How A Course in Miracles Changed My Life

People ask sometimes how A Course in Miracles changed my life. There are simple answers I give: I smile more. But I don’t know if that’s really true. I don’t keep smile records. And it’s hard sometimes to talk about the Course in ways that don’t feel cheap and inadequate (not that you’d know it from my garrulousness).

On the other hand, one thing I am learning to do is keep my mouth shut. I have always been nimble with words, kind ones and hurtful ones. When I am angry or scared, I have a tendency to use language to beat back the object of my fear or anger. To deliberately hurt another because you are frightened . . . that is not so good. Understandable perhaps, but not desirable. There must be another way, right?

Earlier this week, I found myself in a stressful situation. Someone was not where they said they would be, and when they finally arrived- late – they were preoccupied and unable to focus on me.

I was a little annoyed when they weren’t there, but when they arrived unable to tend to my needs, I began to get angry. Whenever I feel anger, I know that it is a result of fear, and so I try to make contact with that. I try to find the fear.

Soon enough, little tendrils of anxiety were obvious. I could observe them. They were like weeds quickly scaling a stalk, tightening and climbing, threatening to overtake everything. Fear often comes very quickly but if you pay attention, you can perceive its movement.

It was a challenging situation. Money was involved. My children were involved. A lot of thoughts ran around in my brain: I would never treat anybody like this. I’m paying for this, damn it! I have to stand up for my children. And so forth.

But I did not say anything. I sat quietly and waited. I concentrated on witnessing what I felt and thought without surrendering to it, without allowing it to vent outward. I knew that if I talked it would not be from a place of love, but a place of hurt, a place of anger, and a place of fear. And we have choices now! We can decide to try and remain peaceful despite external circumstances, despite our psychological distress. I chose silence because I have always appreciated the Dalai Lama’s observation that we are here to help others, and if we can’t help them, we can at least not hurt them.

Even when we are roiling with negativity, we can still practice kindness. We don’t have to give in to the ego’s demand that we attack a brother or sister. Mohandas Gandhi said that it was not that he was incapable of anger but that he succeeded “on almost all occasions to keep my feelings under control.”

Whatever may be the result, there is always in me a conscious struggle for following the law of nonviolence deliberately and ceaselessly. Such a struggle leaves one stronger for it (My Faith in Nonviolence).

Of course I am not Gandhi, but it was nice to hear the ego insist this was a crisis and just respond with calm and quiet. It was not that the negativity disappeared, replaced by lovely angels singing hallelujah and offering green tea smoothies, but that I was able to simply stay with the Holy Spirit. I did not lose that essential connection.

When we do that – when we do not allow the external world (which includes emotion and thought) to influence and affect us – then we see the potential of the choice that A Course in Miracles awakens in us. It is not the power to be happy but to know peace at the deepest level. It is the power to remember what we are in truth.

If you are to be conflict-free yourself, you must learn from the Holy Spirit and teach only by Him. You are only love, but when you deny this, you make what you are something you must learn to remember (T-6.III.2:2-3).

Later – much later – I was able to see the situation in a different light. I understood the pressure this other person faced. I saw how everything was taken care of anyway. It was okay.

And I was deeply grateful that I hadn’t screwed it up by giving voice to fear, anger and impatience. In my admittedly inept and awkward way, I had stayed with Jesus. My willingness wasn’t perfect, but it was enough. We have to engage our lives right where they are. We have to what is in front of us in the spirit of love, no matter how impossible that might seem.

Sometimes that is what a blessing looks like.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Tom March 16, 2013, 9:16 am

    I read your words after doing today’s lesson #75 The light has come . I remember that the Holy Spirit saying “this is a day of celebration” and not waking in such a “mood” . Yet I continued and found that in fact through doing the lesson , along with the many before, that Jesus would reveal the truth in them . As promised . As judgements swirled about , I found my Self witnessing to and saying “The light has come . I have forgiven you” to each ego thought bore out of fear . Then the ego fought back ” You cannot forgive me , it’s for others you must forgive”. And in that instant it dawned that the ego is a total fabrication of self . Now we all have the tools if we persist in our daily practice , no matter how inelegantly we think we are doing. All we need do is the No-Thing and He will do the rest. Thank you for sharing and putting words to what we experience .

  • Sally March 16, 2013, 4:34 pm

    And I too, read that great W-75 this morning and just now read Sean’s example of how Holy Spirit helps us when under pressure, without our expecting it.
    I opened your Post, Sean, when I just now expereinced a petty annoyance with a customer service person. With this 2nd follow up of ‘back to back’ annoyance from a different business place, I was suddenly Aware of my own appropiate silence !! And it felt good. Since I did not know I would have to wait for 2 1/2 hours for my request, I was not waiting prepared to use my ability to make no reply. I thank the Holy Spirit for His patience and understanding and working with me/us in such loveingly subtle ways, that I usually recognize as a afterthought. And the afterthought almost always has many of His personal Teaching Thouhgts for me also. Thanks to you Sean for the test2 and the teacher that we are all becoming, in different ways, with you.

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