A Course in Miracles: God Thinks Otherwise

How often do we pitch this tantrum: I want it thus and God thinks otherwise! Desire always comes up against some limit – of the body, of other bodies, of time, of circumstances. Sooner or later, our happiness sours. We can line up the external world just so for a long time – maybe a really long time – but it always ends. God always thinks otherwise. When will we see it and, seeing it, accept it?

The course teaches us that “the memory of God comes to a quiet mind (T-23.I.1:1). What does this mean? I don’t think it means that we are supposed to meditate a lot, although there is nothing especially wrong with that. I think that our minds grow still and quiet when we let go of all the static that fills it. We have all these ideas and opinions and judgments and very little of it practical or necessary. It’s noisy up there!

When we lift our thoughts up into the light of understanding – what we might think of as looking at our minds with the Holy Spirit – we see that so much of what is going on is illusory. I am often amazed at how flimsy thought is – how quick it arises and disappears, how the slightest movement of love and will can cause it to just float away. Mind often strikes me as a giant field in which a million strands of milkweed dander and spider filaments glitter and drift. We can get awfully hung up on all that activity  – it can be attractive – but eventually we have to see how inconsequential it is.

Tara Singh used to say that life takes care. We don’t have to do anything. This amazes me from time to time. I will sit near the garden – the tomato plants dragging at the stakes, the Monarch butterflies fluttering here and there in the marigolds, the bees humming near the Zinnias which are just starting to grow dull now the nights are getting cooler and longer. All that life and I don’t have to do a thing about it. It just is. Not always, but sometimes I am able to slip into it myself – just feel the pull of life, how it does take care. All the energy and ambition and ideation I engage in . . . it’s useless. It’s empty. It’s like the wind howling in an empty wine bottle.

The ego always marches to defeat, because it thinks that triumph over you is possible. And God thinks otherwise. This is no war; only the mad belief the will of God can be attacked and overthrown (T-23.1.2:6-8).

Yet still, there is a sort of cart-before-the-horse problem here, too. I mean that we recognize the futility of the egoic self, the egoic mind, and implicitly assume it’s enough. We decide at a very subtle level that we’re done. We’ve got it, whatever “it” is. But we don’t reach God merely by noticing what obscures God. God does not block God. Something else is in the way.

I think it is easy to get stuck in this place because it can be so nice! It is very sweet and calm to just spend an hour admiring the sunlight and not really paying any attention to your thoughts. But the assumption we make in this case is very dangerous because it can waste a lot of time: we assume that we know God. But that is really just the ego making an end run back to its old primacy. We can’t know what we don’t know – if we don’t know God, then anything we say is God is coming from what we know and is a projection and is unreal. So it’s nice to be peaceful and calm – there is some benefit to it, as I said – but there’s another step. And we don’t take it.

I guess what I am trying to say is that God thinks otherwise and I don’t always want to accept that. I’ve cleared a lot of ground, I’ve got a lot more of a grip on my mind, I am no longer scared of the ego and so on and so forth but that’s still not it. It’s okay but it’s not it. And if I get casual then I’m going to slip back into the old state. Somewhere I am thinking I have beaten the ego – I’ve got the upper hand. But I have to be careful. I have to remain vigilant.

We want to be enlightened – we crave it! Awakening, the Kingdom of Heaven. But God thinks otherwise. And we don’t know what God thinks. We don’t have that experience. Not yet. I wouldn’t be writing here if I did. I really don’t think I would. So one thing we can do when we reach that place – a deeper peace than we have ever known, a clarity that is almost electric – is just treat it the way we treat any other phenomenon in the world. Another illusion to be shared with the Holy Spirit. Another step on the road home. We have to remember that God thinks otherwise – it’s a good reminder – and then just keep working to open the space until – it will happen – we think otherwise, too.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • a August 31, 2012, 6:09 pm

    Sean – I’ve been reading and for the most part enjoying your site for quite a while now. But Im completely thrown off by the first paragraph of this piece –

    God didn’t create the world, so am not sure what you mean by “God thinks otherwise” ??

    Hope I’m not writing inappropriately… apologies if so.

    • Sean Reagan September 1, 2012, 6:47 pm

      Hi A,

      Thanks for reading & for writing. No apologies necessary – it’s a great question!

      In the context of that section (chapter 23 – the war against yourself), I think the course is observing that we only remember God – and by extension our oneness with God – when we are empty or free of conflict. And it goes on to point out that the presence of conflict at any level is a sign that the we are accepting the ego’s dictates – believing, implicitly or otherwise, that we are bodies in a world in which some people are friends and others enemies and we have to fight to survive and it’s all a sort of hell and all of that. Even though it doesn’t go into specifics, the general language is very strong: “the ego is at war with God.”

      The ego believes it can win that war; God thinks otherwise (T-23.1.2:7).

      I don’t think that phrase means (or has to mean) that God is in this world or that God created this world – in fact, I think it is saying the opposite – that God is not in this world and that its distractions and anguish are not real. All of the ego’s battles mean nothing to God.

      I am aware of how the ego fights this war – my resistance to being still and quiet, my insistence that some contribution other than willingness is required of me. The ego keeps my focus on the world and the bodies in it – and the thought system that gives rise to it – by fragmenting the separation into lots of little pieces. The mortgage I can’t pay, the annoying family member who won’t stop calling, the dog barking at 2 a.m., the cheesecake I love to eat for dessert, the prayers I have to say, the course I have to study and so forth.

      Those are my thoughts – egoic thoughts, separation thoughts. And God thinks otherwise – even if I can’t say what that means exactly, and even if those thoughts of God don’t show up in a way that makes sense in this world that God did not make.

      It is a bit like lesson 45 maybe (and some of the others in that sequence): God is the Mind with which I think:

      Under all the senseless thoughts and mad ideas with you have cluttered up your mind are the thought that you thought with God in the beginning. They are in your mind now, completely unchanged (W-pI.45.71-2).

      That was all I was trying to say. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. Until we are entirely free of conflict (no small order!) then God always thinks otherwise.

      Does that make sense? Let me know. I appreciate it when readers are like, “hey wait a minute. That sounds a little off.”

      Also, I am not really getting into the discussion of whether – according to ACIM – God knows about this world or not. I think the course is pretty clear that God did not make the world but much less clear about whether God knows about it and what that knowing means et cetera.If you feel that discussion belongs here, let me know.

      Thanks again. I hope you’re having a great weekend!


  • a September 2, 2012, 2:19 pm

    Dear Sean,
    Many thanks for the long response. Makes perfect sense. I think the key (for me) to understanding the post was the direct quote from the Text that you so helpfully provided (“God thinks otherwise”) from Chapter 23.

    I see now how you have been able to weave that theme into the post, (after introducing that in the opening), and the whole post flows very well indeed (like all of your other writings and sharing, if I may add ! (:

    You are very right — the whole topic of whether God “knows” about this world is an arduous, (if not impossible) discussion to have on-line (or in any written form), so I agree – we can leave that subject aside.

    Me, I take comfort from the fact that God did not make this world – if God did, I think the depression resulting from that thought would be almost too heavy for me to bear ! (:

    Thanks again for writing back, dear Sean. My weekend has been rather interesting – I identify a lot with your references to domestic life, parenthood, being a spouse, making money, etc, etc. (although I do think you are a better husband and father than I am/have been yet).

    I’m sorry I’m not providing my full name on the public blog – I am still wary of ‘exposing’ myself as an ACIM student, because of what I perceive to be the “conservative” nature of my fellow professionals. But I hope to gather the courage to do so in a couple of years or so. (My first name is the same as you can see in my email address)

    Have a wonderful Sunday,

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