In A Course in Miracles parlance, to teach is to demonstrate. Thus, we are always teaching, and what we are teaching is what thought or belief system we accept as real. We can be standing alone in the woods feeling angry about what somebody said to us three hours or thirty years ago and we are teaching conflict, the heart and soul of the ego’s belief system. Who are we teaching? Us. We are always teaching ourselves.
If we are going to learn peace, then we are going to have to teach it. This might seem a little backwards. How can I teach what I don’t have? Shouldn’t I get peace first and then extend it?
It sounds reasonable to ask those questions, but they also forget yesterday’s lesson from the Holy Spirit: to have, give all to all. That this reverses the laws of the world and the ego goes without saying. But perhaps we are still confused. What exactly am I supposed to do here?
Pay attention. Be aware. I think that is our first job as Course students. Notice how your mind works – how the thoughts pop up from apparently nowhere, how you get attached to some and not to others. Ask who is doing the observing of these thoughts. Ask where they come from. Take note of how they make you feel.
Remember that you are capable of making a very basic choice at all times: you can choose to invite the Holy Spirit back into your mind. You can ask the Holy Spirit to function as a kind of lens, cleansing and healing your perception of the world. When you don’t do this, you are left with the ego. You are left with conflict and bitterness. You are left with scarcity and loss.
So one big thing we can do is ask the Holy Spirit to help us out. We can ask Jesus to stay close and remind us of our power of choice. These are peaceable actions. When we do this, we are caring for ourselves. These are affirmations of our fundamental nature, statements that we believe that we can be peaceful even if at this precise moment we are not.
What happens is that with each little step in the direction of peaceful thinking, there is a corresponding clarity in our minds. The Holy Spirit’s voice can be more readily heard. So the next step towards peace is a bit easier, and the one after that even more so. We are no longer fighting the ego, or struggling with it, we are simply paying attention to this other voice. We are teaching ourselves that to do this is to bring peace to ourselves. We are learning what we teach.
It is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that this lesson means we are supposed to go save the dolphins, or volunteer at a food pantry, or protest nuclear weapons, or make amends to every person we’ve ever slighted. It’s not that there’s anything inherently wrong with those things. Rather, it’s that they are inherently meaningless. They’re neither good nor bad. Attaining peace isn’t making the right choice between them. Rather, it’s giving them up altogether. We are talking about a change in our minds – not out there in the world.
Pay attention to your thinking! Bring the Holy Spirit to it – or your thoughts to the Holy Spirit. Ask Jesus to help you do this. Be quiet and listen. Find the voice beyond the ego. Choose it. See what happens when you do.