On Seeking Peace Where Peace Is

More and more I appreciate A Course in Miracles as a deeply practical text. Beyond its wordiness, its metaphysics, its sometimes complicated Christian revision and its ornate prose lies a clear and simple directive: seek peace where peace is and you will know peace.

Heaven cannot be found where it is not, and there can be no peace excepting there . . . Seek not outside yourself. For all your pain comes simply from a futile search for what you want, insisting where it must be found (T-29.VII.1:3, 6-7).

This makes so much sense! If we want to eat ice cream, we do not visit the hardware store, in the same way that if we want to ride a horse, we don’t put our saddle on a pig. Doing so is a recipe for frustration. Doing so consistently can make us hate our lives and decide that God is a fraud or worse.

So the course is being very logical here, and very reasonable. But it still begs an important question: where, exactly, is peace?

A Course in Miracles brooks no debate on this question. Peace is within us, where God placed it in creation. We can ignore peace – we can all but forget peace – but we cannot get rid of peace. Why? Because inner peace is the condition of what we are in truth because it is the condition of God.

God dwells within, and your completion lies in Him . . . Do not seek outside yourself (T-29.VII.6:3, 6).

Perhaps we want to ask: what does it mean to look within though? Does it mean to look closely at my thoughts? At my heart? What? Where?

I am going to suggest that answering that question in a literal way – as if there were a map to follow – may not be the most helpful approach. If we take our lead from some of the later lessons in the ACIM Workbook, we will learn that when we say “God is within us” we are not really talking about bodies at all.

That is where peace lies: in our decision to remember it. Where else could it be?

For example, Lesson 268 invites us to refrain from judging against God and distorting creation “into sickly forms (W-pII.268.1:2).

Let me be willing to withdraw my wishes from [creation’s] unity, and thus to let it be as You created it. For thus will I be able, too, to recognize my Self as You created me. In love was I created, and in love will I remain forever (W-pII.268.1:3-5).

This is not about prayer or meditation, but rather a choice one makes in how they go about their day-to-day life in the world.

Thus, to seek for God within is better understood as a decision to seek only God, rather than to seek God in a particularly defined space. It is an internal decision that we make and – having made it – from which we do not deviate.

Today I choose to look upon the what Christ would have me see, to listen to God’s Voice, and seek the witnesses to what is true in God’s creation. In Christ’s sight, the world and God’s creation meet, and as they come together, all perception disappears (W-pII.271.1:2-3).

How satisfying that is! We give perception to Christ and Christ gently brings into harmony with creation, and so perception ends. The separation ends. And all we have to do is resign our inclination to barge about looking for salvation.

This can all seem very poetic and mystical, very abstract and Christian and so forth. In form, we can say that it is those things. But it is more interesting – at least to me – to see the practical direction in which we are being led.

And at that level, A Course in Miracles is clear and simple, like a bell ringing in the pure blue air of summer.

It calls on us to make a choice: will we surrender personality and the time-bound, matter-bound self, which together are the ego’s ramshackle shelter, and give our attention instead to the grace and glory of God and creation, which is simply reality itself, and available to us right now without any condition or qualification at all?

When we see it so clearly – the decision and what flows from it – what other answer would we give?

To say yes is to make a decision for peace. And that decision is the decision to look within. And because we are looking within – which is to say looking at God – we are bound to remember our peace-filled inheritance.

That is where peace lies: in our decision to remember it. Where else could it be?

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Cheryl June 5, 2014, 8:41 am

    Forgot to mention … love the nod to hand bells. 🙂

    • Sean Reagan June 5, 2014, 9:51 am

      Ha ha! I knew you would like that . . . 🙂

      I have always loved hand bells, though – and bells generally. Hand bells intrigue me because they sound lovely but require a group effort to really achieve their full effect, and everybody has to give real attention to their role. They are especially beautiful during Christmas . . .

      Hope all is well!

      Sean

  • lynn June 6, 2014, 10:31 am

    Sean,

    Thank you for this post. It is exactly what i’m dealing with at the moment – wanting peace, and trying to understand how to navigate beyond the ego to awaken to it. I am so confused on how to deal day to day with this dream of form, and live in this illusionary life, and yet go within to find the peace that is our inheritance. I know Peace is not in this dream, but i struggle to find the ballance of the day to day frustructions and not allow my ego to cloud my determination to experiance Peace. I feel like i’m leading a double life – one in truth in my mind, the other a movie that can be frustrating, disappointing, and painful.

    Lynn

    • Sean Reagan June 6, 2014, 8:38 pm

      Hi Lynn,

      Thank you for sharing that – I really identify with that sense of leading a double life. In fact, I think that’s a great way to describe that particular part of being an ACIM student – you know there’s a better way (the way of truth or love or God or what-have-you) but then you are still having a hard time letting go of the ego’s small, petty and painful way. I know it’s no good to say we’ve all been there – and return from time to time – but it’s true! I was talking with someone the other day who was sharing how awakening is so simple and I finally said, “well yes and no. If it was truly simple, then we wouldn’t need the course or Buddha or whatever.”

      In a way, I think struggle is actually a positive sign because it means that we’re in the thick of it and we’re not running away. We’re ready to face the darkness and shadows and ugliness of the ego – so maybe where we used to retreat into some form of dullness or indulgence or sacrifice or whatever, now we just feel the pain. And it sucks! But in a way, it’s incredible because here is the ego beating on you, desperately trying to make you forget there’s a better way and you won’t do it! You won’t go for it! It hurts, but you keep holding onto to this idea that there is another way, a better way.

      Again, that’s cold comfort when we’re feeling like crap, but still. When we can look on our pain without hiding from it – and while remembering God – we can rest assured that the Holy Spirit is with us and the ego’s old tricks are not working.

      Sometimes when I’m really low, I think of it that way: I am not going to hide from this, I am not going to try and make it better, I am just going to sit with it and look at it and trust that the Holy Spirit will undo it and that when it’s undone, it’s not coming back. We forget sometimes how much of the course is really about removing blocks – and that is hard work and sometimes scary work and sometimes very painful work. But what else can we do? We know that ignoring it and pretending it’s all okay or hiding from it or projecting it onto others doesn’t work. So we try something new. And we don’t deviate.

      Anyway . . . thanks again for sharing . . .

      Sean

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