From time to time I talk to students of A Course in Miracles who feel bad that they still experience guilt and anger and fear and sorrow and whatever other icky emotions you can name. How can it be after all the lessons and study and prayer? Aren’t we supposed to be deliriously happy all the time? Attended by ascended masters? Personally visited by Jesus? How is it that we’re still exhibiting all those nasty human traits? We should be angels by now!
I hear that. I have days where my expectations of spiritual growth or nirvana or what have you get in the way of peace. I eat too many potato chips and think, a holy man wouldn’t have done that. Or I space out in front of Netflix. Or I am insufficiently worried about nuclear war or too casual about banking regulations. It’s always something.
That is the egoic self at work. It likes problems – personal problems, global problems, problems on sitcoms, problems with the neighbors. It just chews through them like bears in a blueberry patch. It is especially fond of the spiritual ideal – our personal image of the holy man or woman. It can toy with the self for years with that image, that ideal. Maybe lifetimes. It’s quite a cycle. I’m not holy but I want to be holy so I’ll do this thing which is holy and okay now I’ve done it and I’m not holy so I’ll try this other path . . . It’s tiring! And like hamsters on the proverbial wheel, we never really get anywhere.
Here’s a better approach – one consistent with the teachings of A Course in Miracles: don’t worry about your inner feelings. Don’t worry about matching up to any ideal that you project. That’s just static. It’s got nothing to do with what you are in truth and nothing to do with realizing that truth.
Just let it go.
Take a look at section seven of the seventeenth chapter of the ACIM text. The subject is the need to be faithful – in our brothers and sisters and in our selves. It is teaching us that only the mind can solve a problem – as soon as a problem appears unsolvable it is because we have decided that the body is going to be part of the solution. But take special note of how the course addresses this particular body/mind confusion.
. . . bodies cannot solve anything. It is their intrusion on the relationship, an error in your thoughts about the situation, which then becomes justification for your lack of faith. You will make this error, but be not at all concerned with that. The error does not matter (T-17.VII.3:5-8).
The emphasis in italics is mine. The course takes for granted that we’re going to confuse body and mind. And it doesn’t care! It’s not relevant. It has nothing to do with waking up. Can you sense how liberating this is? How it frees us entirely and forever from consequence? The activity of the egoic self – it’s about me and my progress, me and my improvement, me and my standing in the community, and so on and so forth – is a given. And it’s without effect.
You can relax. You can breathe. You don’t have to resist those “bad” feelings. They’ve got nothing to do with anything that matters.
Use not your faithlessness. Let it enter and look upon it calmly, but do not use it (T-17.VII.5:3-4).
You can substitute “anger” for faithlessness. You can substitute “lust.” You can substitute “indifference.” Whatever you name those feelings which you judge as negative and which you have decided impede your waking up to Oneness in God, plug them into that phrase. And be very clear about the directive: you can let those feelings enter – don’t fight them in any way, don’t get all alarmed and panicky about them – but don’t make use of them. That’s all. It is like Gandhi said so many years ago – it wasn’t that he didn’t have anger in him. He did. He just chose not to identify with it. And in that choice, he was liberating from having to act on it in any way.
Your anger (or guilt or fear or whatever) is not a problem – your belief that your anger is a problem is the problem. So let it be. Let the inner feelings come and go and don’t freak out about them. Stay focused. You want to be peaceful and loving. You want to be in the Kingdom of Heaven. Okay. That is the goal. That’s all you need to do.