though, that you ought not to have any feelings when confronted with death. A Course in Miracles calls upon its students to remain normal persons; so as a loved one passes, you mourn just like anyone would do, and you certainly don’t tell everyone at the funeral that they should cheer up because it’s all illusory anyway. The only difference is that your mind is now capable of viewing it all from ‘above the battleground’ (cf. T-23.IV.5:1-7), and you realize you are in a classroom in which the Holy Spirit offers you yet another opportunity for forgiving a remaining dark spot in the mind. The dark spot is a decision to want to die, since this would ‘prove’ once again that the separation actually happened, and we can definitely mock God. After the mourning, we can now gently smile at such silliness. As Jesus says in chapter 19, in a quote that also appeared in the Bhagavad Gita three thousand years earlier: “How can the immortal die?” (T-19.II.3:6).


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. 2018 Course workshop at www.youtube.com.

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

There are no politicians!

Most of us have a decided opinion about the president of the United States, the president of the Russian Federation, or any other prolific politician that comes to mind. Politicians are generally seen as being unreliable, opportunistic, and underhanded, if not outright evil. And yet we read in A Course in Miracles that our anger, in this case toward them, is never justified and that attack has no foundation (T-30.VI.1:1-2). The reason, so Jesus tells us, is that ultimately there is no world outside of us (W-pI.132.6:2), and so there are no politicians out there to get mad at. To many first-time readers of the Course, this seems like a foolhardy denial of what we clearly perceive. So what gives?

A Course in Miracles cannot be understood without being aware of a clear distinction between two levels of reality, which are mutually exclusive. The first level, called Level I by Course scholar Kenneth Wapnick, is strict nonduality, or “not-two”. In nonduality, there is no time, no space, no observer, no consciousness, no existence. There is only God, Who in A Course in miracles is synonymous with unconditional Love. And this Love merely is, unchallenged and unchangeable. Although Jesus explains to us that this Love constantly extends itself in eternity, we should not try to picture this in terms of a three-dimensional space, as nonduality has no dimensions.

On Level I, you and I and all the life we perceive around us is no more (but also no less) than the extension of that Love, which in the Course is named the Son of God (capital S). This completely redefines two thousand years of Biblical conditioning that the Son of God is only one very special body, called Jesus. From the perspective of Level I, you and I are not bodies, but the same abstract extension of the Love of God. As we read in chapter 18 of the text: “Can you who see yourself within a body know yourself as an idea? Everything you recognize you identify with externals, something outside itself. You cannot even think of God without a body or in some form you think you recognize (T-18.VIII.1:5-7).

What we ‘think we recognize’ is the second level of reality, called Level II by Kenneth Wapnick. This is the ‘reality’ of form. It includes everything we perceive in the time and space around us; in short, everything we call our daily reality. Except that Jesus very firmly stresses that what we see as reality, is not reality at all — it’s more like a dream. When we wake up in the morning, we think we wake up to reality, but Jesus assures us we merely wake up to another form of dreaming: “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. They are your protest against reality, and your fixed and insane idea that you can change it.” (T-18.II.5:12-14).

The difficult thing about these two levels is that our brains, with which we think we can reason and understand reality, were made to be limited to the dream world in time and space (that is, Level II). So anything outside time and space, anything that’s not observable and not related to any concept we know, is by definition outside the realm of comprehension of the brain. Therefore, any time we talk about Level I we may get all excited, but in the meantime we are still convinced that Level II is the reality that we work and live in. We do not really feel that this abstract Level I is something we might actually experience.

Yet in A Course in Miracles, we are taught that we, as the collective Son of God (the extension of Love) ‘made up’ this Level II in order to experience a world wherein we could be God: “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.” (T-18.II.5:1). So the world you and I experience ourselves in was not thrust upon us. We “made it as we would have it be”, as the collective sleeping Son of God, who, from the perspective of Level I, is still an idea, the extension of the Love of God, a state which we have all but forgotten, but which is still our ultimate reality.

However, unlike most other (nondualistic) spiritualities, A Course in Miracles does not ask us to deny or dismiss the perceptual dream world of Level II. This would be “a particularly unworthy form of denial” (T.2.IV.3:11). Instead, we are invited to regard our dream in time and space, however illusory though it be, as a useful classroom, which is filled to the rim with opportunities to train the decision making part of the mind. In each person or situation that seems to confront me, I am offered the opportunity of choosing (a) condemnation, rooting my experience still further in the dream, or (b) forgiveness, which readies my mind to eventually awaken from this illusory dream (nightmare, really).

Even though on Level II, God seems to be completely absent (“This world was made as a place where God could enter not”, W-pII.3.2:1,4), His gifts of Love, peace and joy are yet within our mind’s reach, as we read in workbook lesson 105: “God’s peace and joy are yours. Today we will accept them, knowing they belong to us.” (W-pI.105). On almost every page of A Course in Miracles, we are taught that the experience of heaven or hell is a matter of (a choice in) the mind. It does not depend on anything outside of us. You and I can condemn or we can choose to forgive; the choice is completely up to us.

All these vile politicians are merely another aspect in the dream the Son of God has chosen to try to usurp the role of God as Creator, which was the ontological condemnation. In order to escape the imagined wrath of God for this ‘cardinal sin’, we point at all the seemingly separated fragments outside of us, saying in effect to God: “Don’t be angry with me — I’m innocent. All evil is done by them (which includes more or less everything we perceive outside of us). Obviously, politicians are a particularly convenient aspect in the illusory dream to blame and condemn. However, since all life still shares the same guilty ego, each time we point a finger at someone or something, we might realize that’s a projection to avoid having to face our own suppressed guilt about the separation. And that’s why in the Level II dream world of time and space, we all walk ‘uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear” (T-31.VIII.7:1). We just constantly distract our minds to avoid these feelings, by continually pointing at “evil” outside of us.

Lesson 105 and 106 offer us a particularly beautiful combination of mind training exercises to undo all this silliness that we take so seriously. In order to experience the peace and joy of God we want so much, we must share it with everyone we meet or even think of. Let’s use politicians for this. Lesson 105 invites us to: “Think of your ‘enemies’ a little while, and tell each one, as he occurs to you: My brother, peace and joy I offer you, that I may have God’s peace and joy as mine.” […] Now you are ready to accept the gift of peace and joy that God has given you. […] Now you can say, ‘God’s peace and joy are mine’, for you have given what you would receive.” (W-pI.105.7:1-6).

If you find such a forgiveness exercise extremely difficult, try lesson 106, “I will be still and listen to the truth”, which is an invitation to lay aside the ego’s shrieking voice. Close your eyes and picture all the politicians that you despise, one by one. Try to visualize white light within each of them; the same white light that we all share as the one Son of God. If you then try to focus on stillness, the truth of that image (which is content, not form) will make itself known to you, usually in the form of a warm peaceful feeling within your body. You can try it with anyone you seem to have an upset with. So choose once again today the gentle road of miracles (forgiveness) instead of murder (condemnation), and experience how much more peaceful your days become.


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.

Articulate your choice for darkness

One of the more striking aspects of the spiritual thought system of A Course in Miracles is that it would have us explicitly look at the darkness in the mind, in order to be able to let it go. This is in stark contrast to many contemporary spiritual and new age systems, which would have us focus solely on the love in the mind. In this sense, A Course in Miracles offers a much more tightly integrated combination of psychology and spirituality. In many places, Jesus stresses the importance of this looking, for example in Chapter 13: “You may wonder why it is so crucial that you look upon your hatred and realize its full extent. You may also think that it would be easy enough for the Holy Spirit to show it to you, and to dispel it without the need for you to raise it to awareness yourself.” (T-13.III.1-2).

This would be the easy fix we all want. The general idea is something like: “Please Jesus, take all this rotten darkness from my mind so that I can be at peace in the Love of God.” The trick, however, is that we do not want that ‘peace in the Love of God’ as the One Son of God: we want it as an individual. However, since oneness knows not of individuality, this is impossible. That’s why Jesus ends that same paragraph in chapter 13 with the dazzling statement: “You are not really afraid of crucifixion [i.e., pain, darkness]. Your real terror is of redemption [i.e., Oneness Love, light]”. So to dispel the dark conflicts in the mind forever, we must first realize just how miserable our ‘autonomous individuality’ (which is the embodiment of separation) really makes us. If you and I solely focus on the love and light that we cherish so much as a separated individual, the separated ego remains in the driving seat, blissfully steering our life further into nowhere-land. Your autonomy remains, but it will not lead to lasting inner peace.

In Chapter 11 of the text of A Course in Miracles, after having explained the contrast between God and the ego, that is, between oneness and separation, light and shadow, truth and illusion, Jesus guides us: “No one can escape from illusions unless he looks at them, for not looking is the way they are protected.” (T-11.V.1:1). That’s the bottom line. Think about that for a while. All the distractions in our lives, be it about careers, hobbies, money, partner relationships, you name it, are ego ploys to avoid having to look at the dark illusion of separation. Jesus proceeds: “We are ready to look more closely at the ego’s thought system because together we have the lamp that will dispel it, and since you realize you do not want it [after ten chapters of text], you must be ready. Let us be very calm in doing this, for we are merely looking honestly for truth. The dynamics of the ego will be our lesson for a while, for we must look first at this to see beyond it, since you have made it real.” (T-11.V.1:2-5; my italics).

This practice of looking is of course one of the main thrusts of the 365 lessons of the workbook of A Course in Miracles. For example, lesson 93, an oft-quoted lesson, titled “Light and joy and peace abide in me”, starts off with the shocking message that “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). That’s pretty graphic language! The reason we believe this is our unconscious guilt about the ontological separation from God, which is the ‘tiny, mad idea’ that we still take seriously, no matter how deeply we have buried that. That’s why Jesus, in the same lesson, continues to say that “These are beliefs so firmly fixed that it is difficult to help you see that they are based on nothing. […] These thoughts are not according to God’s Will. […] This is enough to prove that they are wrong, but you do not perceive that this is so.” ( W-pI.93.2:1;3:2-4).

So that is why “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.” (T-24.In.2:1). Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised to feel not just a twinge of resistance, but a huge cauldron of resistance. After all, this Course undermines the very image of our individual self we cherish so much! That’s why Jesus continually pleads with us to honestly look at how miserable our separated autonomy makes us, and to try to follow up on his workbook instructions, to actually feel the peace we could experience instead. So in lesson 98, we read: “Here [i.e., by accepting your part in God’s plan for salvation] is an offer guaranteeing you your full release from pain of every kind, and joy the world does not contain” (W-pI.98.6:1).

As Course scholar Kenneth Wapnick often pointed out in his workshops and his books, our ego immediately conjures up all sorts of reservations: “That would mean I would have to give up everything that’s unique and special about me. But who would I be without this? Wouldn’t that lead to total nothingness? It just doesn’t feel enticing.” And before you know it, you unconsciously conclude: “Nah, I don’t believe it. I am not willing to let go of my unique personality. Sure, along with that come my judgments, my grievances, my addictions, but hey, I think I’d still be better off with these than joining Jesus on this so-called road to oneness, which I cannot really picture anyway.” Or perhaps you say to yourself that you will want oneness in due time, but not just as yet.

Ken’s point (and Jesus’ as well) is that it is important to explicitly articulate this resistance; this obvious preference for darkness. Why? In his “Journey through the workbook”, he explains: “If you hear yourself say these words [i.e., your resistance to Jesus’ message], and understand the fear [of redemption, of oneness] that caused them, there will be no guilt, which thrives on being hidden. [Remember, illusions are protected by not looking at them]. Guilt prevents awareness through repression, and then protects itself through projection, which is when you inflict suffering on another or yourself. […] Again, you need, in all honestly, let yourself be free enough to say to him [Jesus]: ‘I do not believe you.’ If you can speak thus, there will be no guilt.” (Journey through the workbook, vol. 3. p.48; brackets mine).

As good students of A Course in Miracles, what we usually tend to do if we catch ourselves having forgotten the lesson for the day for a long while, is feeling a twinge of guilt, then very quickly repress that, and blame something or someone else for our lack of diligence. And though we subsequently vow to ourselves to try harder, the cause of the resistance, guilt and fear, have not been brought to the surface. We will then remain in this vicious circle of allowing the ego in the driver’s seat, still guiding us to nowhere. So why not be honest to yourself, and say, explicitly, without guilt or fear: “All nice and well, these workbook lessons from Jesus, but my ego really doesn’t want this and therefore doesn’t believe it. Of course not, for this Course ultimately heralds the end of the ego, and since I’m so thoroughly identified with my individual personality, this must engender fear. I will allow myself some slack, and try to really experience the inner peace that the diligent practice of the workbook leads to.”

Now we can better understand why Jesus introduces his workbook by stating: “Remember only this: you need not believe the ideas [lessons, exercises], you need not accept them, and you need not even welcome them. Some of them you may actively resist. None of this will matter, or decrease their efficacy. […] You are merely asked to apply the ideas as you are directed to do. You are not asked to judge them at all. You are asked only to use them. It is their use that will give them meaning to you, and will show you that they are true.” (W-pI.In.8-9). This is also why Jesus closes the workbook with the famous lines: “This course is a beginning, not an end. Your Friend [the Holy Spirit, the Voice for Oneness Love] goes with you. You are not alone.” (W-Ep.1:1-3). So please practice hearing yourself articulate your resistance. It’s an effective way to undo the guilt about the tiny, mad idea that never happened anyway.

 


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.

How do we choose to see ourselves?

One of the more surprising aspects of Jesus’ message in A Course in Miracles is that beneath the surface of our everyday lives, we see ourselves quite differently from what we usually think. Generally, we consider ourselves to be well-meaning, kind, loving, and helpful people. However, in workbook lesson 93, Jesus has a surprise in store for us: “You think you are the home of evil, darkness and sin. You think that if anyone could see the truth about you he would be repelled, recoiling from you as if from a poisonous snake. 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) This is of course not what we consciously think about ourselves… but deep down in the iceberg of the mind, this notion is “firmly fixed” (W-pI.93.2:1).

For Jesus (and the Holy Spirit) to be able to help us on our spiritual path of accepting the Atonement, this “firmly fixed belief” must be looked at and re-evaluated. If we are to be miracle-minded, that is, intrinsically willing to perceive only love and to express only love, we must be willing to correct this faulty perception of ourselves. Until then, our awareness of miracles will be impeded to a certain degree by the subtle viciousness of the ego, and we subsequently keep ourselves in darkness. As of workbook lesson 91, called “Miracles are seen in light”, Jesus explicitly addresses this fixed belief about ourselves, and helps to ready the mind for a true change in this regard. “While you remain in darkness, the miracle remains unseen. Thus you are convinced it is not there. […] The light is useless to you then, even though it is there. You cannot use it because its presence is unknown to you. And the seeming reality of the darkness makes the idea of light meaningless.” (W-pI.91.2:2-9).

To Jesus, any situation we find ourselves in is always very simple (at least in content, although the form may be quite confusing indeed). The way we choose to see ourselves equals the choice for the mind teacher we choose to listen to, and the options are but two: either the ego’s seductive voice of individuality, or the Holy Spirit’s Voice for the Oneness Love of God (meaning “not-two”, and therefore the end of individuality, which the ego dreads). To Jesus, then, this choice comes down to an identification with either weakness or with strength, respectively: “You always choose between your weakness and the strength of Christ in you. And what you choose is what you think is real. Simply by never using weakness to direct your actions, you have given it no power. And the light of Christ in you is given charge of everything you do. For you have brought your weakness unto Him, and He has given you His strength instead.” (T-31.VIII.2:3-7).

Put this way, it seems to be very simple indeed. Just choose to identify with the strength of Christ instead of the ego, and the rest of our days will be spent in the blissful perception of the real world, cleansed of all perceptions of darkness, both within you and without you, to paraphrase George Harrison. Alas; if it were that simple, you and I and everyone around us would already have done so. Jesus realizes this well, of course, and in workbook lesson 91 he highlights both the fact that though the principle is simple, the process of accepting its consequences is far from easy: “This [leaving the weakness behind of identifying with the ego] is accomplished very simply, as you instruct yourself that you are not a body. […] You can escape [your identification with] the body if you choose. You can experience the strength in you” (W-pI.91.5:2-6). That is the simple part.

Now the hard part, where Jesus would have us ask ourselves: “Miracles are seen in light. The body’s eyes do not perceive the light. But I am not a body. What am I?” (W-pI.91.6:2-5). This, of course, is the bottom line of almost all spiritual schools of thought. Though it may be hard to swallow if you chew on it for a while, as long as we stubbornly keep believing that we are an autonomous individual body, convinced that we know what’s best for us, we are really telling Jesus and the Holy Spirit to get lost; we are refusing our mind to let both the perception and expression of miracles flow through us; in fact, we are telling God that we’d rather be in the world where He can enter not (“The world was meant to be a place where God could enter not”, W-pII.3.2:1,4). And, as Jesus reminds us: “Faith goes to what you want, and you instruct your mind accordingly.” (W-pI.91.5:3). We want to be autonomous, answering the question of “What am I?” with “A body!”

Next, Jesus tells us that our own answer to the question “What am I?” has been a tragic mistake (for some 14 billion years now) that has not made us happy at all, if we consider it honestly. “What you think you are is a belief to be undone. But what you really are must be revealed to you. […] The truth of what you are calls on the strength [of Christ] in you to bring to your awareness what the mistake conceals. If you are not a body, what are you?” Again, to the ego, this question is terror because it points to its disappearance. The ego is therefore quick to tell the Son that merely asking this question will mean a certain death by the (justified) punishment by God. As Jesus explains: “You think you would be helpless in God’s Presence, and you would save yourself from His Love because you think it would crush you into nothingness. You are afraid it would sweep you away from yourself and make you little… […] You think you have made a world God would destroy, and by loving Him, which you do, you would throw this world away, which you would.” (T-13.III.4:1-3).

Given our complete and utter identification with a physical body, this perceived fear of the Love of God (meaning the end of individuality) is quite understandable. Elsewhere in the text Jesus comforts us that, yes, we will choose to return to the Love of God, but this will happen as a slow process with which our mind’s acceptance can keep pace: “Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality. Time is kind, and if you use it on behalf of reality, it will keep gentle pace with you in your transition. […] You will first dream of peace, and then awaken to it. Your first exchange of what you made for what you want is the exchange of nightmares for the happy dreams of love.” (T-16.VI.8:1-2; T-13.VII.9:1-2).

First, though, we need to actually experience the effects of choosing to let the Holy Spirit’s intuitive voice of Love to guide our thoughts and actions: “You need to be aware of what the Holy Spirit uses to replace the image of a body in your mind. You need to feel something to put your faith in, as you lift it from the body. You need a real experience of something else, something more solid and more sure; more worthy of your faith, and really there.” (W-pI.91.7:2-4). The answer, as always in A Course in Miracles, is forgiveness, that is, the complete relinquishment of judgment (condemnation, really) of both our brothers and ourselves. But to master that form of true forgiveness, we need the program of structured exercises that the workbook offers. Only by actually doing the exercises in the workbook can we experience the vision of Christ that we need, to ultimately attain the real world.

“it is important to remember that miracles and vision necessarily go together. This needs repeating, and frequent repeating“.  (W-pI.91.1:1-2; my italics). There are no shortcuts. You and I cannot say on some rainy afternoon: “Okay, that’s decided then. From now on I will only choose the Holy Spirit. This guarantees my happiness for the rest of my days.” Jesus is not joking when he asks us to pose the following question to ourselves: “‘Who walks with me?’ – This question should be asked a thousand times a day, till certainty has ended doubting and established peace.” (W-pI.156.8:1-2). Remember, enlightenment requires vigilance for the Kingdom of God. ‘Doing the workbook’ must include our following up on the practice periods, including the meditative times of silence in which the Holy Spirit’s Voice is given room to be heard. So after telling yourself, as in lesson 91: “I am not helpless, but all powerful. I am not weak, but strong. I cannot see in darkness, but in light.”, do spend time in silence to let the truth of this become your inner experience, if only for a moment. It will be enough. You will realize the one answer to the question “What am I?”, and know that it is only a matter of time before this truth will become your actual experience, and time does not really exist. Learn to use time constructively, that is, to render the need for more time unnecessary, through continued forgiveness of yourself, your brother, and the world.


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.

Seeing the inner Light of Heaven

Course author and speaker Gary Renard receives clarification about the nature and state of this dream world, the path of the Atonement, and how to become increasingly miracle-minded, through a remarkable manifestation of the Holy Spirit called Arten and Pursah. Many people familiar with A Course in Miracles have read Gary’s books about them, so I’m not going to elaborate on details here. What I find particularly fascinating is that they provided Gary with a rendition of the Gospel of Thomas, containing the sayings of Jesus that Didymus Judas Thomas recorded back then directly from Jesus. So these sayings have not been altered by the early church fathers of Christianity. Although each saying would merit a blog in its own right, let’s zoom in on the final one, wherein Jesus says: “The disciples said to him, “When will the Kingdom come?” He said, “It will not come by watching for it. It will not be said, ‘Behold here,’ or ‘Behold there.’ Rather, the Kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and people do not see it.” (PgoTh, 113).

First of all, the ‘Kingdom of the Father’ is a symbol for that state of life where there is no more fear, no more war, no more lack of anything whatsoever; in short, it’s more or less the state of the paradise of the garden of Eden before the cardinal sin. Or, if you’re more into metaphysics, it’s the state wherein the dream of duality has ended and the one Son of God has reawakened to his natural nondualistic state at Home in the Heart of God, experiencing and being the inner Light of Heaven, content with merely doing God’s Will of extending Love forever and ever. In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says that this is not something that will happen by waiting for it in the future. It is not a place outside of us that we can point at. Rather, this perfect state of life (state of mind, really) is here and now, and it is everywhere; we just don’t see it. How could this be, and, assuming this is true, why do we not see it?

Rather than just stimulating students to focus solely on the love and light that’s within them, A Course in Miracles explains — in great depth — just what this inner Light of Heaven (“the Kingdom of the Father”) is, and why you and I do not see it, or, more precisely, do not want to see it. As long as you and I believe we are a body, born in time and space, with the inevitable outcome of physical death which will be the end of the brief candle we call our life, we will not experience this inner Light of Heaven that we all share; we will not see the Kingdom of the Father. As Jesus explains in his Course, all of us are one spirit, seemingly asleep in a dream of fragmentation in time and space. We dream we are an autonomous body, separate from our Creator. The guilt we feel about this ‘act of separation’ (which, again, never really happened, although we believe it did), has led us to be bitterly afraid of the Light of God, and to seek for absolution and salvation through a life of penance and sacrifice, to prove our worthiness. Within this dream, the concept of ‘Jesus’ has shifted from the Voice for unconditional Love, to an external deity who might grant our souls access to Heaven if we promise to be good for the rest of our lives.

We should try to regard Jesus not as some external savior who will come to absolve and rescue all the souls who still desperately seek for salvation. Rather, he simply remains a symbol of the Love of God, the inner Light of Heaven that is the essence of all living things. In Thomas’ Gospel saying 91, the disciples asked Jesus: “Tell us who you are so that we may believe in you.” Jesus responded: “You examine the face of Heaven and earth, but you have not come to know the one who is in your presence, and you do not know how to examine the present moment.” (PgoTh, 91). In our contemporary time, Jesus might have stated it thus: “You can study spirituality as much as you like, but you still condemn everyone around you, consciously or not. You still do not really focus on the Light of Heaven that shines in everyone. And you can only behold this light now, by cleansing your mind of all the condemnation that you constantly choose, and accepting instead the now as the only time there is.”

Jesus is the symbol of what you and I and all of us are, a state we’ll experience once we wake up from the dream. As he assures us in the very first chapter of A Course in Miracles: “Equals should not be in awe of one another because awe implies inequality. It is therefore an inappropriate reaction to me. […] 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. “No man cometh unto the Father but by me” does not mean that I am in any way separate or different from you except in time, and time does not really exist.” (T-1.II.3:5-4:1). So in the end you and I and all of us will return to the eternal light of nonduality, and we will understand the inherent equality of Jesus and ourselves, since in nonduality everything is one.

Jesus is attempting to have us realize that a focus on ‘improving’ anything external in the world is not the road to salvation. It’s fine to spend your days on raising a happy family, on contributing to better healthcare, or on transforming the way we produce and use energy resources, but this in itself does not lead to the lasting experience of ‘the Kingdom of the Father’. Jesus would have us see that we will not find salvation in the world, because there is no world: “Give up the world! But not to sacrifice. You never wanted it. What happiness have you sought here that did not bring you pain? What moment of content has not been bought at fearful price in coins of suffering? […] If you choose a thing that will not last forever, what you chose is valueless. A temporary value is without all value. Time can never take away a value that is real. What fades and dies was never there, and makes no offering to him who chooses it.” (T-30.V.9:4-8; W-pI.133.6:1-4).

A Course in Miracles is a curriculum in mind training. It’s never the world that is the problem; it’s the belief that there is a world that can give us some form of salvation that’s the problem. The solution, then, lies in a change of mind about the purpose of the world, and therefore about the purpose of your life. This entails a change of mind from wrong-mindedness (“salvation lies outside of me”) to right-mindedness (“my salvation comes from me”). A Course in Miracles shows us that forgiveness is the vehicle to achieve this change of mind. A healed mind, cleansed of all condemnation, ushers in the real world, which heralds the near end of duality. In the Kingdom of the Father, the many become one again. We practice that state of consciousness here by joining — in the mind — with our fellow brothers: “If you would know you are saved, never doubt a brother. Do not question him and do not confound him, for your faith in him is your faith in yourself. If you would know God and His Answer, believe in me whose faith in you cannot be shaken. Can you ask of the Holy Spirit truly, and doubt your brother? Believe his words are true because of the truth that is in him. You will unite with the truth in him, and his words will be true. As you hear him you will hear me. Listening to truth is the only way you can hear it now, and finally know it” (T-9.II.4).

So when Jesus said that “the Kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and people do not see it”, he meant that we do not see it because we choose not to see our brothers as they really are: the One Son of God, as are we.  Only by truly forgiving ourselves for each deliberate choice to keep oneness at bay, do we allow the Holy Spirit to gently undo all this silly separation stuff in the mind. This is the mind training that Jesus would have us practice day in, day out. As you progress on that journey-without-distance, you notice that your days become increasingly more peaceful. You are on your way to the real world. You are on your way to finally seeing the Kingdom of the Father spread out here and now, for you put to the forefront of your mind the inner Light of Heaven that shines in everyone, and let the mad rumblings of the world recede ever further to the background of your mind. You still live an active life here, contributing to ‘a better world’, but in each action the miracles you offer in extending the inner Light of Heaven in yourself is what really matters.


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:

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

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