It is more and more clear to me that a student of A Course in Miracles is called to rigorous honesty. We have to be honest about who we are and where we are as well as about who and where we think we are. We have to see the pain of illusion, which is the cost of our seeming separation from God. To the extent that we experience inner peace and joy – to the extent we know the atonement – it is a consequence of this honesty.
Honesty requires a certain slowing down. We have to pay attention to the ego’s directives – seeing the ways in which we act in accordance with its wrong-minded thinking. There is no substitute for this. It is only by getting in close and often intimate touch with the ego and its patterns and processes that we can finally say – with candor and conviction – that we are ready for the better way.
This isn’t to suggest that we are supposed to obsessively dwell on our lives – what we say to this person, how that person interacts with us, and how the exchange reflects on our shared history and sheds light on the way our parents treated us during this or that sensitive phase of childhood.
It is more like simply noticing what is going on: I’m angry right now. I’m sad. I’m happy. We don’t have to explain our feelings or justify them. We simply see them – take note of them, if you will. We are honest about them. If we are honest, we are far more likely to accept what is rather than modify or amend it through some variation of deception.
For example, sometimes when I am angry I get scared. I don’t want to be scared and so I stuff the anger down. The situation that makes me angry is generally cloudy at best and altogether invisible at worst. Then, hours later, the anger will come rushing in at something entirely unrelated to the original event or circumstance. That’s not being honest.
The Manual for Teachers is eloquent on this point.
The peace of mind which the advanced teachers of God experience is largely due to their perfect honesty. It is only the wish to deceive that makes for war. No one at one with himself can even conceive of conflict. Conflict is the inevitable result of self-deception, and self-deception is dishonesty (M-4.II.2:1-4).
The conflict comes when we don’t want to see what is – but rather move it around to something more appealing or healing or whatever. It never works. There is a simple sort of flow that comes with practicing ACIM. We don’t get it right all the time, but more and more we simply witness the unfolding. It really does start to feel like you’re just watching a movie. Your emotions stay in check. You stop projecting guilt and fear because you are no longer at odds with guilt and fear.
What happens when we can simply witness what appears to be happening without intervening? Without judging?
One thing that happens is that conflict ends.
At no level are they (teachers of G0d) in conflict with themselves. Therefore it is impossible for them to be in conflict with anyone or anything (M-4.II.1:8-9).
When conflict ends, we know peace.
Thus, inner peace is not getting rid of problems in the sense of solving them or addressing them or manipulating them in any way. It is simply witnessing them without drama. We witness with the Holy Spirit, allowing its capacity for seeing both our illusory lives and the grander wholesomeness of identity in God to dissolve the tiny little bumps that seem to make up the cruel and unjust lives conducted and experienced by our physical bodies.
Slow down. Breathe. Invite the Holy Spirit to be a part of your life. It is already there, awaiting your invitation. What could possibly justify delay? The world waits on our decision to be free.