My practice of A Course in Miracles shifted when I began to realize its goal was not a static end result but rather a reversal, or undoing, of the egoic thought process, so that thinking itself changes, becomes dynamic in an inspired way. It is a bit like saying the course aims at shifting our mode of travel, with the understanding that travel – not arrival – is all that really matters.
For example, if I want to go to the ocean, then from my wedge of New England I have to travel several hundred miles east to Cape Cod. I could grab a compass and head east on foot but that would be a long and gnarly journey. A Course in Miracles is a bit like Jesus saying, the ocean is a good idea and I’ve got this express bus that’s heading there right now. All you have to do is get on.
The ocean – the end result – never changes. I don’t have to worry about that (T-17.II.4:5). But the mode of travel does: it becomes more efficient, more direct and – because you are with me – a lot more enjoyable, when I – when we – give it over to Jesus through our practice and application of A Course in Miracles.
What I am saying – probably more inartfully than is helpful – is that when I started studying ACIM, I expected the practical equivalent of a diploma or a lightening bolt or something. There would be this clear before and after tied to a specific date and time: Sean before awakening vs. Sean after awakening.
But more and more I begin to see that the course is – for me, anyway – more in the nature of a gentle shift, like a slow tide rolling over the sand. There are certainly moments of stark and helpful insight – plenty, actually – but more frequently there are just extended periods of relatively peaceful attentiveness, leading to an expanding awareness in which the memory of God is quiet, natural and sure.
How can you wake children in a more kindly way than by a gentle Voice that will not frighten them, but will merely remind them that the night is over and the light has come. You do not inform them the nightmares that frightened them so badly are not real, because children believe in magic. You merely reassure them that they are safe now (T-6.V.2:1 – 3).
Jesus isn’t arguing with us: it’s not a debate about whether to take a right or left. It’s an invitation to join with Holiness, which we can accept or refuse as we will. Moreover, the invitation is always given and we are always either accepting or rejecting it.
A Course in Miracles teaches us how to side with peace by choosing to think with God rather than with the ego. Our calling – if we are going to be students – is to say to “yes,” and then to learn from our appointed Teacher.
Nor is Jesus trying to explain anything in terms of the world. We don’t have to understand anger to undo anger: we simply have to be willing to let it go, and we become willing based not on an intellectual analysis but something much simpler: do we want the pain anger brings or not?
If we’re okay with it a while longer, than okay. We can keep it and Jesus will wait patiently. If we’re not, we can hand it over, and it will be undone for us.
This handing over – or holding on – is a way of thinking. Or, better, it is a way of relating to thought. Thus, when anger shows up, we don’t attach to or invest in it (by indulging it, expressing it, analyzing it et cetera) but rather acknowledge it as anger which causes pain and give it over. “Oh right. That is for Jesus to deal with.” And so its effects are dramatically reduced.
Eventually, we get good at this way of thinking, of giving over, of letting go. That is the point of making A Course in Miracles one’s “practice.”
[y]ou train them to recognize the difference between sleeping and waking, so that they will understand that they need not be afraid of dreams. And so when bad dreams come, they will themselves call on the light to dispel them (T-6.V.2:4-5).
When I stop looking for specific results, it becomes possible to give attention to what is: the present moment is always sufficient unto learning. Because my identification with the Holy Spirit is not perfect, I drift. But that’s okay. I am learning to love the process of thinking with God and – more – I am learning to trust that the end is sure.
So is the memory of God obscured in minds that have become illusions’ battleground. Yet far beyond this senseless war it shines, ready to be remembered when you side with peace (T-23.I.12:8-9).
A Course in Miracles teaches us how to side with peace by choosing to think with God rather than with the ego. Our calling – if we are going to be students – is to say to “yes,” and then to learn from our appointed Teacher. The rest is in better hands than ours.