All the same?

In A Course in Miracles, Jesus’ famous New Year’s wish for his students (and for all of us) is his call to “Make this year different by making it all the same. And let all your relationships be made holy for you” (T-15.XI.8:11-12). The idea is that to find lasting inner peace, we should stop perceiving others as different from us, since we we are all equally worthy of Love, no matter what. In fact, we are all the one beloved Son of God. The seeming fragmentation into billions of bodies is wholly illusory. We all share the same mind. In other words, “making it all the same” means “seeing everyone as the same”.

As good Course students, we usually smile politely and may even feel warm feelings of intimacy regarding the ones close to us. But we rarely generalize that to all living beings. Consciously or not, we tend to exclude for example neighbors, loitering youth, parents, authoritarian bosses, and public figures, whom we feel impinge on our inner peace. In this world, it is very, very hard to regard everyone as the same, when differences so clearly abound: not only physically, but especially in how differently we think, in what we feel is important in life, in our values and ethics, you name it. So how feasible is it for Jesus to ask of his students to see everyone as the same?

For Jesus’ clarion call to make sense, I should first fully realize how each and everyone walks this planet with a split mind. At any instant in time, my thoughts are guided by only one of two teachers: either the ego (the voice for differences, emphasizing my distinct uniqueness), or the Holy Spirit (the voice for Love, reminding me of my shared Identity as the one Son of God). As long as I choose the ego as my mind’s guide, I will invariably perceive differences everywhere and all the time. From the ego’s point of view, it seems rather foolhardy to blissfully keep affirming that everyone is the same, when our daily experience is that people are obviously distinctly different. These differences are further influenced by forces clearly beyond our control: climate; illness; law; other people’s mood; you name it.

As long as I choose to reincarnate in a body, I — by implication — keep choosing the ego as my chief counselor 99 percent of the time. My choice to hold on to the image of a unique personality with a unique life mission, with very serious external problems to deal with, automatically means that the perception of differences (especially differences in worthiness) rules my days. This choice is purposive, as all Course students know well: my deepest fear is that without my perceived unique identity, my existence would simply be erased. And God knows what hellish punishment will befall me for my ‘cardinal sin’ of having separated from Him in the original ontological instant just before the Big Bang!

Luckily, when the Son of God seemed to fall asleep in the nightmare of fragmentation that seemed to manifest the physical universe, the earth, and our bodies, convinced by the ego that this is the way to hide from God’s wrath and keep the newly gained autonomy intact, the Memory of His true Identity came with Him into the nightmare. In the Course, this Memory is called the Holy Spirit: the Voice for oneness Love; the state of mind in which no individuality and no differences exist. This Memory is present in each and every life form. It cannot be obliterated, although it can temporarily be repressed (and we’re all very good at this). This Memory is the loving intuitive whisper that gently reminds me that “I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me” (W-pI.201-220). That is, you and I are essentially pure spirit.

In A Course in Miracles, Jesus patiently explains to us that our eyes don’t really see; our ears don’t really hear; and our brain that reads these lines doesn’t really think (W-pI.92.2:1-2). (This is a really nice Zen koan, by the way: how do you make sense of that?) Still, beyond the senses, in our ‘mind’s eye’, we can choose to listen to the Voice of the Holy Spirit, telling us that beyond what the senses perceive, each and every one of us is created by the same Source: God. And “God is not fear, but Love” (T-18.I.7:1-5). And by implication, so are we, although we choose to repress that truth: “Can you who perceive yourself as a body, know yourself as an idea?” (T-18.VIII.1:5).

The nice thing about A Course in Miracles is that Jesus always translates his lofty metaphysical message to what this means for our everyday practical lives. In this case, it means that each and every time I am tempted to perceive a body, I should immediately realize that beyond these silly senses, I merely perceive a projection of the one Son of God: a mirror of my very own Identity! So each and every moment in my life, the choice is mine, as lesson 156 would have me ask ‘a thousand times a day’: “Who walks with me?” (W-pI.156.8:1-2).

So every time I am tempted to judge my neighbor, my parents, loitering youth, authoritarian bosses, public figures, you name it, I would do well to remember as quickly as possible that “…your task is still to tell him he is right. You do not tell him this verbally, if he is speaking foolishly. He needs correction at another level, because his error is at another level. He is still right, because he is a Son of God.” (T-9.III.2) Ah. No matter what my perceived scapegoat did (or failed to do), beyond the senses I can still choose to see the Light of the one Son of God in that person — which is the royal road to perceiving that same Light in myself.

Jesus continues: “His ego is always wrong, no matter what it says or does.” (T-9.III.2). Therefore, in the dream world we are certainly not asked to condone people’s ego’s, ignore their crimes, or become the proverbial doormat. Jesus certainly doesn’t counsel us to close all courtrooms and prisons. We can and should still say “No” to non-loving acts… but we can do so kindly, without a burning ego desire for vengeance. After all, how I treat others (which reflects how I think about others) merely mirrors my beliefs about myself, about my own identity.

So “make this year different by making it all the same” does not mean we should walk around in blind denial of every non-loving thing that goes on in the world. The world is cruel; after all, we made the world “as an attack on God”! (W-pII.3.2:1) We are asked, however, to train our minds to simply look at the dream world from above the battleground of the nightmare, and once more consider the question: “Who walks with me?” Again, the answer can be only one of two teachers: the ego — promoting perception of differences — or the Holy Spirit, promoting knowledge of sameness.

Guided by the right teacher, we will continue to perceive differences and act accordingly, but we don’t seek salvation in them anymore. We don’t indulge our ‘special righteousness’ any longer. We realize that behind each and every non-loving ego action we perceive, there is an “uncertain, lonely, and constantly fearful” (T-31.VIII.7:1) mind that begs of us to lovingly remind him of the undifferentiated Home we never left. So every time you notice you get upset by whatever, quickly remind yourself that what you seem to perceive is in essence a “call for love” that mirrors your own burning desire to return to God. Giving this message — by thinking an acting kindly — is the greatest gift you can give your brother and yourself, day in day out. Happy new year!


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

buy-now-amazon-button

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

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

Light wills to be shared

In A Course in Miracles, students are encouraged to honestly look at the darkness they’ve put in their special relationships (be they with people, possessions or values, or whatever). The Course’s central message is that all specialness is illusion, and only loving thoughts are true. We are then invited to choose to change our mind to think with God (=Love; Oneness), by bringing our illusions to the light of truth (again: Love; Oneness), cleaning up yet another dark spot in our unforgiving conflicted mind. Moreover, Jesus emphasizes that our only part in this mind-healing process is to nurture our own willingness to align our will with Love, which, through the miracle of forgiveness, operates perfectly through time and space wherever it is needed.

Since we are cautioned not to try to change the external world, but solely the inner world of our own mind, we usually do not think we can influence the mind of those around us. After all, since bodies are clearly separated, it seems highly unlikely that my change of mind about you can directly influence your state of mind, especially if you’re not around. We do know that if someone in a meeting emanates a particularly negative energy, this influences the mood of all participants in the meeting, but we attribute that effect to a choice of our interpretation of the situation at hand: should I choose to be happily at peace, no negativity would be able to disturb that inner peace. Conversely, if someone in a group meeting is extremely joyful, chances are that this ‘contagious’ effect brightens the mood of everyone who’s involved.

However, aside from these obvious examples when people are in each other’s vicinity, we usually do not think that we can lighten up the mind of those who are far away. And yet, in my own Course workshops I increasingly hear reports of participants who experience the healing of a strained relationship merely by actively choosing to place the other person in the light of Love in their mind. People who almost constantly bicker at work; family members who refuse to speak to each other for years on end; neighbors whose minds are unceasingly filled with hate about each other. These are just a few examples of real-life cases in which the relationship was completely transformed to love without any mutual conversation between them whatsoever. The relationship visibly improved merely because one of them found sanity and actively chose to place the other in the light of Love. The results are often truly astounding. How could this be?

The Course teaches us (1) that minds are joined (T-18.VI.3:1), and (2) that everyone who still walks this earth has a conflicted mind (cf. W-pII.257.1:1): on the one hand, we often like to choose the ego as our mind’s guide, indulging in specialness and differences; on the other hand, sometimes we choose the Holy Spirit — the Voice for Love — as our mind’s guide, focusing on our inherent sameness and our shared purpose of living a life of Love. Of all these thoughts, we are taught that only the loving ones are true (T-12.I.8:7). Thoughts about any aspect of negativity (guilt; fear; separation; attack; hate; depression, you name it) are illusory and therefore not true. Note, by the way, that the term ‘thoughts’ refers to our mind’s impulses rather than to our verbal thought stream, which is only a representation of these impulses. Our only real thoughts, then, may be aptly summarized as our impulses of Love, in as far as that Love refers to you and me being the same in spirit, which is our essence.

The apparent fact that we can heal a strained relationship just by placing the other — in the mind! — in the light of Love, is explained in the Course by the simple statement that light is always shared (W-pI.R4.In.6:1), whereas darkness cannot be shared, since it is illusory. Darkness is a feeble wish of the ego, with the sole aim of keeping the separation ongoing. However, since the entire ‘tiny, mad idea’ of separation is illusory, darkness cannot have a real effect anywhere. As darkness in a room immediately dissipates when the light switch is turned on, so the illusory darkness in the mind dissolves whenever a mind decides to turn on the ‘inner light’ of love. The apparent healing of my previously strained relationship of course merely reflects the healing of my own mind, since in reality there is only one mind. An illusion has been brought to truth, and is thereby healed.

That’s why Jesus says that he and you and I have “all power in Heaven and on earth” (W-pI.20.3:7): by choosing to clean up the ‘dark spots’ in the mind that appear to block the flow of oneness love and therefore perpetuate my apparent unique individuality, I turn on the light switch that immediately dissipates the darkness which was illusory anyway. The ‘price’ I pay for this is that my unique individual self becomes a little less unique. This unconsciously frightens me because I do not know what I would be without a unique individual body and personality. Our unconscious fear of being annihilated into oblivion by a wrathful Creator leads us to keep the dark illusion of separated individuality alive. Jesus’ task in A Course in Miracles is to get us to accept the truth of statements such as: “You believe that without the ego, all would be chaos. Yet I assure you that without the ego, all would be love.” (T-15.V.1:7).

So yes, you and I really can actively heal our conflicted special relationships, and you don’t even need the other’s conscious consent! Why not try it now. After reading this, close your eyes and picture someone whom you seem to have trouble with. The form of the conflict or situation doesn’t matter. What matters is your intention to bring that particular illusion of darkness to the light of truth through forgiveness, thereby allowing the Holy Spirit — again, the Voice for Love — to bring the miracle to its full efficacy. First and foremost, we should realize that I cannot heal if I do not love myself, that is, my essence as spirit. Since in truth there are no “others”, any grudge or grievance I seem to hold merely mirrors a dark conviction about some aspect of myself. Therefore, begin the healing process by immersing yourself in the light of love.

There are many ways to experience this, and you should follow your own preferred method. Paradoxically, your body may be of great help to experience that light. Try to immerse every single vein in your body in light; feel it tickle across your skin; try to become consciously aware of as many body parts at once as you can. See your body as a body of light. Say silently to yourself, then: “I will there be light. There is no will but God’s; therefore, any conflict in my mind, including my conflict with you, cannot be real. I am Light. You are the same Light. We are the same Light. I want to see us as that Light above all else, that we may both be healed of all darkness.” Be assured that the Holy Spirit wastes no time in following up on this invitation, and casually notice what happens to your relationship in the time that follows. You might just be astounded. Happy practicing!


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

buy-now-amazon-button

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

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

Choose to forgive… yourself

In A Course in Miracles, workbook lessons 61 (“I am the light of the world”), 62 (“Forgiveness is my function as the light of the world”), and 63 (“The light of the world brings peace to every mind through my forgiveness”) form a triad in Jesus’ mind training program. They could even be seen as a decidedly positive summary of the entire curriculum. Just to remind ourselves, let’s quickly revisit the central message of this trio.

First of all, “I am the light of the world” is true for everyone, since God has only one Son (i.e., all life combined, also called the Sonship). However, saying this, we immediately find ourselves bringing together (or, perhaps: confusing) the Course’s metaphysical level, and the Course’s practical everyday level in the ‘waking dream’ we call the material world. Since everyone who experiences himself living in this dream world has the same split mind (wherein both the ego and the Holy Spirit reside), everyone both has and is the light of the world.

The trick is that almost nobody is consciously aware of this ‘inner light beyond time and space’. On the contrary, most of us walk this illusory world in a state of ego mindlessness, that is, “uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear” (T-31.VIII.7:1). So when we read lesson 61 from this state of “wrong-minded thinking”, the ego will exuberantly conclude that I apparently am the light of the world, and others are not. Needless to say, this is exactly the opposite of what Jesus is trying to make us see here. Since you and I and everyone else are exactly the same, at least on the level of the mind, everyone is the light of the world.

That’s why Jesus says about this message that it is simply a fact: “This, then, is merely a statement of the truth about yourself.” But he also reminds us: “It does not describe the self-concept you have made.” (W-pI.61.1:4) In other words, the challenge is that we have not accepted this truth about ourselves as yet. This is because we still do not want the separation healed, since we are still so intimately attached to our special individual little self. I may be plagued by pain and anxiety, but at least I exist as an autonomous individual. In this lesson, Jesus is saying that even though we still experience ourselves as separated, we can at least begin to consider the truth of what he is conveying here.

Lesson 62 adds the central concept of forgiveness to this message. Here, he again emphasizes the fact that our view of our separated self is an illusion of self. Just as our nightly dreams are populated by various characters, so is our ‘waking’ dream world populated with seemingly separated people and events that are no more real than our nightly dreams. Again, God has only one Son, our daily experience to the contrary. That’s why Jesus states: “Illusions about yourself and the world are one. That is why all forgiveness is a gift to yourself.” (W-pI.62.2:1-2).

We usually see forgiveness as a process from me to you. I forgive you for what I think you did, or failed to do. However, almost every Course student has learned that such thinking only makes the original ontological error of separation real, since it presumes a ‘better’ person who may rightfully judge ‘lesser’ people. To the ego, this makes perfect sense; but if God has only one Son, this cannot be the case. Who, then, is there to forgive? And for what? Here, once again, we can easily mix up the metaphysical level of the Course and the daily, practical level, and this unfortunately happens a lot.

On the metaphysical level, we are taught that time is already over; we are mentally reviewing what seemingly happened long ago. All people and events I perceive are “outside pictures of the inward condition of [the ontological] separation” (T-21.in.1:5); a condition that can only be sustained through constant judgment and attack, which is what we do all the time. But since the thought of separation has not left the mind of the seemingly sleeping Son of God, all “evil” that we perceive outside merely symbolizes (represents) darkness in my own mind. Therefore, true forgiveness means forgiving myself for having chosen to be the host of dark thoughts. I chose this to be able to uphold the idea of separation from God; a separation which in reality never happened. How tragic!

Lesson 63, then, describes the mechanism of the practical process of forgiveness in this illusory dream world of time and space. As we all know, it is not enough to stubbornly repeat to ourselves: “I have no dark thoughts anymore. I have no dark thoughts anymore. I have no dark thoughts anymore.” That’s like trying not to think of the color blue. As long as we still experience ourselves in the dream world of time and space, interacting with other people, we are invited to shift the purpose of the world. Instead of constantly finding opportunities to blame, judge, and attack, we can train the mind to constantly find opportunities to see the sameness in everyone and everything. Others then become symbols of the light, which we can then recognize in ourselves as well.

So we heal our own mind by ‘placing’ others in the timeless light of Love, seeing the sameness in everyone and everything, including ourselves. That’s why Jesus says: “How holy are you who have the power to bring peace to every mind! How blessed are you who can learn to recognize the means for letting this be done through you!” (W-pI.63.1:1-2). And that’s also why Jesus answers the question in the Manual for Teachers (M-12) about how many teachers are needed to save the world with: “One”, since we are all a seemingly splintered fragment of the one seemingly sleeping Son of God, Who is still One, even in the waking dream.

This does not mean, by the way, that the one you lovingly place in the timeless light of Love, will immediately accept that light. In fact, usually they don’t. This, however, is irrelevant because time really does not exist and everything that seems to happen in time is really happening now. The ego sees this as a reason not to keep up this practice: “If I place someone in the light of Love and he keeps being an asshole, what good is it?” However, as Jesus reminds us in, the effect of our forgiveness practice (“the miracle”) should not be our concern (T-18.V.2:4). We should not be worried about whether our forgiveness will be accepted by the other. The Holy Spirit sees to it by definition that the miracle reaches its ultimate destination in time and space. All we are asked is the “little willingness” to choose to see our brother as sinless. As Jesus concludes: “What purpose could you have that would bring you greater happiness?” (W-pI.63.1:3).

Even though the observable effects of our forgiveness practice should not be our concern, many can attest to situations wherein there clearly were observable effects. In my own workshops, several participants shared their forgiveness decision about very strained relationships, wherein they found that that particular relationship unmistakably improved in the weeks that followed. This illustrates Jesus’ statement that “The Son of God looks to you for his redemption” (W-pI.63.2:2), albeit unconsciously. We all yearn to be seen as innocent and worthy of the Love of God. This is exactly the message that we send out when we decide to forgive that person, even when we’re not in their vicinity. Simultaneously, we have cleaned yet another dark spot in our own mind, which is of course the essence.

As our motivation to master this Course is strengthened by our experience of inner peace whenever we truly forgive, so does our peaceful countenance inspire those who still hesitate to make the same choice. This way, “a strong chain of forgiveness is welded” (T-1.III.9:2). The goal of A course in Miracles, then, is to fuel our own willingness to keep practicing our function of total forgiveness, embracing everyone, until no single dark spot remains to hide the Face of Christ from anyone (T-31.VIII.12:5). Once we reach that point, we find in glad astonishment that we’re done with time, and where we used to fear we had to sacrifice everything for salvation, we happily conclude that we gave up nothing!

 


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

buy-now-amazon-button

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

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

Reasons to attack the Course

Oftentimes I notice people who delve into A Course in Miracles becoming puzzled, if not outright offended, by the unilateral use of masculin pronouns. The words ‘she’ or ‘her’ never once appear in its entire 1500+ pages. The text is replete with references to ‘my brother’, but not once does it refer to ‘my sister’. For some folks, that in itself is reason enough to close the book, discarding it as ‘sexist’. They then go and find a spirituality that seems to do justice to the equality of the male and female aspects of life.

Another major objection that I oftentimes notice with Course ‘novices’ is about its use of biblical language. In the Course, we read a lot about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, as well as typically Christian concepts  such as the crucifixion and the Last Judgment. Additionally, when it becomes clear that the author of A Course in Miracles is no-one less than Jesus himself, he is immediately mixed up with the historical Jesus as depicted in the Bible. Since spiritual aspirants are usually not too hot about religion, again the book is closed and discarded as being “overly religious”. Such people find non-religious “new-age”-like spiritualities much more attractive.

The more analytically inclined people object to the Course because of its many seeming contradictions. For example, at one point we read that God did not create this world and knows nothing about it (W-pI:14); but several chapters later we read that God is lonely without his children, weeps for their suffering, and even thinks that they must be awakened [by Him] (T-6.V.1:8). Similarly, at one point we read that Jesus only asks ‘a little willingness’ from us, while at other times he explicitly talks about ‘abundant willingness’.  Moreover, oftentimes the text feels more poetic than scientific. Again, such analytical people discard the book as being ‘filled with contradictions, surely  by an incompetent author.’

And last but not least, many novice students consider the curriculum to be simply too vague or complex, especially the text. Sentences such as “It is sure that those who select certain ones as partners in any aspect of living, and use them for any purpose which they would not share with others, are trying to live with guilt rather than die of it.” (T-16.IV.4:5-7) only make sense once you fathom core Course concepts such as “Projection makes perception“, “Ideas leave not their source“, and “Together, or not at all.” Until then, many passages simply do not seem to make sense, because they are still read by a mind that’s in ego-mode.

However, as scholar Kenneth Wapnick never tired of explaining, all such objections always focus on various aspects of form of the Course’s curriculum. For example, every time we read about ‘he’, ‘him’ or ‘his’ in the Course, Jesus refers to all people. That’s the content he discusses. It would be rather awkward to explicitly mention both genders all the time. What’s more: to Jesus, gender is completely irrelevant anyway, since he and his curriculum focus exclusively on the mind, which has no gender. So objections about the text using only masculine pronouns focus on form, not on content.

As for the biblical language, A Course in Miracles came to our Western world in this particular time frame, in this particular language with this particular biblical terminology because that is the religious frame for the vast majority of the western world. Heck, we even count our calendar years based on the new Testament! But again, that’s form. A very similar message, in content at least, came through some 3,000 years ago in ancient India, in their particular religious terminology (Krishna) and in their particular language. It’s called the Bhaghavad Gita. The source of both messages is the nondual voice for Love, that is, the Oneness Love of God. In fact, the same message of Love can be found in many cultures, each in their own particular religious framework.

The central point behind all these objections on the Course’s form is the underlying fear of the content of its message. And what is the core of its content, bottom line? No less than the message that you and I actually do not exist as autonomous individuals; nor are time, space and perception in any way related to reality. God is Fact, and all else is illusory. As Ken Wapnick often explained, once you really start to grasp the essence of the Course’s message, fear and anxiety are bound to rise sharply, consciously or not. After all, no-one likes to read that the fact of the matter is that he doesn’t exist. Yes, we are told that we are a timeless extension of of God’s Love, but to our linearly programmed brains that doesn’t mean anything. And so, at first the Course only seems to lead to the loss of what I cherish the most: my self. That’s why A Course in Miracles will never be hugely popular.

Many a first-time reader of A Course in Miracles hopes to find in this curriculum a way to be a happier ego in this world. It can be rather disconcerting to discover that this curriculum asks of you to reconsider all the values that you still hold dear (T-24.In.2), with the ultimate purpose of relinquishing the little self you still intimately identify with. It’s only when the clarity and stark logic of the Course’s metaphysics are understood to some degree, that you start to realize that this is a Course that leads us Home, out of the nightmare the seemingly sleeping Son of God has constructed to be able to hide from Oneness, in an insane attempt to try to be a god in our own little separated kingdom.

Slowly realizing and accepting that this ‘tiny, mad idea’ of separation doesn’t work, we can slowly learn to again hear and choose the Voice for Love in our mind. This ultimately is our own voice, which gently guides us back Home to nonduality. As Jesus once said to his scribe Helen Schucman (published in Ken Wapnick’s  Absence from felicity): “The thing to do with a desert is to leave.” This is exactly what the Course’s content is about. Would this simple message be a reason to attack its form? Yes, it would, until we start to realize that our personal version of Heaven turned out to be a desert, “where starved and thirsty creatures come to die” (W-pII.13.5:1). Gladly realizing this is but a dream we made up, A Course in Miracles falls like drops of rain from Heaven. Once we see through the form and are willing to look at its content, where we first thought the Course asks us to sacrifice our very self, we find that we lose nothing and gain everything.


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

buy-now-amazon-button

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

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

Happily let it all go!

Last week I ‘accidentally’ came across an article about the Hindu mystic Swami Ganapati Saraswati, also known as Trailanga Swami, who reportedly lived from 1607 to 1887 (no, that’s no typo; he is thought to have lived for no less than 280 years, although such a claim can hardly be verified of course). The famous mystic Ramakrishna met him and called him ‘the walking Shiva of Varanasi’. What particularly struck me is that Trailanga had taken the vow of non-seeking (ayachaka); that is, being content with whatever the circumstances bring. There’s two ingredients to that: (a) having no material desires whatsoever; and (b) having no investment in the outcome of any situation. That’s quite something if you think about it. What would such a mindset mean for how you experience the quality of your life?

It’s reminiscent of the well-known parable of the Chinese farmer who had learned not to judge any situation at all. When his son broke his leg at work, people lamented the ill fortune of the farmer. The latter, however, merely shrugged his shoulders and said: “Maybe.” When a week later the government recruited young men for the state army in the wake of war, the son obviously didn’t qualify. This time, people pointed out the good fortune of the farmer. Again, the farmer shrugged his shoulders and said: “Maybe.” The point of the parable is that you can save yourself a lot of perceived suffering if you don’t judge events according to your own personal agenda, but are willing to accept everything exactly as it comes.

There are many parallels in A Course in Miracles as well. Most students are well familiar with Course concepts such as “I need do nothing” (T-18.VII); “Do you prefer that you be right or happy?” (T-29.VII.1:9), and, above all, “I do not know what anything is for” (W-pI.25), since “I do not perceive my own best interests” (W-pI.24). The Course points out to us that since we are convinced we have personal interests that differ from other interests, we constantly engage in making plans and setting goals, in order to manipulate the flow of time in such a way that it will bring us good fortune. Every event and situation that confront us we immediately judge as “good” or “bad”. Moreover, within a split-second we have set up various scenarios in which we think we can influence the wheel of fortune.

It’s no wonder that Course scholar Kenneth Wapnick remarked in his workshops that “in a sense, we are all control freaks in this world”. The ego is needy by definition, and since we all still intimately identify with the ego, we cannot help seeking and seeking for safety and happiness, which of course we never find, because this world was made to be a place where true Love (a synonym for God) could enter not (W-pII.3.2:4). And yet we stubbornly keep trying to plan and control the flow of events, even though inside we know that things will always turn out differently. How could it be otherwise, if you consider our very limited sphere of influence?

In the Manual for teachers, we read the following sobering reasoning: “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 […]. Who is in a position to do this? Who except in grandiose fantasies would claim this for himself? Remember how many times you thought you knew all the “facts” you needed for judgment, and how wrong you were! Is there anyone who has not had this experience? […] Why would you choose such an arbitrary basis for decision making?” (M-10.3:3-4:4).

Jesus’ point is not that we should never make plans. The point is that we should consider which teacher (or guide) we choose to make plans with. As all Course students know, there are only two guides: from moment to moment, we either choose to be guided by the ego or by the Holy Spirit. The former guide will make me feel personally important but will always lead to misery because of its core concept of separation and attack. The latter will guide me to the experience of lasting inner peace, because His core concept is of Oneness and Love. That’s why the same section 10 in the Manual proceeds to conclude: “Wisdom is not judgment; it is the relinquishment of judgment.” (M-10.4:5).

So, returning to Trailanga Swami, who had taken the vow of non-seeking: what if I relinquished all judgment, happily accepting every situation as it comes, solely following the impulses of love that originate from the Voice for Love, the higher Self? We all have two voices inside us that answer that question. The intuitive voice that for most of us resides in the hara area of the lower belly lets out a sigh of relief: “Wow. That would mean the end of all stress and turmoil in my life.” The other voice, however, which usually resides in the area of the head, answers quite differently, immersed in anger or outright panic: “What!? That’s idiocy! You’d lose your income, your job, your house, your spouse, everything! You’ll be a bum, an outcast, the lowest of the low in the world. Achieving happiness requires action! Stop dreaming and get back to work!”

We’ve all been brought up with the belief that ‘success in life’ requires hard work, diligent planning and perseverance. The message of A Course in Miracles is not that we should not be active, but that happiness depends on which guide we choose to guide our thoughts and actions. On a personal note, for about six or seven years now I’ve actively tried to choose to prefer the intuitive voice in the lower belly. Firstly, I practice in relinquishing my judgment about how my plans should turn out; secondly, I increasingly try not to plan on my own, but to ask the Holy Spirit what to think, say, and do. To be sure, this doesn’t always feel very comfortable (to the ego) and I still catch myself many times thinking or doing things out of a perceived “personal interest”. But I also notice that, all in all, my life seems to flow much easier than it used to. Overall, I feel healthy and lighthearted, and I experience no lack whatsoever in any aspect of my life. Maybe, just perhaps, this Course works after all…

Again in the Manual for teachers, Jesus comments on this point in section 4, about all situations wherein “[…] the teacher of God feels called upon to sacrifice his own best interests on behalf of truth [which is what happens in the practice described above]. He has not realized as yet how wholly impossible such a demand would be. He can learn this only as he actually does give up the valueless [i.e., ‘personal’ interests]. Through this, he learns that where he anticipated grief, he finds a happy lightheartedness instead; where he thought something was asked of him, he finds a gift [i.e., inner peace] bestowed on him.” (M-4.I-A.5:5-8). The message of A Course in Miracles is simple indeed: “Do you prefer that you be right or happy? Be you glad that you are told where happiness abides, and seek no longer elsewhere. You will fail. But it is given you to know the truth.” (T-29.VII.1:9-11).

So why not try Trailanga Swami’s vow of ‘non-seeking’? Your daily practice of letting go of judgment in the view of your ‘personal interests’ will inevitably usher in the experience of inner peace and lightheartedness, no matter how many times you may stumble each day, no matter how hard the ego shrieks that your life will fall apart. One final point though: Jesus’ message may be simple, but it is certainly not easy. A major pitfall that Kenneth Wapnick often pointed out is that of blissninnyhood, as in: “Ah, okay. All I have to do is focus on Love and everything will be alright. Therefore I will teach only love and deny the ego, which, after all, is the denial of truth. Hooray!” This will not work because the underlying ontological guilt isn’t being undone. We should always remember Jesus’ clarion call: “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). So seek out all the dark spots in your own unforgiving mind, and then choose the Holy Spirit to teach you how to happily let it all go.


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

buy-now-amazon-button

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

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

You can bring the light now

Time is one of the most elusive devices the ego employs to keep our belief in the reality of what our senses perceive alive and well. After all, I may gradually accept that my interpretation of behavior of people around me may not always be correct, but I will not question my belief that my very personality is the product of my life’s experiences throughout the years, and that tomorrow will offer many more opportunities to further improve that personality. I may have lots of worries and pains today, but sometime in the future I will be fully enlightened, free of all the turmoil that I still perceive around me on a daily basis both within me and without me.

It is therefore quite startling, to say the least, to read in A Course in Miracles that time itself does not exist. Time is merely a trick to keep the mind rooted in its belief about the reality of the separated state from God. Workbook lesson 158 is especially clear about this: “Time is a trick, a sleight of hand, a vast illusion in which figures come and go as if by magic. Yet there is a plan behind appearances that does not change. The script is written. […] For we but see the journey from the point at which it ended, looking back on it, imagining we make it once again; reviewing mentally what has gone by.” (W-pI.158.4:1-5). In a sense, everything that happens in our lives is already predetermined, but as we all work very, very hard to make our lives turn out the way we want it, we find this notion very, very hard to accept. And so each day we soldier on, hoping against hope that one day we’ll find the lasting inner peace we want so much.

Jesus’ non-compromising message about the unreality of time also means that salvation (i.e., lasting inner peace) is not to be found in the future, since in fact there is no future, since all of time happens now: “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 in your brother.… Salvation is immediate. Unless you so perceive it, you will be afraid of it…. Salvation would wipe out the space you see between you [and your brother] still, and let you instantly become as one.” (T-26.1:1-3:5; my italics). We keep believing in the illusion of time because we still crave to experience ourselves as the ‘hero of the dream’; we keep wanting to ‘prove’ to ourselves and our Creator that we can do very well on our own. In a sense, each separated living thing uses time solely to keep affirming that very notion.

Imagine you would go to the cinema to see a movie, and the staff would take you immediately to the very end of the movie, reminding you that “the end is set already anyway, so why bother to go through two hours of uncertainty when you can have the final outcome immediately?” We would smack the cinema operator, since the two hours of uncertainty, tension, sensation and bewilderment are exactly why we came to see the movie in the first place! It is no different with our very own lives. Even though Jesus assures us that “A happy outcome to all things is sure” (W-pII.292), and that this “outcome is as certain as God” (T-2.III.3:10), we do not want to experience that happy outcome immediately now, our protestations about desiring lasting inner peace to the contrary. Why is that?

Well, there’s one subtle difference between our cinema movies and the movie of our personal lives, which commonly goes unnoticed. In accordance with lesson 292 above, we make sure that by far most cinema movies have a happy outcome: the hero wins, and the bad guys lose. The hero gets the biggest prize in life there is: to keep experiencing himself as a successful autonomous individual in this world, which is what we all wish. But in ‘real life’ (that is, in the ‘waking dream’ of duality), nothing lasts. We notice we get older; our bodies deteriorate and die, and we gradually seem to lose all that we hold dear. “Not one of [us] but has thought that God is cruel” (T-13.in.3:2). Since we really do not want to accept that, we keep going to the movies, to keep up our stubborn belief that we could be successful on our own in time, apart from God.

And yet there is always some form of pain in our lives, be it physical or psychological, which we believe is caused by factors outside of us. This is because the ego, which is the belief in separated individuality, can only survive by upholding (and fueling) the notion of grievances (i.e., condemnation), which is hardly a fitting framework for finding lasting inner peace: “The source of salvation is constantly perceived as outside yourself. Each grievance you hold is a declaration, and an assertion in which you believe, that says, “If this were different, I would be saved.” The change of mind necessary for salvation is thus demanded of everyone and everything except yourself.” (W-pI.71.2:3-5). In one way or another, almost all of us still believe this.

The central message of A Course in Miracles is that “The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself” (T-27.VIII.10:1). This is because in truth, there is no-one else out there. Everything my senses perceive in time is a projection of some aspect of the sin and guilt that I do not want to look at in myself. Therefore, Jesus asks us: “What if you recognized this world is an hallucination? What if you really understood you made it up? What if you realized that those who seem to walk about in it, to sin and die, attack and murder and destroy themselves, are wholly unreal? Could you have faith in what you see, if you accepted this? And would you see it?” (T-20.VIII.7:3-7). The answer is: no, we wouldn’t see it, and we wouldn’t have faith in it any longer. But it would also mean that I would accept that my imagined precious individuality is not true. I still find that conclusion too painful, so I still prefer the pain I experience in the dream world of time and space, even unto seeming physical death.

A Course in Miracles teaches us not only that the movie that is this dream world will have a happy end, but that the dream world is in fact already over. We are merely reviewing what has already gone by, reliving it again because we still think individuality is our wish. But if I accede that salvation lies in my acceptance of the fact that I am doing this to myself, and that salvation is immediate, I could also choose to experience the happy outcome of the dream now, even if only for a few minutes or seconds. My mind has the power to choose to let go of all grievances and condemnation (the bedrock of separation) and align my thoughts with the Holy Spirit, the Voice for Love, which is my very essence. In terms of the Course, I can choose to experience the Holy instant at any time. My declaration of independence from the ego is my choice to accept the nature of my Self as pure spirit, that is, a non-temporal extension of the Love of God.

This sounds awfully metaphysical, but you and I are in fact able to experience it at any time. How? Let’s say you are bothered by some nagging physical symptom for some time now. Instead of repressing the pain through distraction or medication, which is what we usually do, we could also see it as a useful signal that there yet remains something to forgive in the mind. We could then choose to non-judgmentally focus on that very symptom, fully willing to learn the lesson, and choose to immerse the symptom completely in Love. The form does not matter; you could, for example, visualize pure white light that envelops you completely; or you could choose any form you personally prefer, as long as it’s fueled by the non-judgmental Love that reflects Heaven.

This may sound overly new-ageish; however, that thought might just be another ego distraction to what is truly the point: inviting in the Voice for Love that is the Holy Spirit, Who will guide you through the really required change, namely the choice to relinquish some form of condemnation, and accept the Atonement (i.e., Oneness) instead. We are to use all the little symbols of the world that the ego made to keep us mindless, to reverse their purpose from ‘mindlessness’ to awakening from the dream world of time and space. We may still believe it will take us many, many years to do this, but in each holy instant we choose to experience, including inner light episodes, we reflect the happy outcome of the dream right now – and “now is the closest approximation of eternity that this world offers” (T-13.IV.7:5). So practice with gladness in experiencing the Light within each and everyone of us right now. This way we invite eternity in, or at least its reflection. Repeat to yourself: ‘Now is the closest approximation of eternity that this world offers.’ Through this invitation, the Holy Spirit will find His way to your conscious thoughts a little easier than before, which is surely the “better way” to reach the lasting experience of inner peace that is our inheritance.


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

buy-now-amazon-button

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

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

The deeper purpose

Suppose your spouse (or parent, colleague, manager; whomever) got angry at you because you failed to do something that was clearly expected from you. It could be as simple as not being considerate, or failing to empty the garbage bin or do the laundry, or having spent too much money on something worthless… the list of possibilities is endless. Chances are that you feel unfairly treated; and before you know it you’re in ‘blaming mode’, in a counter-attack that seems fully justified. Later on, when you think about why you slipped into unkindness when this really wasn’t your intent from the outset, you might conclude that you felt that your search for happiness was sincerely threatened by this other person, and you really felt the other needed to change to set this straight. Even if you’re into spirituality and can acknowledge the fact that the quarrel was merely a typical scene of projection back and forth, it’s still a thought mechanism that is alive and well in the mind.

Jesus (that is, the author of A Course in Miracles) would say that this is because we are not yet fully aware of the purpose behind that purpose. In feeling unfairly treated and picking a fight with someone, with anyone, we are first and foremost affirming to each other that my body is real and your body is real, and so the separation from God is reality as well. Furthermore, by body is obviously better than your body, so you are the one to be blamed for everything, including the cause of the separation, and God should allow me back into Heaven when I die and send you to hell. So my deeper purpose behind the superficial purpose of our quarrel is to affirm that I really exist and I am the ‘better’ of the two of us; so God should notice and love me, not you. The ego obviously wants to have its cake and eat it too.

As early as lesson 25 in the workbook, Jesus would have us realize that we usually do not realize what we think or do is for. So he explains: “At the most superficial levels, you do recognize purpose. […] For example, you do understand that a telephone is for the purpose of talking to someone who is not physically in your immediate vicinity. What you do not understand is what you want to reach him for. And it is this that makes your contact with him meaningful or not.” (W-pI.25.4:2-6). With this simple example, Jesus tries to make us see that our true purpose for this call is to once again find an opportunity to either underscore separation (the ego’s interest) or to see the Holy Spirit’s goal of sameness in both of us. So while on a superficial level we can think of many purposes for our thoughts and actions, on the deeper level there are only two: either to align with the ego’s purpose of separated autonomous individuality, or to align with the Holy Spirit’s purpose of gently undoing all separation, condemnation and autonomy.

It can be of enormous help to train the mind to be always be acutely aware of this deeper purpose behind our thoughts and actions. In fact, attack becomes impossible once this deeper purpose is held in awareness, for how could sameness attack sameness? We must, however, be willing to see all situations this way, and that’s somewhat of a challenge, to put it mildly. Why is it a challenge? Because in doing so, I would have to admit to Jesus that he was right all along and I was wrong; not only about everything I perceive in this dream world of time and space, but about the very fact that I believe I exist as a separate autonomous unique individual. I may be willing to agree that Jesus is right when he says that I am wrong every time I judge, but I’m not likely to agree that Jesus is right when he says that I really do not exist, since “it is a joke to think that time can come to circumvent eternity” (T-27.VIII.6:5).

This is why A Course in Miracles is a slow process, that takes us step by gentle step in slowly reconsidering the foundation that the very concept of our personality rests on. This concept is entirely based on separation: “You see a lot of separate things about you, which really means you are not seeing at all. […] You will not question what you have already defined.” (W-pI.28.2:5;4:1). In this important workbook lesson, called “Above all else I want to see things differently”, Jesus invites us to practice this shift of perception from separation to sameness with very simple objects. He uses a table as an example: “In saying, ‘above all else I want to see this table differently’, you are committing yourself to seeing. […] You could, in fact, gain vision from just that table, if you would withdraw all your own ideas from it, and look upon it with a completely open mind. […] In using the table as a subject […], you are therefore really asking to see the purpose of the universe. […] You are making a commitment to each [subject] to let its purpose be revealed to you, instead of placing your own judgment upon it.” (W-pI.28.4:3-6:3).

Again, Jesus is talking about the deeper purpose of either adhering to the ego’s concept of separation, or to the Holy Spirit’s concept of unified oneness. My perception of the purpose of that table in this sense merely symbolizes my perception of the purpose of my own personality or identity, and also my perception of the purpose of the universe. Therefore, when we really pay attention to Jesus’ true message in these deceptively simple early lessons in the workbook, we can see that A Course in Miracles is a spirituality that really takes its students to the very essence of life’s great questions: “What am I?”, “Why am I here?”, “What’s the purpose of my life?”, “Where is everlasting happiness to be found?” The one answer to all of these questions lies in my acceptance of the Atonement; that is, choosing to accept my true Identity as an extension of the Oneness Love of God. Or, as Jesus puts it: “Teach only love, for that is what you are.” (T-6.I.13:2) I reach that point of acceptance not by becoming a monk, not by denying the dark spots in my mind, but rather by practicing mind training in very specific daily situations, such as a quarrel with my spouse, my kids, my parents, colleagues, boss, you name it.

Instead of losing myself once again on autopilot in judgmental counter-attack, my main daily assignment is to reach that place above the battleground a little sooner than I did yesterday, and realize the deeper purpose that I unconsciously side with in any situation, from hour to hour, from minute to minute, from instant to instant. Sure, I will obviously choose the wrong purpose many times each day. After all, I’m still in love with my own special unique autonomous individuality. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be hanging around here anymore. So each time you realize you once again slipped into a judgmental counter-attack, don’t feel bad and guilty — be glad! That realization, coupled with the sincere desire to “want to see things differently” (W-pI.28), is the greatest gift you can give yourself in any situation. That realization is what makes you an effective Course student. Once you choose to really let go of your own investment, and ask the Holy Spirit what to think, say or do instead, you may be amazed at the miracles that ignite from that peaceful, loving state of mind, with effects that you would never have thought possible. And that experience is the real fuel for the motivation for really wanting to learn Jesus’ Course. Happy practicing!


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

buy-now-amazon-button

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

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

The one thing to fix in the world

A Course in Miracles teaches us that we are not trapped in a world that is beyond our sphere of influence, our daily experiences to the contrary. This is because the world we interpret and give meaning to, is merely “…the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition.” (T-21.in.1:5). This certainly doesn’t seem to be the case. After all, nothing in this world lasts. All things sooner or later become defective, and all life eventually deteriorates and dies. I tell myself my deepest desire is to have everlasting life in a world of everlasting love; yet eventually I appear to lose everything I love. So if “the world is the outside picture of an inward condition”, it must follow that my mind must be full of thoughts of decay and death, at least unconsciously, right?

This is true for anyone whose state of mind is in wrong-minded ego mode, which is true for 99 percent of the world population all the time, including my own state of mind. This is because when push comes to shove, my own selfish interests will have to be met first, at all cost. Self-preservation is this life’s primary driving force. Sure I want happiness, but I want it my way. This, of course, merely mirrors the ontological moment when the seemingly sleeping Son of God chose to follow the ego in the dream (nightmare, really) of autonomy, seemingly separating from God. Terrified at the prospect of being severely punished by God for this “sin of separation”, the Son made up time and space, including an entire universe, with the twofold purpose of (1) becoming untraceable to God, and (2) providing so many distractions to occupy the mind that the memory of the state of Oneness wouldn’t be able to ever dawn again in the Son’s mind.

So while my mind is in ego-mode, everything I perceive, think and do will reflect that ontological moment. “Each day, each minute, and each instant you but relive the time when terror took the place of love” (T-26.V.13:1). This is not to say, by the way, that we cannot reflect Heaven here in time and space. After all, I do have the choice to switch teachers at any instant of the day. Whenever I choose to do that, the Love that is my very inheritance will manifest in this world, through the miracle. Since projection makes perception (T-21.in.1), the world I behold will reflect my decision to either wrong-mindedly project, or to right-mindedly extend.

Beware, however: the ego is very clever at imitating the Holy Spirit. If I constantly behold only a good, lovable and joyful world, chances are that I have fallen into the trap of denying the darkness in my mind that I need to clean up. If the cause of this world is the ontological attack thought, salvation cannot lie in denying attack thoughts; it must lie in calmly looking at all attack thoughts, accompanied by Jesus (or the Holy Spirit). Only then can I see its silliness. I then realize I am the dreamer of the dream, and therefore the maker of all the images I see. Our one remaining freedom in this world is the power to choose a better Teacher to guide our thoughts, in the service of slowly undoing all attack thoughts that we become aware of. That’s why workbook lesson 23 says that “I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.” (W-pI.23).

In that lesson, we read that “If the cause of the world is attack thoughts, you must learn that it is these thoughts which you do not want. There is no point in lamenting the world. There is no point in trying to change the world. It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect [of my state of mind]. But there is indeed a point in changing your thoughts about the world. Here you are changing the cause. The effect will change automatically.” (T-23.2). To clarify this, Kenneth Wapnick often used the symbol of a cinema: if I don’t like what I see on the screen, I do not run to the wall to try to change the image; rather, I should go to the projection booth and switch movies. The choice for the movie is the cause; what I subsequently perceive the effect. In the Course, Jesus invites us to evaluate and change the cause, not the effect.

At first, this seems to be strictly in line with the well-known quote from chapter 18: “I need do nothing.” (T-18.VII.5). However, this does not mean that we literally are to do nothing in the world, as some students unfortunately interpret it. We may be tempted to stop caring for the environment, climate, sustainability, health, et cetera, because the world and its bodies are all illusory anyway — we merely need to change our mind and choose inner peace. However, as Kenneth Wapnick often pointed out, that is not what Jesus teaches in his curriculum. Yes, from a metaphysical viewpoint it is true that everything here is illusory and nothing here is of any value, since nothing lasts. However, as long as we still identify with our body so much, which virtually everyone still does, we have lots of “mind-work” to do in really bringing about the change of mind we so fervently desire.

‘Changing my mind and choose inner peace’ requires that I fully accept the message of the Atonement that says that nothing happened to disturb the innocent peace of the Son of God, and that I never really wanted the world I now behold. To get to that point, however, I should regard the world as a useful classroom in which I can be very active, but guided by a different teacher. Every chapter and every lesson in A Course in Miracles carries that same simple message in it, explicitly or implicitly: choose once again which teacher I will allow to guide my thoughts. Once we increasingly make the right choice, we come to realize that our thoughts in time and space are not our real thoughts at all; that is, only impulses of love are real, and it is through these that I can reflect a bit of Heaven here on earth, and cleanse my mind from all the dark spots I still hold on to, hoping against hope that my individual autonomy is indeed a fact. It is not; only God is Fact, and our spiritual journey consists of slowly and gratefully accepting that truth.

Therefore, there is really only one thing to fix in the world: the quality of my thoughts. I don’t do this by meditating for extended lengths of time in a mountain cave, although regular meditation does help to ease the constant stream of ego chatter, an essential prerequisite for mind training. The most important vehicle for changing the quality of my thoughts is accepting the lessons of love that are offered me on a daily basis in the world which I now regard as a useful classroom. On a practical level, this means I ask Jesus (or the HS) to help me see all situations that used to upset me differently, no matter how small the upset seems to be. As Ken Wapnick remarked: “We practice on the ‘little’ things of the body, so what we may come to learn about the magnitude of spirit”, which is what you and I really are. 

So it’s perfectly fine for you and me to be very active in this world on “fixing” the environment, the climate, sustainability, healthcare, you name it — but the true “fix” is our choice with whom we do it as guiding teacher: the ego or the Holy Spirit? If I act from an ego frame of mind, my primary (though unconscious) motivation in working on climate, sustainability or healthcare will be to establish my special self-worth, and to show God that, yes, I sinned, but my good deeds should grant me a place in Heaven when I die. This way I merely keep making the error real. If, on the other hand, I act from the right-minded perspective of the Voice for Love, my primary motivation will be to reach the real world by seeing the sameness in everything I perceive. My thoughts and actions will emanate from kindness, which must result in inner peace, and ultimately in the returning awareness of our Home in the Heart of God, which we never really left 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. 2019 Course workshop at www.youtube.com called “Farewell to your self, to find your true Self”. (English captions/subtitles available)

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

“This course is too difficult to learn”

When students of A Course in Miracles start to notice that Jesus is serious when he tells them that “…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), there is a strong temptation to become discouraged. After all, a complete reversal of everything I believe seems to be utterly impossible, no matter how much I claim to love Jesus and his message. So the tendency is to throw up my hands in desperation, exclaiming that “…I don’t see how I’m going to pull that off. This course is too difficult to learn!”

You and I are certainly not the first nor the last to feel such discouragement. Nor is it exclusive to A Course in Miracles; many spiritual thought systems seem to ‘demand’ a transformation in values and beliefs that seems awkwardly hard to pull off. And if you assume that Helen Schucman was fully enlightened and lived the Course promptly and perfectly when she took it down, you’ve got another thought coming. As Kenneth Wapnick recollects in his biography on Helen called “Absence from felicity“, Helen frequently complained to Jesus that what he told her was too complicated, too difficult, and too hard to learn. Though, to her credit, it never seriously occurred to her to stop, she did frequently experience tremendous resistance and anxiety, especially at the beginning, and she certainly needed Bill Thetford’s loving support throughout.

Again in Absence from felicity, we read that Jesus frequently tried to help Helen in calmly looking at her own resistance. Although much of this advice was specifically meant for Helen personally, some occurrences that clearly apply to all students made it to the text, workbook and manual. In chapter 2 of the text, Jesus addresses Helen’s anxiety: “You may still complain about fear, but you nevertheless persist in making yourself fearful. I have already indicated that you cannot ask me to release you from fear. […] It is much more helpful to remind you that you do not guard your thoughts carefully enough. You may feel that at this point it would take a miracle to enable you to do this, which is perfectly true. You are not used to miracle-minded thinking, but you can be trained to think that way.” (T-2.VII.1). Which is of course Jesus’ main point: try to become a little more miracle-minded each day.

In chapter 29 of the text, Jesus specifically addresses Helen’s complaint that this course is too difficult to learn: “Why does an easy path, so clearly marked it is impossible to lose the way, seem thorny, rough and far too difficult for you to follow? Is it not because you see it as the road to hell instead of looking on it as a simple way, without a sacrifice or any loss, to find yourself in Heaven and in God?” (T-29.II.1:3-4) In chapter 13 of the text, Jesus further comments on this insight: “In the extreme, you are afraid of redemption and you believe it will kill you. […] To some extent, then, you must believe that by not learning the course you are protecting yourself.” (T-13.II.8:4;7:5).

In other words, when we protest to Jesus that his Course is too difficult to learn, his response is something like: “Don’t tell me you cannot learn this simple curriculum of forgiveness. Look around you: just to keep up the illusion that you can be separate from God you have built an entire phenomenal universe with zillions of stars and planets and bodies, with the wildest imaginable things going on. This was not thrust upon you; you made it. Don’t tell me you cannot learn my simple curriculum that merely says that what was never true is not true now, and never will be. The impossible has not occurred, and can have no effects. And that is all. Can this be hard to learn by anyone who wants it to be true?”

Ouch — so when we complain this Course is too difficult to learn, we are really saying we do not want to learn this Course, because we are afraid its outcome would mean our annihilation. As Jesus comments in the text: “The ego’s whole continuance depends on its belief you cannot learn this course. Share this belief, and reason will be unable to see your errors and make way for their correction.” (T-22.III.2:1-2). And again in chapter 31: “To you who seem to find this course to be too difficult to learn, let me repeat that to achieve a goal you must proceed in its direction, not away from it. […] This course attempts to teach no more than that the power of decision cannot lie in choosing different forms of what is still the same illusion and the same mistake.” (T-31.IV.7:3).

Of course everyone does want to learn Jesus’ curriculum of peace; otherwise we wouldn’t be spending so much devoted effort to it. At the same time, everyone does not want to learn this curriculum of peace, because we are still too terrified of what life would be without a personal autonomous individuality. The purpose of A Course in Miracles is not to make us feel guilty for being such weak and wretched spiritual misfits — on the contrary, its purpose is to bring exactly this conflict in the split mind into full awareness, above the daily battleground of mindlessness, calmly see the silliness of it all, and happily choose once again; a thousand times a day, as a happy learner.

At this point it can be very helpful to fully realize the incredible power of the mind, even in this illusory dream world we call the universe. As early in the workbook as lesson 16, Jesus emphasizes that we have no idle thoughts: “What gives rise to the perception of a whole world can hardly be called idle. Every thought you have contributes to truth or to illusion; either it extends the truth or it multiplies illusions. […] Every thought you have brings either peace or war; either love or fear. A neutral result is impossible because a neutral thought is impossible.” (W-pI.16.2:2-4). So if you want to make progress as a Course student, learn to become aware of this distinction a little sooner day by day, without feeling guilty about not being fully enlightened yet. We are not admonished to never ever make any mistakes any more. You and I are only asked to be willing to be taught differently, by choosing the Holy Spirit as our guiding Teacher instead of the ego. If you can do that two seconds sooner than last month or last year, you are well on your way!

To recap, let’s revisit Jesus’ extremely clear clarion call in chapter 31 of the text to fuel our own motivation to practice this mind searching: “What you have taught yourself is such a giant learning feat it is indeed incredible. But you accomplished it because you wanted to, and did not pause in diligence to judge it hard to learn or too complex to grasp… No one who understands what you have learned, how carefully you learned it, and the pains to which you went to practice and repeat the lessons endlessly, in every form you could conceive of them, could ever doubt the power of your learning skill. There is no greater power in the world. The world was made by it, and even now depends on nothing else. […] The world began with one strange lesson, powerful enough to render God forgotten, and His Son an alien to himself, in exile from the home where God Himself established him. You who have taught yourself the Son of God is guilty, say not that you cannot learn the simple things salvation teaches you!” (T-31.I.2:7-4:6). Try to remember this the next time you open that big blue book. Happy practicing!


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

buy-now-amazon-button

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

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

The choice to be upset

This blog obviously focuses on workbook lesson 5 in A Course in Miracles, with the infuriating title: “I am never upset for the reason I think.” Note that it does not say “almost never”; it makes no exceptions whatsoever. For almost all Course students, this is a most un-favorite lesson. We all like to think we are upset because of factors outside of us: you treated me unfairly; the weather turned bad; the stock market plummeted; my car broke down; and on and on. Since we obviously cannot control everything in the world around us (or so we reason), we won’t be able to avoid becoming upset from time to time.

In A Course in Miracles, Jesus taps us on the shoulder and explains to us that this only seems to be the case as long as we are firmly convinced that this dream world with its myriad bodies is our reality. In truth, we are quite capable to awaken from this dream and choose to remain at Home, as spirit, in the Heart of God where you and I belong. But we believe we don’t want that. We want to keep the silly notion of separation ongoing. We want to remain asleep so we can continue to experience ourselves as unique, special, autonomous individuals. To this end, we must engage in constant mind activity that ‘proves’ that the separation did indeed happen and is in fact reality.

Finding things to be upset about fits in nicely with this goal. If I can prove that there is a world that can hurt me, this clearly illustrates that (a) I exist as an individual body, and that (b) someone else is responsible for all the misery we experience in the dream. That’s the perennial goal of the ego. So Jesus is saying to us something like “Why not honestly admit that you want to be upset, so that you can keep up this silly ego-dream of time and space and individuality? It’s not a sin, but it is a tragic mistake. How long will you continue to crucify yourself this way?” Now we can see why, for most Course students, lesson 5 is a most un-favorite lesson: I’m never upset for the reason I think; I make the (unconscious) choice to be upset, so that I can keep up the illusion of my innocent separated self, and at the same time condemn my brother for his obvious sinfulness, so that God will send him to hell and allow me back into Heaven. “Behold me brother, at your hand I die,” we read in (T-27.I.4:6). My upset is fully justified!

This lesson is not meant to make us feel guilty. It does aim, however, at making us aware of the underlying guilt that we, as the Son of God, made in the ontological instant by seemingly choosing against our Creator (even though, in reality, this is impossible and never really happened). Once we realize that this original choice for guilt is the ultimate source of all our upsets, can we slowly begin to realize that all our upsets, big and small, really originate from the same cause. Therefore, it doesn’t really matter what seems to upset me, big or small: there is no hierarchy in illusions; they are all the same in content. This insight is the prerequisite for being able to let all upsets go. Once I realize that I am not upset because of what seems to happen outside, but only because of my unconscious though deliberate purpose to keep experiencing separation, I can choose to let it go and relax.

Before you and I reach that point, however, we must practice with great specificity in our daily lives, to fully realize that ‘a slight twinge of annoyance’ really is no different from ‘intense rage’ (WpI-21.2:5). At first it’s very, very hard to believe that, for example, being upset over a low cookie supply in the cupboard is really no different from being upset over a diagnosis of terminal cancer. The ego tells us that all attempts to see the sameness of these two cases are absurd and preposterous. To the happy learner part in my mind, however, this is merely a reminder that I’m obviously still firmly convinced I am a body living in a world that does have power to upset me. Again, this is hardly something to feel guilty about. In his Course, Jesus invites you and me to be mildly humble, and honestly acknowledge that (a) apparently I am still a spiritual infant, not a giant, and (b) I am in dire need of help on my spiritual path. Jesus (or the Holy Spirit) gladly serve as the perfect guide to this end; but must choose them; have to do the mind work.

A very useful insight this lesson offers is that a mere intellectual grasp of the truth of this lesson doesn’t mean we have mastered the complete change of mind that is the primary aim of this Course. Merely telling myself that “There are no small upsets. They are all equally disturbing to my peace of mind.” (WpI-5.4: 3), doesn’t mean I won’t feel upset by this or that tomorrow. But it does help me to switch teachers in my mind a little sooner than yesterday. This is why this is a Course in practicing self-forgiveness; day after day, year after year. Each time I become aware of an upset (i.e., a non-loving thought, a judgment), the first thing I do is becoming aware of that without guilt or judging myself. I’ll feel better instantly. This provides the space to choose to switch teachers and ask Jesus (or the Holy Spirit) for help in what to think, say or do instead.

A Course in Miracles teaches us to honestly see the ego and its purpose for what it is. Although we are ultimately asked to take the ego lightly because of the inherent silliness of the foundation on which it rests, we are also taught that we cannot dismiss the ego lightly, as long as we still identify with its premise of autonomous individuality. Being an effective Course student does not mean wanting to be enlightened overnight. Being an effective Course student means choosing to be a happy learner, placing full trust in the guidance of Jesus (or the Holy Spirit) to get us Home at the pace that we are ready to accept. And always remember that it is “a journey without distance to a goal that has never changed” (T-8.VI.9:7), since in reality you and I already are safely at Home in the Heart of God. So learn to gently smile about all your upsets a little sooner today!


 

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

buy-now-amazon-button

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

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