It is worth remembering that God’s will is not hidden, but that we have interposed our will before it, and thus are confused about what we are. A Course in Miracles is clear: alienation from awareness of God is not of God. It is simply the reflection of our decision to think apart from God.
God’s Will is your salvation. Would He not have given you the means to find it? If He wills you to have it, He must have made it possible and easy to obtain it (T-9.VII.1:1-3).
The confidence in those sentences is infectious, which it has to be because left to our own inclination, we make God a stern taskmaster who not only hides His Will but also makes it conditional. Failure, not success, becomes the salient characteristic of the relationship. But A Course in Miracles insists that what God is is not up to us and – more than that – that our ideas about God are wrong.
When I am attentive to the course’s clarity in this regard, and when I allows its confidence a place in my mind, there is great joy and gentle peace. A space opens in which I can remember that what God is and what I am are not separate but unified.
In other words, it becomes possible to remember love.
Thus, my practice of A Course in Miracles becomes: slow down, give attention, be grateful and love will extend itself through me, reminding me that I am not alone.
The course’s insistence that God is here and that opportunities to remember God’s will abound hinges on the simple truth that our brothers and sisters are everywhere around us (T-9.VII.1:4-6). Even when we are physically alone, they are with us. And they are the means by which God and love are remembered. Thus, you are my salvation, as I am yours, and this realization is what saves us (M-1.1:2).
Accept your brother in this world and accept nothing else, for in him you will find your creations because he created them with you. You will never know that you are co-creator with God until you learn that your brother is co-creator with you (T-9.VI.7:8-9).
Service is a form of attention given to our brothers and sisters, and all it sees is our mutual need to remember Christ. The form this attention takes in the world will vary – hugs, monetary donations, careful listening, leaving alone, baking cookies, building a house. Yet the content never varies. It is always love responding to the call for love. That is what it means to be home in God.
How do we know what form this love or attention should take? In a sense, we don’t. The ego can never know it, because the ego doesn’t offer love, and it doesn’t hear calls for love, and it isn’t interested in healing itself. This is why we need to be in relationship with the Holy Spirit, which does know, and will teach us, so long as we are humble and open and willing to learn.
The Holy Spirit – which is inherent in us as healed or unsplit mind – remembers God’s Will and naturally extends it, so long as we can get out of its way.
With the grandeur of God in you, you have chosen to be little and to lament your littleness. Within the system that dictated this choice the lament is inevitable (T-9.VII.6:5-6).
The ego shrinks us. Spirit enlarges and lifts us into love. When we are complaining and bitter, it is a sign that we are heeding the ego’s teaching. The answer is not to fix what seems to be the problem in the world. The answer is to listen to the Teacher who speaks for God and thus offers us a new way of seeing, one that is predicated on acceptance, forgiveness, and love.
The ego cannot help us out of this mess, because it made this mess, and needs this mess for its survival (e.g., T-9.VII.5:3). It is the ego who creates a sense of alienation from God; it is spirit who teaches that alienation is not God’s Will.
We need, then, a sense of quiet and attentiveness in which the Holy Spirit can come gently forward to remind us of our status as children of a loving God. In that reminder, we also remember that God’s Will is love. But not love on the world’s terms, which is always premised on getting something at another’s expense, but rather love on Heaven’s terms, which is premised on eternally giving everything away, which is the only way to actually have anything worth having.
It’s okay that this sound confusing or idealistic or naive. If we are being honest, it cannot really sound otherwise. To the ego, radical love and equality is nonsensical and even dangerous. It is only when we make space for the Holy Spirit that the clear and constructive wisdom of A Course in Miracles is revealed.
There is nothing complicated about awakening. It may be unfamiliar and even frightening at first, but it’s not complicated. It’s natural and certain because it has already happened. It already is. We are not inventing a new state; we are simply remembering the natural unity and harmony that already prevails, just outside our awareness.
So we slow down, give attention, manifest gratitude and notice the way love extends itself through us, enlarging our awareness in ways that make clear God’s love and our fundamental joy and peace.
In this gentle and holy mode of being, we are able to welcome the lost and forsaken, who are own self, and whose salvation is not separate from our own.
I’ve mentioned this before, but before reading the course, I had a pretty deep animosity towards God. For years I was rather disgusted with God.
I remember the first time I read the course. I was reading it and I read the line, “God is not the author of fear. You are.” This very simple statement hit me like a ton of bricks. In fact, I was so stunned that I stopped reading for a few moments. Yet, as soon as I read those words, I knew, I just knew that what it was saying was true. I didn’t have to think about it, contemplate it, mull it over, I just knew. This was one of the first times reading something in the course brought tears to my eyes.
I realized that I had made God in my image, or at least accepted the image others made of God and then condemned God because of it. I realized that God was not the author of all of this insanity. God was not the author of hate, anger, separation, nationalism, racism, classism, etc. We are.
That one little simple statement melted the animosity I held towards God away. It made room for me to begin to have a relationship with God.
I’m happy to read of you speaking about being of service again. Beginning to really see our brothers and sisters and have a real relationship with the family of God is just so at the heart of what the course is trying to teach us. Over and over and over again the course tells us that salvation is of our brothers and that salvation is not for us alone. Over and over the course tells that the problem is we do not see our brothers and our awareness is narrowed to ourself and that is why the nighmares come. Yet salvation is simple because our brothers are everywhere!
I’m going to make this reply a short(er) one, but I recently read a story that I think is so relevant to being of service. Of course I’m going to paraphrase it greatly.
A rabbi tells the story of how he was sent to the afterworld. He first went to hell and opened the door. Upon opening the door he saw many people sitting at a table with people seated directly across from one another. On the table was an endless feast of food, but no one was eating. He took a closer look and noticed that even though everyone had utensils to eat, they also had wooden planks tied to their arms at their elbows so they couldn’t bend their arms. The rabbi sat and watched as each person tried to get a spoonful of food to their mouths, but to no avail. Everyone looked like they were emanciated.
The rabbi then went to the door to Heaven and opened it. As he walked in, he noticed the same set up. There were a bunck of people sitting at a table with people seated directly across from each other. As with hell there was also an endless feast of food. What the rabbi noticed was that people were talking with each other and laughing. As he got closer, he noticed something else. Each person also had wooden planks tied to their arms, so that their arms would not bend. But what he also noticed was that each person would use their utensil to get a bitefull of food and then feed the person directly across from them. That person would say thank you, and then do the same for the person who just fed them.
Excited by what he saw, the rabbi went back to hell to tell everyone the good news. He ran into the room and whispered in one the people’s ear, “If you feed the person across from you, they can return the favor.” The person shocked and disgusted replied angrily, “You want me to feed that wretched person?!! I’d rather starve.”
Upon that, the rabbi realized that was the difference between Heaven and hell.
That is a lovely phrase, Eric – “the family of God.” I am going to start using it, if you don’t mind . . . 🙂
It’s funny you talk about animosity towards God . . . I am aware of my animosity towards my brothers and sisters. Every time the course indicated that salvation lay in loving someone else it drove me nuts. I would skim those sections so I could find the ones that focused on me and God, or me and Jesus. I really didn’t want to share that relationship in any way. It’s sad but true. But I think that all this aligns with what the course teaches – and I know we’ve both said from time to time – the course meets us where we are. So it undoes the blocks – anger at God, resentment of others, resistance to service. Whatever. Maybe in a sense all of those are just code for fear of love.
At some point in his public teaching, Ken Wapnick began talking about making our course practice about other people . . . I don’t notice it in his early work but it started to crop up in the later stuff. Whenever I talked to active students they would mention it, and it would show up from time to time in the writing of his students, the ones who have taken and sustained a public presence. I think that is an interesting way to approach our lives – to make driving to work about the other drivers, to make going for a walk about the dog, to make writing about the reader, a doctor’s visit about the doctor . . .
It helps to undo the narrow focus on the egoic self in favor of – wait for it – the family of God!
And your story is a lovely one . . . that’s it, right there. We’d rather starve than serve . . .
Thank you Eric . . .
Maybe Wapnick started to come full circle then. This is from “In Forgiveness and Jesus”, written in 1983, with Ken explaining what it means to be a teacher of God:
Jesus sends us into the world, fulfilling certain functions….We are sent to certain people….If, for example, our work takes us to the inner city…If we teach suffering and neglected children…If we seek to help free those who are oppressed…
Jesus needs us to be his apostles of peace, or teachers of God, because only through us can he complete the saving work he undertook to begin in his own life….He needs our eyes to see the suffering in the world, and yet see the light shining beyond it; he needs our ears to hear the calls for help of people frightened into responses of attack and violence; he needs our arms and feet to bring his hope and comfort to those who have forgotten him, he needs our voice to speak his message of salvation that all our sins have been forgiven. Most of all he needs our willingness to become his messengers of love. ~Ken Wapnick
Eric: Ken’s writings certainly changed from this during the late 80’s, early 90’s, when he began developing his theology of “pure non-dualism”, maybe he then came full circle?
I don’t know. His writing evolved and I assume that his thinking did as well – it makes sense. Somebody – Judith Skutch maybe – said in a memorial piece that he grew into his enlightenment (I am paraphrasing), and that makes a lot of intuitive sense to me. I have always felt that there was a period of time when the course was expanding in popularity and nobody really knew how to respond to that. Ken always seemed to have two roles: teacher and public custodian. On the one hand, he was teaching the course, and on the other, he was charged with shepherding it into the world. Near the end, he seemed to really just be at peace with those two roles. I am projecting of course; I did not know him personally.
That is a lovely phrase he wrote – I think that is also around the time that the ACIM community was beginning to grapple with the whole symbolic Jesus vs. historical Jesus thing – it is still grappling in some ways. I wonder to what extend he was thinking of those issues as well – he evolved in that way, too.
Next to Tara Singh, Ken has been the most influential ACIM teacher for me. I have a lot of respect for him, even though I don’t read him so closely anymore. He juggled a lot of balls and I don’t think I could have done it any better.
You’re more than welcome to use the phrase, “The family of God”, but I’m afraid I can’t take credit for it. It is actually in the course in this passage.
The specialness of God’s Sons does not stem from exclusion but from inclusion. All my brothers are special. If they believe they are deprived of anything, their perception becomes distorted. When this occurs the whole family of God, or the Sonship, is impaired in its relationships. -ACIM
I much prefer the family of God to the Sonship, so there you go . . .
Thanks for your honesty, Eric – I probably would have slyly taken credit for it and maybe even tried to charge a use fee!
These comments cause me to sense that I’m still confused about ACIM. Some where, maybe even Ken’s comments; I think I read that we are one/alone and all our ‘brothers’ do not exist nor do I. And I need focus only on me/my spirit/mind !??!?!
Eric’s points here are very thoughtful and articulate and close to my own understanding so I’ll try to keep it short and sweet.
More and more, I find myself uninterested in the metaphysics of the course – that is, I hold them loosely. I do not feel that I have to understand non-dualism or one-mindedness or how what is one can have separate thoughts. It’s not that those questions are’t fun and interesting and even important – they are.
But does focusing on them bring me closer to inner peace? To a joy that is transferable to my kids, my wife, my friends and so forth?
When I read the course slowly and carefully, it seems clear to me that it contemplates “this world” and “this body” and “brothers and sisters.” In the ultimate sense that is an illusion, but in order to learn it is an illusion, we have to give close, sustained and loving attention to it.
So, you know – lots of hugs for kids (or grandkids), baking bread, going for walks, writing to and with friends about the course. What works? What form moves us in the direction of inner peace and joy? Trust that! We are no misled when we ask for help and make a sincere effort to get out of the way so the answer can be lived through us. . .
Sally, you are one of the first people how ever started to comment on my blog and I love you so much! Thank you for your honesty and steadfastness – you are so amazing to me.
And thank you too Eric . . . Sometimes I think I should just write titles to posts and let you handle it from there . . . 🙂 I feel very grateful that you are willing to share so much here. It is truly helpful. We should write a book together or something.
Okay . . . enough of the love-in . . . Gotta run and visit my inlaws, eat some Greek food, maybe run through a sprinkler. My 15-year old daughter is going to be the DJ for the trip so I am obviously going to be learning about letting go of my control issues with music for the road . . .
Dear Sean, My Heart-‘Mind’ thanks you for the true feeling of Friendship I receive when I read any of your comments to us all. (And more so today 🙂 ) Also I thank Holy Spirit for His continued helping unravel my mixed up thoughts. When I woke up this a.m. He directed me through wandering out of my bedroom wondering whether to read or go online or just sit with Him; and that’s what I did. This led me to the beginning again of feeling like His Presence is near. So to cut this short, I found the correct daily lesson and focused on it, and that ‘hologram’ effect occurred and I felt my whole body deeply relax in the sacred silence, and I knew I was OK again. And as usual, the Holy Spirit reminded me again of other things, not sure if it’s to maintain my balance or begin what seems to me a cycle, all over again. These reunions, unplanned, allow me to understand that the increased feeling of Well being truly is controlled by my ‘mind’ and that’s a part of my Choosing again, to more carefully listen to my right Teacher, who somehow seems to insert the Truth that the only Real me, IS still home with my Father and all my ‘brothers’ . 🙂 luvu&Him4evr, sally
Thanks Sally . . . you are welcome, in all ways. I do think of you as a beloved older sister and am alwaqys grateful when you share or just say hello.
Nothing is as sweet as hearing the direction from the Holy Spirit – or Jesus or God – to just “be with me.” I think that is all God asks in the end: be with me, and in being, time and space and all their woes are brought gently to their appointed end. That is reunion indeed . . .
You wrote: I think I read that we are one/alone and all our ‘brothers’ do not exist nor do I. And I need focus only on me/my spirit/mind !??!?!
Eric: You probably have read something similar before. I know I have. But let me ask you a question. If you don’t exist, then what are you focusing on and who/what is doing the focusing?
In the UrText, Jesus (The Voice) tells Helen to tell Bill something about himself. Bill, according the voice wasn’t living up to his potential to be a teacher. Jesus tells Helen that Bill is acting as if universal laws apply to everyone but him. This could only be the case if Bill didn’t exist. Jesus immediately follows that statement with, “we will not even bother to argue about that.”
According to Jesus, Bill’s existence is so obvious that Jesus will not even bother to entertain the idea of otherwise.
What the course is saying does not exist in the ultimate sense is the self concept of Sally, Eric, Sean, etc. The course defines what is real as that which is eternal and changeless. When looking at the self concept it is then obvious that it does not fit into this definition. But you as a thought of God does exist. I am a thought of God. Sean is a thought of God. Of course I’m using Sean’s name, your name and my own for the convenience of communication through language.
When I first began reading the course, I read it multiple times within a short amount of time. Though it being such a dense read, I still didn’t fully grasp it. I still don’t. I also began reading just about every author that wrote about the course. I can tell you that I started to become very confused. The author would say one thing even though the course would say something else and often times the author’s response to such inquiries was that the course didn’t really mean what it said, even though the course said it meant what it said.
I began to realize that what I was reading from each author was an explanation of their interpretation of the course through the lens of their perception. My confusion came to a point where I couldn’t take it anymore. I decided to shelve all of these books about the course and really start to seriously study the course itself. In my experience, I have found such a greater clarity as to what the course says or at least my perception of what the course says. It took commitment and patience and diligent study, and it certainly was not instant gratification, but I feel an understanding of the course that is much deeper than all the explanations I ever read.
You also said that you thought you read that you are one/ alone. Again this is not an uncommon interpretation. It comes from what I call “reductionist non-dualism”. It is the idea of trying to take abstract metaphysics and reduce them down to a very concrete physical numerical number. God does have One Son which is the sum of all that God created. The One Son could simply be defined as Life itself. Can there be any other life than Life?
Actually, the course never uses the term “non-dualism” even though it is often ascribed to it. It uses One Mindedness. It softens this concrete reductionism of One to Oneness, as in this line:
Heaven is not a place nor a condition. It is merely an awareness of perfect Oneness and the knowledge that there is nothing else; nothing outside this Oneness and nothing else within. ~ACIM
The course also asks and answers the question of what Creation is before lesson 321 (considered to be the “non-dual” section of the lessons.
What is Creation?
Creation is the sum of all God’s Thoughts, in number infinite and everywhere without all limit. Only Love creates and only like Itself. There was no time when all that It created was not there. Nor will there be a time when anything that It created suffers any change. Forever and forever are God’s Thoughts exactly as they were and as they are, unchanged through time and after time is done.
God’s Thoughts are given all the power that Their own Creator has. For He would add to Love by its extension. Thus His Son shares in creation, and must therefore share in power to create. What God has willed be forever one will still be one when time is over and will not be changed throughout the course of time, remaining as it was before the thought of time began.
Creation is the opposite of all illusions, for Creation is the truth. Creation is the holy Son of God, for in Creation is His Will complete in every aspect, making every part container of the whole. Its oneness is forever guaranteed inviolate, forever held within His holy Will beyond all possibility of harm, of separation, imperfection, and of any spot upon its sinlessness. We are Creation-we the Sons of God.
We are creation—we the Sons of God. We seem to be discrete and unaware of our eternal unity with Him. Yet back of all our doubts, past all our fears, there still is certainty. For Love remains with all Its Thoughts, Its sureness being theirs. God’s memory is in our holy minds, which know their oneness and their unity with their Creator. Let our function be only to let this memory return, only to let God’s Will be done on earth, only to be restored to sanity, and to be but as God created us.
Our Father calls to us. We hear His Voice, and we forgive creation in the name of its Creator, Holiness Itself, Whose holiness His own creation shares; Whose holiness is still a part of us.
Eric: Actually, the course says that the idea that you are alone is the problem that needs to be corrected:
In sleep you are alone, and your awareness is narrowed to yourself. And that is why the nightmares come. You dream of isolation because your eyes are closed. You do not see your brothers, and in the darkness you cannot look upon the light you gave to them. ~ACIM
Eric: If you read the section, “The Two Emotions” it wonderfully describes this problem and is essentially defining solipsism which it says is the problem. But the course says there is an easy solution to this of “being alone”.
God’s Will is your salvation. Would He not have given you the means to find it? If He wills you to have it, He must have made it possible and very easy to obtain it. Your brothers are everywhere. You do not have to seek far for salvation. Every minute and every second gives you a chance to save yourself. Do not lose these chances, not because they will not return, but because delay of joy is needless. God wills you perfect happiness now. Is it possible that this is not also your will? And is it possible that this is not also the will of your brothers? ~ACIM
Eric: Yes it is certainly true that we must look to ourselves and not go around trying to change other people, because we’re then trying to change the world to fit into our perception of what it “should be”. We are attempting to control what we cannot control. It is our minds that must be changed. Of course this also doesn’t mean that we don’t act in the world. We do, as the course says action must occur in time and as you can see from the writing of the course itself, the various authors’ writing of books, making DVD’s, seminars, cruises, etc. that action is very much occurring on the relative level.
In the beginning of studying the course we can often times become even more isolated and self absorbed in our study of the course and that’s OK, but I think there must come a time when our awareness must not be just narrowed to ourselves, but to us, the Sonship. The course is very explicit that salvation is not for us alone. Salvation must come from our brother. The course even says that if we make the mistake of looking for the Holy Spirit in ourselves alone our thoughts will frighten us as we are then taking on the ego’s viewpoint.
I’m going to end this reply as it is quite long, but IMO while authors/writers about the course maybe helpful, I think really studying the course itself really brings a richer understanding and experience. Also, you might be surprised to find that what you thought the course did say, it doesn’t, and what you didn’t think it said, it does. 🙂
I thank you for taking the time to encourage me in my time of confusion. It reminds me of a story Ken told of , long ago, a guy calling him and telling him that he was so confused he was going to throw his ACIMs into the toilet and flush it away. And Ken, laughed and asked him to let him know how it went trying to flush 3 hard back books away in a toilet. 🙂
I appreciate you telling me of your Journey and as I begin my 4th year, I too have given up MOST of the writings of the many Authors who claim to be writing about ACIM. And since Jesus is the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, I seem to feel more peaceful and enjoy life more with neighbors and family when I read ONLY ACIM realizing that it was the historical Jesus who dictated this AND the Holy Spirit seems near and helps me understand AS I READ. I do also believe and read the trilogy books dictated by Jesus’ 2 disciples Thomas and Thaddeus, that they asked Gary Renard to write to help us understand ACIM. Actually it was Disappearance of the Universe that led me to ACIM, not a person.
So I thank you again, Eric, for allowing Jesus to ‘ use you ‘ for an act of loving kindness sharing what you have learned; and as J. told us, we do remember when we were One and IT will all come back at the right time, because we are actually STILL with our Father forever. His Love, Peace and Joy to you Eric. 🙂
Thank you Sally,
And may His Love, Peace, and , Joy be to you. 🙂