Quiet Answer

Note that while a request to remove anger may be granted immediately, it is more likely to be a slow process. Giving up all our angers requires a complete relinquishment of self-will (in the egoistic sense) to the better way of the Spirit within. And it requires attunement to the Divine at the moment in the heat of anger. Do not fight the sin (error)! That will only make it stronger. Instead, withdraw into one’s heart and mind and seek the solace of God’s solution to the situation that so troubles. Avoid the quick retort; know that this impulse is fueled by fear (stress) and is unworthy of a child of God. If we fall down on the pathway, know that God is ever ready to pick us up and set us aright again. Forgive self for the lapse! It does no good and much harm to chastise one’s self harshly and in the throes of guilt. Ask for divine assistance and it will be forthcoming. Above all, be grateful for the surfacing of anger. It is the only way for the boil to be lanced, the false self to be undone, and the better way available to all of us once again.

If problems assail us one by one, two by two, or more, please know that we are living in error. This is the human condition. Jesus says, though, that we will have freedom when we give over all problems to the one solution—the Holy Spirit. He will impress upon our minds the solution in a quiet answer without fanfare, a quiet answer that leaves no one the loser. Until every problem is given over in this way to a Higher Power, the essentially same “problem” will arise repeatedly in different forms. To keep a problem, moreover, is to make it great, past the hope of accomplishing a solution. God would not have this so for His children. In the Holy Spirit’s sight, though, problems are little and “. . .worth no more than just a tiny sigh before they disappear. . . .” (T-26.II.7:4)

If God’s Son in truth is innocent, then God’s justice would hold nothing against him. When we fail to offer the same justice to our brother by seeing instead that he is not due true justice, that he has done something not worthy of forgiveness, we judge against ourselves as well. Madness, as Jesus says, only seems terrible; in truth it has no power to make anything. (M-17.9:1-2) Justice would say to our brothers, “Choose again. This thing you decry is false and not reality at all.” Then our brother is granted complete justice as an innocent, though mistaken, son or daughter of God. We forgive, though we, strictly speaking, do not need to do so at all because there is nothing to forgive. Illusions need to be simply dispelled, and all will be as if they had never been.

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Anger

When we recognize that our minds are one, that the mind that is in one’s brother connects to our own, it is a very short step to eliminate attack, because we recognize that the attack is upon ourselves as well. And eliminating attack will eliminate guilt, the reason that we have been driven mad and into this world of illusion.

This new way of approaching life may not come readily. We first may find our anger rising more easily from the depths because we have been sensitized to the fact that it is there. How can we eliminate it unless we are first made aware of it? As one comes closer to living in the fully spiritual life, the tiny inconveniences of living, the nagging doubts and negative thoughts, the scraps of anger, will seem more burdensome to us than before. That is why saints have historically viewed themselves as the blackest of sinners: They are more conscious of the tiniest of errors. So too will this dynamic occur as we make our way along the spiritual pathway. Do not, therefore, lament the awareness of anger within; open up to feel it and then bid it leave forever. Think you that the Holy Spirit would not grant this request, so in line with God’s will for us?

Egoic “Devil” Is a Mirage

One point in the deluded sufferer’s mind of attack needs to be addressed. Not only will we have trouble believing in the essential innocence of our brother, but we will believe that A Course in Miracles is deluding us as the tool of the “devil” as well. The Holy Spirit will therefore not be seen as God’s emissary, but as the voice of evil, cloaked in “good.” This is the essential aspect of the Course that Jesus says will cause us trouble; we will believe that he is misleading us. But is he really? Isn’t it our own projections that are the culprit here? We think the “sin” within is actually perpetrated by following an external demon, when in truth the demons are all within–products of our deluded mind. This is all that we are really dealing with. The devil is a myth, a projection from within of the “evil” we have seen there. And it was all a mirage–nothing more. A mirage that we can discard as invalid as soon as we accept the truth that we are dreaming in chaos, living with a diseased mind that in truth wants fervently to be sane again.

Jesus explains this dilemma in two succinct sentences. Referring to the Holy Spirit, he says, “What could He be to them except a devil, dressed to deceive within an angel’s cloak. And what escape has He for them except a door to hell that seems to look like Heaven’s gate?” (T-25.VIII.7:3-4) Words like these are the reason that the early portion of the Course must be carefully studied, because without this preparation, the ego will react with such fear that the experience will be more traumatic than beatific.” (T-1.VII.5:8) Trauma we can leave behind if we only trust Jesus and the Course a little longer. Suspend egoistic judgment of the parts that frighten, and patiently study the whole.

Jesus and the Holy Spirit will bring us out of the tunnel into the light, and into a world of Reality that sparkles and shines unlike anything seen since we fell asleep. And the Awakening will be gentle, once all the steps on the ladder have been retraced. Before the steps have been taken, there indeed may be a revelation of some startling proportions, a revelation revealing the end. But to get there the means are needed, and Jesus in the Course carefully explains those means. (T-1.VII.5:11)

Jesus’ Example

We must never forget that we and our brother are always “in this together.” If we imagine that we can be treated unfairly, we are trying to combine our innocence and his attack. The world doesn’t work that way. Because projection makes perception, it is our own attack thoughts that have prompted the cry of “unfair.” Attack is simply a mad reaction, and the notion even if a “fair attack” is without meaning. Moreover, we do our brother an injustice when we blame him for what we perceive as unfair attacks upon ourselves. We see him as guilty, and thus damn him, figuratively, to a hell of our own making. We have consented to this attack, for whatever reason, good or bad. A Course in Miracles says, “Walk you the gentle way, and you will fear no evil and no shadows in the night.” (T-27.I.1:3)

Even Jesus’s own suffering is an example of this dynamic. He did not share his tormentors’ view of attack (that it was “fair”) nor of his friends and apostles (that it was “unfair”). Thus he did not strengthen the attack in any way whatsoever. And a short while later he demonstrated that resurrection (for all of us, not just him) always follows death, showing that death is essentially an illusion of this time and place only. Jesus made no defense at all, the posture that he recommends for us as well, for to react defensively is to acknowledge that there is some evil therein to be defensive about.

So in the days following death and entombment, Jesus appeared in a body that could manifest itself among the apostles behind shut doors, and could walk along a road and almost not be recognized, and could “break bread” and eat. Surely he had entered a realm of living about which the rest of us know nothing. But the most important point was that the cross had not hurt him in any lasting way at all. By this truth we see an example of defenseless living wholly without reproach. Jesus says, “Let it [the body] receive the power to represent endless life, forever unattacked.” (T-27.I.10:6) In order for this picture to be true, we must not let the past intrude, much as we must not let the picture of Jesus’s crucifixion intrude on the glorified body that he occupied in the 40 days on earth following his resurrection.

Yet healing is to many a threatening idea. We cling fast to our sickness, even unto death, for we still blame our brother for the suffering that we, in actual fact, have allowed ourselves to endure. Withdraw the blame, and part of the reason for sickness (i.e., the reproach) is gone as well. Only the healed can truly pardon, because their (formerly) sick bodies do not stand in mute testimony that a brother is guilty of attack upon one’s self. And because only now is eternal and real, the illusory past has vanished, taking its causeless suffering with it.

Our Healing

It is part of the worldview of A Course in Miracles that we are all One, and this One is God. Ideas (and we are all at base an idea) leave not their Source, and so we are created creatures, extensions of God Himself. Our mistake in wanting to be apart and separate can never satisfy, because we are meant both to have and to be everything. Our egos would want a little separate treasure, apart from what our brother has, but all this false belief can ever give us is isolation, loneliness, and fear. And God has protected Himself and us by seeing that this separation happens only in illusion, in dreams. And thus it does not happen in Reality at all.

This explanation can only be understood metaphorically in this world, because we are not yet back Home in God. But miracles can and do happen without a fuller understanding. We can be healed of our guilt over separation (and the illusory effects that it has brought) without sacrifice and without pain. All we need are open hands to accept the miracle.

Specifically, what we have to give up to be free of pain is fear. Jesus sums up how in one concise sentence, “Being wholly without attack, it [love] cannot be afraid.” (T-19.IV.A.10:7) Without attack, there is no fuel with the pain that it brings. The pain may, and frequently does, visit ourselves or others in the form of sickness. This, Jesus explains, is the faulty problem solving mechanism meant to illustrate the frailty of the ego’s home, the body.

In these few sentences is a summation of what Jesus tells us about the origin of pain. Is it understandable? Not at its introduction, because once ego defenses immediately activate to suggest a thousand reasons why this simple answer cannot be the whole of it. Give the ideas a while to prove their validity.

God Enthralls Us

I believe that this moment of coming into our own can be likened to God taking the last steps into our Reunion with Him all by Himself. There is nothing that we can “do” to merit it, and if we had continued to struggle in our chaos, it might have seemed to be endless. And by retracing our karmic steps, we will regain Heaven, and the ladder leading us in the direction of the egoistic world can be withdrawn so that never again will we be tempted to dive into illusory worlds.

We have had enough pain to realize that the egotistical way is not appropriate. We will love God too much, appreciate the joys of Heaven too much, ever to be tempted to feel that following His Will is somehow a contrast to our own. We will see others as the equals that they are, and we will not be tempted to ask God to give us special favor. The desire for “special favor” is, in fact, what A Course in Miracles sees as the reason for our present predicament. And that defines the ego in two tiny words. We wait for God to take the final step in freeing us as individuals. Yet the Course looks to the individual first; in that sense, it does not preach a “social gospel.”

The Course would see most of our efforts in the world as doomed from the start unless we are right with God in the beginning. Jesus knows that we cannot give what we have not received. If we are not first healed, we have no healing to share with others. If we try still, we are “unhealed healers,” and Jesus is particularly negative about this. (T-9.V.3:3)

Heaven

Why may it take us so long to extricate ourselves from this world of madness? That is a misleading question, because time is relative, and if our attitudes are right, we can experience even Heaven itself in the here and now. Jesus says that Heaven is not a condition, but the awareness of perfect oneness. (T-18.VI.1:5) Surely in our mystical moments we come close to experiencing this wonder, and there are few of us who do not have mystical moments from time to time, even if we don’t call these memorable times by that name and even if we do not recognize these memorable times for what they are.

Jesus also says that we must retrace our steps, in effect, a process that he likens to a ladder, where we retrace our steps into descent, and eventually the ladder is removed. (T-28.II.12:7) Our old ideas of Heaven being “up,” of somewhere out in the sky being Heaven, here comes into play in Jesus’s metaphor. We cannot truly enter the Heaven that is actually within until we have let go of all illusions; this may be a very long process, because we have gone deep into madness.

All that Is Asked of Us Is to Make Room for Truth

The ego is dazed by much of our reasoning, which accounts for the Heaven vs. hell dichotomies that our religions have set up. I once heard a ministerial student proclaim that [blank] religion could not be right, because it asserted that there was only Good and “there cannot be good without evil.” Jung had a similar problem, symbolized by a seminal childhood dream, which led him to feel that God Himself might be both good and evil. This was nothing less than an imperfect way to improve on Milton’s concept of Satan and God at war. Ego, all, A Course in Miracles would have us understand. We can’t make sense of it because the ideas are filled to the brim with the chaotic “reality” of insanity.

Any person who has experienced psychosis understands the troubled way in which he tries to “make sense” of the images that arise from the subconscious. Meaning can be seen only in part, because the person is having a nocturnal dream in the daylight hours. And there are virtually always huge chunks of our nocturnal dreams that remain incomprehensible to us as we seek to analyze them. It is this dynamic that is played out when we live with the ego as our guide. Our cues for inference (T-21.I.1:5) are wrong, the Course says, so we cannot see our way clearly. The daily dream that is our life is chaotic because its source (the ego) is insane.

We do not have to accept this view of Reality wholly if it would be dishonest to try to believe something that on the surface of it doesn’t make sense. The Course says only, “All that is asked of you is to make room for truth.” (T-21.II.7:6) Entertain the concept that our ego may be distracting us in our search for meaning. We need only open our minds to the possibility that in the past we may have formed a worldview wrongly. Suspend judgment for a time, drop resistance, and in the Course’s beautiful language, do as it bids: “Be willing, for an instant, to leave your altars free of what you placed upon them, and what is really there you cannot fail to see.” (T-21.II.8:1)

We Are the Energy of God

In our madness, we revolted against God, possibly believing that we could not be free unless we exercised that freedom by choosing a way of living that was opposed to His Will. Doesn’t this sound very much like an adolescent revolting against the reasoning and life patterns of parents? I suggest that this human perennial pattern is a metaphor for our rebellion against our Perfect Parent. The fallacy in this mad reason (because it is mad) is that God is ultimately not only our Parent and Creator, but also the very Energy out of which we are born. We are not separate from Him except when we identify ourselves as ego in a bad dream. Even on the human level we can see some parallel in the humor elicited by varieties of the story we have all heard: “When I was 14, I thought that my father didn’t know anything. By the time I turned 21, I was amazed by how much he had learned.”

On the human level, where this world is opposite from Heaven (T-16.V.3:6), there is good reason to build up a personality separate from our parents. Yet never have our minds been truly separate in this universal growth process. The latter point illustrates profoundly the way of the universe. We are built of the very Existence of God, thus not being separate, we can only retreat into madness and fantasize that we are, lest God be divided against Himself. This God could not allow, and we fancy ourselves apart only; in actuality, we are still at Home in Him.

We Can See Clearly Now

The Course calls the act of pardoning, or forgiving, one’s brother of what is just illusion anyway as the “power to release your savior.” (T-21.II.3:8) If we will entertain the idea that the Course is right, that the world is truly illusory and illusion made in madness, the step of pardon becomes very easy. It becomes, in madness, the only rational choice that one would make. We would not get angry if our brother were psychotic, though we might wish mightily that he were healed, especially if in his madness he is causing us pain. In effect, the Course declares that this characterization is exactly what is happening on a daily basis in our world. We are all, to one degree or another, steeped in a metaphysical madness.

On a deeper level, though, we have never left Heaven, and our real Self is very strong. We are indeed strong enough to let this world go, accepting correction because we see that we are wrong. (T-21.II.4:10) It is only the extent to which we live by guidance that we can see a more benign dream, the still illusory Real World granted our waking dream by the Holy Spirit. The dreams he gives, though still illusory, are happy, and by them we see our way clear.

Be Gentle with the Self

Do we really choose, on some level, what we experience? The Course is uncompromising in its insistence that we do. “Suffer, and you decided sin was your goal. Be happy, and you gave the power of decision to Him [i.e., the Holy Spirit] Who must decide for God for you.” (T-21.II.3:5-6)

If this concept is helpful, it is because we see the light at the end of the tunnel. If it makes us feel guilty, we are misusing the words on behalf of the ego’s insanity. All of us are still at least partially insane, ruled by the ego. It is not practical to think, under these circumstances, that we always and consistently follow the Holy Spirit. The little self that occupies this world is still imperfect. Be gentle with that self, even as your Self would be, and perhaps say quietly (if it is helpful), “There is another way of looking at the world.” (W-pI.33.h)

When I fall from Grace into karma, I think, “I have done this thing to somebody else, sometime, somewhere.” I allow myself to feel the pain, but I try not to wallow in it. It is sometimes helpful, if the “sin” (in illusion) seems to be perpetrated by another, to remember, “you always attack yourself first,” (T-10.II.4:5) substituting the offender’s name for the “you.” Then I feel compassion for this fellow traveler, my brother sent to me by God, for we will find the way out together or not at all.

The Ego as Satan

A Course in Miracles says, “Sin is not error, for it goes beyond correction to impossibility. Yet the belief that it is real has made some errors seem forever past the hope of healing, and the lasting grounds for hell.” (T-26.VII.7:1-2) This passage points to the old idea of a duel between God and the fallen angel Lucifer (Satan), in which the two battle it out for control of men’s and women’s minds.

We must realize that this myth is a projection of the ego, which is the “Satan” in all of us. But as part of God, as an extension of God, our Will and His have not truly been out of sync. It is only in our mad and unnatural way to operate independently of God that the trouble began–the trouble that is an illusion of reality, but an illusion in which, nevertheless, we still believe.

God does not attack our ego (our “Satan”), knowing that it is only a dream and without substance at all. He waits for us to understand that the way of the ego does not work; He waits for our reestablishment of communing with the Holy Spirit, the only natural way to live. As finite minds, we cannot succeed if we try to live separately from our Source.

So we must give up our inferior judgments to the Holy Spirit, who sees the whole picture. This is natural; this is the way life should be experienced, and we learn this as our bad dreams turn to happy ones under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit.

Forgiveness

People who are particularly fearful of sin (though they may not call it that) will be particularly prone to find a victim in an attempt to ease their consciences at their own “unforgivable” wrongdoing. Their attacks upon another will be very pronounced, reducing her to an object deemed unworthy of esteem, but very worthy of damnation for “sins.” This is projection! The one who feels guilty, who cannot accept those mistakes of hers that seem black enough to be sins, will thrust her poor self-image onto another–the scapegoat. Know that this is simple insanity, and try no longer to make sense of it. Forgive the indiscretion, and this understanding will dawn upon an overwrought mind. Know that if we are the victims today, in other times we have been the perpetrators. Leave this insanity behind for all time. It is a replay of the mistaken message that we have long viewed by looking at the old, rugged cross.

We do not need the cross as expiation of sins. We do need the wholly benign lesson of the resurrection, and Jesus in A Course in Miracles bids us look to the resurrection rather than the crucifixion. A Course in Miracles affirms that all sickness is an illusion caused by our belief in unforgivable sin and brought into being by our guilt (over the “sin”) that asks for punishment. The Course does not really believe that sin, if true at all, is forgivable. And it implies that we do not believe sin, if true, is forgivable either.

The Course’s way out of this impasse is to say that the wrong that we do is really illusion, and that Reality has not be affected at all. So sin is not “real,” and only in illusion have we made errors that cry out for correction.

Calling an error a “sin” seems to make it “real,” and to call for punishment. And because belief makes an illusion, we will experience the punishment that we have asked for. We can seem to make error “real” by concentrating upon it, thereby elevating its status. What we need to do is overlook the error, perhaps offering simultaneously our forgiveness of it. But certain it is that we will make it “real” to ourselves if we focus on it, analyzing it as the ego is always prone to do. If we forgive first, we will then come to understand. We ought not to seek to understand before forgiving because that is a certain way to engage the ego and ensure that we will find it harder and harder to forgive, having made real to ourselves the deeds that we need to overlook.

Jesus

The belief in sin sets up the need for sacrifice—a scapegoat or victim upon whom our wrong can be dumped so that we will not suffer for it. This is essentially why the cross has played such a huge part in the drama of 2,000 years ago. If Jesus, the innocent one, the best of the flock, was sacrificed to an angry God, then we were off the hook.

The fact that Jesus did not see an angry God but only a loving Father was a detail overlooked in the scenario. He would do anything God might ask, even death unto the cross. The drama was complete.

But what if we somehow missed the point? What if it were our ego that gave this interpretation to which was essentially a cruel death to one who upset the authority of the priests? In the Course Jesus bids us look at the resurrection, which, however it is understood, does seem to point beyond death to a life that continues. The New Testament gives eye-witness accounts of a Jesus who appeared in the midst of the apostles, though the doors to the room were shut. This does not appear to be the usual physical body, but one that could be “made physical” at will.

Do we really doubt that there are more things in Heaven and earth than we dream of? This seems to be one of these cases–a body that could come and go from other regions at will.

A Course in Miracles says, “. . .specialness cares not who pays the cost of sin, so it be paid. . . .” (T-25.VIII.11:1) So for almost 2,000 years, many of us have believed that the cost of our specialness demanded a victim to expiate our “sin.” What if there need be no victim because there is no sin–only error borne of madness? We would rush to the side of our brother to do what we can to heal his mind.

Maybe that’s exactly what we need to do today: Rush to our brother or sister’s side to heal his/her mind.

Wholly Correctable Mistakes – Not “Sin”

It is particularly hard for newcomers to the A Course in Course to believe it when they are told that they have never sinned: They have only made wholly correctable mistakes. People with background such as mine may think that this is the deception of which we are warned from a “devil.” So what are we to make of this?

It one can just entertain the notion that our minds are, to greater or lesser degrees, at one time or another, in one person or another, insane, then we are well on our way out. Even our society treats the insane criminal differently from the one judged sane, controversial though a given case may be. We recognize diminished responsibility, an inability to see clearly right from wrong. Is this not what we are faced with on a daily basis? We see so dimly without the Holy Spirit’s guidance; sometimes we hardly know which way to turn. Would a loving God condemn us for our lack of clear understanding? No! He would merely give us a Guide who would lead us out of the maze.

Does a loving God demand payment, sacrificial payment, because we have done something bad and need to be punished for it? Certain traditional Christian theology teaches this, in that Jesus “died for our sins” and is the “sacrificial Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.” The Course reinterprets all of this into a much more benign concept. “I was not ‘punished’ because you were bad,” Jesus says. (T-3.I.2:10) He goes on to explain that this interpretation is an egoistic projection borne of the insanity of the ego. So we are back to the concept of insanity.

Surely no parent or loved one who sees his child or family member commit violent acts when diagnosed as mentally ill holds that person by the same standards as she holds a “sane” person. Let us entertain the notion that we only need to enlarge our definition of insanity to accommodate all people, to a greater or lesser degree. Jesus condemned no one. He recognized while on earth that most people did the best that they could with what they had. It behooves those of us who follow in the footsteps of Jesus, however blindly, to try to do the same.

Little Wisp of Melody

The Course speaks of a “little wisp of melody” (T-21.I.6:2) that will remind us of an ancient state of Oneness with God, a state of Oneness which calls us to return to our real Home. T. S. Eliot expressed this need to return perhaps more perfectly than anyone else when he said,

“We will not cease from exploration,
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started,
And know the place for the first time.” –“Little Gidding,” Four Quartets, V: 26-29

This is a fitting description of the expulsion from Eden as the “fortunate” fall. But we do not have to agree that our detour into madness was “fortunate” to derive meaning and benefit from Eliot’s concept. In our own world, though, it is not uncommon for those individuals who recover fully from madness to feel, in retrospect, that their experiences, however wrenching, were worthwhile. If the people labeled “mentally ill” by our culture can see value in their dreamlike experiences, do we really have to doubt that our mass hallucination–our mass dream–is a valuable teaching tool as well?

In the final analysis, the two may be remarkably alike. Just as many mentally ill people refuse to believe that they are ill, so too do most people of the world. Our egos are seen as valuable and, above all, real–hardly the illusion that miracles would have us recognize.

CREATING A NEW WORLD

Published recently in Miracles magazine (Jon Mundy, publisher)

by Celia Hales

“To your tired eyes I bring a vision of a different world, so new and clean and fresh you will forget the pain and sorrow that you saw before.” (ACIM, COA ed., T:IX.7:6)

But the choice many of you will make—the choice to move from learning to creating—will create a new world. (ACOL, C7:9)

. . .[W]ithout intention, desire cannot become the crystal clear focus, the laser-like focus that can cut through the dross of this world so that a new creation can flow forth through you.” (WOM, Book 1)

Jesus is very eager to see a new world arise out of the chaos that we know now. In A Course of Love, he says that some of us will continue learning, out of choice, and thereby change the world. But many of us will go on to create a new world.

What could this mean, for we find the same sentiment in A Course in Miracles and The Way of Mastery (Christ-Mind Trilogy), quoted above. It can only mean that we are on the brink of something very grand. Christ-consciousness (Awakening) will emerge for many of us, and when a tipping point is reached, peace will truly reign.

Of course, this doesn’t seem possible now. But it is always darkest just before the dawn, and it is dark now. The dawn is coming, is imminent—if we do our part. If we remove the blocks to the awareness of love, seek to relinquish fear, and thereby live in freedom untainted by egoic leftovers, patterns of the ego that cry to be relinquished, things will get better. If our choices are made without fear, we will have moved into the next realm—the realm of Christ-consciousness as a tipping point, the point at which things do indeed get better around the world.

Let us pray for such an outcome today. We are thankful for many things in our personal world, our little plot of land on which we reside. But we can pray for something better for all people, and if we pray diligently and often, forces will come to our aid that we have not foreseen. We are surrounded by angels (Jesus says so), and they add their prayers to ours. Miracles abound in such a world, miracles that can and will transform this hostile and violent world into a world of peace and joy and harmony.

Do you believe it can happen? Belief is pivotal. And we can have such a belief if we trust what Jesus has said in his channeled works.

Be sure today that Jesus would not mislead us. Be ready for the new world. And then ask what each of us can do to effect that new world.

We need to thank God for the many blessings that we have, our friends, our families, our house, our neighborhood, our cities and towns. These are not little blessings, and I know, within the depths of my being, that the more gratitude we feel for present blessings, the more we open to something more.

May God be with us now for a great today and a great tomorrow.

JOY, PEACE, RELEASE

Note: Published in the May – June issue of Miracles magazine (Jon Mundy, publisher).

by Celia Hales

There is one thought in particular that should be remembered throughout the day. It is a thought of pure joy, a thought of peace, a thought of limitless release—limitless because all things are freed within it. (ACIM, COA ed., M-16.6:1-2)

Drape your persona in a mantle of peace and joy. Let who you are shine through the personal self who continues to walk this world a while longer. (ACOL, T2:13.6)

Hold in the mind’s eye all of your domain—your relationships, your careers, your physical objects—and say, “Behold, it’s been a lot of fun!” (WOM, “The Way of Knowing,” Chap. 35)

I have used the words, “pure joy” and “limitless release,” here quoted from A Course in Miracles, almost as a mantra over the years. There is such hope in the promise of joy and release. Previously, we have been so doubled up in agony over the machinations of the ego. And it is such a blessing to know that we need not live this way. We can live in the hope of continual joy and release, and this is just what Jesus is asking us to do in this passage.

A Course of Love continues the theme. We are still here, on earth, walking this world a while longer. And peace and joy are the hallmarks of a well-lived life. It is true that we often think that we have to achieve to merit grace. Yet this is a false concept. We are accepted just as we are, even with all of our mistakes and false notions of an ego-oriented self.

The Way of Mastery introduces a new concept, perhaps a startling concept to us who are still so very serious about life (“serious” itself a plague of the ego). “Have fun!,” these words of Jesus say. It is in the limitless release from ACIM that we discover how to truly enjoy our fun. We relax into our days, knowing that the God Who created us and loves us knows that our lightheartedness is the very way that we need to walk. We only thought that God didn’t want us to have a good time.

Limitless release will lead to a peace and joy that knows no bounds. Say a mantra today that will attract the Love that enfolds us, never to let the seriousness of the ego intrude again.

A Bridge – New Publication from Take Heart Publications

This is a message from Glenn Hovemann, publisher, Take Heart Publications, about a new booklet that will describe the connection between A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love. The booklet is called A Bridge, and can be purchased from amazon in both print and e-book format. It is excellent, my recommendation (from Celia):

Here are straight answers to questions from students of A Course in Miracles about A Course of Love.

• What’s different about the message of ACOL?
• Do both ACIM and ACOL see the world as an illusion?
• How can ACOL help me in my life?
• What could ACOL offer that I haven’t already gotten from ACIM?

Many long-time students of ACIM have wholeheartedly embraced ACOL without diminishing in the slightest their love for ACIM. Others have been hesitant about “another Course.” This little book was written by students of both Courses. It’s offered as a bridge of love.

This booklet is NOT couched as a “debate” or intended to foster that kind of energy. It is for people who are interested in these questions and who are open to listening. As it says in the Introduction:

This work is presented as a series of questions and answers, and the author of each response to each question has been indicated. Our intent is to avoid the suggestion there is any one form of answering these questions that is exclusively correct, and to avoid the solidification of answers into dogmas or ideals. Some of our contributors are more verbose than others. Some have different vantages. We view this as all of a piece, as we are each unique expressions of the fullness of God. Words remain but symbols. The truth is what lives and breathes and dances in our own hearts. It is the living reality of Love we would remember, and to which we would each return.

Reason & Faith

There is a difference between what is metaphorically true and what is actually true. When the way seems rough, it is likely that one is being propelled by a metaphor. Instruction for living is found therein, but not those things that will be actualized in the time and place of this plane. And faith that it will be is misplaced faith, particularly likely to lead one even deeper into illusion.

I was greatly relieved in my college classes in religion to learn that one of the Church Fathers had declared that one need not believe on faith anything that contradicted reason. As my beliefs about Reality have changed, so has my reasoning about it. But the Holy Spirit leads gently and leads us willingly; just so long as He is dealing with a skeptic, so ever gentle will He lead. Now I read in the Course that the Holy Spirit uses reason to undo insanity. (T-21.V.9:1) Reason actually lies in the union of my will with that of the Father.

With these words the gentle pathway back becomes illumined as by a lightning bolt. Perhaps the Holy Spirit needs reason even more than blind faith. If truly blind, one is not using her sane mind, but is particularly apt, perhaps, to follow a will o’ wisp of falsity to its mad conclusion.

Faith

Faith is a particularly slippery term to the partially insane, because it can be used to justify illusions as well as truth. If we believe an illusion strongly enough, it will become true to us (even if we have to dip into psychosis to prove its truth). Conversely, if one lacks faith in any truths beyond one’s self, the world becomes a very nihilistic place in which to dwell.

So when do we know that faith is warranted? There are no easy answers. But you can be sure that if one has to invert a whole frame of reference to justify a belief, that belief is probably wrong. The Course is practical, as ever. And I know from experience that, given a strong will, one is frequently tempted to invert a frame of reference in an attempt to preserve an egoistic dream.

Madness & Illusion

The Course even maintains that the world exists only in our minds: “There is no world!” (W-pI.132.6:2) Jesus says that this is the central tenet that the Course attempts to teach, and that we will go as far toward accepting this as we can. For those of us who have longed to know the metaphysical basis of Reality, these words are welcome indeed. We are told that when we awake from our nocturnal dreams, we simply “awake” to a new dream, in a new form not easily recognizable. The Course also says that awareness of dreaming is the real function of God’s teachers. (M-12.6:6)

When we recognize that what we see and do is illusion, we do not have so much trouble forgiving our brother, for in truth what he did to cause pain never happened. Our real self has been unaffected, and we are led gently to realize that this real Self is far greater than the tiny, mad part of ourselves that longs to be separate. If we can believe it, we are even instructed that the Whole does not know of the tiny part that wishes to be different and “special.” Only the Holy Spirit is the linkage that pulls this bit of madness back to the one Whole.

This is another of the difficult concepts of the Course: Does God Himself really remain unaware of our doings, with only the Holy Spirit to mediate between God and us? If we see God as within, layered over by much unreality, the concept makes more sense. Frequently we can reach God only in silence, so far have we gone into madness. And if we cannot know the Living God, it is obvious that the communication between Him and us has been disrupted. This then perhaps is the basis for recognizing that we in our madness have limited the very knowledge of God.

Can He reach us, if He is hidden within us and we are mad? I think not. But the Course is adamant that God’s Holy Spirit does provide the communication link that we have thrown away. I do not believe that these concepts are possible of understanding in a world of madness. Do let us go as far along the pathway of understanding as we can, leaving it to God to take the final step of uniting us to Him, once again. What we need is faith to see us through.

Visions

It is a fundamental tenet of the Course that we are making the world that we see: projection from within causes our perception. This is a particularly difficult concept for “rational” beings to accept, because it requires that we entertain the notion, foreign to ourselves, that we are engaged in mass hallucination with our brothers. Those who have actually seen hallucinations (or visions) will find it easier to accept. Those who have been psychotic have stepped, momentarily, out of the mass hallucination into one seen only by themselves. For these people, the world they normally see will never again seem so real.

God’s Answer

There is an old story, retold by Hugh Prather, in which a man was allowed to see his life at his death, symbolized as steps along a sandy shore. He noticed two sets of footprints during much of the walk, but from time to time noticed only one set, and it occurred to him that these were his most trying times. Why, he asked God, did you desert me when times were tough? God responded, “Yes, it is true that I walked beside you throughout life, holding your hand. But when there was only one set of footprints, that was when I was carrying you.”

God’s Goodness

The idea of suffering has long been a stumbling block for individuals who wished, in fact who always intuited that God is good. But it has especially been a stumbling block for people who have blamed God for suffering. They look around at a world torn by war and famine, the slaughter of innocents, and say, “How can God be good if this is what I see?”

The Course offers a way out of this dilemma, a dilemma that is indeed highlighted in particular passages of the books. Jesus acknowledges that all of us, at some point, have believed that God is cruel, because life so frequently seems to mock our good intentions. The way out is the assertion that this is illusion that we are seeing, illusion without any real effects. In our very Spirit, we are not affected by the suffering of ourselves nor others. There is still a part of us in Heaven and unchanged by these appearances. That part recognizes that the harm done by our fellow men and women is actually done out of insanity, that nothing that they do to us is done out of malice; it would not be done at all if our brothers and sisters were in his right mind.

Ah! But that is the crux of the matter. None of us here on earth are in our right minds. We live the insanity in order to work our way out of the maze. We struggle through years of not understanding before we finally find the right tools to lead us back to sanity and release in God’s care. We are never left alone, however much we may think that we are.

Peace

Knowing reality as it is really meant to be is possible only in snatches in this world. From time to time we experience a real meeting with another, a real relationship between equals, and we know that this experience of joy and love is as life is designed to be. The Course says that we would weep if we truly realized how different what we know now is from what we knew in Heaven (T-21.I.7:2) before we drifted into insanity and therefore into illusion.

I believe that God created karma in order to allow us to realize that our way could not work, that only a relationship of oneness with our true Mind, which is at home in God alone, could be reality. Jesus indicates that after much pain we must come to see that there is a better way, and make amends accordingly. If this seems like a dirty trick, that pain is what God visits on us to throw us back on Him alone, then we are misperceiving the truth of reality. Only God’s way can work; anything else proceeds from an illusory cause and brings effects that we would not want. Only in harmony can we live together in this universe. Only in Oneness could the universe survive. The “cause,” the ego, is a false notion of self, and it believes many things that are quite chaotic. This chaos brings on conflict and agony, for what else could transpire?

With karma, we see the boom-a-rang of what we have done to others coming back to ourselves; this is one way of learning. But it is not the only way. With the appearance of Jesus 2,000 years ago, he brought in the Age of Grace–the time in which we can, through meditation, prayer, and reflection, see the error of our ways, and make restitution that does not mean an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Certainly the Course carries this doctrine a step farther along to real Peace.

Errors vs. Sin

A Course in Miracles affirms, “The ego’s whole continuance depends on its belief you cannot learn this course.” (T-22.III.2:1) Of course! The heart of the assertion is the distinction between “errors” and “sin.” Errors are made for correction, which we will learn to do by learning this Course. Sin can, in Christian theology, only be forgiven and, perhaps, imperfectly, as we humans are prone to do. The Course asserts that it is doubly hard to forgive sin that has been in our minds made “real.” The better way is not to focus on the “sin,” or mistake, from the beginning, but to overlook it as the illusion that it is.

Sin is likened to solid granite (T-22.III.3:4), which, when observed, is seen as an impenetrable barrier. But this is what only the body’s eyes see a form that is not reality at all. It takes the application of reason to truly see, to have vision. The body’s eyes, physically and metaphorically, can never see past illusory form.

It is necessary for us to realize that the ego is a false, illusory self, made by ourselves in insanity, and offering nothing that in our right minds we would really want. God had to protect His universe, and so He allowed our miscreations to live on in illusion only–not in reality. Only in reality can we share the Mind that is His, and thus know reality as it is really meant to be.

Self Unharmed

Why does karma exist? It is the old law of cause and effect, an immutable law of the universe from which a loving God does not exclude us. This law is largely the reason that God is seen as cruel. We make mistakes, and suffer the (bad) consequences, and then we blame God for not saving us from ourselves! Yet how else could the universe operate? If we are ever to lift ourselves out of madness, we must learn what works and what doesn’t. Only by learning this well can we ever hope to be co-creators with God. If He were to alter magically the illusions in which we have encased ourselves, we would never find our way out of the mists.

It is true, according to the Course, that what we do is illusion. It is a game a child might play, a playing of pretend that will one day, when we have left our madness far behind, be the instigator of real effects. At this point we will have learned fully the “causes” that bring destruction upon us.

We must be firmly convinced that it is ourselves who are living in madness, not God. And even in this world God’s higher laws prevail. The principal higher law is activated by forgiveness, a forgiveness in which we acknowledge that our illusions of whatever nature, of whatever violence, have harmed no one. What has caused nothing can hardly need forgiveness, but as long as we think it does, we need the exercise of forgiveness. Attack is not a real cause, and therefore only illusory effects can result. One is always either expressing love, or calling for love, for Love is our identity, an identity in which we forgive our brother for what he has not done to us. As long as he thinks he has harmed us, though, we must show him that the perceived attack is of no consequence. The blood is but bottled catsup on a stage in which pain only seems real. Our Real Self has continued unabated and unharmed throughout the whole tumult.

Love or a Call for Love

What a depressing idea is the ego! This false idea believes that guilt can never be escaped, that sin will forever hold us bound. We find misery on the one side, misery of the ego; we join, on the other side, the Holy Spirit. Which will we choose? The Course’s particular understanding of the world must be addressed in this context.

Traditional Christian belief holds that sin is real, but that through the grace of God we can be led to forgive any evil, however black. But this part of belief has always been a particular stumbling block, because the effects of sin (pain, suffering) are first made real (by belief) and then a superhuman effort must be made to forgive.
The Course’s cosmology is different. Believing that this world is an illusory one based on madness, it does not make something real before one is asked to forgive. One forgives because everything that happens is either an expression of love or a call for love. One does not dwell on the mistake (“sin”), but quickly overlooks it, thereby not making it “real” in one’s consciousness.

A call for love begs answering, and if one in madness has done wrong, both the realization that one actually needs love, and the realization that one is mad, inspire the other to rush to her side with help and love.

Illusions

The Course says that we (not God) made the world that we see. It is an illusory world, but it does not appear illusory to us. We have “micreated,” but still what we have made cannot have power over us. It is as if to say that a god (Baal), fashioned of gold by the Israelites, has more power over their minds than does the Holy One at that very moment of fashioning tablets on the mountaintop with Moses. It simply isn’t so. We are one with God, and we never leave Him.

This understanding requires the knowledge that All is One. The Thought that is God extends Himself to create all living things. Only if God is mad could a part turn on the whole to destroy it. We have many times tried to turn on the whole and destroy, but to no effect. But God allowed this to happen only in illusion, assuring us that we have not in truth hurt either anybody–ourselves or others. Thus Return becomes possible at any time, although, practically, it may take millions of years for all of us to return.

A million years sounds daunting, but when we realize that we can have the “happy dreams that the Holy Spirit brings,” we know that we are not bereft in a hostile world. God needs many hands and feet to do His bidding in His world; he needs us to spread salvation upon the earth.

Let us do our part today, not by proselytizing, but by example.

Choose Heaven

We can choose Heaven at any time, but we must choose it with our brother. This idea is central to the Course: this particular pathway requires that we not walk alone. Moreover, the Course clearly says that we are not victims of the world, nor are we strangers within it. All of our fellow travelers are brothers on a common pathway. And we will choose together or not at all. If we choose not at all, we can never “make” Heaven in illusions; we can only stay in the hell and misery of this world.

The Course asserts that the time of our choosing of Heaven is in our hands. Until we use our power of choice to choose otherwise, we are left in this world, seemingly (to us) as victims, but, thankfully, this state of affairs need not remain with us.

Live Moment by Moment

We ought to resist the temptation to make grandiose resolutions of how we will act in the future. This is the ego trying to get in the act. The walk with the Holy Spirit is a moment-by-moment experience, even though we usually perceive those moments as blocks of time rather than discrete moments. As we open our hearts and minds once more to the Holy Spirit, we will observe our power flowing back in. But now is the time for us to tread softly, because we are still in a weakened state because of our attention to the ego.

Let the past go. Do not dwell on the words or actions that were a part of any attack. And do not wallow in guilt brought on by self-pity. All such actions are insanity that we would leave behind.

Walk forth in the sunlight, and know that Jesus is ready to take our hand at the very moment that we reach out.

Forgiveness

One always attacks one’s self first. And when we add to this truth the fact that our brother and ourselves are really one, we are doubly attacked. As we progress on the way of A Course in Miracles, attacks of whatever nature will become increasingly untenable to us. What might earlier have merited only a passing tinge of guilt will now cause emotional turmoil that may seem all out of proportion to the error. This is because we have become increasingly dependent upon the Holy Spirit for our direction, and he withdraws from us in attack and its ensuing aftermath of guilt. And never forget that the blame, once withdrawn from our brother, is harbored within. What is our way out of the maze?

We must remember that real power cannot oppose. In our opposition to our brother, we have weakened ourselves, and we feel rudderless as a result. The only way that we can become strong again is to ask forgiveness of self and of our brother. Once this action has been taken, let the past go. The Holy Spirit always grants forgiveness, and we should not masochistically hold the misdeed to our breasts.

Call for Love

We do not have to “decide” whether or not this or that “sin” is “worthy” of forgiveness; we know all reprehensible deeds are done from a mind slant of insanity, and done as well in a world of illusions, so our forgiveness rests on solid foundation. Not only has our brother acted out of insanity, but he has also done nothing real, nothing that will have any effect except in the world of illusions, and, without effects, it is easily forgotten even as it is forgiven. He has called for love, in whatever misguided way he might do so. Because we are One, and his need is our own, we rush to his side with that love. And so we are both saved from the illusions of our presence in a mad world made by us to keep God out. We open our consciousness to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and we are on the pathway Home.

Dream Better Dreams

The Course states, “The state of sinlessness is merely this: The whole desire to attack is gone, and so there is no reason to perceive the Son of God as other than He is. The need for guilt is gone because it has no purpose, and is meaningless without the goal of sin.” (T-25.V.1:1-2)

What does this mean? When we perceive another as deserving attack, we are making real his errors. We believe that he does not “deserve” forgiveness because of the reprehensible nature of his crimes (against us). But the truth is that we are One with him, and if he does not deserve forgiveness, neither do we. Also: We feel guilty for retaliating, because our real Self knows that we have attacked one who, in reality, is the Son (or Daughter) of God. We therefore feel that we have done him an injustice, and we feel guilty about it. The truth is that we have done our brother an injustice, because in his depths he is pure; it is only in his illusions that he makes mad actions that hurt others, including ourselves. If we can see the truth of our brother’s real Self, we will not attack because we will perceive that he is lost in insanity.

We may feel threatened by the recognized mental illnesses in our midst, and we may get angry at the illness, but we normally do not blame the individual to any great extent, because we recognize that he is not in his real mind. The Course says that we are living a dream—and that the world we see because of our perceived dream is not real. Many of us are living a dream of attack that we do not recognize as unreal because we do not realize how much happier, under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit, we could really be.

Trials Are Lessons Presented Once Again

But what if we have expressed the small willingness (T-11.II.4:3) required to go God’s way, and still bad things happen? The Course asserts that trials are lessons presented once again, that where we made a faulty choice before, now we can now make a better one. (T-31.VIII.3:1) In this world, we are retracing our faulty steps one by one, choosing this time the Holy Spirit as our Guide. We know that we have chosen wrongly in the past, and much of this faulty thinking has brought pain to us and others. Rarely (if ever) do people experience a radical about-face that rights all wrongs, allowing us to live wholly in the “real world,” where the dreams we experience are always happy. Until we retrace our steps, bits and pieces of our insanity will still seem to make sense to us, and to the extent that we buy into these old ego patterns, to that extent will we know pain.

So let us abandon an old dream of attack as often and as frequently as our strength will allow. We do not have to do so alone; the Holy Spirit will prompt the right action, if we but remain calm enough to listen to the inner Voice. In times of heated words, we are never listening to the Holy Spirit, and that is why the guilt comes about later on. Then we are bade to try again, and again, and again, and, indeed, in my experience as one forgives not only the other but also one’s self, the pathways gets lighter and happier as one walks along.

I Am Responsible for What I See

Some of the most beautiful as well as insightful words of A Course in Miracles are the following affirmation of personal power:

“I am responsible for what I see.
I choose the feeling I experience, and I decide
upon the goal I would achieve.
And everything that seems to happen to me
I ask for, and receive as I have asked.” (T-21.II.2:3-5)

Surely, on the surface of it, we would not choose the many bad things that do happen. So, if these words are true, there must be another something going on.

I believe that there is. Until we join our will to God’s, we are destined to miscreate. Until we heed the Holy Spirit, we can only miscreate. The Course asserts that always we get advice on how to live, and that there are only two choices from which this advice comes: the insane ego or the blessing that is the Holy Spirit. Listening to insanity can only bring miscreation.

At Peace

What keeps us from seeing the face of Christ and feeling the presence of God? It is indeed that word attack, whether “merely” thought, verbalized, or acted out. As mentioned above, many of us, myself included, may have believed that our own attack is justified if we have been treated unfairly by the attacker first. But this is a fallacy. Attack is never justified, because we project the world that we see in a kind of mass hallucination shared with fellow sufferers, those who have not exchanged the everyday world for the real world of forgiveness and peace. Do hallucinations correctly prompt retaliation? No! And that is the crux of the matter.

There is an almost hidden aspect of reasoning that hints that attack is justified under certain conditions. And those conditions are present if one believes that she has been justly attacked for perceived weaknesses or “sins.”

Yet if attack is never justified, we are saved from this dilemma. And what a rescue it is! We are at peace rather than made to feel guilty by our imagined failings. To see this reasoning as justified, though, one must be completely willing to relinquish blame in any form toward one’s self or towards others. And then we will know the blessing of God’s peace as we go about our daily lives.

Awaken the Christ in Each Other

We must always try to remember that we awaken the Christ in each other. Just so long as we persist in holding grievances against our brother, that is how long our deliverance will be delayed. These grievances are a “shadow” that obscures the face of Christ and the memory of God. (T-26.IX.2:2) Remember that the passage of time is not a problem, for whether we have the shadow removed now, or a hundred or a thousand years from now, for Heaven itself there is no time. It is only our own suffering that we collapse into nothingness when time is foreshortened.

Love one’s brother, however deep may be the rancor. He is our way back. Jesus says, “The holiest of all the spots on earth is where an ancient hatred has become a present love” (T-26.IX.6:1)

Forgiveness

There is another reason to forgive quickly and to forgive for all time. It is the experience of suffering (frequently mental suffering) that comes from inner turmoil when relationships are going poorly. Why does suffering sometimes come in the immediate future, following a distasteful altercation, even suffering that later may lead to God? This is one of those thorny issues, but Jesus has an answer for us. He sees time and space as a continuum of illusion, all of one piece.

So the delay in time for the good is caused by the separation that we would yet see between our brother and ourselves. Jesus sees this separation as “little space that lies between you, unforgiven still.” (T-26.VIII.8:3) And he concludes, “Be not content with future happiness.” (T-26.VIII.9:1) In a word, if our forgiveness of our brother is complete now, our rewards of happiness now will be met. The Holy Spirit, being outside time and space, gives consequence and cause as one. But, we are told, “The working out of all correction takes no time at all. Yet the acceptance of the working out can seem to take forever.” (T-26.VIII.6:1-2)

We are pulled back to realize that it is the little “space” between ourselves and our brother, disguised as time, that is the culprit here. And that little space has been primed by attack.

Reassurances of God’s Love

There is a reassurance in the Course that saves us from the impasse of failing to forgive others and thus not meriting forgiveness one’s self: “. . .if you choose to see a world without an enemy, in which you are not helpless, the means to see it will be given you.” (T-21.VII.9:4) This new insight requires a reevaluation of all the negativity coming from others. We must instead recognize that our brothers and sisters are really calling for love. Our power (i.e., being “not helpless”) comes in large measure from this realization. Refuse to accept the dagger in the words of others. Know that, unless we help them, it is as though they held the dagger against their very throats. And for us, in initiating attack, Jesus make the analogy that a sword is being held over our own heads. (W-p1.192.9:4)

When we are still mired in attack vs. innocence, not sure of where we stand, we often look ahead to an uncertain future, and try to make plans that we think will protect us from the uncertainties to come. We are trying to avoid confronting the pitfalls of our habitual reactions to the world: attack when we are attacked. Jesus says that not often do we recognize that planning is a defense; we believe, instead, that “sin” causes effects from which we must save ourselves. And this “sin” is often seen as the negative behavior that others take out on us.

The Course has an answer; it teaches us to look to the “now” for release. Miracles work only in the “now.” The Course further teaches us that all such maneuvering is meaningless once we have made a “change of purpose for the good.” (T-26.VIII.7:9) This change can be that we refuse to return attack for attack, and instead see it as the “plaintive cry for help” that it really is. (T-27.VI.6:6) In another passage, the Course calls this almost universal reaction, “distress that rests on error.” (T-30.VI.2:7) If we can just recognize the truth of these words, many an interpersonal problem will evaporate in the light of the real truth.

Attack, Continued

Not until I started writing about the Course did I realize how significant attack has been in my life. I was writing over time, and it was only in retrospect, once I had written a good bit and was reading back over it, that I realized that I commented often on “attack” passages in the Course. I am one of those, prior to the Course, who would feel justified in lashing back if I had been first attacked. Jesus characterized this attitude as a “face of innocence” of the self. (T-31.V.2:6) I had difficulty forgiving because I thought that my attacker didn’t “deserve” it. After all, she had attacked me, and I wasn’t guilty! I didn’t deserve this! The Course says, “. . .every day a hundred little things make small assaults upon its [the concept of the self’s] innocence, provoking it to irritation, and at last to open insult and abuse.” (T-31.V.3:4) The latter was when I lost my temper! Yes, these were words with which I could identify as being part of my past, a big part.

But what an egocentric mess! Highly neurotic, my words (“I didn’t deserve this!) actually said little or nothing about true reality. None of us deserve this! And yet we hear the attacks because we need to hear them in order to progress. What this dynamic was saying was that as surely as I did not forgive another for his attack, just that often was I saying that I too did not deserve forgiveness.

Giving Up Attack Thoughts

For many years, the most important passages for me to read in all of A Course in Miracles have been the ones that discuss attack and the reasons why this choice is never justified. It is a hard lesson for me to learn, as I have been mired deep into egotistical thinking and also have made simultaneously an attempt to be “good.” Ultimately, though, the lessons that Jesus teaches in the Course prick the conscience and allow all of us to realize when we are being too egotistical and perhaps not as spiritual as we might want to consider ourselves. Only within the last half dozen years of my almost 20 years of studying the Course [Note: This reflection was written in 2002] have I found the truth of the words of Jesus self-evident. My perceptions have changed, and my world as I have perceived it has altered to a happier place. How did this miracle happen? Let’s follow the development of the passages that decry attack and false innocence to see what I have been led to find out.

One of the most obvious statements about the dynamic of attack vs. innocence in all of the Course is the reassurance, “Being wholly without attack, it [love] could not be afraid.” (T-19.IV.A.10:7; the antecedent, “love,” is added) I started using this sentence as a refrain when I realized that my anxiety was not necessary and could be erased with the right frame of mind. Indeed, eventually, many of my anxieties smoothed out as increasingly I attempted to put the words of the Course into practice; I stopped attacking in my mind and in my actions. The results have been, to me, is the clearest possible personal evidence that attacking others (or the wish to do so) is the real cause of fear in any form. The Course also states this idea specifically, “When I let all my grievances go I will know I am perfectly safe.” (W-p1.68.6:9)

“Safe” suggests a peaceful sense of well-being, and what are grievances but attack?

Death of the Ego

We have said that this world is one of illusion. God had to offer a correction to our madness that would protect the whole from self-destruction. So we can play our war games in illusion, and they do not affect the Spirit at all. The idea of a great fight between good and evil is a product of an ego-oriented mind that merely wants to see light. That mind is still far from Home.

In the Course, Jesus presents a worldview that bypasses all the complicated theories about ultimate Reality that we have made up and have yet ultimately found to be unsatisfactory. The Course presents a unified worldview, to be believed in its entirety or not at all. Still it is a happy fiction, which Jesus identifies salvation to be. (C-3.2:1) We have come so far into madness that we have very nearly lost our way. The Course highlights the death of our ego as the way to get us out. That is all. But that is enough.

Get the Madness Out

How do we let illusions recede? The world that the ego shows us is illusion indeed. The Course counsels that one need not even oppose the ego (which is to oppose illusions), suggesting that the illusions will go of their own accord when nothing opposes them. We welcome reality because it is true, because it opposes nothing and simply is. Would not we feel glad tidings if such could be our state of mind always?

We do get into trouble by fighting against reality and against God. It is He that we would fortify ourselves against. Doesn’t reason tell us that this looks like a losing battle? God is real, and He created our real selves, and would not have us hide forever in meaningless insanity.

This blessing—that God will find us—is the blessing hidden in the “unreality” we have made for ourselves. Ultimately, we cannot stay in a fog of uncertainty. Eventually we seek better answers, and God has “hidden” Reality in the depths of our hearts and minds, where we will surely find it if we but look. Eventually the sights and sounds of a chaotic world become too much for us, and we are thrown back to our inner depths, where God is. He waits only for this, and this alone is what he needs to turn us from madness. Yet we may look outward at a projected dream for many years. It is frequently only in turmoil that we are led to turn inward to our best resources, those resources found only in God.

Do not fight against the world, when events turn against us, and all seems lost. This is the turning point! This is what God has waited in great patience for us to find. He waits with great patience because He loves deeply, and He knows His creatures. Cause and effect will ultimately make untenable the world of madness. And He waits for that realization of another way, a better way, to dawn upon us. We do not have to seek blindly. Madness cannot keep this better way out of our saner mind. And we can “get the madness out” by simply choosing to look on our chaos and recognize, quietly, “This is not truth.” Sanity thus comes to the quiet mind. We need actively oppose nothing chaotic, for it will disappear when we withdraw our belief from it.

Resolving Conflict

Are we ever really in conflict? The Course would say not. The true Self is above such pettiness. When conflict rules, we have let our egoistic images of ourselves collide with simply a different egoistic image, also of ourselves.

This conflict happens all the time to those of us still on this side of the bridge, and this includes most of us—we who are still not consistently living in the “real world.” We do not, however, have to continue in conflict. We can refer all questions to our Counselor, the Holy Spirit.

I have found that the gesture of turning the conflict over to the Holy Spirit may be answered immediately, or we may be so involved with turmoil that a quieter mind, one that could hear guidance, has not yet come to us. If the latter is our situation, we need to suspend our thoughts, refusing to mull over the unresolved issue, and quiet our minds.

Whatever method one uses can be right—meditation (the Course makes use of some of this quietness, though the word “meditation” is never used in the FIP edition); prayer; or simple distraction from the conflict to thoughts of something else. One must be aware, however, that distraction can allow the conflict to light upon something else later on. Whatever method one uses, we must trust not in one’s self, but in the Holy Spirit, the Bearer of better thought, to give a way out of the impasse. One helpful thought when battling conflict is to remember that one always battles illusions, for Reality does not battle at all. This recognition may in itself may be enough to calm the heat of passion.

In my own case, I used to have a neurotic tendency to find something, anything, about which to worry. It is as if the “worry” part of me were comfortable only if I had something to fret over. So it is that the ego thrives on conflict, justifying its continuance by conflict. There is a well-worn groove that most of us reserve for worry. When all is said and done, we may find that we were simply in the grip of a bad habit. But by so retaining this bad habit, the Course would say that we make the conditions that we dread, because we choose our own reality. There is a solemn warning in realizing our power to choose our futures that should not be minimized.

Picture instead a resolution, as yet unknown, to be worked out by the Holy Spirit. Abide with this thought awhile, and see if a calmer mind will not welcome, in a moment of revelry perhaps, the answer previously sought so frantically. Once we set aside the conflict-ridden emotional state, the Holy Spirit is free to act.

Forgiveness

We may reasonably substitute the word “pardon” for “forgiveness,” if the word “forgiveness” seems difficult to wrap one’s mind around. The Course uses both terms. In a similar fashion, Jesus asks that we substitute “mistake” or “error” for “sin,” thereby removing sin’s mad attraction for us. The word “forgiveness” may raise similar problems within our minds, conflict that the word “pardon” does not raise.

It is possible that the same sort of dynamic as is played out with the word “sin” is also present with “forgiveness.” We may scream, “He does not deserve forgiveness!” and in so believing, we deny it for ourselves. But we may feel more kindly toward “pardon,” which acknowledges that a wrong, however illusory, has happened. But we choose to wipe the slate clean, to allow our brother to start anew. St. Francis of Assisi said, “It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.” St. Francis’ words present the same relationship between forgiving others and forgiving ourselves.

Remember that the wrongs we perceive, whatever we call the process of overlooking them, are always illusory. As we always fight illusions, so do we pardon (or forgive) illusions as well. God’s Reality is very different from the chaotic world that we behold when we are filled with fear.

Finding Heaven

We know that we have chosen Heaven when we feel peace. And we can make this choice at any instant. When we invite the Holy Spirit to join us, we are once again attuned with God.

A Course in Miracles says that we are all One. Indeed, this is the definition of Heaven: “. . .not a place nor a condition. It is merely an awareness of perfect oneness, and the knowledge that there is nothing else; nothing outside this oneness, and nothing else within.” (T-18.VI.1:5-6) If this be true, we are all part of each other and of God. We cannot attack a separate being, because no separate being exists. The most that we, or an illusion of Self, can attack is an illusion of another. And then conflict ensues, creating fear for ourselves. This is one of the dynamics of the ego, and sometimes it seems that the more we study such meaninglessness, the more powerful it becomes. That is because the very process of studying the ego affirms its importance and makes it real to ourselves.

We can make much, but what results is still only illusion, and can never be truly experienced as real, though we can imagine it to be real.

To live an illusion is madness, a madness that the remembrance of God can shine away. In quiet and in peace can we be led to accept God instead, and we thereby leave conflict, and the fear that it brings, far behind. In forgiveness of ourselves and others do we find that quiet and peace.

There is no other way.

God Offers Comfort

The third law of chaos affirms that God must accept His Son’s belief about what he has become, and hate him for it. This illusion seems to be humility, saying, in effect, that we are miserable sinners in need of grace. But this is actually arrogance that would seek to circumvent the Creator. Now do we dare not turn to God for comfort, because He has become our enemy. Salvation, under this law, seems actually impossible. The ego cannot help in escape from this interpretation, but the Course was made that we might choose another way.

The fourth law of chaos is that you have what you have taken from another. By his loss, we win. This illusion says that there is a finite amount of treasure in the world, and if we gain treasure, we have it because we have taken it from our brother. In its most extreme form, this law says that we must destroy our brother to save ourselves. But Jesus affirms that we can only take away from ourselves. Instead of an “enemy” having our treasure, from whom we must wrest it, we are in firm control, and it is we who would deny ourselves. The enemy does not hold our inheritance away from us—it is we who have rejected it for the dubious “values” of the ego. There is a portion of this law that believes that we act unkindly because our brother has been unkind to us—forcing us into justified attack. But all of this illusion!

Finally, the last law of chaos is that there is a substitute for genuine love. This substitute is given us by the ego when we take back from our brother what we feel is rightfully ours. This is the ego’s secret gift. This secret gift has apparently been torn from us by our brother, and must be reclaimed if we are to have the ego’s notion of salvation. Our brother, by tearing this gift from us, has kept salvation from us. This is why enmity, one to another, can be seen as salvation.

When studied carefully and dispassionately, we can see clearly that these laws of chaos do not make sense. The illusions upon which they are based can be seen as illusions, and thus identifying the “laws” that illusions have, we are in a better position to seek further for the true laws—God’s laws—creating reality. Because these laws do not make sense, we are free to discard them for something better. Therein lies our true salvation. We have used our intellect to help us out, and while intellect is never enough (love and forgiveness, emotions of the heart, are required fundamentally), it is a start. And the lack of a satisfying worldview has kept many a skeptic in his darkness. I can imagine nagging Jesus for just such an elucidation of ultimate Truth that Course provides for us. “. . .seek, and ye shall find,” ((Luke 11:9 – KJV)and the world was finally ready in 1975 (the year A Course in Miracles was published) for this new way.

The Course declares that we think we do not believe in these laws. When articulated bluntly, their insanity becomes evident. But do we believe in these laws on an unconscious level? It is only their plain statement that allows us to reject them. Normally the actual intent is well-hidden. If, when raised to the light of day, we do reject the laws of chaos, then Jesus has done us a great service. It becomes clear that these laws govern chaos (illusion), never reality. A crucial three sentences explain: “There is no life outside of Heaven. Where God created life, there life must be. In any state apart from Heaven life is illusion.” (T-23.II.19:1-3)

Find God in Quietness

There is a stark contrast between fear and love that we need to understand. Seen in its simplicity, the dynamic between fear and love encourages us to find God in quietness when turmoil threatens to overcome us. The most likely reason for the turmoil is something held against our brother, some patch of unforgiveness that would threaten our equanimity and then, because we fear retribution, causes us to feel fear. All this need not be. That is the joyous answer that Jesus gives us in the Course. To lead us gently down the intellectual way that tells us “why” all this senselessness need not be, Jesus bids us look at the “laws of chaos.” When we look at these five “laws” dispassionately, we see that they cannot make sense. Let us turn now to these laws of chaos and see if we can recognize ourselves and our world in their tenets. (T-23.II)

Is the truth different for everyone? The first law of chaos would say that it is. Our illusory values are then always seen in contrast to the values of others, which are deemed inferior. This attitude is, at base, a separating tactic. One ought never to find “good” reasons to separate one’s self from another. Yet in this law, what one values is seen as superior to what another values, and this illusion is “proved” by attacking the values of another. We believe under this law that there is a hierarchy of illusions, making some easier to forgive than others; but this is not so. Jesus points out that a hierarchy of illusions is similar to believing that some miracles are easier to perform than others—and the principles of miracles affirms that this is not so. This idea may yet be a sticking point as we walk on the road to salvation; as before, let us go as far along this road that we can, knowing that farther down the road, we will know and understand more than we do now.

Jesus’ second law of chaos is that each one must sin, and therefore deserves attack and death. This illusion overlooks the possibility of correction, seeing only punishment at the hands of an angry God. It pits God and His creatures at war, and this war includes not only self and God, but also self and everyone else. This law would affirm that there are some errors that are beyond simple correction without punishment, and the Course affirms that all errors (or “sin”) are correctable without any punishment at all. We are always free to choose punishment, but this is not God’s will for us.

Chaos is the opposite the quietness in which we find God. Turn aside from chaos in whatever form it appears, and all will appear miraculously changed.