Thanking God for You: Dialogue as a Form of Healing in A Course in Miracles

I. Love and Fear

A Course in Miracles says something interesting: it says that Love is beyond what can be taught (T-in.1:6). This means that we already know all that we need to know about Love. It means we already know all that one can know about Love.

It also means that the usual means we have of teaching one another – words, ideas, logic, repetition, assessment, positive reinforcement, et cetera – cannot be applied to Love.

Love is beyond all of that – time, memory, learning, bodies.

This is not as confusing as we might think. A seed doesn’t go to school to be taught how to grow into a violet or a rutabaga. The moon does not need a guru in order to shine. Nobody has to remind gravity hey, don’t forget to work this morning.

What we are in truth is like that.

What Love is is like that.

So the Course is not about reconstructing love or rediscovering love or recovering or rescuing or resuscitating Love. Love is given and in its givenness it has perfect integrity and wholeness.

There is no fear in perfect love . . . perfection is, and cannot be denied (T-12.II.8:1, 6).

However, A Course in Miracles is about undoing fear, which obstructs our awareness of Love, which is our inheritance as children of God (T-in.1:7-8). For that, we are responsible.

II. Desperation and Gratitude

My study and practice of A Course in Miracles owns both the energy of desperation and the energy of gratitude.

It owns the energy of desperation because there is no other choice. My own efforts and ideas, my patchwork spirituality, my work-it-when-you-feel-like-working-it ethic did not . . . work. They brought forth suffering, in me and in others, and when I saw this – specifically, when I saw that I was the one doing it – I was defeated. It was not wisdom or grace. I didn’t surrender because surrender implies choice. I was beaten; there were no options.

But also, my study and practice of A Course in Miracles owns the energy of gratitude because when eventually I realized that there was an alternative to suffering – that one could atone for their errors and be forgiven, and in this way be restored to Love in, through and as Christ – then I took a vow, joyfully, to do just that. That and only that.

When you take that vow – when you say yes, finally – then no matter how you word it, no matter how often you seem to fall short, calm and creativity abide in you. Panic ends because the inevitability of conflict ends. The flight from yourself – from Truth, Reality, Creation, God, Love – reverses direction.

It is a practice that infuses our whole life, by teaching us in every moment how to undo fear. As fear is undone, Love appears – first in memory, as an idea, then in our living, as a practice, a method, and then at last to claim us entirely as Its own, without any need for distinction or separation whatsoever.

Of course I am grateful.

III. Relationship

For me, application of A Course in Miracles sugars out in relationship – with Chrisoula and the kids, with my co-workers, neighbors and friends, with you and others with whom my ACIM practice takes form in 1:1 dialogue, study groups, email threads, formal and informal teaching and so forth.

In relationship, we hear either the ego or the Holy Spirit. One or the other is teaching us what we are all the time.

The ego is about what we want and how we can get it. The ego does not discern between bodily appetite and spiritual longing but happily conflates them. It does not discern between the purity and bliss of mindful creation and the corrosiveness of projection. We get confused when we listen to ego. We are never truly satisfied when we listen to ego. Something always hurts somewhere, when we listen to ego.

In contrast, the Holy Spirit is only interested in sharing and in making sharing easier. It doesn’t talk about Love at all (because Love cannot be taught) but it does point out and then show us how to undo blocks to our awareness of Love. The Holy Spirit knows that cooperation is as close to Love as bodies can get, and it knows that that they cooperate best – they communicate and coordinate best – when they are inspired by belief systems premised on sharing and living coherently together in dialogue. We are community-minded beings; we are optimists and dreamers; we see the Face of God everywhere because we see the other everywhere. There is always hope.

Love is our inheritance because of what we are. Knowing this, the Holy Spirit makes us happy – deeply, naturally and sustainably – even, perhaps, religiously – happy.

The light that belongs to you is the light of joy. Radiance is not associated with sorrow. Joy calls for an integrated willingness to share it, and promotes the mind’s natural impulse to respond as one (

Nor is happiness and joy other than Love.

. . . the only possible whole state is that of love. There is no difference between love and joy. Therefore, the only possible state is to be wholly joyous. To heal or to make joyous is therefore the same as to integrate and to make one (

Therefore, dialogue is at the heart of my spiritual practice. I cannot conceive of A Course in Miracles without it. Dialogue has to do with language, but also with the space – the silence and the stillness – in which language naturally occurs, within which – upon which and as which – it arises. We talk, we become silent, we talk some more. We think things over apart and then together begin again. It’s not about us but what comes forth through us when all that matters is undoing fear in order to remember Love.

The Holy Spirit teaches us to see the relationship as a site of remembering our self, remembering reality, remembering God, and remembering Love. Ego teaches us to see the relationship as tenuous and untrustworthy, an imperfect means to temporarily meeting this or that specific need.

Ego forever skirmishes; the Holy Spirit is forever bending spears into pruning hooks.

Ultimately, dialogue points back at – helps us return to – the origin of cooperation and communication which naturally reflects our perfect equality, which is oneness. It restores us to silence and stillness and restores to us the pure creativity that is our essence, our nature.

Dialogue is a form of Love effectively teaching itself to itself.

I do not say it is that way constantly. Only inevitably.

Forget not once this journey is begun the end is certain. Doubt along the way will come and go and go to come again. Yet is the ending sure. No one can fail to do what God appointed him to do (C-ep.1:1-4).

It is easy to love Love, once you know what you are in truth. It is easy to extend Love, once you know you cannot be apart from Love.

IV. The End of Seeking

I am no longer a seeker. I am not saying I am awakened or enlightened! I am not saying that at all. I am saying something like what Abhishiktananda was getting at when he said that we can only become ourself by becoming Christ and that we never become more intimately and truly our self then when we lose our self in Christ.

In other words, either there is nothing left to look for or there is no one left to do the looking. Either way, the search is over.

You do not go into solitude. You go into the desert because there is nothing else but God, and God makes himself solitary . . . God is not in the desert. The desert is the very mystery of God which has no limits, and nothing either to measure him or to locate him, and nothing to measure myself, and locate myself in him, in relation to him (Ascent to the Depth of the Heart 277).

When you know the path, and that to which it leads, and when you know you cannot be removed from the path nor stopped on it, then the journey is over. When you reach what never ends, then seeking ends. God is all is all; Love holds everything.

When one no longer seeks, one no longer pretends that Love can be taught. There is no place Love is not, there is no body in which Love is not; there is no sign that does not both point to Love and come undone in Love. Remembrance of this – recognition of this – is a gift; it is not an accomplishment. We do not earn it. It is a gift – a gift already given and a gift already received.

Dialogue in and through A Course in Miracles reminds us what the gift is and that it is already given. It prepares us to remember this by – from time to time, very reliably – actually being the gift.


Which is why I can never – and will never – stop thanking God for you.

The Decision to be Happy

Happiness is a decision for which we are responsible. It is not more complex than that. We don’t need to fix anything outside of us; we have to let go of the idea that anything outside of us can be fixed. None of that is the problem.

Our work as students of A Course in Miracles is to decide to be happy; happiness itself follows naturally and perfectly.

Therefore, if we are not happy – e.g., if we cannot say that we “. . . have no cares, no worries, no anxieties, but [are] merely perfectly calm and quiet all the time” (T-15.I.1:1) – then it is because we have decided not to be. We have chosen against joy. And while this is not a crime against God or nature, there is a better way.

That way is to find out why we are deciding against happiness.

The work of A Course in Miracles is to ask that question and be as open-minded, creative and courageous as possible in finding the answer. We don’t have to become happy – we have to find out why we are resisting happiness. When we get clear on the nature of the resistance, then the happiness naturally arises, care of a power that is in us but not of us.

Our study and practice will reveal to us the blocks to love; our work is to see them. They are undone for us; not because we see them but because seeing them means we are reclaiming the Love that we are in truth.

The easiest way to identify blocks to love is not notice when you are happy and when you are not. In this instance happiness is not the ersatz happiness of the world, i.e., getting what you want, having more than what you need, et cetera. It is much closer to what the poet Jack Gilbert called – here paraphrased – “a natural, serious happiness.”

To be naturally seriously happy is to be coherent at all levels of our being. Coherence is the absence of resistance; it is a natural and radical (in the sense of reaching from the roots) acceptance that brings forth what is whole and unified. It is the remembrance of oneness by oneness. There is no doubt in it; there is no fear.

Coherence, like Love – for which it is merely another synonym, like Knowledge – is natural and easy. It isn’t forced; it doesn’t need to be protected because it can’t be threatened. We all know this space! The work is to nuture and bring it forth in a reliable sustainable way, which often means learning how to recognize it in the first place.

There is a level of being at which we are simply extending the Will of God, which is creative and loving, and is experienced by us as creative and loving as it extends through us. The best analogy is that we become prisms unto God’s love: a light moves through us and appears in the world as beautiful peace and joy. Our brothers and sisters are illuminated, and feel it too, because it includes them.

east-facing window

And so the practice – after the Workbook, after the Manual, after The text – is to come to stillness each morning, and give the day to the Holy Spirit who will give it to God on our behalf, because we are still not ready for that. Which is fine – that’s why we’re here. Our goal is to accept our role as learners and then be the most cheerful and willing student we can manage.

ACIM and the Enemy of Inner Peace


Earlier this week I wrote about the “problem” of evil. Here I want to go deeper into it, but from the perspective of having enemies.

Many ACIM students, when asked to make a list of their enemies, demur. “All men are my brothers.” “I’m a lover, not a hater.” They obey a voice inside which says students of A Course in Miracles can’t have enemies. They don’t do war.

But if not having enemies matters at all to you, it is because, at a level you have not yet investigated, much less accepted, you do have enemies. You do do war.

There is – thank Christ there is – another way.

That way is, when someone asks you to make a list of your enemies, ask if they want it alphabetized by name or harm done to you.

Honesty allows us to come to the actual question, which isn’t do we have enemies. We all have enemies. The question is, why do we need to deny it?

Maybe we are protecting our status as spiritual people. Maybe we want to be nonviolent like Gandhi or radical like Dorothy Day. Maybe we are denying our disappointment that we aren’t as spiritually or psychologically-grounded as once-upon-a-time we dreamed we’d be.

Maybe. But I think there’s something else. Denial is a brutally efficient cover story, a lie so convincing that even the teller forgets what’s true.

We’re in denial about having enemies for the same reason we’re always in denial: because otherwise we’d have no choice but to see that we are doing this – all of this – to ourselves (T-27.VIII.10:1).


It is a decision to have enemies. It is a decision resulting from an error about what we are and what reality is. The error is our conviction that we are bodies in a world.

We think we are bodies and, because bodies suffer and die, we believe we are going to suffer and die. The game is Survivor, the rule is kill or be killed, and we set up elaborate defenses, including the best defense of all: a good offense.

We think that is reality but we’re wrong. In reality this error is not a crisis. Since we are not bodies and there is no world any decision made on that basis has no effect.

But in the apparent experience itself?

Yes. At that level – in that thought system – it is a crisis. It is the crisis of separation, the conviction that everything has separate interests and separate goals, which can only produce chaos, competition and conflict. The game is Survivor, the rule is kill or be killed, et cetera.

The game exists because we believe in it. Because we believe in it, it’s what we see and, because it’s what we see, it’s what is there to be interacted with. Until you learn that it’s an illusion, you won’t know a thing about reality.

In other words, so long as we insist on miscreation, we can neither know nor extend creation.

A Course in Miracles teaches that defenses do what they are made to defend against (T-17.IV.7:1). We construct a world in which enemies make sense, and then pretend to be disappointed when war starts. If we light a firecracker, there’s going to be a bang. What do we gain by pretending otherwise?

I can’t answer that question for you, but I can tell you what the answer was for me. The answer was: freedom from responsibility. If you are the cause of the problem, then I am absolved of any need to solve it. You are the guilty party; I am just a victim – of you, of life, of God, of circumstance et cetera. That framework allows me to indulge the separation-based fantasy of my innocence at your expense. Rather than collaborate with the Holy Spirit to undo each and every block to love, I let ego build – this is the right analogy – yet another wall.

Choosing fear over peace, separation over unity, is a terrible way to think. It hurts us, it hurts others, it brings forth a merciless and unjust world. Who cherishes it is . . . confused.

And yet, the Course offers that person – e.g., me, e.g., you – a way out.

Forgive yourself your madness, and forget all senseless journeys and all goal-less aims. They have no meaning. You cannot escape from what you are (T-31.IV.11:1-3).

The illusion is that we can escape. It appears as the belief that there is some kind of self-improvement or self-actualization or socio-political program or holy relationship out there that will fix everything – me, you, the coral reefs, the Amazon, Amazon. Everything. I’ll start an ACIM commune, I’ll teach yoga, study centering prayer, I’ll manifest abundance, find a new therapist, get a divorce . . .

There are so many ways to avoid looking at the underlying error! We can spend lifetimes – we have spent lifetimes – playing with them. But eventually, says the Course, their shared futility becomes obvious.

You did not come to learn to find a road the world does not contain. The search for different pathways in the world is but the search for different forms of truth. And this would keep the truth from being reached (T-31.IV.6:3-5).

Why do we not want to reach truth?

Because we’re scared. And we know that the fear is not really outside but in the mind. It’s not somebody else, it’s us. We do not want to look at that. We really like saying “you did it.” Or “they did it.” But don’t judge against yourself for this judgment and projection. Instead, empathize with yourself. It’s hard to open one’s heart in hell.

When we look within we should see stuff we resent, stuff that scares us, stuff that we hate. Seven deadly sins, four horsemen of the apocalypse, Facebook. Serial killers, arms dealers, red dye number five. The more we look, the worse it should get.

I’m not saying that you would nuke a country full of innocent people. I’m saying that you believe you can be happy in a world in which some people would do that. And the reason you believe you can be happy in that world is because – wait for it – you would nuke a country full of innocents. Your only real objection is the lack of plausible deniability.

You want to push the button but blame somebody else. Me, too.

I know, I know – that’s not fair. You and I are in therapy, we quit drinking, we tithe, we study and practice A Course in Miracles, we grow our own food, we vote and we march, et cetera et cetera

I agree that we’re getting better, and that there is a way in which our getting better matters. But weapons of mass destruction and assymetric warfare and misinformation are still out there. And they’re out there because we still have enemies.

And we still have enemies because way down deep – past religion, past psychotherapy, past physics and astronomy – we don’t believe the problem is us. We’re not doing this; somebody else is doing this.

They’re the problem, not us.


Go slowly with me here. I confuse easily 🙂

At some point, you realize that you are a bottomless pit of evil, that there is no end to the awfulness in you. In my experience, you have this insight in the exact same way that you have the insight – because it is fundamentally the same insight – that the many pathways of the world are without exception utterly useless.

Nothing is going to change. You aren’t going to change, the world isn’t going to change. It’s hopeless.

And your response to this appearance of hopelessness is an existential angst so terrifying not even death will be a release.

Men have died on seeing this, because they saw no way except the pathways offered by the world. And learning they led nowhere, lost their hope (T-31.IV.3:4-5).

This is a bleak space but paradoxically it’s also a liberating one. Therefore we should not fear but rather seek it out. It’s bleak because this is how ego sees the world and ego is dark. But it’s liberating because we are not ego and are under no obligation – moral, spiritual or otherwise – to believe its lies.

From the twenty-fourth miracle principle:

You are a miracle, capable of creating in the likeness of your Creator. Everything else is your own nightmare, and does not exist. Only the creations of light are real (T-1.I.24:2-4).

In other words, you don’t have to buy the life and worldview peddled by ego because there is no ego, only your willingness to pretend there is. You’re lying to yourself, you’re playing a game with phantoms. You’re a child daydreaming. You’re a child having a nightmare.

I’m not saying that you’re the problem. Children are never the problem. I’m saying there is no problem and any time you want to believe that, and live in the world that freedom and innocence brings forth (which is a gift of your Father in Heaven), you can.

Suffering is an illusion readily translated into peace and joy by the Holy Spirit.

Ego is like a so-called friend who always brings you down. Subtle insults and digs, never sees the best in you or anyone, doesn’t do optimism, thinks love is for the lucky or the foolish, et cetera. We all know this person (for a very good reason, by the way, projection is no joke) and we all know that you don’t argue with them, you don’t go to war with them. You just walk away from them.

If you refuse to be in conflict, then there is no conflict. The gift we offer the so-called toxic other is the gift of not putting up with their bullshit, which is to say that we choose to only see Christ in them. It doesn’t matter if they understand this or not. It doesn’t matter if we understand it. It doesn’t matter how or even whether they respond. We do it anyway. If our expression of Love requires satisfaction to be valid then guess what? It’s not Love, it’s hate.

It turns out that loving this way is literally possible, and that doing so makes us happy in a clear, calm and quiet way that is sweeter and more sustainable than most of can imagine. This happiness naturally extends itself to others, becoming lighter and lighter as it goes. It is a gift that we receive by giving away and nothing – literally nothing – else becomes us. It is the spark of light that ends the darkness out of which nightmares are made and in which they seem so real.


The question of the world is “what am I” (T-6.IV.2:7) and the ego has an answer. You’ve been listening to it and believing it’s the truth for your whole life. We all have. It teaches you to fear your brothers and sisters, to kill them before they kill you, and that killing them isn’t your fault but theirs or God’s or somebody’s. You didn’t make the cosmos. You’re just a regular Joe trying to survive.

The Holy Spirit has a better answer to the question of “what am I.” The Holy Spirit’s answer is, you are Love Itself.

Child of God you were created to create the good, the beautiful and the holy. Do not forget this (T-1.VII.2:1-2).

This is what Jesus heard, this is what he believed and this is what he did not forget, even unto a cross. We are called to remember and extend perfect innocence as well, under far less strenuous conditions than Jesus faced.

. . . teach your own perfect immunity; which is the truth in you, and realize that it cannot be assailed. Do not try to protect it yourself, or you are believing that it is assailable (T-6.I.6:4-5).

When we remember what we are in truth, then the last veil drops. And this – this – is what we are so desperate to avoid seeing. We are Love, and we are scared to be Love, because we think Love is weak because that is what ego taught us. Its proof is, was and will always be the body. Love doesn’t stop bullets. Love doesn’t cure cancer. Love doesn’t shut down concentration camps. It doesn’t even bake bread. Have you heard of the twentieth century?

This argument against Love can seem very persuasive. But in the end it fails. Illusions can’t prove or disprove illusion. Only truth proves anything. That is why we say that only truth is true (T-14.II.3:3). Truth is the new reference frame the Holy Spirit teaches us (T-14.II.6:1). When we are true to our own truth, then we will remember God, because what we are in truth and what God is are not separate (T-14.II.8:7). There is nothing else to remember (T-14.III.19:5).

This is why the ACIM Workbook invites us to let go of everything, even our most cherished ideas about God, Love, Truth and Beauty.

Be still, and lay aside all thoughts of what you are and what God is; all concepts you have learned about the world; all images you hold about yourself. Empty your mind of everything it thinks is either true or false, or good or bad, of every thought it judges worthy, and all the ideas of which it is ashamed. Hold onto nothing. Do not bring with you one thought the past has taught, nor one belief you ever learned before from anything. Forget this world, forget this course, and come with wholly empty hands unto your God (W-pI.189.7:1-6).

When we remember what we are in truth, then the world is instantly transformed from a site of conflict to a site of healing. We understand everything is a reflection of an inner state (, and that all change is therefore internal. That is why the Course teaches us that to have peace we must teach peace to learn peace (T-6.V.B.7:5). To teach peace is to refuse to learn from the ego, and instead to learn only from the Holy Spirit.

We have to accept this; we have to become responsible for it. We have to stop denying the healing power of Love that is us. You and I are not bodies and there is no world. Nothing real can be threatened and nothing unreal exists (T-in.2:2-3). This is the peace of God (T-in.2:4).


Right now, we are like children making faces in a mirror and getting angry at the jerk in the mirror who won’t stop making faces at us. It’s time to stop playing childish games. It’s time to become the spiritual adult all God’s children need. Their need is our need, and nobody else can meet it.

The kid thinks you’re an enemy he has to defeat. You think the kid is a problem you have have to solve. There is another way. Right now, the Holy Spirit is teaching it to you. Learn or don’t learn, it’s up you, but can we at least accept that the power of decision is ours?

Bodies, Pain and Inner Peace

Earlier this week I wrote about pain and the body. What is an ACIM student to do when they are suffering chronic pain?

Here I want to go a little deeper into this question, focusing on the attraction of pain as an obstacle to inner peace.

A Course in Miracles identifies “the belief that the body is valuable for what it offers” as the second obstacle to peace (T-19.IV.B.1:3). The body offers us pleasure – hot sex, beautiful sunsets, apple pie, snuggling puppies, chips and salsa – and we want that. We are all in on pleasure.

But the Course says that all sensation the body experiences is painful – even when we label it “pleasure.” On this view, as soon as we accept the body as valuable for what it offers (e.g., pleasure), then we are actually all the way in on death.

What has the body really given you that justifies your strange belief that in it lies salvation? Do you not see that this is the belief in death? Here is the focus of the perception of Atonement on murder. Here is the source of the idea that love is fear (T-19.IV.B.2:6-9).

All of us want to give up chronic pain – migraines, sciatica, nausea, restless leg syndrome, you name it. But also, we all want to keep orgasms, chocolate, backyard fires, the scent of lilac and strolls on the beach at dawn. The Course is saying, we can’t have one without the other; the body is the experience, no matter what the label happens to be.

Thus, the Holy Spirit would release us from all of it – the so-called pleasure and the so-called pain – by teaching us that we are not a body. And we are scared of this lesson and refuse to learn it and thus remain alien to the peace that is our inheritance and home.

Is it a sacrifice to be removed from what can suffer? The Holy Spirit does not demand you sacrifice the hope of the body’s pleasure; it has no pleasure. But neither can it bring you fear of pain. Pain is the only “sacrifice” the Holy Spirit asks and this He would remove (T-19.IV.B.3:4-7).

In other words, by accepting the truth that we are not bodies, we are liberated from suffering, which is entirely an effect of our identification with bodies – regardless of whether we’re experiencing pleasure or pain in a given moment.

If we want peace – the peace that surpasses understanding, the peace of Christ – then we cannot have it in terms the body recognizes. Most of us want peace to be the functional equivalent of “orgasms, chocolate, backyard fires and strolls on the beach at dawn.”

But peace transcends all that, exactly the way it transcends “migraines, sciatica, nausea, and restless leg syndrome.”

Peace is extended from you only to the eternal, and it reaches out from the eternal in you. It flows across all else . . . You want communion, not the feast of fear. You want salvation, not the pain of guilt. And you want your Father, not a little mound of dust, to be your home (T-19.IV.B.4:1-2, 6-8).

For many of us, at this stage in our learning, we say something here like – “okay, fine. This sounds great. How exactly am I supposed to do this? How do I let go of the idea that I’m a body?”

It’s hard because the body keeps on going, right? We need to pee or sneeze. We want to sleep with somebody or we want them to not want to sleep with us. We want to eat truffles in bed. We need a cup of tea to get us going in the morning. We need to be more disciplined about our yoga. Whatever.

Here is the answer: do nothing with the body. Don’t worry about it. It takes care of itself. Our whole job as students of A Course in Miracles is simply to give up the idea of sacrifice and accept whatever peace is given accordingly (T-19.IV.B.9:1-2).

The body can bring you neither peace nor turmoil; neither joy nor pain. It is a means and not an end. It has no purpose of itself, but only what is given to it. The body will seem to be whatever is the means for reaching the goal that you assign to it. Only the mind can set a purpose, and only the mind can see the means for its accomplishment, and justify its use (T-19.IV.B.10:4-8).

A clumsy metaphor: if we want to go to Boston, then we will need a vehicle – a car, say. The car needs four tires, a working battery et cetera. It needs gas and oil at regular intervals. It can only travel on roads – it can’t fly or float. We don’t ask the car to be what it’s not – we accept it for what it is, use it for the goal we set, and that’s that.

The body is the means to achieve the goal we set. If the goal is the body’s pleasure, then we’re confused, for the same reason we’d be confused if we thought the car wanted to go to Boston. Or liked having a full tank of gas. Or going faster or slower.

Then we would never get to Boston. We’d grow bitter and resentful. Why won’t this car do what I want it to do? Why is it always making me wash it, check the spark plugs, et cetera? We would blame the car.

We might even think the car is guilty or sinful. We might condemn it. “There’s a special place in hell for vehicles like you.”

It is impossible to seek for pleasure through the body and not find pain. It is essential that this relationship be understood, for it is one the ego sees as proof of sin (T-19.IV.B.12:1-2).

Is it clear? There is no sin in the body’s appetites, there is only the confusion that the body is valuable because of those appetities. The question is simply what is the body for? And the answer is, to communicate with our brothers and sisters, and remember together that Love, not fear, is our inheritance, because we are children of a living God Who is Love.

Why should the body be anything to you? Certainly what is is made of is not precious. And just as certainly it has no feeling. It transmits to you the feelings you want. Like any communication medium the body receives and sends the messages that it is given. It has no feeling for them (T-19.IV.B.14:1-6).

When we see the body as valuable for what it can get us, then we are accepting that pain and pleasure, rather than peace, is our goal. Investigate this! Is this really what you want? To ping pong between fleeting moments of pain and pleasure?

Stop worrying about the body. Don’t judge the body for avoiding pain and pursuing pleasure. Let it do what it does. Sleep when you’re tired, eat when you’re hungry. Simply become open-minded to the possibility that peace is not a condition of the body but of the mind – and that its realization is in the mind.

Peace may or may not have predictable effects at the level of the body. Jesus died on a crucifix, after all. Therese of Lisieux literally rotted away. My Dad was profoundly disabled by a stroke. Mac, our first beautiful horse, died tragically of colic. You know what I’m talking about – you have your stories too.

Ego wants us to hear those stories and become fearful. What if I have a stroke? What if Chrisoula gets cancer? I better eat healthier – I don’t exercise enough – maybe a therapist can help with my stress . . . All of that is a fearful pursuit of an illusion – that the body is valuable for what it offers.

There is a better way.

The Holy Spirit teaches me that everything which happens at the level of the body are simply helpful manifestations of the only lesson I need to learn: that I am not a body. And it does this by reminding me that the body is a means of communication, and not in any way and end unto itself.

If my car breaks down and I need to get to Boston, then I’d rent or buy a new car. Or take a bus. It’s a hassle maybe, but it’s not an existential crisis. Just so with the body. Right now I’m sitting on the couch at 5 a.m. – I’m a little tired and a little hungry. I’ve got to get ready for work soon.

But I’m writing and rewriting, and I am thinking of you. I am grateful that you read what is written here because it helps me write better, and writing is how I learn. And I am hopeful that what is written will in some way be helpful for you, in your ACIM study and practice. We are joining – not at the level of the body, though our bodies have a place – but at the level of the mind.

Beyond pain and pleasure, we are getting clear on what we are in truth. We are remembering our shared identity as Christ, as extensions of God in Creation. And this – and only this – is the source of peace and joy.

Learning to Act in the Name of Love

This post but another way:

Heinz von Foerster said “If you want to see, learn how to act.”

“Learn how to act” is an instruction for living. It is a direction given to a body in a world. For example, somebody is yelling at us or we want to yell at somebody. What is the right thing to do in this or any other given situation? What matters above all else?

My best answer to these and similar questions is service, because it is the most effective counter to the world’s answer, which is survival. Survival breeds conflict, frequently brutal. Service slows thing down. It opens a door for reflection and dialogue. Service is forgiving. In the zero-sum conflict engendered by survival, everybody loses eventually.

When the game is survival, then we are taught to live a certain way – mostly defensive but, when tactically optimal, offensively. We have a plan for what to do with the yellers; we have rules about when we get to yell. This is the way we live. But there is no denying that the world it brings forth includes pain and suffering, and it would be better if this were not so.

And if yelling feels too easy an example, change it to “launching nuclear weapons.” The principle is the same.

When we live defensively, as we must when the goal is to survive, we perceive differences, evaluate them according to our perception of our survival needs, and then respond in ways which maximize our interests at the expense of others. That’s how the game of survival is played.

Service seeks outcomes in which all win. The easiest way to do this is try to be sure that other has more than you. There are many formal ways to do this – service, potlach, voluntary poverty. We resist this way of living because survival demands we resist it. But if we were all working as hard as possible to take care of others – broadly defined to include sunflowers, rivers and the surface of Mars – if we were putting all those before us – then we’d all be a lot happier. As it is, we ignore our innocence and thus forget the innocence of others.

In a sense, we must be like Bill Thetford who stated clearly “there must be another way,” inaugurating the work that would become A Course in Miracles. He steadied Helen as she brought for the material. Our work, like his, is to be patient, supportive and inobtrusive as The Way is given. We midwife our own peace or we will not know peace, and the way we midwife peace is we set aside conflict. We become nonviolent.

The answer to Bill’s question, by the way, is there is another way. It’s to understand that our perception of differences is not how God thinks or sees. We can never say of what we perceive, “this is the truth” or “this is the light” because that declaration belongs to God. In the hellscape of separation, it’s better we don’t assume the divine prerogative. Rather, let what is given be given.

So the the action we are learning (a la von Foerster) is surrender: we are letting What Is be. We are no longer insisting that our interpretation is the right or the only or the best or even a viable way.

When we no longer defend our perspective – when we do not insist that what we see and experience is reality itself – when we change the way we act – what do we see?

Experience is always relative to an observer – Sean in mid-November in New England in 2022 doing morning chores, say. Jack, our blind Appaloosa to whom I toss hay, experiences a different world. As does the bald eagle hunting along the river beyond the pasture. As does a mouse twitching in a feral cat’s jaws.

Asking whose perspective – whose world or reality – is right or wrong is silly. Me, the horse, the eagle, the mouse and the cat? Believing that our perspective is right – is correct to the exclusion of all other perspectives – is an error.

When we stop insisting on our way, a new way of being emeges, one that opens and allows the other – be it a horse, an eagle or a stranger – to be our equal. We see them that way, because that is the way God sees them. And we see our own self in them. The eagle’s grandeur is our grandeur; the blind horse’s intuition is our intuition; the feral cat’s murderousness and hunger is our murderousness and hunger.

We don’t have enemies anymore when this happens. We become servants when this happens, joyous servants. We become partners with the Holy Spirit establishing a happy dream for all life, the necessary pre-condition to remembering Heaven.

Therefore it is said, become interested – deeply interested – in the other.

Forsake not your brother. For you who are the same will not decide alone nor differently. Either you give each other life or death; either you are each other’s savior or his judge, offering him sanctuary or condemnation (T-22.II.7:1-3).

Anyway, that is one way to think about and practice A Course in Miracles: to accept, nurture and extend a way of living that brings forth the other as fully as possible, as our equal, as the one who saves us and who we would save, forever.

Homesteading and ACIM

I would like to write about my experience of homesteading – raising one’s own food and the relationships that entails – and how it relates to what A Course in Miracles calls the “Happy Dream.”

Pictures are just random, “around the place and around our lives” kind of thing.

Chrisoula and I have constructed over the years a homesteading practice by which we raise and grow a lot of our own food, and network with local farmers and fellow homesteaders for as much of the balance as possible. This is a process which we are always learning how to do better. It is local but its effects are far-reaching. It allows us to live in ways that do the most good, as we understand it.

Here is how I frame this, as a student of A Course in Miracles: our job is to be helpful, and helpfulness has a specific form.

God knows what His son needs before he asks. He is not at all concerned with form, but having given the content it is His Will that it be understood. And that suffices. The form adapts itself to need; the content is unchanging, as eternal as its Creator (C-3.3:2-5).

For Chrisoula and I, the form was – is – homesteading. Living that way fully and without reservation allows us to focus less on impersonal transactions and more on communication, coordination and cooperation which, together, allow for a community of personal relationships with our brothers and sisters which, in turn, become the outpouring and inswelling of the Atonement.

. . . the one responsibility of the miracle worker is to accept the Atonement for himself. The teacher of God is a miracle worker because he gives the gifts he has received. Yet he must first accept them. He need do no more, nor is there more that he could do. By accepting healing he can give it (M-7.3:2-6).

In formal terms, we buy beef from local farmers, raise pigs and chickens to slaughter, buy weekly staples (corn meal, rice, beans) from local farmers, etc. We make our on yogurt and granola and bake our own bread. Most of the rest of our food we buy from cooperatives where we are members, buying in bulk.

Not everyone can do this! We understand that. No suggestion is made that the form our living takes should be the form another’s living takes. That would be boring and unhelpful. Indeed, if another’s living doesn’t take the form of managing a food co-op, say, then our own living would be impoverished.

You have a role to play in the Atonement which I will dictate to you. Ask me which miracles you should perform (T-1.III.4:2-3).

So it is a question of giving care-filled attention to one’s living, and seeing where in it there is room to be as kind and helpful to others as possible. Building a network of local farmers and homesteaders, supporting them, becoming one with them, relieves pressure on global/national economies and allows us to relate differently to the people and the earth around us. But it’s not just – or even only – political or economic.

For example, when we work in the garden and with the animals, we are surrounded by wild birds – turkey vultures, bald eagles, crows, ravens, cardinals, grackles, chickadees, barn swallows, cowbirds, blue jays, blue birds, orioles, juncos, tufted titmice and more. Our work quiets the incessant mental chatter (always notice what naturally silences ego), and so we become aware of the birds not as an adjunct to human experience – pretty details, like bangles on a scarf – but as experience itself. To the birds, we are the adjunct. We are the side show. When the perspective shifts in this way and one is no longer better or more special or privileged than a crow . . .

That is when the work and the living merge to become a sweetness and a gentle lesson, a shared presence that appears in bodies but transcends them in an ongoing blessing from the Lord. This is the Happy Dream – unearned and unmerited, accomplished in but not by us.

Your part is only to offer [the Holy Spirit] a little willingness to let Him remove all fear and hatred, and to be forgiven. On your little faith, joined with His understanding, He will build your part in the Atonement and make sure that you fulfill it easily. And with Him, you will build a ladder planted in the solid rock of faith, and rising even to Heaven. Nor will you use it to ascend to Heaven alone (T-18.V.2:5-8).

Nor does this gift of Atonement end but rather goes on undoing the self-centeredness that impairs awareness of love: here are the worms in the compost, here is kale in the garden, sprouting after a long winter, there are the ground hogs, there are the bees, here are the farmers, there are the neighbors . . .

So as we work to help our brothers and sisters – by being more self-reliant and productive – we are given a simpler and lovelier experience of being in the world. Our interests are not separate from the world, and the world’s interests are not separate from our own. Experience widens; everything is included. The center, as such, is everywhere.

Students of A Course in Miracles are apt to get hung up on “there is no world” (W-pI.132.6:2) and “I am not a body” (W-pI.199.8:7). These are important aspects of the course, not to be ignored. But the course is also clear that it exists within the ego’s framework (C-in.3:1). It is a tool of the world by which we might begin to perceive in a new and helpful way what self and world actually are.

This “new” perception is already inherent in us, but we have forgotten it, and so we need help remembering. A Course in Miracles is our help. It helps us – in these bodies in this world – undo our reliance on and confusion about bodies and worlds.

The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance (In.1:6-7).

Thus, it is not by grasping complex metaphysics that we are saved. It is through a new experience of peace which arises through knowing that we are not separate from one another – where “other” includes birds, worms, flowers, mountains, galaxies and so forth. “Knowing” is an experience and not subject to doubt, which is what separates it from perception.

For example, we perceive the moon as a two-dimensional disc circling the earth. This perception is unreliable – the moon is not a two-dimensional and it doesn’t circle the earth. But we know the seeing of it. The seeing is the knowing. What it is, we maybe can’t say, but that it is, we know prior to language or any other condition.

So sometimes it is helpful to ask what do I perceive? What do I know?

Knowing is easy to overlook because it’s not a problem and it doesn’t raise any questions. It just is. We are so accustomed to solving problems and answering questions that we’ve lost our ability to rest gently in that which provokes no disturbances and begs no fixing.

What do I know? This. This this. What else could I know?

Lean into your living because by doing so you can love more and learn more about love. I mean that. Don’t do it because of what you want to get in exchange – insights, spiritual ecstasy, less stress, a better body, sacred sex and all that. Want is of the ego, always. Our job is to just see past its wants by not getting worked up about them. Don’t fight, don’t fix, don’t fidget. Just look for ways to be helpful, respond in the way it is given to you to respond, and then see what happens.

A lot of seemingly big questions float through the brain: who am I? What am I? What is the nature of reality? How will I know? And so forth.

I used to say that these questions are “fun and interesting” but lately I am not so sure. Lately I begin to see that they are more like enticing distractions, cookies for starved seekers who actually need bread, rice, apples and tea. Eschew empty calories; attend the Divine Feast.

For truly the Heavenly Meal is already given, already laid out before us. We don’t see it because of what we place before it: a heavy veil of activity, problems, history, theology, philosophy, psychology, et cetera. But veils are made to be drawn aside; they are allowed to flutter to the floor. Veils hide and entice but – and this is important – for us, “hiding” and “enticing” are the veil.

We are the ones called now to see beyond this veil – this play of what hides and entices, this dance of perception and knowledge – to the Face of Christ, the Love of God, the Hearth Fires of the Great Mother and her quiet Help-Meet, our Father. Shall we, you and I, together as one, offer ourselves to a world in crisis, to learn once and for all that there is no world – nor even you and I – but only love?