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On Illusion: Pursuing Our Best Interests

From time to time, it’s good to remember that we don’t know what’s in our best interest. We say that we do – because we believe we do – and we certainly act like we do – but we don’t. There is a lot of peace in accepting our cluelessness. It opens some space in which to learn.

Of course, we resist cluelessness. Or we accept it on some level or with respect to some things but not others. But A Course in Miracles does not equivocate on this point: and our willingness to let go of all our ideas of what we need and want is essential to regaining a measure of inner peace.

In no situation that arises do you realize the outcome that would make you happy. Therefore, you have no guide to appropriate action, and no way of judging the result (W-pI.24.1:1-2).

But surely I know that steamed clam dinners make me happy? Or walking in the woods with my dog? Or seeing cardinals at the feeder, or daisies in the yet-unmowed hay fields, or my daughter kissing her horse?

When we feel happiness – any intimation of it – we are apt to associate its cause with what we perceive externally. Chocolate cake, sex, pay checks, and so forth. But that is completely wrong-minded thinking and speaks only to our deep confusion.

Happiness is a condition of accepting our complete and utter dependence on relationship with God – with what is. And our perception is changed accordingly. The steamed clam dinner has nothing to do with it – nothing at all. It’s a symbol that I temporarily associate with joy in order to avoid looking at the real source of joy: the union with God – with Love – that is a present and unqualified condition available to all of us all the time.

So we decide what we need – this food instead of that, a certain relationship on terms we set. Whatever. And it is that decision that makes us unhappy, because it clouds over the simple truth that Life as it is – right now – is sufficient unto immeasurable joy if we will only consent to surrender it to God.

We think that we’re stressed out and so we need our comfort food. Or that we’re lonely and so we need companionship. Or we’re angry and so we need somebody to stop talking or say they are sorry. Or we’re overwhelmed with work and so we need a fellow worker bee to step up and carry some more weight.

What you do is determined by your perception of the situation, and that perception is wrong. It is inevitable, then, that you will not serve your own best interests (W-pI.24.1:2-3).

It is good from time to time to reflect on what we think we want and need and to remind ourselves that we don’t have the first clue. Even when we tell ourselves that we want to be home in God, one with Love, radiating joy and overflowing with inner peace, it is mostly a lie. It is mostly about us. And our desires conflict with each other and they conflict with those of our brothers and sisters.

Our lives are – to coin a useful phrase – FUBAR, the more so when we think they’re not.

The silver lining here is simply that when we accept that we are not capable of assessing what’s in our best interests we can surrender a lot of the judgment and activity that was flowing from the error. That alone will ease the pressure, ontological and otherwise.

And the other thing that will happen is that we’ll realize our need to be taught what our best interests are: and perhaps we’ll even make contact with the willingness to be so educated.

Listen only to God, Who is as incapable of deception as is the spirit He created. Release yourself and release others (T-4.I.10:5-6).

In any situation – even those that seem most lovely and satisfying – we must remember that we don’t know what is really happening or what is in our best interest or anybody else’s. That is where we start: that is the ground of true peace and happiness.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Jaycee June 25, 2013, 8:18 am

    Sean what is FUBAR? And all you posted right on because we do not know what Anything is for

    • Sean Reagan June 25, 2013, 9:07 am

      Hi Jaycee!

      FUBAR is military slang for “Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition.” Well, there’s another word for “fouled” but this is a family blog! I’ve just always appreciated it as an easy way to say things are way gone even though – often – we think they aren’t, or that we’ve got everything under control.

      Thank you for reading – hope all is well!


  • Regis June 25, 2013, 10:11 pm

    Beautiful reminder of what is truly real and what is not. All of our symbols, no matter what form are only trying to convince us that illusion/dream we are experiencing is real. Even the symbols are not what we think they are. They are nothing, save the meaning we give them.

  • Topi June 25, 2013, 11:45 pm

    I love reading your thoughts about ACIM time to time. It is often difficult to understand the message and language in the WB and Text and it is helpful to read your toughs that arise from it. Thanks for all of your writings.

  • MARY June 26, 2013, 4:49 pm



    • Sean Reagan June 27, 2013, 6:07 am


  • sally June 30, 2013, 12:50 am

    As I read this I was awakened to the truth, that I have ‘buffaloed’ myself into thinking that I’m completely honest with the Holy Spirit, when I ask him to show me all the ‘stuff’ I need to get rid of . WHILE reading this, I see I’ve only been messing with my own mind, and every thing said here, feels like the Holy Spirit caught me off guard and gave it to me straight!!…..and yes, I admit it all………and I do feel relief ! I needed this MORE THAN ‘I’ KNOW as this sample of divine timing.. Namaste, sally

  • Emily August 13, 2013, 2:49 am

    Dear Sean,

    I really like this post and keep coming back to it. It reminds me of something I continually forget…that our bodies only have a limited scope of vision and that humility means there are many times we will not understand the ultimate outcomes of the situations we experience. I keep coming up against this time and again in the situations of daily life, and I suppose the growth process is just a continual letting go of the need to know or the need to think we know what is in our best interests.

    Thank you so much for all of your posts. I am relatively new to ACIM, been doing the workbook about 8 months now, and your posts are really helpful in interpreting the course language and application to “normal” life.

    • Sean Reagan August 13, 2013, 7:42 am

      Hi Emily,

      Thanks for the kind words.

      Yeah . . . it’s a recurring theme for me as well. Letting go of the need to be right and happy on my terms. It is a control thing, I think. And it is terrifying to really consider that everything as it is right now is sufficient – at a deep level, the ego really rebels against that. But that is where we’re led – to that place where we see the starkness of the choice: our way or God’s way: and then we choose.

      So . . . one step forward, one and a half back, and a little skip to the side.

      The funny thing is, lately I have been intuiting (I need to write a post about this – thank you for reminding me) that what I call a choice isn’t actually a choice at all. It’s done. I just see it as a choice, or perceive it that way, in order to stay in the fear.

      Anyway . . . thank you again, Emily.


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