A Course in Miracles restores to us our decision-making ability. Early on in my study of the Course, this reinforced my ego. I get to decide what happens to me! Me! And yet as my practice deepens – and softens – I begin to realize the only decision that matters is the teacher I choose. Am I experiencing the world with the Holy Spirit or with the ego?
Our experience itself answers the question. If we perceive war to any degree – be it a bloody conflict between nations or a festering dispute between friends – we can rest assured the ego remains our guide. Joy and peace are the Holy Spirit’s hallmarks.
But for most of us – me, too! – those feelings are brief and transitory. And that makes me frustrated. I want to be a good student, a successful student. I want to be the best student! But that is the ego talking. Only the ego thinks in terms of better and best, success or failure. The Holy Spirit might be pictured as a laid-back friend reminding us to chill out and relax. Salvation isn’t a struggle. It’s a release.
This review includes lesson 34 which I think neatly sums up the Course: I could see peace instead of this. It includes the Course’s objective – peace – and it place us in the driver’s seat. In any moment – regardless of where we are, what is happening, how we’re feeling, what happened a moment before or what’s about to happen – we have the power of choice. We never lose it. It is always available and it is always ripe with power. We could see peace instead of all this conflict, all this anguish, all this bitterness.
Choosing the Holy Spirit is not easy at first. It’s hard. It’s hard because it’s unfamiliar. We think we’re stuck with our thoughts. We think – even after we’ve grasped it intellectually – that the external world is real and causes our feelings. We imprison ourselves. And like long-bound prisoners, we don’t just hop up and jitterbug with joy when we learn the chains aren’t real. In fact, we’re apt to argue they are real, just to avoid looking like idiots.
But the fact remains: salvation is simply choosing the guide who remembers Heaven. God is in us in a tangible way. It is our choice to go home to God – and we can make it whenever we choose. Knowing that is the gift of A Course in Miracles.