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.

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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.

Returning to God

When this pathway back to God is begun, the way at first seems hard, because the ego is still strong within us, and it sniffs defeat in the air and would be violent to retain control of one’s mind and heart. Consistently listening to the Holy Spirit, prayerfully considering the promptings of intuition, will quickly smooth the way so that one knows, deep in the heart, that a withered ego is one’s only salvation. Then is one’s real Self actually strong, no longer a will ‘o wisp in the breeze, batted about by every foreign opinion thrust upon it. And we see that it was always the ego that suffered defeat at the hands of its “enemies.” Always being undone, for that is God’s way, the ego is abandoned by our real Self as well. And then the way is paved for great and faster growth as the creatures of God we truly are. A Course in Miracles tells us that the mind is very powerful. It also says that the reason that we don’t believe this is because we are afraid of its power: “You prefer to believe that your thoughts cannot exert real influence because you are actually afraid of them.” (T-2.VI.9:10)

Surely we are afraid when we look around and see a ravaged world. Did we do this? Yes, the Course counsels, but only in illusion and only in madness.

The Course says that faith, belief, and vision, shared with us by the Holy Spirit, are our way out. As the goal of salvation replaces the goal of sin, our steps in the mist become clearer. Faith inevitably gives us the power of persistence, but we don’t recognize the tremendous power that is unleashed until we place our faith not in sin, but in love. It is then that the power becomes the reliable lifesaver that it is meant to be.

I was once described in a letter of recommendation as having an “indomitable will to succeed.” I took this as a compliment in the almost 20 years ago in which it was written. In this, I see a glimpse of the personal power that I (and everyone else) have. I now know that this “indomitable will” of that era was far too informed by the ego. It was a competitive bent that later would alienate some of my co-workers. What had worked well in our educational system worked less well in a work environment where cooperation was necessary to accomplish shared goals.

Now I know that this drive to succeed is laudatory only when it is not threatening to others.

When we turn to God, we know that our own will is weak without Him. Let His will inform our own, and we will soon be on the pathway back to God. We need to bend our “indomitable wills” to God’s way.

Want He, and we, want us to do.

Specialness Is of the Ego

It is quite likely that the basis for neurosis is specialness. Many of us see in others, perhaps more than ourselves, oscillations of personality that appear to twist and turn in the wind. Alternating between sweetness and hostility, these others can make our lives miserable if they have any power over us. If manifesting in a friend, these conflicting behaviors are puzzling in the least, personally damaging, even though illusory, in the most. Yet is the specialness, the neurosis of these others, all “out there”? The truth is that we all think we are special to one degree or another.

It is just to the degree that we ascribe to specialness that we are vulnerable to the ego’s assaults, whether as assaults emanating from another or from our own inner demons. It is then that we appear vulnerable to the world’s onslaughts. We are engaged in a dance, one to another, interlocking our complexes to fit, however unpleasant the dance may become. Sometimes we see our pride pricked at the point of greatest vulnerability; this is the ego’s greatest trial, a time of great opportunity if we can only see it thus. We are being shown what needs to be remedied in ourselves, how the ego needs to be undone. If we listen, we will find a great gift in the ashes of our former “triumphs.” We will let the ego wither away at this point of neurosis.

And so it goes with all points of neurosis. As they are shown to us, we must let them slip away. Jesus is able to heal a neurotic if she is cooperating with him. One way to cooperate is to take the intellectual framework of the Course and marry that to our relationship to our brother, our love, if you will. Then the mental and emotional meld as one, and we are on our way to full recovery as Sons and Daughters of God.

We Do Not Have to Learn through Pain

What has the ego-tainted world really exemplified? Only one truth: that the Son (and Daughter) of God is at war with God. If we understood God more, we would know that this is a condition too ridiculous to be believed. The Course says, “The Son of God at war with his Creator is a condition as ridiculous as nature roaring at the wind in anger, proclaiming it is part of itself no more.” (T-23.I.4:7) In our creation, God shared His Mind with us. That is why there can never be a conflict between His Will and our real will. It is only in an illusory world that we believe that to follow God’s will is to lose our freedom. Actually the reverse is the truth: to follow the ego’s madness is to head into chaos that always, in the end, leads to pain. A harmonious universe is impossible under these conditions. Pain begets more pain, assuring that at some point we will turn and say, “Enough!”

The awful pathway is, of course, so unnecessary. Jesus says that we do not have to learn through pain. We can recognize a better way, and in our moments of greater sanity, walk that pathway a few steps closer to Awakening.

Madness

As we have seen, the Course presents this world as a place of madness, full of violence and cruelty, projected from our own deluded minds. This world is therefore illusion, but we do not need to blame God for what we see, for this world is Heaven’s opposite (T-16.V.3:6) Even the food chain is based on a raw violence, and Jesus would say that we do God a disservice when we blindly dismiss the cruelty as “Nature’s ways.” The Course presents the world as an attack on God, meant to keep Him out and to keep the separation going. By projecting blame onto God, the ego does a good job at ensuring that we will continue to turn to it as our savior rather than to God. That this is patent magic, madness in the extreme, may not dawn on us until the pain of what we project becomes overwhelming. And even then we may blame God for our predicament.

The ego’s thought system is perfectly logical from within the thought system, as are most delusions. It is only the premises that are wrong, sending its world crashing down like a house of cards. From within our mind, it makes perfect sense. Madness is not illogical, though those in psychosis appear to the rational mind to be out of touch with reality. An all-embracing madness is just what has happened on a grand scale in our world, ruled by everyone’s ego. I once had a professor remark that everyone in mental hospitals thought that it was “we”—the ones outside of the hospital—who are “crazy.” He said, “What if they are right?”

Unknowingly, my professor presaged the Course a number of years before it was written. The Course does not say that our diagnosed mentally ill are actually sane, and we usually recognize that they are not. What may be happening, though, is that they are imperfectly seeing reality from another lens. This “other lens” may allow them to be particularly open to revelation. Certainly writers have drawn parallels between the schizophrenic mind and the mystic one. Both are swimming in the waters of their depths, the subconscious mind, but the schizophrenic may be drowning in it. The mystic, on the other hand, swims easily. This analogy is drawn from the writings of Joseph Campbell, an individual who has brought the myths of the ages home to all of us through writings that speak to our time. The Course would extend the definition of insanity to most of us in the world, most who are only partially, most who have only glimpses of true reality.

May we walk into the sunshine with Jesus, listening as we read the Course to what we need to do to emerge from the insanity of an illusory world.

We can do this.

Letting Go of the Ego

The Course says at one pivotal point, “This is a crucial period in this course, for here the separation of you and the ego must be made complete.” (T-22.II.6:1)

It is easier to let conflict die if one realizes that it is an emotion always of the ego. At base, the ego is fighting against God, flailing about in desperation because the world it has created in illusion is not good enough for it. And never could it be. Built on chaos, only chaos can ensue. But the ego cannot find its way out, because the only way for us to make our way to peace is to disown this hated part of ourselves, this insatiable ego–never satisfied, never content.

This is when the real “I” must come into play. We cannot fight the ego and win, because it grows stronger in strife. But we can quietly withdraw strength from the ego by failing to reinforce it in every situation that cries out “me first.” We can, over time, with care, see the ego just wither away. Jesus promises that though this feels like a death (because we are so closely identified with the goals of success, wealth, and materialism), we will actually find peace for the first time. We will know calm in the midst of any earthly storm in which we find ourselves.

The ego is not ourselves–that is the simple truth that in our ignorance we find so hard to accept. The quiet Self at the center of our being waits patiently for us to tire of our childish games, and tire we will once we see that never do they bring us what in our deepest heart of hearts we really want. In that deep place God dwells, and He would not be overthrown by a will ‘o wisp of insanity. The ego is pitted in a struggle that it can never win. The Course says, “Do you not realize a war against yourself would be a war on God? Is victory conceivable? And if it were, is this a victory that you would want?” (T-23.I.2:1-3)

If you have read this far, you are not so hostile to God that you blame Him for all the evil and suffering in your world and on the earth in general. We have only ourselves to blame for creating a drama that doesn’t work because the mind that created it is in a merciless war against itself. We must lay down our arms, and realize in the depths of our Being that there must be another way to look at our world, another way to live.

Ego Dilemmas

It has been hard for me to let go of egotistical striving. I was reared, as I am sure many of us were, to equate “success” with ego games–to equate the “good life” with having achieved. Part of me has always believed that actually “dropping out” was the way to go, and at various points in my life I have done just that, but never for very long. I enjoyed these respites, but ultimately I rejoined the success trap and sought in my everyday life and profession (especially profession) to achieve success because I knew that this had gotten me kudos as a child. Getting good grades was always highly regarded, and as a first and only child, this type of commendation was taken to heart in a big way.

When I discovered A Course in Miracles, I began to realize, as I read, that the egotistical striving that I was doing to “deserve” love, and my belief that only if I were successful would I have God’s stamp of approval, were just myths. Yet a part of me still wanted to strive, because, I told myself, what if I would come to regret a slowdown in the future? In my own case, library administration was my bugaboo. This is where the money is in librarianship, my profession, but more importantly, this also signals “success” in the eyes of my colleagues in my chosen field. What if I did not pursue this, and later felt sorry? The fact that I had not sufficient intrinsic interest in the responsibility that this would entail, or in the antagonism that I would likely incur from my subordinates (whom I would be evaluating) did not dissuade me, at least for a long time.

This period of indecision lasted fully 15 years. Once in a workshop that was boring, I wrote out five or six pages of reasons (pro and con) that I was considering for my next direction. Later, I destroyed the pages in an attempt not to be sucked back into this quagmire.

As the years were passing, I dropped big hints to my supervisors that I did not want to be considered administrative material. I said “no” before I might be asked. The fact that I was not asked (until later on) seemed only a minor point; in my egotism, I felt that I would be if I expressed interest. And I did not want to be faced with something that I might have trouble declining. I see the wiliness of the ego even in my indecision.

Later on I was asked. And it was largely a disaster that lasted scarcely two months, ending with me in a frazzle, resigning because my temperament rebelled. So, all along, my real self had been trying to get through to say that this particular pathway was not for me. I am a slow learner; it took trying it out to realize that my doubts (conscious and subconscious) knew best all along.

Let the ego battles go. Our inner Self knows the way we ought to go.

Projection Makes Perception

Never tell someone who has lived through a full-blown psychosis that projection does not make perception. He knows it does. The whispered voices (so real at the time), the images “out there” that appear but are not really there–all these become his own, and more.

I once had a friend who saw his mother enter a room wearing a black dress. My friend knew at the time that his mother was not “really” wearing a black dress, but the day was filled with the surprises of psychosis, and he went with the flow. Much later, with perceptions part of the mass hallucination once again, my friend confirmed with his mother that the image had been false.

Because my friend dislodged himself from the mass hallucination, he is better prepared to see that he is, normally, hallucinating on a grand scale, along with everyone else currently in his “sane” mind. Of course, students of A Course in Miracles know it is not really sanity that we all experience, but madness, in seeing a chaotic world. (T-25.VII.3:2) The Course says, “If you behold disaster and catastrophe, you tried to crucify him [the Son of God, your real Self]. If you see holiness and hope, you joined the Will of God to set him free.” (T-21.in.2:3-4)

Think about this a moment. When you are at peace with the world, experiencing a “holy instant” of love and hope, is there really anything that can upset you? However fierce the perception appears, you know that the world and all beings in it are in God’s hands. How wonderful it would be to extend this thought to all our waking moments!

God’s in His Heaven

There is an old saying that when one points a finger at another, there are three fingers pointing back at us. Make a fist, point the index finger, and immediately this saying can be seen as obviously true. The Course’s version of this old ego dynamic is “It is as certain you will fear what you attack as it is sure that you will love what you perceive as sinless.” (T-23.intro.2:4) Somehow we believe the old karmic truth, that if we attack, we will be attacked in return. But the glorious opposite is also true: See innocence and sinlessness, and these too will become our own.

Because all seeing is projection, in the view of the Course, we can understand that all projection makes perception. What we are seeing is a dream projected outward, and the world becomes cruel or kind based on our inner life. Even the worst of “sin” can be seen as unreal (being a dream), and as the Course counsels, we can say, “My brother, choose again.” (T-31.VIII.3:2)

All of us have had moments, perhaps fleeting, when God seemed in His Heaven, and all was right with our little world. These moments of peace can be expanded more and more to all our hours, waking and sleeping. All of our dreams can become benign. This happens when the truth that we are dreaming our world sinks in, helping us to see that what we wish is based either on turmoil or calm, the peace of God within. There is, therefore, really nothing to “forgive,” but we do need the exercise of forgiveness for ourselves (not God).

It is only as we forgive that we come to see that there is nothing to forgive. No one blames a loved one who acts in psychosis to perpetuate harm; we know that he is sick. Likewise are we insane, all together, even when not diagnosed as mentally ill. We all are trying to bring greater and greater areas of sanity to our deluded minds.

Golden Rule

A principal tenet in the Course is the assertion that what we would give to others is actually also given to ourselves. This dynamic can be understood on more than one level.

In the most all-encompassing way, we are the other, because we are one in God. We are all brothers and sisters under the skin. So when we feel this kinship in our especially loving moments, we are seeing the truth. In a second way of viewing, we see the playing out of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. We see why this rule is important, the underlying truth that supports it. Because of projection, we will believe that what we think of others or do to others is being done to ourselves. Jesus sees this whole world as illusory and in the great projection that made it, we see our real desires played out in our everyday dramas. Thus, what we do unto others we do unto ourselves. There is no greater truth, no more persuasive argument to treat our fellow human beings with kindness and love. What we sow, we reap. As Jesus says (in the negative), “Seek to deny and you will feel denied. Seek to deprive, and you have been deprived.” (T-25.IX.8:2-3)

If we do not believe another worthy of forgiveness, we will not believe ourselves worthy either. Having refused forgiveness for ourselves, we will never offer it freely. So we have set up a vicious circle for ourselves. The only way out of this vicious circle is reject conflict and ask for help and guidance from a Power greater than ourselves. This Power—the Holy Spirit—will make it easy on ourselves. We can effortlessly to forgive when we come to believe that the deed that we feel unworthy of forgiveness, has been illusory. Our real Selves have not been touched nor harmed in any way. Out real life has continued unabated.

Only a loving God could come up with such a solution. We would have already destroyed ourselves if our deeds had real consequences. We live in an illusion that allows all choice, but at the same time that saves us from ourselves. And through these means we learn, finally, what is truly real and of value, worthy of further extension in Reality.

Save a Thousand Years

A difficult concept in the Course is the idea that we made the world; God created us, but we made (not “created”) the world. The metaphysical explanation is that we are projecting an illusion, and no one doubts very strongly that she “projects” nocturnal dreams. Seen in this light, it is a small step forward to consider that we do the same in our waking hours. Only the form of the dream changes. Even granted that we accept this, though, most of us, on some level, still think that we can derive knowledge of how to act in life from this projected dream. If it is the ego’s projected dream, such a conclusion is patently false. If it is the Holy Spirit’s dream, then we have a better basis on which to learn. The Course says that following the Holy Spirit is the “way out of hell” (M-29.3:11) for us.

Most of us, however, still do spend much time under the influence of our egos. This attitude, though, ensures that we are looking at projections from within. To take the projections of the ego as truth is to make an idol, to make a god, of something we made. Is this really very different from melting down our gold and fashioning a sculpture of Baal, while our better way is being written for us on the mountaintop? If we look to our idol–this world– to tell us how to act and what to do next, we are looking to a man-made god to save us. Most of us would admit that nothing in this world has ever “saved” us for long.

When we are under the influence of the ego, we are under the influence of an insane idea. It may coalesce our personalities, but we have given away all our real power. We should not give away our power under any circumstances. It is only the power of our real minds, informed by the Holy Spirit, which can offer us any hope. This is the promise held out by A Course in Miracles. It is only one pathway, but its pathway has the power to get us out of all bad dreams. It is one way, among thousands in this world, by which we can awaken. And Jesus promises that this way will save time for us. (T-2.II.3:8) We are promised, each of us, to save a thousand years (as the world calculates time). (W-pI.97.3:2) And that represents many years for the millions of people still trapped by ego-tainted nightmares of pain.

–from Out of the Maze, by Celia.

The Power of Belief, Part 2

If the world still seems just too awful, there is a solution, though it may sound a bit theoretical. The Course recommends that we not deny our sight, but affirm the truth: that what we are seeing is unreal. As others have said, it is all maya (illusion, though the Course does not use the term maya) and therefore can have no real effects, however painful the effects might seem to be. This means that our “real” Self has not been harmed in any way. In the awful circumstances that we view, there is a spiritual lesson that we are meant to learn. As we contemplate the meaning underlying the events, and forgive the events, we will be freed to see the blessing in our circumstances. And there is always a blessing, however deplorable the situation may be.

We need to take heed that we do not believe that the evil we see deserves retribution, for retaliation will bring the “evil” to us. Retaliation proves that the circumstance, in our opinion, is real and merits a “just” response to even the score. Actually by concentrating on the presumed evil, we are giving it more force, more power to hurt us. Basically, the force field itself will be stronger because we are fighting it. What ought we to do? Go within and gently release the sense of frustration and anger. We need to trust the Holy Spirit to open our hearts to forgive any and all deeds, however reprehensible they might be. Since these deeds are illusion, they are in reality nothing at all; they are a mirage that en masse we have created to speed our way Home.

We may have chosen unwisely, though, when we concentrate on the suffering and therefore make it more real to ourselves. If so, it behooves the wiser part of ourselves to choose again. Lessons from pain and suffering are, at best, temporary and meant to be a catalyst for change to a better way. It is the drawing of Love, felt through the Holy Spirit, that will finally take us Home. With projections made of this Love, our perceptions will be cleansed, and a new world of light and life will meet us where we finally come to live. This “new world” is the “real world,” (T-11.VII.2:6) and it will yet be ours as a world formed by the happy dreams the Holy Spirit gives.

–from Out of the Maze, by Celia.

The Power of Belief, Part 1

Note: For a while, I will post excerpts from my online book, Out of the Maze, the first section that describes Jesus’ attempts in A Course in Miracles to dislodge our ego.

These postings are based on A Course in Miracles, and the references are from the edition of ACIM published by the Foundation for Inner Peace.

The Power of Belief, Part 1

It is clear to me that the very belief itself creates the perceived conditions that would sustain the belief. A Course in Miracles says, “What you desire, you will see. And if its reality is false, you will uphold it by not realizing all the adjustments you have introduced to make it so.” (T-21.II.9:5-6)

The Course repeats frequently that projection makes perception. (T-13.V.3:5; T-21.in..1:1) Jesus assures that we see what we believe will bring us joy and happiness. The fact that we often do not find joy and happiness, and instead find pain and suffering, should lead us to question our premises. What are we doing wrong? Or what have we done wrong in the past? I don’t mean a strict interpretation of karma, but the Course makes clear that cause and effect are real. As Jesus says in the Course, the law of cause and effect is at work in our world as well as in Heaven. (T-2.VII.h) If we do not like what we see, it is up to us to change it by changing our thoughts and actions, those things that “cause” the “result” of unhappiness.

When we do make changes, even though in this world chaos rules, we learn that there must be a better way. How to find it? The Course counsels turning to our communication link with the Father, which is the Holy Spirit. (T-1.II.5:3) Under His tutelage, we will stop looking for attack, giving evil when we perceive that we have received it. We will learn to forgive, because even though we learn that this world is illusory, we realize that forgiveness works—it brings the happiness we seek! Slowly (perhaps) but surely we will cleanse our minds and hearts, and with this cleansing will come new vision to see a new, sparkling, real world. We will project from a heart that wishes to see good in all things, and wishing will make it so in our new perception.

STRUGGLE NOT

Note: This article was published in Miracles magazine, January – February 2019 issue (Jon Mundy, publisher).

by Celia Hales

“Out of His lack of conflict comes your peace. And from His purpose comes the means for effortless accomplishment and rest.” (A Course in Miracles, COA ed., T-VI.13:7)

“All that you retain is a belief in effort and a struggle to be good and to do good, a belief that clearly demonstrates that you have rejected who you are.” (A Course of Love, C:P.13)

When we launch into self-help mode, struggling to be better than we really are, then we are on the wrong track. Nobody, by effort, can effect great change. This is the ego’s plan, and it is a bad plan. The ego would have us fail continually, until we give up, turn against God, and decide that nothing we can ever do will make any difference anyway.

The quotation above from A Course in Miracles points out a better way. We know “effortless” accomplishment when we are depending on the Holy Spirit to rule our days. And we know the same when we follow the Christ Self, as A Course of Love would have us do in this time of Christ.

How might this effortless accomplishment come about? I think that quiet contemplation is the real way of change, effortless change. When we turn inward, we are merging with our Maker, for we are made of God-stuff. When we turn inward, calmly, we often intuit that things are not as bad as we thought when we judged ourselves as guilty. Our true innocence leads to self-acceptance, and this self-acceptance is being who we really are, something that A Course of Love champions.

Of course, we have not been perfect in our lives. We may have hurt ourselves and other people; we may have been guilty of violent acts. The Answer (which we all know) is forgiveness borne of the certainty that rescue is available. As faulty as our behavior may have been, we acted as well as we could, given our level of understanding at the time. And this is true for everyone.

Now we know better, for A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love both show us the way to a life of being who we really are, innocent children of God, no longer in a struggle to change by force of personal will. We listen to guidance, and in restful listening, let the Holy Spirit or the Christ Self take over. And thereby does change become effortless.

TEN POINTS OF COMPARISON BETWEEN A COURSE IN MIRACLES & A COURSE OF LOVE

by Celia Hales

Introduction

Note: Presented December 2, 2018, as a part of the 20th anniversary online conference of A Course of Love, moderated by James Kelly.

I was a lover of A Course in Miracles long before A Course of Love was given. ACIM speaks to my mind, which needed the intellectual understanding of how we are to live. ACOL speaks to my heart, the love that I need to feel and to exhibit.

I have ten points of comparison and contrast between ACIM and ACOL. James will stop me so that we can have one of the dialogues that A Course of Love champions.

1–Both A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love are beautifully written; this they have in common.

The opening chapters of ACIM, in the complete edition published recently by the Circle of Atonement, is filled with references to well-known figures from history, and the writing itself is a little rough. Soon, by Chapter 5 of the Textbook, this smooths out, and we find that the writing is in iambic pentameter. This means that there are sequences of five emphasized words, interspaced with five words that are not emphasized. This scheme for poetry is what Shakespeare used. Helen, the co-scribe was very knowledgeable about Shakespeare, and so would have functioned well with any channeling that used Shakespeare’s meter. It is in blank verse, which means that the words do not rhyme. But we are soothed by poetry, and ACIM soothes us.

A Course of Love is poetic in that the writing is very beautiful. I would even call it mesmerizing throughout. This is how we are touched in our hearts when we read ACOL. We are soothed, much as the iambic pentameter blank verse of ACIM soothed us. I find ACOL to affect my emotions much more as I read than ACIM ever did. It seems really true that A Course of Love is to the heart what A Course in Miracles is to the mind. ACOL can be read easily and peacefully, and ACIM needs deep study.

ACIM puts me in a very happy mood when I read it. ACOL sometimes tenderizes my heart so that the reading can actually be painful. Of course, this is particularly true during what Jesus calls the “time of tenderness.” Jesus is a masterful writer, and he proves this, in somewhat varying ways, with ACIM and ACOL.

2-–The phenomenon of enlightenment, originally an Eastern concept, particularly of Buddhism, is called different things in A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love. It is called Awakening, always capitalized, in ACIM; and it is called Christ-consciousness, with Christ being capitalized, of course, in ACOL.

Enlightenment is a shift in perception, but not a miracle. Instead, it is revelation from God. God Himself makes the decision of when we are ready for this new way to interact with reality.

The best explanation of enlightenment that I have read is Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. We interact differently with the world when we have experienced enlightenment. ACIM and ACOL both take us on a gentle pathway there. Because we are led gently, our enlightenment experience can be gentle.

And before we actually sustain enlightenment, we have glimpses, usually, I have found, when we are in an especially mellow mood.

Why would Jesus use two different words for the same phenomenon. I think in ACOL he is emphasizing that we are now in the time of Christ, and so he calls this phenomenon “Christ-consciousness.”

3—Relationships are important to both A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love.

The shift from special to holy relationships is seen in ACIM as the true way to Awakening. Our brother is our way home to God. All special relationships are seen as labile in experiencing them, and there is much hate in them, for love can easily turn to hate. A holy relationship, on the other hand, is peaceful and quiet. Not as dramatic.

There is a similarity to A Course in Miracles with the repeated emphasis in A Course of Love of the two words, “unity” and “relationship.” Unity is seen to be our way when we know that we are One with everything, the All Who is God Himself or Herself. The relationship is when we are differentiated, or individuated, into diverse beings. This is necessary so that God can actually experience Himself or Herself. The All, undifferentiated, would be as unknowable as the “nothing.” But each diverse entity is a hologram who contains the whole. We can’t know that whole in our finiteness, though.

4 – Perfection seems to be required in A Course in Miracles. There is some flexibility in A Course of Love.
In ACIM, Jesus says that he stands at the end of the pathway, to correct any mistakes that we have not been able to correct. He thus leads us to perfection by his own hand.

In ACOL, Jesus may or may not mean the same thing; it is unclear. He does not stress perfection in the same way that he does in ACIM. He MAY mean the same thing, that he will save us from ourselves in the end. But in ACOL, Jesus seems to realize more clearly that we are very fallible children of God, and he makes allowances for us in our physical bodies.

5 – In A Course in Miracles, anger is seen as never justified, has no justification. This has led many people to try to suppress their anger, to their detriment, for anger will come out in the end. Even Jesus got angry at the moneychangers in the temple, turning over their tables, driving them out. Are we to try to do better than he? I think not.

In A Course of Love, we are understood sometimes to feel anger, but we are to act on it in only benign ways. No violence, no shouting. Anger is a human emotion, and our humanity is stressed in ACOL.

6 – A Course in Miracles seems to deemphasize the body, and in so doing we may be primed to want the afterlife, where it is believed that we are spirit not possessing of a body. We would thus think that we could only be fully happy after death, though Jesus does say that we can dream the happy dreams that the Holy Spirit brings.

A Course of Love talks in an approving way of the “elevated Self of form,” which has made many feel that we are no longer living in a monistic reality, no longer in non-duality. This has become a controversy between the camps of ACIM and ACOL. ACIM definitely state in no uncertain terms that we are living an illusion. Some ACOL enthusiasts believe that after we have reached Christ-consciousness, we are no longer in illusion, but in reality, and that includes the idea that the rocks, trees, mountains, are really real, that matter is real. I personally subscribe to Idealism, which says that this world is an idea in the mind of God, and so I don’t think the rocks, trees, mountains, are truly real. This is the philosophy first espoused by Berkeley, a philosophy of the Nineteenth Century. True reality in my view is seen as the intangibles, the love, joy, peace, harmony, that abides in us through and through when we have awakened or assumed Christ-consciousness.

So I do believe that ACIM is right in its uncompromising approach to a non-dualistic universe, in that all is One.

In this regard, I think that Jesus saw a problem with the fact that he downplayed the physical so much in A Course in Miracles. Would not everybody want to die, so that they would be finally happy in heaven? But he needs us, at least many of us, here. We have to lead others back to God, and we do have a right to be happy here. So the physical is not downplayed so much in ACOL, which of course came after ACIM.

We are going to need to come back to earth for millions of years, because that is how long Jesus says that it will take to heal the separation. He needs workers willing to do that. If the earth as a good place is denigrated, we won’t want to come back.

7 – The purpose of A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love is different. ACIM was given to dislodge the ego, the most important first step. ACOL was given to establish a new identity, and this identity is the elevated Self of form. So ACOL is seen rightly as a continuation of ACIM.

8 – A Course in Miracles was given in the time of the Holy Spirit. At the turn of the century, when A Course of Love was given, we began living in the time of Christ. And so the terms are different.

Jesus stresses the Holy Spirit as our guide in ACIM. But he stresses the Christ-Self, from deep within us, as our guide in ACOL. Actually the Holy Spirit is “a” holy spirit, and so He has always dwelled within us, but this was not stressed in ACIM, whereas the Christ-Self is naturally seen as a part of us. We do draw on the All, though, the part outside the dot of the body, and intuitively we can know much that is beyond our little self.

9 – Both A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love emphasize that love cannot be taught. What we can do is to remove the blocks to the awareness of love, in conjunction with guidance.

An early reviewer took exception with the title of A Course of Love when he or she had not read the book. Thought that it was trying to teach how to love. But there is no contradiction between ACIM and ACOL here.

10 – Masculine and feminine differs between the two books. ACIM was written in the sixties and early seventies, when our teaching was understood that the masculine pronouns INCLUDED the feminine. Our culture has changed now, and we want the feminine to be directly stated. So ACOL, given in a different era, uses “brothers and sisters” and also exalts the feminine in other ways, too. Mary, for example, is seen as complementary to Jesus, and there is a way of Mary, a way of being, and a way of Jesus, a way of doing. It is said that all of us will eventually walk the way of Mary.

Conclusion

We are encouraged to listen to our heart, to let the heart inform the mind, in A Course of Love. We are encouraged to be more than do, though there is room for variation in this time of transition.

A Course of Love is for the heart what A Course in Miracles was to the mind. We need the mind training to dislodge the ego. Now we need to listen to what does not need proof of God, the heart. In our heart, all of us know that we are part of something bigger than ourselves.

The intellectual understanding came with ACIM. The intuitive, heartfelt understanding came with ACOL.

BE STILL IN SPIRIT

by Celia Hales

Note: This column has been recently published in the November – December 2018 issue of Miracles magazine (Jon Mundy, publisher; Eileen Katzmann, editor).

“If you speak from your spirit, you have chosen to ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’” (ACIM, COA ed., T-4.I.3:3)

“When action is seen to be necessary, this is exactly when a time of stillness is needed.” (ACOL, C:25.23:1)

We want to speak from our spirit, and when we do, we will not be cast downward in depression, “dispiriting” ourselves. Yet in this time before the ego is relinquished, we oscillate between spirit and ego. As we spend more time with our spirit, we will be welcoming Awakening. Our goal. The place we want to be. And when we speak from our spirit, we will be blessing ourselves and our brothers and sisters as well.

Jesus says that the quotation that begins, “Be still,” are inspired words, coming from knowledge. This is definitely opposed to what we have become accustomed to coming from, which is speaking from the ego. When we speak from the ego, in this dispiriting, and depression happens, we are seeing the reason that the world can seem at times to be such a very demoralizing place.

We will also find that, like Jesus, we want knowledge, as opposed to perception. In knowledge, we have a certainty about what we discover, whereas perception is so variable. When we know a thing, we relax in that knowledge. It is the easiest way to live, for we are listening to the Holy Spirit. We usually have to get quiet to hear His promptings, and getting quiet is something that we often fail to do in our busy lives. We may devote a while to devotionals, but then we head off into our work lives, and there busyness characterizes the day. In welcoming the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we listen to our intuition, what I have found to be the primary tool of the Holy Spirit in His attempts to reach us.

We have our own spirit, one that indwells, from a personal standpoint, with the all-embracing Holy Spirit. As we progress on to A Course of Love, this spirit is known as the Christ-Self. One with God, Who also dwells within, our minds are teased out of all thought as we seek to understand what can be glimpsed only intuitively.
Ask today that intuitive knowledge might be ours. We want to discover how to live well, and we can’t do that in hectic lives unless we take this time out that I am recommending. Our depressed spirit can be the catalyst for us to slow down. Ask today that we speak from the spirit, and in this, bless all others.

“And in all situations, no matter what another is doing, your first response will be to enter into the quiet stillness within and merely ask the Holy Spirit: What would you have me say?” (WOM, Bk. 1, Lesson 3)

In the relaxed, peaceful frame of mind and heart in which we find ourselves, we will know that we will say what guidance prompts. And at this point Awakening, for us, is but a moment away.

Ask to see a glimpse of Awakening today. Ask to be safe and secure in God’s arms.

We Choose Our Experiences

“Just as you would go to a grocery store and choose what you will have for dinner and then go home and experience your creation so too do you choose each experience. When you choose a perception, you lodge it in the mind. Then it expresses itself through the body, through the environment that you create around yourself and through the friends that you would call into your awareness. Every aspect of the life you live is the symbol of what you have chosen to experience and, therefore, to convey throughout creation.” (“The Way of the Heart,” WOM, Chapter 2, Page 13)

Jesus seems here, almost certainly, to be saying that we create our own reality. This is a maxim of the New Age movement, made popular by Jane Roberts’ Seth, about the time that A Course in Miracles was being scribed. We surround ourselves with what we want, though if we are in need, it isn’t our personalities or personas that has made the lack, but our souls. Our soul knows the full chart of our life plan. Our soul then conveys to the learning being, also called the Self, or the Christ-Self (from A Course of Love) what we need to know. We will never, on earth, find a reason for lack/suffering/pain that will satisfy us, we can rest easy that there is an Answer, but that we are simply not enlightened enough to comprehend this eternal question.

We create the environment around us. We project from within, and from this a perception of the world arises. Elsewhere The Way of Mastery (the Christ-Mind Trilogy) and A Course in Miracles say that this world is an illusion of a real world. Some readers of A Course of Love demur from this interpretation, seeing in the true reality beyond Awakening or Christ-consciousness, a hope that something more is going on, that the rocks, trees, oceans, are becoming real in a new way.

We do not have to bear this cross. We do not have to join in this controversy. I don’t think that this particular problem, a matter of metaphysics, matters to Jesus at all. I think it simply doesn’t matter to him that we have differing views. Certainly physical reality is real enough to us here in our time on earth. We can debate metaphysical ideas on the Other Side, where we will presumably know more than it is given us to know in this plane.

It is enough that we create our own reality. This will be hard enough for us to handle. Remember that one is meant to have compassion on suffering, not increase it by blame of the one suffering. While there are no true victims, we are simply not astute enough to avoid blaming the victim, unless we hold them in the same love-filled vision that Jesus would.

Use our imagination to create a better reality for us. Use our imagination to realize that Jesus is right by our side, holding our hand, as we walk through this world. His help will give us a warmth and peace that we have heretofore lacked.

Add Joy to the Kingdom

“God is praised whenever any mind learns to be wholly helpful. This is impossible without being wholly harmless, because the two beliefs must coexist. The truly helpful are invulnerable, because they are not protecting their egos, so that nothing can hurt them. Their helpfulness is their praise of God, and He will return their praise of Him, because they are like Him and can rejoice together. God goes out to them and through them, and there is great joy throughout the Kingdom. Every mind that is changed adds to this joy with its own individual willingness to share in it.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-4.X.10:1-6)

We could well make “helpful and harmless” an affirmation, to good effect. This is the way that we want to be.
“Helpful” means that we reach out to our fellow man and woman, our brothers and sisters, with words and deeds that will offer solace. It is often solace, for this world seems cruel, and many are those who suffer in it.

“Harmless” means that we will not attack or respond in anger, regardless of the provocation. This can be a hard affirmation to live up to, but live up to it, we must. We cannot attack and expect to take our place in heaven, which on earth is known as the Awakening (enlightenment or Christ-consciousness). When we go easy, often keep a low profile, and ask if making waves is really appropriate, then we are more likely to be harmless. While we still need to be appropriately assertive, aggressiveness can get us into trouble. We do not want to be patsies for the wrong deeds of others, but we will find a lot less to complain about when our attack mode is silenced.

We want to add to the joy of the Kingdom, and we spectacularly do when we are both helpful and harmless. Anything less, and we are less than we are meant to be.

Ask the Holy Spirit how we might best fulfill these attitudes. He will have lots of ideas.

Reach Out & Touch God

“The Bible repeatedly states that you should praise God. This hardly means that you should tell Him how wonderful He is. He has no ego with which to accept such thanks and no perceptions with which to judge your offerings. But unless you take part in the creation, His joy is not complete because yours is incomplete. And this He does know. He knows it in His Own being and its experience of His Sons’ experience. The constant going out of His love is blocked when His channels are closed, and He is lonely when the minds He created do not communicate fully with Him.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-4.X.8:1-7)

This quotation is a favorite of mine, for it acknowledges that the God we know may have very human emotions, though spiritualized and non-egoic. After all, it is even said in Genesis that God created us in His image. So why would the One Who created us not share some traits with us?

This may sound blasphemous, but it doesn’t to me. I like to think, even, of God as a new husband, keen on pleasing his new wife, eager to do things for her that make her happy. In this analogy (imperfect though it may be) God enjoys hearing our appreciation, wants our gratefulness, not because it is necessary for His joy, but because He knows that it is necessary for ours. If we aren’t grateful, we take this glorious life for granted, and we drop into the doldrums at the first instance of suffering/pain that comes our way.

Keep our minds and hearts elevated. That is the great secret of living life with a joyous spirit. If possible, make a list of those things that give happy moments, and so more of them. This is frequent advice in the self-help literature to increase one’s experience of happiness.

But elevating the mind and heart works. Even if circumstances surrounding us do not seem to warrant a positive outlook. Everything improves with positive emotions. Positive emotions are half the battle in any and all challenging situations.

We Are of One Mind with God

“Creation and communication are synonymous. God created every mind by communicating His Mind to it, thus establishing it forever as a channel for the reception of His Mind and will. Since only beings of a like order can truly communicate, His creations naturally communicate with Him and communicate like Him. This communication is perfectly abstract, in that its quality is universal in application and not subject to any judgment, any exception, or any alteration. God created you by this and for this. The mind can distort its functions, but it cannot endow itself with those it was not given. That is why the mind cannot totally lose the ability to communicate, even though it may refuse to utilize it on behalf of being.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-X.5:1- 8)

We are created of “God-stuff.” This is the basic message of this passage. We are beings in communication with each other and with God. We never lose this ability to communicate, however deep into egoic darkness we have traveled.

We are meant to communicate. We were never meant to attempt independence from our brothers and sisters, nor independence from God. Moreover, we cannot be happy in such a scenario. Our mutual joining with others prepares us to live a full and glorious life. Isolation from others keeps us in defeat.

We can open to fuller communication by looking to others with love. When we look to others with fearful thoughts, we will always find reason to be threatened by these others. Then the dialogue breaks down. The fact that others may be on edge, frustrated, or otherwise unavailable to us, is not germane to our communication.

Communication, in love, can also be silent.

Gladden Ourselves–for Jesus Is with Us

“I offer far more than partial guidance, although you do not ask for more. The uneven quality of your skill in both asking and following my direction is due to the alternations you experience between ego- and miracle-oriented perception. This is a strain, but fortunately one which can be overcome along with the rest. There will never be a time when I do not will to try again. You might be gladdened by remembering that.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-4.IX.10:1-5)

Jesus is once again speaking just to Helen (and maybe Bill) in this reassurance that he offers continual guidance. But if we ask, he will do the same for us. In these early words, he has not yet solidified the Holy Spirit in A Course in Miracles. Soon he will ask that all of us turn immediately to the Holy Spirit when confronted with a dilemma. The Holy Spirit connects us to God, but not in a threatened way. At this point in our progress, we are still too fearful of God to approach Him directly.

Jesus points out the strain that we under. He seems particularly aware of this strain, as we seek to mediate between hell and heaven, the ego and love. Heaven and love are the only things that we truly can want, once we have let the magnitude of our mistakes sink in. Our attempt to create unlike God, something that is actually “making” rather than “creating,” has produced all of the chaos in which we live. We need to get beyond this. We need to recognize that our attempt to create something beyond God has just failed miserably. There IS nothing beyond Him except illusion.

Jesus constantly looks for reasons that we might gladden ourselves, for he knows that we are usually morose when caught in the vines of the ego. We need just to kick those vines away from ourselves, away from our feet (as Pat Rodeway’s Emmanuel says), and be on about our business. Jesus will untangle any egoic vines that won’t automatically disengage from our toes.

Don’t “Evaluate” Jesus’ Messages

“You should be confident that any guidance which comes from me will not jeopardize anyone. If you can continue not to evaluate my messages and merely follow them, they will lead to good for everyone. Since this is the same area of difficulty which may be causing you trouble with meditation, practice in this is essential.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-4.IX.5:1-3)

We still tend to “evaluate,” which is another term for judgment. And judgment will not get us where we want to go. In fact, it will delay Awakening big time. We simply won’t be able to awaken until we have given up attack as well as judgment.
God wants gentle individuals, and the judgmental mind is anything but gentle. Notice the difference in ourselves when we judge, and we are tolerant. Tolerance, which is a weaker form of love, will set us back on the right pathway. Judgment will cause our feet to stumble over rocks. We will discover that the only way to move forward without incident is to move forward in tolerance as well as love.

If we are tuned into intuition, we will hear the messages from the Beyond. Sometimes this is Jesus. (In Helen’s case, it nearly always was Jesus, for he stayed very close to her in emotional support. Scribing was very threatening to her. Her co-scribe Bill was also very supportive.) Jesus does not jeopardize anybody at all when he gives us advice. He will be careful, though, not to make us dependent on him. He will step back if he thinks this dependence is happening.

Don’t judge. Ask how to accomplish this in our life. It is not hard.

In fact, ceasing to judge is one of the easiest things we will ever accomplish. When we get help.

Humble Asking Always Gets an Answer

“If you ask me for guidance, you have signified your willingness to give over your own control, at least to some extent. Your frequent failure to ask at all indicates that at such times you are not willing to go even that far. Failure to ask for guidance is a sign of fear. But when you at least ask, you are acting on a cooperative thought, even though it may not lack ambivalence. You are therefore entitled to a specific answer, but unless you follow it without judging it, you will become defensive about the next steps you will take.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-4.IX.4:1-5)

Jesus is available to us for guidance. As our elder brother, his advice is sounder than our own. It would be wise to ask.
Later on in A Course in Miracles, Jesus does not so much ask us to turn to him as to turn to the Holy Spirit. He knows that we ask of the ego, or we ask of Higher Guidance—whatever we do. While we may not be aware of these mental gyrations, they are nevertheless much a part of ourselves. We don’t make decisions just in our own superficial mind. Guidance is very real, but guidance of the ego is always wrongheaded and disastrous.

We will get specific answers, and these specific answers may very well come as the next quiet thought in our minds. Practical advice is always given. The Holy Spirit can be very practical, giving advice for the most mundane matters. The only criteria is that these matters are important to us. Humble asking always gets an answer. The solution is always found with the problem, as soon as the problem is articulated, even silently.

If we think we have decided what we want to do, and then ask, we have turned the tables on the Holy Spirit. We may not like what we hear, for the initial decision has, in all likelihood, be made in conjunction with the ego. ACIM says that the ego always answers first.

We don’t have to listen to the ego. It certainly would be wise not to do so, but simply to turn the matter over to spirit. The answer comes quickly.

Misery with the Ego / Joy with the Spirit

“I am conditioning you to associate misery with the ego and joy with your spirit. You have conditioned yourself the other way around. But a far greater reward will break through any conditioning if that reward is repeatedly offered when the old habit is broken. You are still free to choose. But can you really want the rewards of the ego in the presence of the rewards of God?” (ACIM, COA ed., T-4.VIII.23:1-5)

The ego has never brought real joy; at best, we have had flights of fancy that were high enough in tone that we felt an exhilaration. Then, invariably, we were dashed downward to a sense of depression—mild or severe. These dramas were endless, and so unnecessary now that our knowing has expanded.

Jesus speaks of conditioning in this complete edition of A Course in Miracles, from the Circle of Atonement. The use of the word “conditioning” would make eminent sense to Helen and Bill. And we have enough general knowledge of psychology from everyday life to comprehend as well. What does Jesus mean by this conditioning?

We thought that the dramatic highs that the ego gave us were all that we could expect on earth. We were mistaken. A joyous spirit offers far more. This joy does not become inverted, to dash us downward into depression. This joy extends, more and more, as we are receptive to it.

This joy is often calm, and in the mild manner of it, we may not recognize what we have. Calm is sometimes a factor in depression, and we may even think that, when we are calm, we are depressed. We have much to discover. We are meant, according to A Course in Miracles, to remain “perfectly calm and quiet.” This new demeanor may not even seem desirable. We will see its value as we do quieten ourselves down and invite the Holy Spirit to inform our minds. We will see value when we let ourselves see value.

“Joy with the spirit”! Yes! Our new lives will mean much to us when we have given joy a welcome in our hearts. The ego will fall away, and, if we are careful and do nothing to reinforce it, the ego will never rear its ugly head again. It is not the same ego that Freud championed, a persona that we needed to live adult life. In Jesus’ use of the term ego, he means a false persona.

Let us ask for joy with the spirit today—and every day!

Guidance

“A giant step forward in your case would be to insist on a collaborative venture. This does not go against the true spirit of meditation at all. It is inherent in it. Meditation is a collaborative venture with God. It cannot be undertaken successfully by those who disengage themselves from the Sonship, because they are disengaging themselves from me. God will come to you only as you will give Him to your brothers. Learn first of them, and you will be ready to hear God as you hear them. That is because the function of love is one.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-4.VIII.21:1-8)

Do we really believe that we can hear God? We hear him in silence, not in words. Our intuitive sense carries the day. It is true that from brothers and sisters on the Other Side, we can hear what are called “locutions,” words impressed on our mind when we are quiet and receptive. We do not necessarily hear anything audible at all, but the impression of a locution does seem very powerful, when it comes. God’s silence, also, speaks volumes. We can know what God is wanting of us, and that may be only an expression of Love. He does not always expect us to work for Him; the pleasure of His company is all that He sometimes asks us to receive.

In meditation, specifically insight meditation, the focus is not only a specific mantra, but on phrases that filter through the mind. Our mind speaks to us, and sometimes this impression seems a little beyond us, as though a Higher Power were speaking to us. Feelings work, too. And feelings are primarily how the Holy Spirit speaks to us. When we are on the right beam, we comprehend that we are, and nobody else can tell us we are wrong. We do need to test out our discernment, though, as anything that might be harmful to another is definitely not coming from the Holy Spirit.

Jesus wants us to engage with him. He is able, as spirit, to live anywhere and everywhere. His consciousness can engage with myriads of human beings are one time. If this seems farfetched, let us simply listen to his words. I think that they will allow for no other interpretation.

A short period of meditation, or, at best, two such periods, will calm us and take us to the Heaven that exists in our minds. We may not stay there, but the visit is so very therapeutic.

Gratitude to Our Brother

“I have told you several times that I am in charge of the whole Atonement. This is only because I completed my part in it as a man and can now complete it through others. My chosen receiving and sending channels cannot fail, because I will lend them my strength as long as theirs is wanting. I will go with you to the Holy One, and through my perception He can bridge the little gap. Your gratitude to your brother is the only gift I want. I will bring it to God for you, knowing that to know your brother is to know God.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-4.VIII.15:1-6)

It is unclear who Jesus means by “your brother.” It is conceivable that he means himself, that he would like to have our gratitude, but I feel that this interpretation is probably off the mark. Jesus does refer to himself elsewhere as our “elder brother,” but all individuals are brothers (and sisters), and it is to our fellow man and women that it is likely Jesus refers. Knowing our brother (and sister) does lead one to God, for holy relationship is the means that A Course in Miracles uses to take us home. We do realize that in the sixties and seventies, when Jesus was channeling, the masculine term included the feminine as well.

We are chosen receiving and sending channels, for long ago we learned in Sunday school that we are the hands and feet of Jesus. If we do his bidding, we are taking our part in the Atonement, the miracle that will take all of us home to God, though, we are told, this final healing may take as long as the separation did to happen, which was millions of years (and maybe even longer). The time can be foreshortened if all of us pull together. After all, we are all in this together.

Jesus stands ready to help us, though he does not foster dependence in an unhealthy way. In our lives, we have to make our own decisions, with our own guidance being led by the Holy Spirit or the Christ-Self. Jesus as an individual does not force his opinion upon us. We might sometimes want him to do so, but this is faulty thinking.

To know our brother is to know God. This is a startling assertion. Our brother’s essence is of God, for God is living through him. And the operative word is “know,” not “perceive.” Our knowledge is true understanding.

Jesus Trusts Us!

“My trust in you is greater than yours in me at the moment, but it will not always be that way. Your mission is very simple: You have been chosen to live so as to demonstrate that you are not an ego. I repeat that I do not choose God’s channels wrongly. The Holy One shares my trust and always approves my Atonement decisions, because my will is never out of accord with His.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-4.VIII.14:1-4)

Jesus trusts us! He sees us as a channel for good in this world, a channel for Atonement that is seconded by the Holy Spirit. Such reassurance that we are all on the right path. We all do want to be finished with the ego, and as long as we are careful not to reinforce the ego by egotistical/egoic thoughts and actions, we are hope personified. Jesus’ hope is for a new world, a world where the dreams are happy, brought to us by the Holy Spirit.

A Course in Miracles suggests that we are still caught by illusion, for dreams are not real. But the “happy dreams the Holy Spirit brings” can be enjoyed without guilt. We can stay a while on this beautiful earth, loving our fellow men and women, doing God’s work, and all will be well. No harsh judgment will assail us. We do create our own reality, and we discover how to do that when we listen to the Holy Spirit (as described in ACIM) or the Christ-Self (as described in A Course of Love).

Guidance is very, very important, for we cannot find our way back to God unaided. We are too lost in insanity. But a glimpse of sanity comes to us more and more as time passes. And ultimately, those glimpses will, in Awakening, merge into a dream that offers good days continuously. We can have a Heaven on earth. We just have to follow the rules, and guidance will elucidate those rules for us.

A Choice Bringing Peace and Joy

“You have very little trust in me as yet, but it will increase as you turn more and more often to me instead of to your ego for guidance. The results will convince you increasingly that your choice in turning to me is the only sane one you can make. No one who has learned from experience that one choice brings peace and joy while another brings chaos and disaster needs much conditioning.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-4.VIII.10:1-3)

In the beginning chapters of A Course in Miracles, where we are now, Jesus counsels turning to him; he has not yet focused on turning to the Holy Spirit in ACIM, and it is not until much later, in A Course of Love, that he will counsel that the time of the Holy Spirit is past, and that in this time of Christ, we ought to turn to our inner Christ-Self, the mind that is one with God, found deep within us.

If we turn to Jesus, we will turn away from the ego, the ego as defined as a false persona (not in the Freudian sense of a persona that we need to develop to live well). And turning to Jesus will give both peace and joy, two aspects of what we want with all our heart. Turning to the ego is the choice for insanity, and insane thinking, because it is so convoluted, is the choice for chaos and disaster. We know this way well; we have lived it for eons. Now is the time for something better; now we are ready to leave all this chaos behind.
When Jesus senses that we are becoming too dependent upon him, he will withdraw, letting us make our own decisions, but decisions made without the ego in ascendancy. When we make our own decisions, we will look inward, where both the Holy Spirit and the Christ-Self dwell.

We can still have the peace and joy, for guidance from within does guide us truly. Our days of being insane, mad, are drawing to a close. We know better now; we know to let inner guidance wipe our minds clean of conflict.

Gently we come to know what to do. When we have faith that this is so, we certainly do discover that it IS so.

Reaching God

“When I told you to concentrate on the phrase ‘Here I am, Lord,’ I did not mean ‘in this world’ by ‘here.’ I wanted you to think of yourself as a distinct consciousness, capable of direct communication with the Creator of that consciousness. You must begin to think of yourself as a very powerful receiving and sending channel.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-4.VIII.8:1-3)

Jesus is first talking to Helen, but, as usual, we can appropriate his words to ourselves. We can communicate, as a “very powerful receiving and sending channel,” with God Himself. If this is too threatening to us, then the Holy Spirit will mediate. This is the whole purpose of the Holy Spirit, of course, to draw us back to God when we are in fear that would prevent a direct channel to the Almighty.

A Course of Love, sequel and continuation of A Course in Miracles, postulates a more direct route to God. In this age of Christ, it postulates, we are capable of direct communication with God, no longer so fearful of Him that we need the Holy Spirit as mediator. The age of the Holy Spirit, ACOL says, has now passed. We are to derive our guidance from the Christ-Self who dwells within each of us. This Christ-Self, still a learning being until morphing into discovery through observation and an informing by the heart, is capable of accurate choices. This Christ-Self is being healed, through and through, all layers of the subconscious. And when this healing is complete, we will know Awakening/Christ-consciousness/enlightenment.

God dwells within and without, though we project the world from the Mind. I believe this world does not really exist, because the Mind is all, and the Mind is, at base, Spirit. This non-dualistic world view gives a way to understand that God is everywhere at one time. We are “God-stuff,” and out of his individuations/differentiations of His Being, we develop as His children.

God then knows us as His own. Finiteness does serve a purpose, to experience, because knowing the Whole, as God does in His Godhead, would make experiential effects not separate from Cause, and thus unknowable. (This interpretation is based in part on Neale Donald Walsch’s “conversations” with God, and is not found in ACIM/ACOL.)

We Dwell in Heaven Also

“The ego is nothing more than a part of your belief about yourself. Your other life has continued without interruption, and has been and always will be totally unaffected by your attempts to dissociate. The ratio of repression and dissociation of truth varies with the individual ego illusion, but dissociation is always involved, or you would not believe that you are here.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-4.VIII.7:1-3)

There seem to be aspects of the Self of each of us that dwells in a realm separate and apart from this world. Here Jesus calls it out “other life.”

This assertion gives me great comfort. When I think of millions of years to heal the separation for all people, I feel very isolated and alone, apart from God (even though I know this is a misinterpretation). When I feel reassured that there is a part of me that is thriving in another place, Heaven (if you will), then I can settle down and be satisfied here in this world. I am unaware of this other place when I walk this earth, but the fact that Jesus says that I live there, too, gives me great comfort as well as reassurance.

All of us are in a similar place. Our main Self has never left Heaven. Only a part of our being dissociated into the little self that is our personality, the little self that rebelled against God, and started on the long trek away from Him, and, now, back to Him.

This is part of the theology of ACIM that is often not emphasized. But its central place in the comfort of God’s children is without doubt a teaching that demands recognition.