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.

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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!

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.

Reframe the Psyche for Sanity

“Consider how much vigilance you have been willing to exert to protect your ego, and how little you have been willing to expend to protect your higher mind! Who but the insane would undertake to believe in what is not true and then protect this belief at the cost of truth?” (ACIM, COA ed., T-4.V.17:3-4)

Perhaps, in reading A Course in Miracles, you have balked at accepting Jesus’ assertion that in our usual frame of mind, we have been mad, insane. This may be because we think that we don’t do the insane things that people who are certifiably mad have actually done. Of course, there is a difference, but I think we will see, when Awakening dawns, that our psyche has been skewed. The ego is easily recognized, then, as a form of insanity.

We have to use our imagination to project what life would really be like without the ego. We have to lay aside the definition of the ego that Freud gave, in that the ego was seen as necessary for an adult to function, that the ego would form the persona, and then we would live independent lives when grown. Jesus’ defines the ego differently, in that he sees it as a false concept, a concept to be overcome, and a concept not at all needed for responsible living as an adult. Our persona will thrive when we awaken and do not seek any longer to cling to our egoic ways. We will also realize that independent living is not the panacea we had thought, that we are meant to be interdependent, living in cooperation with our brothers and sisters.

Let the ego wither away by failing to reinforce the egotistical ideas that so call to us. Let humility lead the way. After all, Jesus said that the meek would inherit the earth. While he did not mean by “meek” any form of subservient behavior, we can, in the word, glimpse a little of what he meant many years ago when he walked the earth.

We want to follow the truth. And when the tenets of A Course in Miracles take hold, we will find ourselves triumphantly following that truth.

Being Home-Free

“The question is not how you respond toward your ego, but only what you believe you are. Belief is an ego function, and as long as your origin is open to belief at all, you are regarding it from an ego viewpoint. That is why the Bible quotes me as saying, ‘Ye believe in God, believe also in me.’ Belief does apply to me, because I am the teacher of the ego. When teaching is no longer necessary, you will merely know God. Belief that there is another way is the loftiest idea of which ego thinking is capable. This is because it contains a hint of recognition that the ego is not the self.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-4.III.7:1-7)

The ego is wily, but the day will come when Jesus resigns as our teacher because the ego in us is no longer. Jesus announces this alteration in his interaction with us in the final pages of the sequel to A Course in Miracles, the heartwarming book called A Course of Love. Belief is no longer necessary then, because we “know.” This knowing gives us great relief, for we are no longer straining to know what seems just beyond us. Our knowing is very immediate.

Jesus has been striving to rid us of the ego throughout both A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love (and The Way of Mastery). He rests in the knowledge that he will succeed in his effort, and so he does not have to struggle at all. We all will know eventually that there is another way, a better way. ACIM attempted to dislodge the ego, and ACOL seeks to give us a new identity around which the Christ-Self coalesces. It is my thought that ACOL was needed because we didn’t have anything concrete to hold onto after the ego was dislodged; we needed a new identity, and this new identity, the Christ-Self, is spelled out in ACOL.

Beliefs are transient and ego-driven. We cling to belief when we are actually uncertain. As Jesus teaches the ego, we learn to slowly let it pass away from us.

We are then home-free.

Egoic Swings in Mind

“The best concrete example you could have of how the mind could have made the ego is a person who has a great propensity for revelation but can suddenly swing to its complete opposite. Such a person does have real knowledge at times, but when she throws it away it is as if she never had it. This willfulness is so apparent that you need only perceive it to see that it does happen. If it can occur that way in the present, why should you be surprised that it occurred that way in the past? All psychology rests on the principle of continuity of behavior. Surprise is a reasonable response to the unfamiliar, but hardly to something that occurs with such persistence.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-4.III.3:1-6)

Jesus is probably talking to Helen, because in the era of the sixties, the pronoun “he” was used for both male and female, and here he deliberately (we might think) uses the pronoun “she.” Helen was a woman of many moods, as we might be. Her oscillations required that Jesus support her often as the scribing unfolded. He was right there for her.

Helen had a propensity for revelation. All of us do (though some are more ready for it than others). Revelation gives us real knowledge, as opposed to simple perception. Our perceptions are often ego-related, but not our knowledge. Our knowledge comes from God, and it can come, reliably, only when we have placed ego either to one side, or eliminated it altogether.

We may be surprised by truth. But is this warranted? The truth is always right here with us, just often unrecognized. If we pray to be open to the truth, we are more likely to experience it in everyday occurrences. These are miracles. These are examples of God welling up from within to shower us with love.

Living in God’s Shadow

“The ego has built a shabby and unsheltering home for you, because it cannot build otherwise. Do not try to make this impoverished house stand. It weakness is your strength. Only God could make a home that was worthy of His creation, who have chosen to leave it empty by their own dispossession. But His home will stand forever, and is ready for you when you choose to enter. Of this you can be wholly certain. God is as incapable of creating the perishable as your ego is of making the eternal.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-4.II.21:1-7)

We made the ego, and we made this persona badly. “A shabby and unsheltering home.” Of course. What else could madness make but something that sheltered us in a fragile structure? We have been vulnerable to the insanity of the ego for eons. Isn’t it time we tried something else?

That “something else” is living in God’s shadow, letting His Holy Spirit direct our steps back to the straight pathway toward Awakening. God is ready, has been ready, for us to return home. Now, at last, it seems that we are listening to Him.

I hope He is glad, if human emotions ever touch His splendor. We have journeyed far into the night, and we are just now beginning to see the first rays of light on a new morrow. We will be Awakening soon, the light having roused us through closed eyelids. When we open our eyes to the sunlight, our new persona is assured.

And this persona is the Christ-Self.

We Are Ideas in the Mind of God

“ ‘God created man in His Own image and likeness’ is correct in meaning, but the words are open to considerable misinterpretation. This is avoided, however, if ‘image’ is understood to mean ‘thought,’ and ‘likeness’ is taken as ‘of a like quality.’ God did create the Son in His Own thought and of a quality like to His Own. There is nothing else.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-3.VII.11:4-7)

We are ideas in the Mind of God, another word, “ideas,” substituted for “thought.” This interpretation reveals George Berkeley’s Idealism, from the Nineteenth Century, an interpretation that resonated with me years ago in my first class in philosophy.

There is nothing in the universes at any vibration that is not “God-stuff.” God created us out of Himself, and even now lives through us, occupying our mind, heart, body to live in the world. Our mind, though, is finite, though it can draw on the Higher Power that possesses us, and thereby reach beyond ourselves to find answers to our problems, answers that are guidance in the highest degree.

“There is nothing else.” No, there is not. When we realize that we too are “God-stuff,” then we realize that we have the potential to be very holy. Holiness is born of the innocence that is our birthright. Our mistakes are wiped away when we understand the forgiveness is a type of love that has effected this.

Let us forgive ourselves today for what we only imagine are great wrongs. Let us forgive others who are in our shadow. Everyone does the best that he/she can, given his/her degree of understanding. And we have simply been mad, made mad by the ego. As we give up the ego, our false persona, we will walk into a new and glorious land, creating this world anew.

Ego

“The ego is as frail as Freud perceived it. The later theorists have tried to introduce a less pessimistic view, but they have looked in the wrong direction for their hope. Any attempt to endow the ego with the attributes of the spirit is merely confused thinking. Freud was more clear-sighted about this, because he knew a bad thing when he perceived it. But he failed to recognize that a bad thing cannot exist. It is therefore wholly unnecessary to try to get out of it. As I have said before, the thing to do with a desert is to leave.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-3.VI.10:1-7)

The ego does not really exist, though it seems mighty real to us most of our lives. The ego is part of the illusory world that we have made. We don’t need to struggle to get out of it. We just turn aside without giving it any emotion. If we resist the ego, we may find ourselves trapped by our own wrong notions. As Jesus says, “the thing to do with a desert is to leave.” So if we leave the ego, we do so without a fight on our hands. We just leave it. It withers away from disinterest.

The ego is a bad thing, and Freud knew this. But he didn’t know any way out. He thought that an ego was necessary as part of the persona of the developing child, the child growing into an adult. Many people still believe this. But ego, as defined by Jesus in his channeled writings, is a false notion of what we are; it is not a necessary part of who we are, even when we are maturing into grown-ups.
Most of us don’t make the decision to leave the ego behind until quite advanced in spiritual matters. Then we realize that egoic and egotistical attitudes get us into competition with each other. Many in our societies think that competition is a good thing. But it pits one person against another, one group of people against another. It is hardly harmless. If cut-throat, it is damaging in the extreme.

What about sports? We must realize that a game is a game, not a life-and-death matter. We can thrill to the excitement of the moment, and then we can go our own way when the game is over. We are not meant to have ego involvement as fans. The participants likely lack the wherewithal to keep ego out of their competition. But as time passes, they too will realize that this all happened a long time ago. They lose their ego involvement as well.

Egoless people are very ordinary people, viewed as such in our culture. They don’t try to impress, and so they are often overlooked. But egoless people don’t care about the opinions of other people. They are marching to the beat of a different drummer.

Seeing Truly

“But this vision can be perceived only by the truly innocent. Because their hearts are pure, they defend true perception, instead of defending themselves against it. Understanding the lesson of the Atonement, they are without the will to attack, and therefore they see truly. This is what the Bible means when it says, ‘And when He shall appear (or be perceived) we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.’” (ACIM, COA ed., T-3.III.10:1-4)

Without the will to attack, we will indeed see truly. Our innocence will be something in which we believe, unlike now, when we want to believe we are innocent, but often feel, internally, a sense that we are very guilty indeed.
We are not guilty. Would God turn against a child who has simply made mistakes? Making mistakes is inevitable in this confused and confusing world, in which our companions, brothers and sisters alike, and ourselves, are lost in egoic intention. How could we choose rightly in every instance, when we are quite literally lost in madness, insanity?

When we start to lose the madness, we will be ripe to entertain the idea that we really have only made mistakes in our choices, that these are entirely forgivable, even by ourselves. We are our own judge, and we are a harsh judge at that.

Rest in God’s Love, and know that anything done wrong is gloriously forgiven in a universe that knows that we have simply strayed from the path.

Way Out of Fear

“Whenever you are afraid, it is a sure sign that you have allowed your mind to miscreate; that is, you have not allowed me to guide it. It is pointless to believe that controlling the outcome of misthought can result in real healing. When you are fearful, you have willed wrongly. This is why you feel you are responsible for it. You must change your mind, not your behavior, and this is a matter of will. You do not need guidance except at the mind level. Correction belongs only at the level where causation is possible. The term does not really mean anything at the symptom level, where it cannot work.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-2.IX.4:1-8)

Jesus knows that we have not given up fear, that we still have misthought, and we feel the results, in pain often. He emphasizes that a change of mind is far more important, and pivotal, than a change in behavior. A change in behavior will happen when we have changed our mind, then and only then.

He wants us to correct our thinking, and then we will see an improvement in our behavior. It seems that he is not so much concerned with the outcome of misthought as he is with the problem of the mind itself. He wants us to think aright.

A Course of Love, channeled later, emphasizes that we change our mind when we listen to our heart—a heart that has always known what to think, say, and do. Our heart does not need any teaching, but our mind, so long egoic, has still patterns of the ego lingering. And so we need a sounder basis for making decisions, and that sounder basis is our heart.

Everyone knows what the heart means without a tedious telling. Our heart will inform our mind, which will inform our behavior. Then we will really be healed.

Insanity / Madness

“You would not tolerate insane behavior on your part, and would hardly advance the excuse that you could not help it. Why should you tolerate insane thinking? There is a fallacy here you would do well to look at clearly. You believe that you are responsible for what you do but not for what you think. The truth is that you are responsible for what you think, because it is only at this level that you can exercise choice. What you do comes from what you think. You cannot separate the two by giving autonomy to your behavior. Behavior is controlled by me automatically as soon as you place what you think under my guidance.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-2.IX.3:1-8)

In a number of places in A Course in Miracles, our thoughts in the egoic state are seen as “insanity” or “madness.” Here Jesus determines that our mind slant is just as important, and maybe even more important (sometimes), than our behavior. We don’t condone insane behavior, but our thinking is insane when it derives from the ego. We have to work our way out of this insane thinking, slowly and over a long period, until the grace-filled moment when God Himself lifts us up to Awakening. Our ego is banished, our good sense returned to us, for remembrance is complete. ACIM is preparing us for this change, dislodging the ego. Then A Course of Love will enable us to form a new identity.

Here, once again, we see that Jesus is assuming a central place in our thought processes, before he brings in the Holy Spirit as our guidance. He will guide us, but the Holy Spirit is the arbiter of what is accurate for many of us. (Not everybody allows the Holy Spirit to so rein in their lives.)

Ask to be rid of madness today. It is perhaps new to believe that virtually all of us have lived part of our lives on earth as insane. We have thought that only a tiny percentage of our populace would merit that characterization. But anybody who willingly allows the ego full rein in their thoughts is actually thinking amiss.

Ask today. You have nothing to lose but a part of ourselves—the ego—that does not mean us well.

Hellfire

“Remember that I came to fulfill the law by reinterpreting it. The law itself, if properly understood, offers only protection. It is those who have not yet ‘changed their minds’ who have entered the ‘hellfire’ concept into it.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-1.42.5:6-8)

The ego is responsible for the good vs. evil world in which we live, with many of us having judgmental attitudes about those things in our world that seem to us to be wrong. We are out in left field when we judge at all; judging will keep us from Awakening. We don’t condone those things that we think are wrong, however; we simply turn aside from them, offering forgiveness and love to the people involved. As hard as it may be to believe, everybody is doing the best that he/she can at any given time, given the level of understanding that that person has.

The idea of hellfire is an egoic idea. And it comes from egoic concepts. In this, we turn aside from New Testament understandings. Jesus is giving us in A Course in Miracles a deeper concept to understand and to follow.

Jesus could not have taught about the ego prior to Freud. The ACIM scholar Ken Wapnick made this point in his lectures and books.

Our idea that there to be good, there must be evil, is also a flawed concept. Opposites are not the way of heaven. We think in contrasting ways, but our Father does not think that way. We need a new comprehension, one that will come to us as we step nearer Awakening.

Our glimpses, which have come to all of us on the pathway back to God, those who have “changed their minds,” will show us a heaven on earth that leaves no room for the illusion of evil. When we are living in the ego, we are living in illusion. True reality is something else entirely, and it is to true reality, brought to us by the Atonement, that we are heading.

Jesus: “The Ego Is Gone”

“The ego but seemed to be who you were for a time. Now that you know who you are in truth, the ego does not remain, a separate entity with a life of its own. No. The ego is gone. Because it was a lie its exposure to the truth dissolved it.” (ACOL, D:5.8)

This heartening word comes early in the Dialogues, and Jesus here refers to all who have read this far. He once said that we would not have continued reading unless. . . .and this is one of those “unless” happenings. The ego is gone! We can and really ought to rejoice. We probably don’t even realize how great a handicap the ego has been—and for long eons. We thought that we were alone, isolated, and separate from our Maker, and this could not help but bring terror to our heart. If we had embodied form without imagining that we were actually separate from each other and from God, a split in our own mind and heart, we would not have encountered such trauma.

Our traumas have been very real—to us. In actuality, all of our trauma has been illusion. Nothing about us has been hurt, though it certainly felt like that to us, inside our fragile bodies. We have been projecting illusion and seeing what has appeared to be an imperfect world. We see tragedy, and rather than classify it as unreal, we take it seriously, and while this can be a component of compassion, more often it is simply a reason for fears or judgment. One of the worst things that happens in our New Age world is that we think that we brought bad things upon ourselves because we haven’t been thinking “right.” And then we blame the victim of these bad things as though it were something that could allow the placing of blame. Jesus says categorically in A Course of Love that no individual is responsible for the tragedy that may engulf them; all of us are due compassion when things go sour. Yet we do create our own reality, and so this idea of Jesus, and this idea of New Age thought, seem to be on a collision course. It is not really thus. When we enjoy unity again, we will see much that is paradoxical in our world, but paradoxical aspects of reality can be loved into greater true being. Jesus calls us all to that unity today, now, immediately. We can’t “understand” the truly real until we are joined as one with ourselves (heart and mind), our brothers and sisters, and God Himself.

With the ego gone, the only warning that I would issue is the one that Jesus gave in ACOL: that we are free to assemble a new ego. This gesture would take us back to the old, and he has given us many clues as to how to bring the new into being. Jesus wants us to create a new world, and his channeled messages are attempts to influence society to change its course. A Course in Miracles has changed the course of how our culture is going. Now, I believe, it is the new identity that A Course of Love leads us to that will alter the destiny of humankind.

This is a daunting task. But in another of those paradoxes, it is easy and effortless when we listen to our united mind and heart. Let’s create a new reality while showing compassion for those who are not ready to join us. They are as holy as all of us. But with millions not listening, our task becomes clear. Not to proselytize, but gently to guide others to a better world through the love that we are ever more free to offer, no questions asked.

Prayer

Thank you for the joy that I feel today. You have granted me joy several specific times in recent days, and it is a blessing that I love and greatly appreciate.

Thank You for guiding my thought processes, keeping them relaxed so that I can write effortlessly. Thank You for this way of sharing Your good news.

Amen.

From Self-less and Ego-less to Christ-Self

“These anti-ego tendencies are a real danger in this time. You are not called to selflessness but to Self!

“This is the transition you have felt yourself to be in. The ego is gone but the true Self has not been allowed as yet to dwell within the personal self, thus elevating the personal self. You have thus been self-less for a time and the personal self has floundered from this lack of identity. A person could literally die during this time from lack of identity, lack of cause. To die to the personal self is not what is required any longer as we work instead to elevate the personal self. This elevation occurs through the acceptance of your true identity, not through being identity-less. The reign of the ego began during just such a time of identity-less-ness. You cannot go on in such a way.” (ACOL, D:1.9 – 1.10)

I would suggest that this is the juncture that many of us occupied when we were at the conclusion of much study of A Course in Miracles. This floundering, without the ego but not knowing where else to turn, occupied many of us before Jesus channeled A Course of Love. He says definitely here that we can’t long survive ego-less, without a replacement, and he says that this replacement is the Self, the true Self who has been called the Christ, and who has dwelt deep within us for eons. Our personal, or “little,” self hindered the emergence of the Christ-Self.

Now we know better. We really do have to let the Self out to play. Effortlessly assuming our role in the new world, being created even as we speak.

This Self is the part of God Who dwells within every living thing. This is the Self who will save us now. It is about time.

Many of us have become frustrated with the promise of Awakening or Christ-consciousness, but no transformation seems on the horizon. Jesus would counsel us that there are things that we can do to make a difference, to allow Love in, to remove the blocks to Love. The Self knows how to counsel us as well, and as we retrieve broken parts of the subconscious, our way ahead brightens. All that is hindering is lodged in the subconscious mind. Let the heart inform that mind, and see what a difference it makes.

We need to recognize that just turning from the ego, without the replacement by the Christ-Self, is a dangerous place for us to occupy. Jesus even says that some, so disheartened, have died at such a point. He would not have us destroy ourselves out of frustration. He would have us walk into the fullness of our being. And we can do so today.

Prayer

I would, today, do all without my power to accept Jesus’s promise of a Christ-Self who will rule my personality. I will follow Your way, insofar as I can, but with Your help, all day long. The day will unfold gently as I realize that I am following in the way that You are pointing out.

Be with me today. May this be a good day, a stupendous day. May my limited awareness be opened up to all that You would hold out for me. This day holds much promise. Grant me the patience to see it unfold in Your good time.

Amen.

Good News: The Ego-Self Is Gone Now

“I repeat, and will do so again and again, that the ego-self is gone from you. Whether you fully realize this or not matters not. This A Course of Love has accomplished. Now the choice is before you to do one of two things…to proceed toward love or fear. If you proceed with fear you will assemble a new ego-self, an ego-self that perhaps will seem superior to the old, but which will nonetheless still be an ego-self. If you proceed with love, you will come to know your Christ-Self.” (ACOL, T3:4.8)

In this mid-way point in A Course of Love, we are ALL told that the ego-self is gone from us. But how can we be sure? The bottom line is that we would not have read this far, assimilated this much, if egoic notions were still dominant in our minds. Egoic notions have previously dominated our minds, but never our hearts. And we are listening to our heart now. Nothing will ever be the same again.

We want to proceed toward love, and we do know how (though in our low moments, we may think that this is beyond what we do know). If we allow fear to be predominate in our lives, we will assemble a new self (personal self) that will be a replacement for the old self, but it will still be an egoic self.

We don’t want a new ego-self. We want these ways of thinking to be left in the dust under our feet, left there as we move along our new path.

How do we make sure? We love, and love, and then love some more. We forgive, and in the forgiveness, we realize that love is everything that we want. We ought to keep in mind that we are not forgiving real happenings, that the bad deeds that hurt us so were done in illusion. All of us are innocent, including those who hurt us. Everyone does the best that he/she can at any given moment, given his/her level of understanding. This way of thinking will offer the intellect something to hold to when we remember the hurts that we have sustained.

But remember that to understand all, is to forgive all. But also, forgive and then you will come to understand. These ideas are not from ACIM or ACOL, but do seem relevant now, as we seek to forgive and forget. And most of all, to love.

Join with ACIM and ACOL in seeking a new persona that will not be another ego-self, but a personal self who will reflect the inner Christ-Self. Let us seek to do this today.

Prayer

I hope that I am right in believing that the ego doesn’t jerk me around any longer. I hope that Jesus is right in saying to all of us that the ego is gone. If we have read this far, and if we have assimilated what we have read, taken it to heart, then Jesus has a good point. And I would always like to believe what he says.

Be with me today so that I might have a good day. I ask this so often, and it is so real to me. Be with me; help me to be there for others; and may the ending of the day come with peace and comfort.

Thank You.

Amen.

Appreciation and Love Surround Us Always

“My request to you to choose a miracle is but a request to you to hear Creation’s response to who you are. What might such a response sound like? Feel like? Look like? It is a response of pure appreciation and love. It is always available. It is the gift given in everything you look upon and see without the obstacle of the ego-mind’s interpretation.” (ACOL, T1:4.16)

“Creation,” here is God Himself. And the One. The All. A response from the whole of Creation to who we are. Later on, in the Dialogues of A Course of Love, the third book, we will see that being who we are is very, very important to Jesus and to ourselves. It is the way that we will proceed, the Self Itself moving forward in tolerance of others, love of others, and peace everlasting. Who we are is the inner Christ Self, and there can be nothing more important for us to learn. This who we are will fashion our lives of the future. This is what we will know and understand when we have united mind and heart in a non-egoic pattern of living. It is appreciation and love, and we too will share in these traits. The ego-mind has no part in this way of living.

Jesus points out what he was really getting at, aside from our fears, when he asked us, several pages back, to choose a miracle. Not something specific, as he later confirms while we dally. But something that will show us who we are. And who we are is shown to us by God Himself, coming out from deep within us in the form of the Christ Self.

Pure appreciation and love are not to be taken lightly. If we really understand this entreaty, we will rush to obtain it for ourselves. Pure appreciation and love always foster peace, and inner peace is essentially what we are finding when we welcome the Self who has been plastered over by the egoic, little self. We will disavow drama in our lives in favor of quiet and calm. We will find that our new reality, the true reality, is an inner place of great tranquility. All of the positive traits of reality—the joy, harmony, peace, constancy—meet us when we turn inward to the Self.

Let us ask for the blessing of the Self today. This is identical to asking for Christ-consciousness, and when we ask for this blessing, we are asking in God’s will. At least calm down enough to catch a glimpse of Awakening. The glimpse may not last, now, but we have all had glimpses, and these tell us that there is nothing to fear. Nothing to be afraid of.

Let the miracle that you request be the wholeheartedness that Jesus has championed for us. This will allow the Self to become available, in union with the personal self, and then this will, in time, lead to Christ-consciousness. We are making the preparations for a blessing that will far exceed anything else that we have experienced in this world.

Dear Father/Mother,

Thank You for a good day, for a good experience of peace and intimacy with others. This is what I would wish for every day, and with Your help, it becomes attainable. Be with me as I finish out the day. Help me to have good energy in tranquility, the peace that my deepest Self can and will bestow on me.

Thank You for being with me always, even in the middle of the night when I wake up and can’t go back to sleep right away. My prayers to You lessen my midnight anxieties and give me the ability to drift back off to a peaceful sleep. You are always with me, deep within me. Thank You for the knowledge that I can look within and see You at any time, day or night.

Amen.

Give Up the Insane Ego

“Thoughts that were guarded by the ego-mind were in need of being set free. Appealing to your heart was the means or cause of this freedom being accomplished in you. What was spoken of within A Course of Love as unlearning has begun and continues here. What was spoken of within A Course of Love as new learning has begun and continues here as well. The difference is that you are now ready to learn a new means of response to this unlearning and learning. That response is the art of thought.” (ACOL, T1:2.5)

Here Jesus explains why he appeals to the heart in A Course of Love. Our minds have been too occupied with egoic thoughts; the mind has been well-fortified. And now all of this unfortunate trend can be stopped in its tracks. Jesus appeals to our heart, and in so doing find a way to circumvent the mind, at least temporarily. When the ego has faded away, we will once again entertain the mind, and we will join mind to heart to form what Jesus calls “wholeheartedness.”

We have been unlearning and learning anew. And this will continue for a while, as we page through A Course of Love. Eventually, we will give up learning by traditional means, but we are not there yet. We need to realize that our minds have betrayed us for eons. The egoic mind was and is mad, evidence of simple insanity, and until we realize this and give up our egoic notions, we will not find peace. But peace is out there waiting for us, and it takes very little rational thought to make a determination to turn to the heart over the mind. And when we turn to the heart over the mind, we will indeed find the peace that we have so longed to have.

The art of thought is Jesus’s next means to reach us. The art of thought is described in the Treatises and the Dialogues in various ways. It is, first of all, how we create as does the Creator, God Himself. It is miracle-readiness, and even the miracle itself. It is prayer. We don’t analyze or evaluate, sitting in judgment, when we employ this new means of thought. We respond to what is happening around us, and this response is pivotal to a good understanding of what the art of thought really means. Responding, as God responds to us, is our lodestone.

Our egoic mind will give up when we turn to miracles. And our own focus on our heart, something that we know intuitively, will speed along the ego’s demise.

Dear Father/Mother,

Help me to keep a sane mind today, free of egoic longings and obsessions. I would be free of the ego forever. I would follow the leanings of my heart, and my heart does, in fact, sense Your warm Presence. Thank You.

Help me to respond to my thoughts as they come in a rational way. May my heart be my guide. And may I be sped on my way as I come to understand all that is meant by the “art of thought.”

Amen.

Rest for a Tired Mind

“The mechanics of your over-worked and over-stimulated mind were what you were asked to leave behind as this act of leaving behind was the only means by which you could allow your mind to be restful enough for it to even contemplate union or the new learning required in order to facilitate your return to union. Your return to union is your return to love and it is accessed at the center or heart of your Self. Your mind was in need of silencing in order for you to hear the wisdom of your heart and begin your return. Now, in order to complete your return, mind and heart must work as one.” (ACOL, T1:1.7)

Most of us have long sensed that we have been working too hard; in Jesus’s words, we have an “over-worked” and “over-stimulated” mind. Isn’t it a great blessing that we give our minds a rest now?

In peace we can contemplate the heartfelt counsel that Jesus gives in A Course of Love. If the mind is restful, it can contemplate union, the union of mind with heart that becomes the oft-touted (in ACOL) “wholeheartedness.” We are going into new learning, at least for a time, the time that we study the Treatises. We are returning to love, and surely this will be welcomed by all of us.

Many of us have long prized our intellect, but we surely have recognized that intellect can take us only so far. And if it has been an egoic leaning, a prideful thing, then we need to leave that prizing behind. Ultimately, we realize that the fact that one person has a higher IQ than another means nothing. We are not our IQ. We come much closer to being our heart, and in the teaching of the heart, union, which is what we need to be, will blossom.

Union is at this point a composite of mind and heart into wholeheartedness. Later on, we will see union in ACOL as the joining of the Self with the All, a blessing that is Christ-consciousness or Awakening. None of us need to wait long for this change, if we live in peace and harmony, if we don’t judge, attack, or make plans against uncertain contingencies to come.

Union is what we are about today. And the art of thought, which we will learn in this treatise, will take us up to the door. All we need to do is knock, and the door will be opened.

Dear Father/Mother,

I would live in peace today, not struggling with my intellect to make progress in this world. I am not about striving today. I know that my own striving actually avails nothing.

May I have Your help to be at peace? May I have Your help to find my way safely and in good grace, today?

Thank You.

Amen.

The Best Experiences Avoid the Ego

“You do not exist outside of relationship, just as your mind does not exist outside of oneness. Your experience here is but an extension of mind into a realm in which experience can occur. Your ego has made of this some¬thing different than it is. Rather than extension of mind, your experience has become a projection of ego. This can change.” (ACOL, C:31.35)

We are in relationship to all that exists, and this makes for the oneness that Jesus is extolling in this passage for today. Because we are not isolated, we need each other. Our experience in this world, with others, is an extension of mind that allows us to have experience in a physical world. We are not making a world out of ego projection any longer, and this explains why A Course of Love looks on the outer world differently from the way that A Course in Miracles explains. ACIM said that projection makes perception, and this was projection of the ego, for we were still trapped in the ego at that time, at that part of reading in ACIM. But extension of mind, what we are doing now, is a step forward, a better way, in which we join with others in relationship, and we have experiences that are much better. We are no longer isolated.

In the separation, we wanted to be isolated and alone, independent, with allies only but no companions. But we were not set up this way. We were not created this way. The center will not hold. And the ego, in its madness, probably does know this. It probably knows that it is living on borrowed time. And becomes vicious because it is threatened. This leads to nightmares in a living hell that this world can so easily become.

All of this can change, and will change, when we allow salvation to do its holy work. Salvation means many different things to different people, but in ACIM and ACOL, salvation, ultimately, means Awakening or Christ-consciousness. If we allow the glimpses of Awakening to lengthen, by a mental choice to live peaceably, we will know a tranquility that will automatically allow the glimpses to lengthen. We know many things about enlightenment, and these many things can help us now. Leave off anger and attack, judgment and needless planning, and let guidance of the inner Christ Self tell us what to do and say. This is the only way to live well.

And it will be no secret that we are healed.

Dear Father/Mother,

I would see the glimpses of enlightenment that come to me lengthen and spread out upon my world. I would reach out to others in holy relationship, and in this act, I would find You. You are my fortress from a bad world, when it is bad. You are my most important relationship, the model for all other relationships. Help me to enlarge on glimpses of enlightenment through a wholehearted welcome to You and Your children, the others with whom I am in relationship.

Be with me today to watch my steps along the road that I travel.

Thank You.

The True Self – More than a Persona

“The purpose of this Course has been stated in many ways and is stated again here: The purpose of this Course is to establish your identity. The importance of this purpose cannot be underestimated. Let us address the question of why this is so important.

“You have been caught in a cycle of seeing the self as important for a period of time and then seeing the self as unimportant for a period of time. Seeing the self as important seems at one time like a function of the ego, and at another as a function of the divine. You become confused between the personal self and a true Self only because you have not as yet identified your true Self. Once you have identified your true Self all such confusion will end.” (ACOL, C:27.4 – 27.5)

How do we identify the true Self? We remove the barriers to love’s presence. We drop attack, we drop anger, and we humbly approach the God Who resides within. The true Self is the part of God Who does reside within each of us. It is God’s answer to the separation, the separation that could never actually have occurred because God could not separate from us and live; and the reverse, that we could not separate from God and live, is also true.

We are trying to establish a new identity on a solid footing, a footing quite unlike the unstable stasis that the ego provided. The ego gave instability its name. We never knew what drama was going to hit us next.

Now we are seeking to live a more stable life, a life in which we turn aside from anger and attack, and we welcome the love that in our heart of hearts we all want more than anything else.

The personal self will remain as the self whom we present to the outer world, but the inner Christ Self will inform that personal self so that it is something much more and much better than a mere persona. We will know, for the first time, what harmonious living is all about. We will have a solid core for the first time since the ego took over. We will live fully, and in the living fully we will renounce the ego and all of its machinations.

We turned to the ego out of a sense of threat. Pray today that we encounter no reasons to be threatened again. Being threatened raises the banner of pain, and the red hot experience of anger and attack. We don’t need this type of undergirding any longer. We are safe in God’s arms, in the Self who is finally released from the depths of our very being. Our new identity will save us. Nothing more could do so.

Dear Father/Mother,

Thank You for the harmony and peace that reading A Course of Love gives to me. The feeling is, I think, a matter of letting my heart rule my head. The head—my mind—can seem to get in such conflict. And I would leave conflict behind as I seek to live in love, always and forever.

Thank You for helping me to realize that an ideal persona is as much a falsity as the ego. The ideal persona is an outgrowth of an egoic orientation, something I would leave behind. The true Self will lead me truly. And for that I am very grateful.

Amen.

Each Time We Feel a Lack of Love, It Comes from Within Ourselves

“How can love always be present when you can undeniably feel each and every absence of love? The problem is in the perceiver rather than the perceived. Each time you feel a lack of love, it comes from within yourself. This lack of love, or “faked” love of which you cannot help but be aware, is a signal to you that you want something. When you become aware that you want something, you are also becoming aware that you feel you lack something. All feelings of lack are synonymous with feelings of fear.” (ACOL, C:25.5)

This quotation for today is pivotally important as we seek to make our way in the world. Rejection has been a personal theme song for me at various junctures in my life, and it is enormously helpful to know that when rejection seemed to happen, I was perceiving in error. I was not open to receiving love. I had wanted something extraneous to the central point of love. My ego had gotten involved.

Has your ego gotten involved as you thought you wanted something other than pure love? Was there something grandiose in your imaginings? Was there something egoic in the sense of material or status implications? Very likely there was, for that is what Jesus is telling us in this quotation.

When we think that we lack for something, we are in a state of fear. This is, likewise, important to know in regard to this love business, this rejection business. There are no lacks in God’s Kingdom, and His Kingdom is not only the Other Side, but this world—when we have perceived this world differently. We will inhabit this world as the elevated Self of form, the coming together of mind and heart in unity, the coming out of the Self whom we have kept hidden for so very long.

Know that rejection is an illusion. We were not open to the love that others had for us; we rejected internally. Likewise, they shouldn’t have felt rejection from us, for they too had no lack.

This may sound like science fiction, but I believe what Jesus says. And his true words will have us walking into a much more favorable condition in this world. We don’t have to fear the lack of love, for it is truly all around us.

Dear Father/Mother,

Help me to perceive love all around me. Help me to know that the rejection that I have sometimes felt in my life has been a mirage. I would see mirages no longer. Help me to see only love, for that is who You are, and who I am.

Be with all of us as we walk through this day. This day is bright with promise now that we know that rejection records don’t have to be played over and over.

Help us to reach out to others, fearless of rejection—for the problem is in us, the perceivers. May we leave rejection behind, as we have left the ego behind.

Amen.

Union with God Overcomes the Egoic Separation

“All unlearning opportunities are opportunities for miracle readiness. There is no trick to identifying unlearning opportunities. From this point forward, I assure you, all experiences will be thus until unlearning is no longer needed. If you will remember that the one exercise for your mind is dedicating all thought to union, you will keep your mind engaged and less resistant to unlearning. When you feel resistance—and of course your mind will resist unlearning what it has striven to learn—return your dedication to union. Acknowledge your mind’s resistance as a sign that unlearning is going on. Acknowledge it but do not engage it.” (ACOL, C:23.25)

We need to unlearn separation, especially egoic separation, and substitute union with God, our brothers and sisters, and our Self. Jesus makes the point that all things that happen to us in this life are meant to bring us back to God. We are therefore steeped in unlearning experiences. Our life is the way that we best come to know, as ancient secondary sources are not as good for the time of Christ as what life itself presents to us.

How do we cooperate with viewing life as a way to unlearn separation? We turn within, to the Self, and in the doing of this we are achieving the first union, arguably the most important. Our Self, Who is one with the All, has been more or less hidden within ourselves for eons, because we were trapped by the insanity of the ego. A misstep that could not occur in actuality, but that did occur in illusion. So we cooperation with the nudges that come to us by way of intuition and other nuances of guidance. We remain flexible as we go about our daily routine, not rigidly stubborn in wanting our own way.

It helps to be mellow. I am at my worse when I am feeling anxiety rising in me; that is when I get too stubborn for my own good. Stubborness in avoiding the way that guidance is pointing out is only hurting ourselves, though our significant others also feel the brunt of this dynamic if we are in attack and anger mode.

We can do something better with our lives than to remain stubborn. Take a time out, if the day is going badly, and just (as A Course in Miracles counsels) start the day over. It is wiser to have a day that begins well, for then we do not waste time. But we are very human, and very fallible, and perfection is not required of us (from A Course of Love).

Union with God will take us Home to Him. Being mellow and remaining flexible are two techniques that work as we seek to remain malleable creatures in God’s sight. The way is clear: We must heal the illusory separation from God, and adapt union with the One, the All, as our modus operandi. And the world that we see, projected from within, will never be the same again. We will have discovered the secret to living well in this world.

Prayer

Dear Father/Mother,

As this day filled with sunshine goes along, I find my mood lightened and my demeanor flexible. Mellowness overcomes me. May this attitude continue all through the day and into the evening. May I follow the guidance that has been so gentle with me today. May I follow this guidance, always so gentle when I am not stubborn.

Guide me to a good appreciation for the helps that You give me. May I welcome experiences of union that are life-enhancing and affirmative. May I also welcome glimpses of enlightenment that ever lengthen into something that will eventually become the pattern for me. May all who read my words today feel the same confidence in this change that I personally feel in this instance.

Amen.

Specialness Defeats Us / Choose Equality

“How many rest within this sphere of influence? Twenty, fifty, one hundred? And how many times is this multiplied by each of them? And yet this is but a fraction of who your specialness influences. In truth, your specialness affects everyone. “ (ACOL, C:15.6)

This quotation doesn’t say so, but we all know that specialness is not something to be supported. Our belief in specialness apparently reaches out to include everyone, ultimately. This is because we influence each other, and when one of us finds a home in specialness, we are leading others to look to their egos as well.

How can we resolve this dilemma? First and foremost, drop egotistical ideas from the mind. The heart will lead rightly in this endeavor, if we listen to it. Second, know (intellectually also) that specialness is not the way reality really is. Reality created all of us as equals to each other. Our heart will lead rightly about this as well. Third, as soon as the ego or the idea of specialness enters the mind, resolve to abort the experience. This is not as hard as it sounds, though we may fail in the beginning.

Gently turn aside from the ego and its specialness. Know that we have never been made happy by feelings of specialness: We knew moments of artificial joy, but these were followed by times of deep despair. And we can expect this dynamic to continue, if we do not reject specialness once and for all.

The way back is made easier, as always, when we listen to our heart. The heart knows that we wouldn’t be other than we are, that regardless of what another has that we think we want, this is a mirage. We are created to be one with all, one with God, with others, one with our Self. And specialness intrudes on this divine plan.

Chip away at the desire for specialness a little at a time. Soon the idea will seem very foreign to us indeed.

And we will emerge from the darkness into the light.

Let God Direct Our Pathway into a Sunnier Clime

“Your ego will strongly resist your attempts to listen to your heart, and will call this every kind of foolishness, a waste of time that could be spent on better things. Yet time is not required, nor is money or the use of any other thing you value. And there is not even the slightest chance of being made to look foolish by what you are asked to do.” (ACOL, C:13.10)

Our ego is very wily. It seems to have a life of its own, though it is simply a part of our belief about ourselves. And we are renouncing that belief as we read A Course of Love.

The change will be dramatic. Here Jesus is reassuring us that we leave behind, with the ego, nothing that we really want. And we are still safe. The ego never, ever, kept us safe—though this part of our belief about ourselves would say that we are unsafe unless we trust in it.

This is a ridiculous notion, for the ego doesn’t do anything good for us at all, and it does do much that is bad. It leads us to separate from our God, to separate from our brothers and sisters, and to try to live a lonely and autonomous life—as independent as we can make it. But independence is not the way. Interdependence is. And the new way of the heart will teach us this.

There is no reason to think that we leave behind anything important. And no reason to think that we are made unsafe by giving up a false idea. On the contrary, we are made unsafe, in theory, by holding to falsity.

Trust in the Lord, as the Bible tells us. Let God direct our pathway into a sunnier clime. The way back is not fraught with dangers, but with the most sincere form of good will—for we have Jesus at our side.

In Abuse, Choose to Love but Not Condone

“Abuse is but improper use—use on a scale that makes the insanity of use obvious to both the user and the usee, and so has its proper place in our discussion here. Look at patterns of abuse, in everything from drugs and alcohol to physical or emotional mistreatment. These, like the larger examples of your daily life gone awry, are but demonstrations of internal desires taken to a greater extreme; only these, rather than being reflected by the group, are reflected within the individual.” (ACOL, C:9.44)

Jesus is using the word “abuse” here not just in the narrow context of child abuse or even domestic abuse, but in the larger context of our emotions gone wayward. We hurt ourselves also when we abuse others, and so victimhood is not the only concern (though it is a major one). Our society is coming to understand abuse when there is an outside victim, and is denouncing it, sometimes including legal judgments against the perpetrators. But our society is looking for a victim, and in the larger sense of A Course of Love, all are victims (or none are victims). We feel sympathy, rightly, for the one(s) hurt, and A Course of Love specifically counsels compassion, saying that no one individual is responsible for the wrongs done to him or her. This is a major step forward in New Age thought, for all too often our literature has just stopped with the truth that we create our own reality, and blaming the victim for the mess in which he/she finds himself/herself has become a popular pastime—silently, if not overtly.

So we do feel compassion for the one “wronged” in abuse in our society, but we also need to feel compassion for the perpetrator, for he/she is lost in egoic battles, attack, anger, falsehood, and the like. Quite literally he/she knows not what he/she does. This quotation from the New Testament is given new meaning in A Course of Love by Jesus. He spells out this mention from the Bible, and he explains the context. Truly ACOL goes a long way toward explaining the puzzlements that confused us from Jesus’s life on earth.

So: We need to turn aside from abuse of any kind, but we need to feel compassion not only for the one wronged, but also for the one who committed the wrong. We have to save both of them. It is we who will create a new world, and if we don’t do something for the abuse we see all around us, we will never actually make substantive changes in our world at all.

Choose the loving reaction, and by this act we will rain down thunderbolts on the heads of those who are creating havoc by their misguided actions. This does not mean that we passively condone; we don’t condone at all. But we realize that each is a child of God, and deserves to know that he/she is making mistakes—surely, big mistakes. But nothing that can’t be righted within a world that is set aright again.

Perfectly Calm and Quiet All the Time

“Emotions speak the language of your separated self rather than the language of your heart. They are the forward guard of your defense system, always on the lookout for what might hurt or slight the little you that they deem under their protection, or the other little selves you deem under yours.” (ACOL, C:9.2)

Our emotions often deceive us, for our emotions often speak the language of the separated self. This separated self, also known as the personal or little self, will transform into a better personal self, the one that we will present to others, when we have moved beyond egoic preoccupation. It is when the emotions are under the sway of the ego that such dramatic highs and lows pull us under.

Contrariwise, our heart impels us toward calm and peace, a tranquility that is not of this world, but God’s world. Here the emotions don’t dash us against stones that lie under our feet. The emotions lift us up, for calm and peace are still. Some who experience this calm and peace for the first time think that they are depressed, because they feel little emotion. The tranquility takes some getting used to. We are not actually depressed, but we think we are because the dramatic shifts in mood have caused an addiction to riotous living, living of highs and lows.

If we don’t hasten back to some drama that threatens to engulf us, we will grow to like the new calm. We would not choose to be other than perfectly calm and quiet. But in the beginning we don’t know how fortunate we are to have a heart that speaks a serene language. We think that we are not truly living if we are without the drama.

We are living, and a better life indeed. We will no longer dread what our days will bring us, for highs always prompted lows, and the lows were very difficult indeed to handle. A calm, tranquil spirit invites the peace that passeth understanding, and none who experience this peace will wish for it to end. When it does end, we can know that it will come again. And because of this, we are blessed indeed.

We would do well to avoid being defensive about the life that we live. This is a primary theme of A Course in Miracles, and here Jesus emphasizes the same idea. Defense makes what it would defend against, and until we give up defense of the egoic personal self, we won’t know the peace that this passage for today offers us. God grants to us the peace that passeth understanding when we are wise enough to accept it without murmur. This means that our pseudo love affair with drama is ceasing.

Overcoming Intellectual Doubts about God

“Your desire to be separate is the most insane desire of which you have conceived. Over all your longing for union you place this desire to be separate and alone. Your entire resistance to God is based on this. You think you have chosen to be separate from God so that you can make it on your own, and while you long to return to God and the heaven that is your home, you do not want to admit that you cannot get there on your own.” (C:5.22)

Separation, being alone, independent, not needing anything or Anybody else, is just insane. We have invented our special relationships to accommodate this insane desire to be separate but merged. And our special relationships are normally full of drama, highs and lows, separation and mergers, and we know no peace. Only when we transform those special relationships into holy ones, reminiscent of our true relationship to God, do we know any peace. This is why the relationship to our brother (or sister) is the way home for us as described in A Course in Miracles.

The true relationship is one of joining with God, and with our brothers and sisters. We think that to be autonomous is a good thing, but we fail at it repeatedly. And we chastise ourselves for this failure, when actually this failure is a symbol of the fact that we don’t get along very well when we attempt to separate ourselves from our faith in God.

We are part of God; He is living us. So the very idea of separating from Him (or Her) is insane. It is impossible. And the sooner we give up the idea of living an independent life, separate from our Creator, the sooner we will live in happiness. We taught ourselves the very unnatural habit of not communicating with our Creator. And did we ever suffer for such a ridiculous notion!

Of course, some of us have intellectual doubts about God. To those who feel this way, I would say to look, as A Course of Love, encourages, to our heart. Our heart doesn’t need the proofs that the egoic mind demands. Our heart will soften and seek to love. And in that love we will find a love for a Higher Power, for in our heart we know that we are not all alone in the universe. It has been said, borrowing from World War I imagery, that there are no atheists in foxholes. But, closer to home, there are no atheists who listen to their heart in this matter of the reality of God. We try to be intellectually suspicious, but we can’t sustain such an idea when we feel such warmth in our heart. Where is this warmth coming from? How do we know that God exists? For these two questions are identical. And our heart knows the answer to both questions.

Stop the mind from raising objections. Just consider that we have been wrong to trumpet independence as the way to live in this world. Reach out to the others in our lives, and see if that reaching out doesn’t touch the heart. Then and only then, with soft and sweet feelings in the heart, are we open to eliminating our skeptical attitudes toward the loving God Who created us.

Inner Christ Is Wholly Human & Wholly Divine

“The Christ in you is wholly human and wholly divine. As the wholly divine, nothing is unknown. As the wholly human, everything has been forgotten. Thus we begin to relearn the known as the One who already possesses all. It is this joining of the human and divine that ushers in love’s presence, as all that caused you fear and pain falls away and you recognize again what love is. It is this joining of the human and divine that is your purpose here, the only purpose worthy of your thought.” (ACOL, C:5.1)

Our Self, the inner Christ, is both human and divine—just as was said about Jesus’s life on earth. We are inhabiting a body that is very much at risk for danger in a violent world, and we may still be inhabiting a body whose mind is eclipsed by egoic consciousness. If so, we are still suffering in this world of humanness. But things happen in stages, and perhaps we are not yet ready to let go of all things egoic. The Self, the inner Christ, the divine in us, would very much like to see us change our minds, to move beyond the ego into a consciousness that has been transformed. Again, all in stages. We may request an acceleration, but we are not in total charge; God has quite a bit of say in the matter. And we are a part of God.

When we join human to divine, we are giving up our emphasis on the ego, and with that, our pain (which still may be with us) will cease to be suffering. It just is. And we will rise above. Our purpose here is to join human with divine, and, ultimately (as described in A Course of Love, to inhabit the elevated Self of form. We will certainly be happier when this transformation has happened.

We have tried a multitude of ways to make the world satisfy us. And the world has always defeated us, brought us down, for we have not been consistently happy. And happiness is our function, according to A Course in Miracles—along with salvation and forgiveness as equated functions.

Make a decision today that we will seek Love as we understand God to be. This represents a joining of the human with the divine, for we are still on earth, still very much a part of this world. But seeking Love is a purpose, out of many that we might choose, that really gives us fulfillment. The only purpose that gives us fulfillment.

Try today to walk a little closer to God. We will sense His Presence, and the day will certainly go better.

Our Love Is Not in Vain

“Think not that these are senseless questions, made to bring love and pain together and there to leave you unaided and unhelped, for pain and love kept together in this way makes no sense, and yet makes the greatest sense of all. These questions merely prove love’s value. What else do you value more?” (ACOL, C:3.21)

Senseless questions are not real questions, and they don’t accomplish anything in this world. But Jesus asks questions full of sense, questions asking where we are going from where we have been, questions that ask us to take another look at true reality. And when we do take another look at true reality, what do we find but a world enveloped in God’s love?

We don’t value anything above love, though we may, in egoic clutches, reach for those things that will hurt us. True love never hurts. Only egoic special love does that. True love is abundantly kind, above all else.

We all remember the drama of special relationships that we thought were true love. My, how we remember that! But, if we are lucky, that special relationship will morph into a holy relationship, and our hurt will subside. We will know that our beloved is after the same thing that we are—true love, which knows only peace. And kindness. The Dalai Lama once said that kindness was his religion. And surely we can understand what he is trying to say. A kind demeanor for the world is sure to bring more kindness in its wake. And we will know, for a sure thing, that our love has not been in vain.

Love Is All that Is Important

“While you look for a God with a physical form you will not recognize God. Everything real is of God. Nothing unreal exists. Each person passing from this life to the next learns no great secret. They simply realize love is all there is. Nothing unreal exists. Think for yourself: If you were going to die tomorrow what would you today find meaningful? Only love. This is salvation’s key.” (ACOL, C:2.2)

When we decide to look on all with the single emotion of love, we have salvation’s key.

We may think that this is impossible. But if we love the bad as well as the good, we transmute the bad into the good. We don’t suppress the bad so that it rises another day to frighten us. We integrate, and therefore overcome, the bad with the light of our better nature.

Everything real is of God, and nothing unreal exists. And so our ego gets out of the way when we become inclined to the real, the things of God. We don’t learn anything more very much when we die from this world. We do simply realize that love is all there is. And we will realize this now if we consider the possibility that we might die tomorrow. What would be important today? Only love. Think about that. Only love. We want to hold our loved ones close to us at the end. And we are seeing something then that we have overlooked heretofore.

Why not hold our loved ones close to us now, right now? There is no better way to spend the day, in thought if not in proximity.
Most of us do have to get out of bed, get dressed, go to work, whether at home or away. But we don’t have to forget what is important.

The Heart Knows Love

“This time we take a direct approach, an approach that seems at first to leave behind abstract learning and the complex mechanisms of the mind that so betray you. We take a step away from intellect, the pride of the ego, and approach this final learning through the realm of the heart. This is why, to end confusion, we call this course A Course of Love.” (ACOL, C:P.44)

We are approaching God through our heart when we read A Course of Love. The heart doesn’t need the proofs of God’s existence as the mind does, or at least as the mind often does. The heart simply knows. And in this knowing are we led gently, the by the hand, back to the eternal that we have neglected heretofore, for eons.

How might we effect this change from the intellect to the heart? Try relaxing. Just that simple. We get ourselves so tangled up with the mind. And the heart knows. It really knows. The heart will lead us home to God. The heart is the pathway of A Course of Love.

Jesus understands that the egoic nature of our minds, right now, have betrayed us. If we haven’t reached enlightenment, the mind is a great betrayer. But the heart leaves aside this convoluted thinking. Those of us who have lived within our intellect, and been proud of our intellect, will be particularly drawn to this new message of Jesus. We will say, “Ah, yes, what a relief!” And listening to the heart will be a true relief for us.

No longer do we need to make sense of our meandering thoughts about ultimate reality. Jesus is saying just to leave all that behind, and join him in a new place. We have been just thinking too much.

So listen to your heart today. It will love more freely than the misguided mind. Later on, when we have become affixed to the heart, we will draw into the mind as well. But for now, our heart will be enough for us. Don’t let the habits of a lifetime of thinking hold us back now. Just relax in God’s love, which we will recognize resides in the heart.

Let Your Spirit Talk to You Today

“It is easy to imagine how the Christ in you differs from your ego but not as easy to recognize how the Christ in you differs from spirit. The Christ in you is that which is capable of learning in human form what it means to be a child of God. The Christ in you is that which is capable of bridging the two worlds. This is what is meant by the second coming of Christ.” (ACOL, C:P.7)

Will Jesus come in physical manifestation in the second coming? Note that he doesn’t say this. He indicates that when the Christ in us bridges the worlds between the ego and the spirit, we will find ourselves in the midst of the second coming of Christ. Jesus is not playing games with us about physical manifestation of himself again; he is opening up the term “Christ” to all of us. We see our Christ Self as the embodiment, in physical form, of the best that we can be in this world. And this best is enough.

The spirit is not in human form. I believe that there are parts of us, available to us, that have not incarnated (an interpretation, not stated in ACIM or ACOL). And we draw on those parts to make our way here smoother, an easier path to walk. We have an oversoul that is the spirit in us, and this Self, I believe, makes decisions for us that are something beyond what our conscious mind can legitimately make (again, this is interpretation).

We need to realize that the ego has limited days. Soon, in A Course of Love, Jesus will affirm that indeed the ego is gone from us. He actually says this. We don’t have to beg and plead; it is just something that happens as we go forward in time, heading toward the culmination of Christ-consciousness.

Let your spirit talk to you today. Find out how the ego might be removed from our consciousness without pain or discomfort. Jesus will see that this happens for us. He wants to help.

Let him.

Glittering Aspects of Illusion

“To know reality is not to see the ego and its thoughts, its works, its acts, its laws and its beliefs, its dreams, its hopes, its plans for its salvation, and the cost belief in it entails.” (ACIM, W-12. What Is the Ego?)

When we know true reality, we have left the ego behind. Jesus says in A Course of Love that we have, during the point of reading, left the ego behind, though bits and pieces of its thinking may still engulf us.

We don’t have to be engulfed. The ego has many facets, all of which lead us to a dead end. And its manner of thinking is completely insane. With such a guide, is it any wonder that we wander in pain and suffering? The ego, made by us, does not wish us well, for it was made in hate. And nothing made in hate would wish his maker well.
The Holy Spirit (ACIM) and the inner Christ Self (ACOL) are our way out of this morass. We have at our disposal the way to remove the blocks to love’s awareness. We need simply call on the Holy Spirit or listen to our Self to know the way home. We don’t have to live like this any longer. There is a way out.

The ego will entrap as long as we seek for material pleasures with the rejection of the intangible joys of spirit. Most of us now know that material blessings do not satisfy for long; we always want more and different. But in a materialistic society, we are apt to forget this as we journey along the way.

The ego takes a big toll on us; there is a big cost. Don’t be fooled anymore by the glittering aspects of illusion that dangle from the ego’s entrapment of us. Look to true reality to find the real blessings in life.

PART 3: WHAT IS TRUE REALITY? CHARACTERISTICS OF REALITY

We Are Spirits Having a Bodily Experience

“The miracle sets reality where it belongs. Reality belongs only to spirit, and the miracle acknowledges only truth.” (ACIM, T-1.IV.2)

We are spirits having a bodily experience. We are not primarily bodies. Even when we have reached Christ-consciousness, and even when we have sustained that Christ-consciousness, living the elevated Self of form that Jesus extols, we still are, at base spirits. Our spirits can recognize a miracle when we see one. Skepticism has been discarded, and we revel in the glory of a true reality that is always and only miraculous.

Our true reality has spirit, then, at its base. And until we recognize this as what true reality really means, we will be to some extent at loose ends. We like physicality, or we would not have incarnated in flesh. Don’t you think we had some choice in the matter? (A Course of Love is silent on this question.) If we did have some choice, then it is true, as Jesus says, that the choice to occupy an elevated Self of form in an eternity is really ours.
Nobody needs to make a decision like this now. The world as it exists today would not be desirable as an eternal home. But a portion of the entity who we are might very well choose to live on this earth, bringing ourselves and others to salvation. Jesus says in A Course in Miracles that the return of everyone to God may take millions of years. We do not have to be daunted by this suggestion. We can, instead, be grateful that our existence is about to take on new meaning in this world. We have the means before us to reach Christ-consciousness, to live with miracles surrounding us all the time. We have the new revelations (as I view them) of A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love. Both books speak to our time, in language that understands secular psychology (hence the emphasis on the “ego”) and, at the same time, acknowledges the depth of generations to a mystical tradition.

We are truly in an enviable position now. We are in the time of Christ, a time awaited by many for centuries before us.

The Ego Is Best Left Behind

“This is your reenactment of creation, begun each morning and completed each night. Each day is your creation held together by the thought system that gave it birth. To observe this is to see its reality. To see this reality is to see the image of God you have created in God’s likeness.” (ACOL, 8.24)

The word “ego” is not used in this quotation, but that is what I think is meant. When we live with the ego, we reenact creation, but in a skewed way, to our detriment. We have images of ourselves, other people, and God. And these images are idols. Let’s give up this foolishness now. Let’s listen to A Course of Love when it tells us, metaphorically, that the ego is dead in us. We are proceeding as Jesus encourages, leaving ego behind, developing an identity with our inner Christ Self. This Self will then direct us, just as the Holy Spirit did in the last era. We have, according to ACOL, moved out of the time of the Holy Spirit and into the time of Christ. Let’s act as though we believe this. The action will then lead to the belief.

So true reality is definitely not the ego’s frame of mind. This is something that we have known now for a long time. But, because we are mortal, and fallible, and subject to making mistakes, we forget, and we fall back into egoic ways of thinking. Then we backtrack, losing our place on the pathway to enlightenment, for there can be no compromise with the ego that leads to Christ-consciousness.

How do we leave the ego behind? The most forward-thinking action is to consciously do nothing that is egotistical. “Ego” and “egotistical” do not quite mean the same things, but there is a close relationship. The ego is the persona that we have adopted, whereas egotistical thinking and actions play out that persona in our everyday world.

We don’t have to live this way. There is a better way, outlined in ACOL. Let’s take steps along that better pathway today and every day. Let nothing dissuade you. This change of mind, and this listening that we are giving the heart, is far too important to the future of the world to let ourselves backslide.

Struggle Is Not Meant to Be

“Just as you eat to still your hunger only to become hungry again, so does the rest of your life need constant maintenance to retain the reality you have given it. ‘Struggle to succeed and succeed to struggle yet another day’ is the life you have made, and the life you fear heaven would replace.” (ACOL, 6.13)

We have made such a mess as we sought to make the reality that we wanted in this world. How many of us really are addicted to struggle, think that it is virtuous?

I think many of us are. We think that hard work is its own reward, but, oh, are we so wrong. Life is not meant to be a struggle. We are meant to live peaceably and in contentment. Until we change our goals, we will not understand this directive. We will think that we are missing the mark if we drop struggle, because the ego made everything a struggle, as though we wouldn’t measure up unless we constantly worked.

“And yet the very reality that you have set up—the reality of not being able to succeed in what you must constantly strive to do—is a situation set up to provide relationship. Like everything else you have remembered of creation and made in its image, so too is this.” (ACOL, 9.26)

We still find ourselves in relationship one to the other, even in our egoic state of mind prior to getting a glimpse of true reality. We have “remembered” part of what creation really meant for us, but we have remembered it in only a pale reflection of what it is. This remembering is commonplace in our world, but we don’t normally recognize what we are remembering—that we are seeing a pristine world prior to the fall into insanity.

We can let ourselves off the hook. We have so often chastised ourselves for failing. But this is not the issue. Our egos have set up the world for us to fail, because the ego is constantly being undone. If the ego were not being undone, we would ultimately be lost, seeing no way out. That the ego fails repeatedly is a lesson that we will one day come to see, and this lesson offers us the first glimmerings of our way out—our way to salvation.

Choose a day without struggle. If there is something that you don’t want to do, but think you should—just choose not to do that activity. Find out from your reticence what is going on is this non-productive state of mind. You may find that you have been walking along the wrong pathway, and your true reality is trying to let you know. You can always try this activity tomorrow if the experiment proves unfruitful. But I think that you will learn great things by listening to the small Voice that warns against the activity for which you have no motivation. There is a reason for no motivation. Listen and be forewarned.

Choose the Joy of Heaven Every Day

“You can label joy heaven and pain hell and seek the middle ground for your reality thinking there are more than these two choices. A life of little joy and little pain is seen as a successful life, for a life of joy is seen as nothing more than a daydream, a life of pain a nightmare.” (ACOL, 2.7)

This quotation is only a partial quotation, but the entire passage indicates that Jesus here is not advocating a middle ground. We don’t want to be halfway between heaven and hell. We want to be entirely in heaven, and this is not something that has to wait for the afterlife, the Other Side.

We can know joy here, joy to a substantial extent that blesses us with each and every day. We may not always have positive things happen to us, but although we may know some pain, we don’t have to see this escalate into suffering. Our attitude is everything. We can see the joy in the midst of any adverse life circumstances that come our way. We don’t have to choose the middle way of little joy and little pain.

There is some magical thinking going on in our minds when we select the middle way. We think that if we don’t reach too high, the gods won’t strike us down. But we don’t believe in plural gods. And God Himself doesn’t punish, though we probably were brought up to believe that He punished us if we did “bad” things.

Get this egoic thinking out of the way. Choose joy today. Pray for a more positive outlook for whatever circumstances surround you in your life.

The way to see life as heaven is mapped out for us in A Course of Love. We need look no farther for the newest revelations in our spiritual lives.

The Detour into Fear

“The separation is merely a faulty formulation of reality, with no effect at all. The miracle, without a function in Heaven, is needful here. Aspects of reality can still be seen, and they will replace aspects of unreality. Aspects of reality can be seen in everything and everywhere. Yet only God can gather them together, by crowning them as one with the final gift of eternity.” (ACIM, T-13.VIII.3)

Our presumed separation from God has caused us all the grief. We could have taken physical form without this fall from grace, but we somehow made a tiny, mad mistake and forgot to laugh at the idea (from A Course in Miracles). We have not really separated, of course, because we are a part of God and cannot do so and live—and we live eternally. But we can imagine that we have separated from Him, and in the delusion come all the ill of humanity.

“Thus, the son’s participation in the idea of separation seemed to bring about a completely reshaped life, a destiny different than that which had already been written. Yet this participation could not but proceed from the original idea and could not proceed in reality but only in the external aspect of life that preceded it. The idea of separation changed nothing in reality, but became a drama acted out upon a stage so real that it seemed to be reality.” (ACOL, 12.22)

We are, like Shakespeare said, characters in a dream, writing and carrying out a drama in which we star. There is nothing wrong with play-acting, but we have hurt ourselves in the process of following illusions. We don’t realize that we are in a make-believe situation; we take it all so seriously. And that is part of our problem. We are in a “drama acted out upon a stage so real that it seemed to be reality.”

Let’s try to be cognizant of the drama so that we will be in a preparatory state to awakening from this insane play.

“To know what you now know, and remain aware only of the reality of the separated self, would not sustain Christ-consciousness in form.” (ACOL, Dialogues, 3.16)
We need to reach beyond just the separated state, for awareness of a mistake is not sufficient to get us out of that mistake. We need to reach out to God, immanent in ourselves as the inner Christ Self. We also need to see Christ in others, for we are not separate from them anymore than we are separate internally.

“This created the separate and the unloved in your perception, and your perception created an unreal reality of the separate and unloved, often referred to as hell or hell on earth.” (ACOL, Dialogues, Day 16, 16.15)

Are we really living in a hell on earth? In some respects we are.

But we can walk out of this hell by following guidance of the Holy Spirit (ACIM) or the Christ Self (ACOL). Our days will be brighter. We will be happier. And we will come, eventually, to know separation no longer. For it has always and alone been illusion. Our own delusion about reality.

Give Up Isolation as a False Idea

“You communicate with no one, and you are as isolated from reality as if you were alone in all the universe. In your madness you overlook reality completely, and you see only your own split mind everywhere you look.” (ACIM, T-13.V.6)

Reality is not isolated, a theme that I have emphasized in this blog. We can derive great comfort from hearing that we are not meant to be fiercely independent, separate from each other in splendid isolation. We are meant to lean on each other, to share, to join. We are not going to be able to live independently all the time anyway; life will pull the rug out from under us at pivotal points, and we do not need to rue this experience. We may chastise ourselves, thinking that we are too “weak” at such times. But this is a misnomer. We are never meant to go it alone. We don’t have to do so. Nothing in life or in our experience demands this of us.

What a blessing this actually is! We now know, if we take to heart this quotation, that we are joined to one another. We are differentiated in relationship, but we are in unity as One. And so we are actually joined one to the other.

We need to communicate with each other. We don’t need to stay in madness, with a split mind of separation and unity vying for ascendancy. The mind is split, all of our minds. The Holy Spirit (as A Course in Miracles would say) or the inner Christ mind (as A Course of Love would say) are “struggling” to take over, thereby freeing us. But there are probably still elements of the egoic, separated mind that vie for ascendancy.

But we know enough now that we don’t want the ego to try to run our lives. This ego is actually the “devil” or “Satan” that we have feared. But as a product of our own thinking, the ego does not require our fear of it. It is just best turned aside from. Not in resistance, for that will make the ego strong, because defense makes what it would defend against. Instead, just know that we need a whole mind, split no longer between unity and separation. The way is clear. Just sense our joining one with another, and our ego will be undone. Immediately, though it may arise from time to time, over and over, until banished for good in Awakening or Christ-consciousness.

Living Our Christ-conscious Self

“We discuss being what you represent in truth. We discuss the elevation of form. And what we have discussed thus far is the acceptance of form as what it is. This is the new reality you have desired. To live as who you are in form.” (ACOL, Dialogues, 5.19)

Jesus describes in A Course of Love that it is entirely possible to live in this world in our bodies as our real Selves. He calls it occupying the “elevated Self of form.” This is a condition that is ego-less, in that we are not living the little, or personal, self that is ruled by the ego—but instead living as our Christ-conscious Self, the inner Christ Self whom we all have in our depths.

At one point Jesus talks about this situation as a new choice, never made before in our world, and he says that he will not predict the future, that he does not have the means to know what we will do with this new embodied Christ-conscious Self in form (in body).
This new choice is probably welcomed by many of us, for we are used to the physical body and have difficulty imagining ghost-like embodiments, such as we might enjoy after death. We like our bodies. We don’t like our separated state, embodying an ego that doesn’t mean us well and leads us into suffering.

The good news is that when we eliminate the blocks to love’s awareness, we can come into our own as Selves. We can be Christ-conscious, which is another way of saying Awakening or enlightenment. This new state, never before sustained, is the aim at which A Course of Love moves. A new identity. And all of us need to give up attack, give up judging, give up planning (unless guided to do so), and give up fear/anxiety. These are barriers to the new reality.

One Unity in a Diversity of Relationships

“Your brother does not exist apart from you, nor you from your brother. This is reality.” (ACOL, 6.2)

This quotation builds on the idea of joining with our brothers and sisters, One unity in the diversity of different entities in relationship. Here we learn that we do not actually exist separately from our brother or brother at all, but are One with him or her. Jesus says simple, “This is reality.”

This is another way of saying that God is not existent in separate realities in a pantheistic universe, with little gods in everything. We believe that we are part of God, that He differentiated His “God-stuff” into all that exists. And we in turn are meant to be co-creators with Him.

We were not designed to be alone, and that is one reason that the egoic choice was so destructive to us. The ego wants us alone, ourselves against the world, One in nothing. And we suffer in this pseudo-independence, because it is not a state of reality at all. It is a false concept of reality that will not hold stand up to testing. We know intuitively that there is another way, a better way to live, and when we are joined one to the other, we know that we are right in this knowledge.

So we are to join in holy relationship with each other. Never meant to be separate from our companions, we cease trying.

And we are much the better for giving up what would never work, anyway.

Endow Truth with Spark of Beauty

“It is still up to you to choose to join with truth or with illusion. But remember that to choose one is to let the other go. Which one you choose you will endow with beauty and reality, because the choice depends on which you value more. The spark of beauty or the veil of ugliness, the real world or the world of guilt and fear, truth or illusion, freedom or slavery—it is all the same. For you can never choose except between God and the ego.” (ACIM, T-17.III.9)

This quotation from A Course in Miracles succinctly explains much about the nature of true reality. Jesus herein pens a variety of contrasting words, and we know that on the one side is true reality, and on the other, the abyss of nothingness. It is basically the difference between truth and illusion, and the truth is seen as the real, the real world, or reality, and illusion is seen as perception of an unreal world that is governed by fear. This unreal world is imagined in all its details by the ego. And the ego does not mean us well.

We want to join with truth. All of us, reading this far, do. How do we do so? We cease to identify with the ego, and the easiest way to do this is to decide, categorically, that we will not reinforce that ego by contemplating egotistical goals. The “ego,” of course, is not exactly synonymous with “egotistical,” but there is a very, very close connection. It is impossible to identify with the ego and not do egotistical things, not think of egotistical goals. And we must put a stop to this in whatever way we can.

We want freedom, and as long as we are apart from God (in illusion), we will be living with an imprisoned will. God set the limits on our power to miscreate. He had to hold the universe(s) together, and he realized that pain, to which the ego always leads, would encourage us to choose again. As Helen and Bill, co-scribes of ACIM, decided, “There must be another way.” And A Course in Miracles outlined one other way, a way back to God. This in spite of the fact that Helen was a proclaimed atheist.

So let us decide for the function that God has given us—salvation, happiness. The two are one and the same. We do not seek happiness as we sought egoic goals, though. We rest in surrender to God and His way, knowing that His Will and ours are actually identical. We want what He wants for us, but we just don’t recognize this. At least not in the beginning of our “journey without distance” (from ACIM).

A Comparison of Forgiveness and Atonement

“Resign as your own teacher. . . .

“Looked at in another way, this process has much in common with forgiveness. The action associated with it raises it to a level similar to that of atonement. It is an undoing accompanied by a new means of doing. In the process of unlearning, both forgiveness and atonement occur.” (ACOL, C:23.27 – 28)

We learn to forgive gradually. If we followed A Course in Miracles, the theme was forgiveness. It was the means of salvation, the means of the dislodging of the ego. Now we find that atonement and forgiveness have much in common. We now have a new means of doing, a means without the ego that has dragged us down for eons. We have indeed come a long way.

The way is not complete until in atonement all false means of thinking are relinquished. Right-thinking is where we are heading, but to undo insanity, as I have pointed out earlier in this blog, is not easily overcome. Miracles help, but progress is also made slowly, undoing one habit of mind, and then turning to another—and sometimes retracing our steps when we have, once again, taken up a false way of thinking.

When we forgive, we have unlearned the idea that attack and anger are justified. We have realized that we get what we have defended against, that defense solidifies the false thinking and false behavior (from ACIM).

The ideas in this paragraph are new in A Course of Love. Jesus does not equate forgiveness and atonement in A Course in Miracles, though he does stress both as necessary to getting us out of the mess that we are in. We give up the egoic thought system, and then we move forward to replace that thought system with a new one. We move into Christ-consciousness, which gives us new revelations on a constant basis. We may be very surprised at the insights that come to us when we catch glimpses of Christ-consciousness. This miracle of glimpses prepares us, eventually, for sustainability of Christ-consciousness. We leave behind the old, we have reframed our minds (with help from the Christ Self, inwardly, and the Holy Spirit, who is also within us).

Atonement Banishes the Ego’s Thought System

“We could not begin the curriculum here because you would have been unable, without the lessons of this course, to distinguish the personal self from the ego-self. There is a danger even now in focusing upon the self of the body, as this self has been so long bound to the ego-self. Even with the ego once and finally vanquished, the patterns of the ego’s thought system remain to be undone. This is atonement. We work now to correct the errors of the past in the present, the only place where such work can be done. We work with what we have a form fully able to represent the truth and, in so doing, we bring the truth to lie and life to the truth.” (ACOL, T3:1.13)

Can we now differentiate the personal self from the ego-self? Perhaps we are not always sure. A Course in Miracles dislodged the ego, but it remains for A Course of Love to give the next step. I think too many of us didn’t know what to replace the ego with, and so A Course of Love was scribed a few years later, to answer current needs.

The patterns of the ego need to be undone, and this is the work, over time, that we are about now. It is what atonement is doing for us.
Do not be dejected to hear that atonement may take some time. We have all too often seen atonement as a one-time, one-moment thing, sort of like accepting Christ, that we would do—and then all would be well. But insanity is not dismantled in one fell swoop. Miracles speed the way to sanity, but there are still many, many tiny scraps of thought that have to be undone.

We had past errors, and these are now to be corrected in the present, which, as Jesus points out in this quotation, is the only place that past errors can be corrected. Atonement will proceed in strict order to the diligence we give our new thought system. The mind training that we received in the Workbook of A Course in Miracles will now be made complete.

Do not feel unaccomplished when you hear this, for Jesus has defined us as “The Accomplished.” We don’t have to feel that we are still wallowing in misery, committing more and more mistakes. Our minds have more sanity in them than they have had heretofore in the separation. We are undoing the separation now. That is what atonement does for us.

Undoing in Atonement, Once Begun, Is Unstoppable

“In order to remember unity you must, in a sense, travel back to it, undoing as you go all you have learned since last you knew it, so all that remains is love. This undoing, or atonement, has begun – and once begun is unstoppable and thus already inevitably accomplished.” (C:19.19)

We are said to travel backward in time, rolling up a metaphorical long carpet, until we arrive at the place where separation occurred (or seemed to occur). Each part on our journey without distance must be undone–each individual part. And then we will be back to Oneness, Oneness with God, Oneness with our Christ Self, awake in Christ-consciousness, occupying the elevated Self of form.

The ending is certain, and the atonement, or undoing, has begun for all of us reading this now, for we would not still be reading if we had not asked for the journey to begin. When we go backward in time, we are returning to love, and in that return is the everything that we have wanted. Love gives us all that we really want, and the closer we get to the end of journey, the better we will understand the truth of this. Atonement is unstoppable, and for this we ought to be grateful. Though we are prone to endless procrastination, and we may wander from the path, we will inevitably return, for free will sets the limits on miscreation. We cannot forever stay apart from God, for this would actually counter our real will, which in truth is one with His Will.

The undoing does not have to be complex, though it is usually so experienced, especially before the elevated Self of form is sustained. We have gotten ourselves so tangled up in our minds, perplexed by egoic notions of separation, that miracles are needed to save us. And those miracles are forthcoming. We can walk into the light at any time, though God Himself decides the exact moment. If we love completely, we are, in a sense, already there; we are having a glimpse of Christ-consciousness, and this glimpse, this satori, will sustain us until sustainability is actually achieved.

Separation and the Ego Are Actually Impossible

“The full awareness of the Atonement, then, is the recognition that the separation never occurred. The ego cannot prevail against this because it is an explicit statement that the ego never occurred. (T-6.II.10)”

The separation occurred only in illusion, when our minds became mad from a “tiny, mad idea” about which we forgot to “laugh.” Because we are a part of God, separation is actually impossible. This is the full awareness that the quotation tries to cover.

We need to turn aside from the ego, and we can do so, particularly, when we realize that this “part of belief” about ourselves never actually occurred. The ego will not be destroyed, but will simply cease to seem to be. We will be Awake, and these vestiges of madness, insanity, will fall away.

The future looks bright with such a prognosis, doesn’t it? We simply turn aside from belief in that which could actually never be, and we return to being co-creators with God, creating in like Mind and living in the Love with which He created us. What this creation will look like, nobody can say. But it will be free of pain and suffering in the illusion that we made for ourselves. We will dwell in peace. And what more could we ask?

Atonement Leaves the “Sins” of the Ego Behind

“Leave the ‘sins’ of the ego to me [Jesus]. That is what Atonement is for. But until you change your mind about those whom your ego has hurt, the Atonement cannot release you. While you feel guilty your ego is in command, because only the ego can experience guilt. This need not be. (T-4.IV.5)”

Atonement is to leave the “sins,” or mistakes, of the ego behind. Jesus says to leave this to him, a welcome prospect because we get so very tangled up in dealing with the ego at any time. When we don’t “change our minds” about others whom we have hurt (largely through anger and its result, attack), even Jesus cannot help us. This is because we are feeling guilty about the anger and attack, and guilt is hell (said elsewhere in A Course in Miracles).

The main thrust of ACIM is to dislodge the ego, freeing the mind to return to God and ourselves to be healed from the illusions. Atonement is the means, and this “undoing” (a definition of Atonement) was done by Jesus, he says, in the resurrection (not the crucifixion, as traditional Christianity says). When we are free of the ego, we are really home free. We have made it back to God, and we no longer harbor dreams. We are safe in an unsafe world. Our perceptions have been cleansed. We no longer project destruction, seeing this world as an illusion that is unreal.

We need to leave the guilt behind, and to do so, we need to cease attacking our brother. Attack will disturb the “undoing” every time, for we will feel guilty, and when we feel guilt, we are once again mired in the ego.

Let’s leave these concepts behind today—the ego, guilty, the attack. Let us accept the Atonement has a fait accompli and walk into this world holding Jesus’s hand.

What Is My Calling? by Ivor Sowton

Jesus us so skillfully in exploring that idea of hearing a call.

The Second Treatise of A Course of Love (ACOL) begins with looking at treasure. Treasure is quickly linked to hearing one’s calling in life—that is, Jesus is telling us that following our own calling is very valuable and important for us. Following our calling is how we serve and express our own divine Self.

So of course we want to jump right into ”our calling,” even to the extent of making it up from our separated egos! Aye, there’s the rub. Jesus has to bring us a long way through A Course in Miracles (ACIM) and ACOL before we are even ready for such a discussion, you might say.

In the first place, the painful assertion of the separated self-identity seeming involved a lot of misguided use of calling. As a child we might indeed have come into this world “trailing clouds of glory”, as Wordsworth famously said, but then within the course of “normal” human development, we seemed to lose touch with that divine glory.

And so we made up a persona, a mask, a constructed identity that we presented to the world– and even to ourselves—as who we really are. Jesus acknowledges that we do in fact need a persona in our human lives here, but he wants that persona to be representation of our true Self as much as possible. He says in ACOL “drape your persona in a mantle of peace and joy.” In this way it can be a representation in form of the formless true Self within.

But that is an advanced achievement! We need not be discouraged to find that we first need to deconstruct some false callings before realizing our true divine callings. Jesus tells us reassuringly that we wouldn’t be here if we hadn’t embraced some very limiting ideas about ourselves, but that there is a way out.

When and why does a child start feeling not good enough and start constructing a false self? Perhaps the individual stories vary a lot outwardly (this one born into privilege, that one born into abject poverty as a refugee, this one healthy, that one congenitally disabled, etc.), but the fact is we all made a false self—it came from feeling separated in the first place!

Thus the recommendation is to keep letting Jesus guide us in relating to our true calling.

If it weren’t for our special relationships we might jump right into true calling and never look back, I suppose. But because most of us are learning and growing so much in exploring relationship, we are encouraged to have to have faith in Jesus when he offers us the wonderful option of holy relationship gradually replacing special relationship through divine grace, if we but offer that little bit of willingness.

So for instance the ego in us is accustomed to using others for personal gain. It can be quite painful to begin to see (or let ourselves really feel) how frightened we are and how much we cling to our special loves or try to push away our special hate objects– how much we try to manipulate them to fill our emptiness or give us someone to blame for our dissatisfaction in life. This necessary process is laid out in the stages of the development of trust in the Manual for Teachers in ACIM.

Our work in the world is also very relevant to our calling. Freud said so wonderfully that there are two things incumbent on all of us to establish successfully in our lives: “love and work.” We need to learn how to give and receive love within appropriate human relationships, and we also and need to have our work in the world be a meaningful contribution we can feel good about.

Earl Purdy, a long-time teacher of ACIM and ACOL, once responded to a sincere question on job dissatisfaction from a participant in one of his wonderful U-Tube classes. The person was really being challenged at work, and Earl said, “You know, your actual present job could be absolutely the right place for you if you can learn to see God there! God teaching you, helping you, inspiring you through all your co-workers– and you doing the same for them.” This seemed very helpful to the questioner and also to the audience in general. Later, Earl led everyone in an affirmation from ACOL: “I give everyone in my life to love. I give everyone in my life to God. And I know that love and God are the same.”

In this sense, true calling in our work is more likely to be about seeing the spiritual opportunity already present there, rather than assuming that we are called to some other job or career that might be more gratifying to our ego.

Our sense of spirituality is also very much at issue here in terms of calling. Contemporary Western Zen Buddhist teacher Adya Shanti talks about “dreamland spirituality” as what most of us envision as we start out on the Path. Dreamland spirituality has us imagining a glorified ego state, as Jesus calls it in ACOL—a state the ego makes up as a personal Shangri-la, where all its needs are being met eternally without having to renounce the separation at all!

We’ve probably all experienced unseasoned teachers promising us some version of this ego heaven if we follow them. In addition, we’ve probably also caught ourselves trying to take that role with others. Maybe that’s a stage we have to go through—seeing through that spiritual specialness of dreamland spirituality.

I think we have to very self-honest and humble, then, in regard to answering that question “what is my calling?” Luckily, if we let Jesus guide our understanding here, we can have a lot of hope and faith in a bright future as our true calling is revealed to us from deep within our own Self.

These two quotes from ACOL sum up what we can joyfully anticipate in terms of our true calling:

“You who have so recently felt the peace of true acceptance are not asked to leave that peace to go in search of calling but are rather asked to listen from within that peace to what you feel called to do.” (Second Treatise, 4:12).

“All you must do is wholeheartedly recognize the treasure you have already chosen to bring into the world.” (Second Treatise, 3:2).

Cultivating the Holy Relationship, by Ivor Sowton

I am so grateful for both A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love, which for me are a continuum.

Jesus tells us in A Course of Love that after our creation as one unified being within God “something went wrong” with creation. Our initial idea was perhaps to use a somewhat separated identity to explore physicality, but somehow we lost conscious connection with Source. Soon we began unconsciously using judgment and suffering to maintain that separate identity—obviously a mistake that God never intended.

Thankfully deep down all of us separated beings do remember our divine heritage, and if we allow ourselves to be led by these great spiritual masterpieces, A Course in Miracles (ACIM) and A Course of Love (ACOL), we will find help getting back home—at least that has been my experience so far.

ACOL in particular proposes an urgency to our earnestly seeking that divine memory of God-union at this particular time in human history. This for me makes it relevant. Do you know what I mean? It resonates well with the pressing demand most of us feel to come up with some kind of a positive response to the obvious problems of overpopulation, global warming, and especially the violent nature of the human species under threat. (Jesus says in ACIM “frightened people can be vicious.” )

It feels to me that if the human experiment here on Earth is not to reach extinction by its own hand, we need to take strong collective action to find that Oneness as soon as possible.

But how to respond to such great need?

First Jesus guides us in re-establishing that sense of Divine Peace within. At the end of the First Treatise in ACOL he says: “Peace, in whatever way you find it, in whatever expression it takes, is your answer to God and God’s answer to you.” So if we want to help, it has to be from that sense of Divine Peace, and not from outrage or desperation.

For me the learning-ground for finding that peace is in my relationships with others. I’m increasingly aware of my ego attempts to “keep others other.” These are my special relationships, I guess. I feel that Jesus is helping me to gradually let go of special relationships in favor of holy relationship, based in unity, not fear. There is fierce resistance from my ego at times, and the basic teaching of both Courses is so helpful here. For example, remember that wonderful question from Jesus in ACIM, “Would you rather be right or happy?” (T-29,VII in ACIM). When I’m in my fearful-separated place I watch myself trying to make others wrong– with me being right, of course. But I can see more quickly now that the return of happiness requires letting go of that judgment and seeing that “other” as needing love, just as I do.

Yes, we still get to use common sense and appropriate boundaries. A parent or a boss maintains that role, but the need to prove things–the rancor– drops away.

There’s a wonderful image from the Second Treatise in ACOL (4.6) in which Jesus likens the ego and struggle with special relationships to trying to walk in deep water. If and when we “get it” we relax and start floating, and soon we’re swimming gracefully and easily in the waters of union–holy relationship!

In studying A Course of Love I am assembling a treasury of one-liner quotes from the text of the Combined Edition by Take Heart Publications. I will close with the first of these one liners:

This holy relationship is what you are called to cultivate as a gardener cultivates her garden. (ACOL, 12.10)