A Course in Miracles Lesson 164

Now we are one with Him Who is our Source.

Judgment requires time. We evaluate the present by comparing it to the past in anticipation of the future. Today is better than yesterday which bodes well for tomorrow.

Today, A Course in Miracles invites us to let judgment go, and discover in the Holy Instant our natural relationship with Christ.

How holy is your practicing today, as Christ gives you His sight and hears for you, and answer in your name the Call He hears! How quiet is the time you give to spend with Him, beyond the world. How easily are all your seeming sins forgot, and all your sorrows unremembered (W-pI.164.3:1-3).

Lesson 164 is a good example of how A Course in Miracles sometimes uses highly poetic language to draw our attention away from the world, and guide our practice to a place that does not rely on formal application (say this, do that, for this allotted number of minutes, et cetera). It’s kin to a spiritual pep talk. It trusts us with the invitation to go beyond both body and world.

There is a silence into which the world cannot intrude. There is an ancient peace you carry in your heart and have not lost. There is a sense of holiness in you the thought of sin has never touched (W-pI.164.4:1-3).

It is okay to let those words move us; they are offered the way they are for that very purpose. It is okay to hold a lofty goal for the day – to remember Christ, to feel Christ as near as your very self, and to remember the Call of God to shared Divine Stillness.

We want to enter the day’s prayerful spaces with confidence. Not with greed – not with a desire for personal accomplishment. But with the quiet assurance that we are still as God created us (e.g., W-pI.162.6:3), and that awareness of God’s Love is our birthright (In.1:7).

Nor do we pray for ourselves alone.

We stand forgiven in the sight of Christ, with all the world forgiven in our own. We bless the world, as we hold it in the light in which our Savior looks on us, and offer it the freedom given us through His forgiving vision, not our own (W-pI.164.7:5-6).

The title of this lesson makes clear its ultimate objective: the memory of our perfect unity with God, our Creator. When this unity is recalled and known, then time ends and the world is saved because nothing happened. If that is too big a metaphysical pill to swallow, consider simply accepting – however briefly – the end of suffering and the beginning of eternal joy.

This is the promise A Course in Miracles makes: that we will remember we are not separate from either Creator or creation, and that in that memory the grace and peace of Christ will become us, allowing us to heal every mind that yet believes it is separate and alone.

Truly, if we are ready and willing, today will be the day we return home.

←Lesson 163
Lesson 165→

Choosing between Two Teachers

I want to point out a two-step process that has been very helpful in my practice of A Course in Miracles specifically and, more generally, in my practice of becoming happy and peaceable to a Christ-like degree.

The first step is learning to discern between the Voice of the Holy Spirit and the voice of ego. They truly are two different teachers, and we are listening to one or the other all the time, and seeing this, and knowing the difference is incredibly helpful. Without knowing the difference, we can only stumble and flail about. A rigorous spiritual practice begins with our ability to discern between helpful and unhelpful teachers.

This “rigorous spiritual practice” is the second step because it is the step of choosing to listen to the Holy Spirit rather than the ego. That is hard to do. It is hard to do it once or twice a day, let alone retrain our mind to hear only and always the Holy Spirit. But that’s the path.

So those steps go together, like a dance or a recipe.

Sometimes people ask how do you tell the difference between the two voices?

Ego always argues and its case always involves the body’s welfare, one way or the other. Ego changes tone a lot – it cajoles, flatters, debates, teases, belittles, rages. Its only value is whatever gets the job done.

And yet.

The ego is nothing more than a part of your belief about yourself. Your other life has continued without interruption, and has been and always will be totally un affected by your attempts to dissociate it (T-4.VI.1:7-8).

Holy Spirit does not argue because it does not recognize any conflict. It does not try to force anything because it respects our decision-making power. It isn’t trying to sell anything because it knows we have everything. It is always calm and confident, and it will always share with us its confidence.

[The Holy Spirit] is in complete and direct communication with every aspect of creation, because it is in complete and direct communication with its Creator. This communication is the Will of God. Creation and communication are synonymous (T-4.VII.3:4-6).

Ego basically argues that you’re vulnerable and in need of help, and only it can help you, and it works frantically – without any consistent ethics or morals – to keep you scared and dependent.

The Holy Spirit always reminds you of your fundamental innocence as a condition of being Creation Itself, thus teaching you how to create like your Creator.

Ego breeds an endless cycle of conflict / temporary solution / conflict. The Holy Spirit blesses you with happiness and inner peace that is unconditional. You have to actively refuse it in order not to know it.

Therefore, it is natural to ask: why is it so hard to hear only the Holy Spirit? It offers us everything. Shouldn’t it be easier to give attention to it?

It’s hard because you and I are on the fence. We are willing to consider – mostly intellectually – that we’re not bodies and the world isn’t real, but we don’t actually believe it. Basically we are hedging our bets. And there is no middle ground in salvation (T-28.VII.2:7).

And the further truth is, we’ve been indoctrinated by ego. So the Holy Spirit’s suggestions and directives can seem illogical or even dangerous. We are so attached to ego’s endless litany of reaction, attack, defense, et cetera that anything else sounds alien and foolish. It feels right to ignore it.

So, you know, you lose your job and ego starts shouting “hire a lawyer! Beef up your resume! Polish that Linked-In profile! Call so-and-so and complain loudly about how you were treated! Revisit your anger at your father/wife/partner!”

And the Holy Spirit says, “do nothing.” Or “ask your neighbor if they need a hand with anything.”

Or maybe you’re fixated on ending war. Ego has ideas about this. “Tweet more! Argue with strangers on Facebook! Go to a rally! Tear down your neighbor’s political sign! Obsess about how wrong people can be! Pick a fight! Pick two fights!”

And the Holy Spirit says, “you haven’t gone for a walk with so-and-so for years – give them and call and see if they’re up for a hike.”

You are trying to save your house and family, or establish world peace, and the Holy Spirit seems oddly uninterested in these noble pursuits. It just nudges you to be a better friend or to sit quietly with tea watching birds at the feeder or wash the bathroom floor or whatever. Its priorities seem ridiculous.

It takes a long time to trust that the Holy Spirit is, in fact, the Voice for God, and that its suggestions always bring more peace both to you and all your brothers and sisters. But this is the way, and there is no other. “All other traits of God’s Teachers rest on trust” (M-4.II.1:1).

Right-mindedness listens to the Holy Spirit, forgives the world, and through Christ’s vision sees the real world in its place. This is the final vision, the last perception, the condition in which God takes the final step Himself (C-I.5:2-3).

Ego is still the default, which is why conflict remains so pervasive, and why happiness and peace are always coming and going. But ego is not inevitable. Violence and suffering are not inevitable. And there is something that is inevitable – our union with our Creator. “God is inevitable, and you cannot avoid Him any more than He can avoid you” (T-4.I.9:11).

Learn to distinguish between the two teachers, and you will see how only one offers anything you actually want. Then listen only to that Teacher and follows Its guidance, no matter how seemingly insignificant or silly. It asks so little of us, and offers so much.

ACIM and the End of War

There is no way to God, just like there is no way to the self. You are already fully present; so, too, is God. Wholeness is not waiting to be reconstructed; it is waiting to be recognized.

The Wholeness of God, which is His peace, cannot be appreciated except by a whole mind that recognizes the Wholeness of God’s Creation. By this recognition it knows its Creator (T-6.II.1:2-3).

The salient quality of wholeness is inclusion (e.g., T-6.II.1:4). God’s Creation excludes nothing. You and I exclude a lot. So one way to begin to remember wholeness is to notice who – and what – we insist must be apart from it.

Perhaps we want to exclude Vladimir Putin. He’s an autocrat and a warmonger. Perhaps we want to exclude Russian soldiers who target Ukrainian civilians. They are war criminals. This feels rational, no? In Heaven there is no war, so only peacemakers need apply.

Go slowly with me here.

We are dismayed by war because we know that violence and conflict are of the ego, and peace and happiness are of God.

But the solution to war is not the additional violence of excluding our brothers and sisters who make war. It is not the additional violence of choosing sides in war. All that merely doubles down on the original error that conflict has value in and of itself.

The one we reject is our savior, and by our rejection, we not only refuse to save them, we also deny our own salvation. This is obviously contrary to God and to Love.

There is complete forgiveness here, for there is no desire to exclude anyone from your completion, in sudden recognition of the value of his part in it. In the protection of your wholeness, all are invited and made welcome (T-15.VII.14:6-7).

Nonviolence is not an optional response to conflict. It is the only response that actually means anything, because it is the only one that refuses to accept the violence inherent in separation, and thus reestablishes our shared interest in peace and happiness with all our brothers and sisters.

To see any brother or sister as a wrongdoer who is worthy of exclusion is to effectively damn all of us, including our own self. This is what projection is, and also why projection is so effective at sustaining the illusion of separation.

The ego projects to exclude, and therefore to deceieve. The Holy Spirit extends by recognizing Himself in every mind, and thus perceives them as one . . . Wherever he looks He sees Himself, and because He is united He offers the whole Kingdom always (T-6.II.12:2-3, 5).

Thus, as I pointed out in yesterday’s newsletter, we have to become responsible for projection by refusing to do it. That means that when we are scared or angry, full of righteousness or hatred, convinced that conflict is just, et cetera, we have to do nothing other than just sit with the feelings.

To “sit” with our feelings is to give them – and the circumstances apparently giving rise to them – to the Holy Spirit. We aren’t projecting, arguing, improving or anything. We are simply refusing to be part of the ego’s war on God.

If you think this is merely a metaphor, and has no relationship to the war you perceive outside yourself, I encourage you to at least try it. Refuse the ego’s call to war – what happens? Refuse to crucify anyone, no matter how evil they seem – what happens?

I make you a promise: if you refuse to be a pawn in the ego’s bloody war, then you will remember God’s peace, because your refusal of ego is your acceptance of the Holy Spirit and its message of Love, which is God’s peace. Thus, you will feel abiding peace in your heart, and in your mind you will know with calm certainty exactly what you need to do to manifest this peace unto the world so that all our brothers and sisters might remember peace with you. Hint: it’s not about what you do but how you look.

When you look with gentle graciousness upon your brother, you are beholding [the Holy Spirit]. . . . You cannot see the Holy Spirit, but you can see your brothers truly. And the light in them will show you all that you need to see. When the peace in you has been extended to encompass everyone, the Holy Spirit’s function here will be accomplished (T-19.IV.3:2, 4-6).

Is it clear? Be still and hold all the world, all your brothers and sisters, without exception. Place no condition on this welcome. Hold the young mother who died with her baby outside a maternity hospital in Ukraine. Hold the baby. Hold the young men who fired the weapons who killed this woman and her child. Hold the profiteers who sell the weapons. Hold the so-called leaders who give the orders.

A Course in Miracles is not fucking around. It is a beautiful, radical, rigorous spiritual path. It is teaching us how to become peacemakers and saints, so that all our brothers and sisters – broadly defined to include butterflies, maple trees and rain drops – might rest in the peace and happiness of the wholeness that is our shared inheritance as creations of God.

God is; you are. There is no gap anywhere, only the mistaken perception of a gap. Yet in that gap are the seeds of war, starvation and pestilence (T-28.III.4:2-3). Will you join me in stillness today – a few moments only – in which we refuse to be combatants in ego’s endless conflict, and instead become peacemakers intent on allowing our minds to hold only those thoughts that we think with God?

There is an end to suffering and violence. I am telling you: together we are it.

A Course in Miracles Lesson 163

There is no death. The Son of God is free.

Bodies die. This is true for bees, elephants and human beings. It’s true for clouds and planets. It is even true of the universe. The one thing upon which the living can depend is the arrival of death. It is, as Emily Dickinson called it, “the postponeless Creature.”

Oddly, this lesson makes only one reference to bodies and that one is to the metaphorical body of the examplar Son of God (W-pI.163.4:4). Indeed, A Course in Miracles here is far more concerned about our response to physical death than to actually disproving it.

What can we infer from this?

For one thing, if you say “there is no death” to most people they are going to mount a nontrivial argument, pointing out all kinds of medical, biological, chemical data that “proves” death is real. Conclusion? Of course death is real. Only fools argue otherwise.

The course appears uninterested in that argument. It just doesn’t take it up. Why? Because to the body, death is always going to appear real. Bodies die – that is why ego wants us to associate with them, to become identified as a specific body. So long as you believe the body is your home, then death is going to be be a viable threat. There is no logic that undoes this.

So the lesson is less interested in a full-frontal assault on death, and more interested in getting us to notice the many forms death takes: anger, anxiety, sadness and doubt, among others (W-pI.163.1:2). And it emphasizes that all of these reflect our confused worships of death as “savior and as giver of release” (W-pI.163.1:3).

In other words, being in a body is stress-inducing, and we perceive death as our salvation from all that because it ends all that. And yet, suggests the course, all “that” is just death with a different name, and it has a singular goal that remains hidden from us: by recasting death as savior, it testifies that God is dead.

Here is the opposite of God proclaimed as lord of all creation, stronger than God’s Will for life, the endlessness of love, and Heaven’s perfect, changeless constancy. Here is the Will of the Father and of Son defeated finally, and laid to rest beneath the headstone death has placed upon the body of the holy Son of God (W-pI.163.4:3-4).

Essentially, the lesson is suggesting that we are wilful co-conspirators with ego in replacing God with death (W-pI.163.5:4). Suffering in myriad forms must follow.

Go along with the lesson for a minute. Okay – I’m not going to get into the finality of death, the obviousness of it, et cetera. I’m going to ask a different question: is God dead? Could God be dead?

I encourage you to ask that question and to give yourself space in which to hear the answer. Is God, in fact, dead?

I suggest that the answer is no. God is not dead. We may not yet have lost our fear of death, we may not yet understand how there can be no death, and we may not even know with perfect certainty God’s reality but of this we can be sure: God is not dead.

Look around you. Life is everywhere. It is in the trees and the birds who are in the trees. It is in the sunlight streaming onto each blade of grass, it is in every neighbor whose face you see and whose voice you hear, and it is in you, too, for you are here, now, indisputably.

If we give attention in a non-dramatic, sustainable way to life we will begin to see a process – a vast process – that transcends its various parts. It’s not about the blades of grass or the neighbors. A chickadee is life, yes, but life is so much vaster than the chickadee because it includes galaxies and nutrinos and oceans.

This vastness transcends us, as well. There are limits to our senses and our cognitive abilities. Life transcends our capacity for expression and comprehension. In this, it resembles – indeed, becomes coherent with – God, as the beautiful prayer at the end of this lesson makes clear.

We are Your messengers, and we would look upon the glorious reflection of Your Love which shines in everything. We live and move in You alone. We are not separate from Your eternal life (W-pI.163.9:2-4).

This lesson does not want to persuade us by logic. It wants to show us the futility of believing God can be dead, and it wants to show us that we have become unwilling agents of that particular lie. It takes very little effort to see that God is not dead, and that we are ourselves gently set in the life we share with our living God and with all living things that collectively are Creation (W-pI.163.9:6).

Don’t worry about death today. It’s not our concern. Rather, look to the life that you are given – right here, right now – and to each shining example of this life, each one of which has no function but to remind you that you live as your Creator lives. We celebrate life and not death today, and give thanks that it is so.

←Lesson 162
Lesson 164→

A Course in Miracles Lesson 162

I am as God created me.

This is the hallmark mantra of A Course in Miracles. As the lesson makes clear, the student who knows this is true and does not forget it, has become “his Father’s happiness, His Love and His completion” (W-pI.162.2:1).

Who among us does not long for this moment of self-recognition?

There is no dream these words will not dispel; no thought of sin and no illusion which the dream contains that will not fade away before their might. They are the trumpet of awakening that sounds around the world. The dead awaken in answer to its call. And those who live and hear this sound will never look on death (W-pI.162.2:3-6).

Heady stuff! But what does it mean exactly?

Here is the thing: at this juncture of our practice, it does not matter what it means. What matters is our willingness to say it, which in turn reflects our openness to its truth. It may not yet be what we know, but it can be. Thus, it is our practice that confirms the truth. Therefore, our goal is to make this phrase a foundation of our practice. It is that essential.

But we can say a few things, perhaps, that might shed some light on a phrase that might otherwise seem to good to be true, or too metaphysically obscure.

To assert that we are God’s creation is a statement about our self, as we understand that self, and about God, as we understand God. We might not understand much about self and God, but we do understand a little. We are studying and practicing the course because we are serious about peace and happiness, for ourselves and others. We reject any definition of God that excludes love.

Therefore, even if we struggle to believe it, the statement that we remain as God created us emphasizes the depth of our faith and our hope. We are allowed to take comfort in that! We are allowed to recognize that whatever victories ego ekes out in its war against joy, it has not succeeded in obliterating joy, which lives on in us.

Knowing then that joy is alive in us, even if only as a frail spark, enables us to give attention to that spark – to nurture it, fan it and offer it up to others.

Take another look at Lesson 139, which functions as a companion lesson to this one: “I will accept the Atonement for myself, / for I remain as God created me” (W-pI.139.11:3).

The word “remain” helps us here. It makes clear that yes, ego has mounted a full-scaled assault on our happiness and peace, but it has not suceeded. God’s Will cannot be undone. Ignored for a while, yes. Resisted for a while, sure. But it cannot be killed or ended by ego. Dreams cannot touch the mind that dreams them. Therefore, the end game of this illusory conflict between God and ego, ego and self, is always the demise of ego and the end of fear.

“I am as God created me” might also be stated as “Love prevails.” Or more simply yet, “Love is.”

You are as God created you. These words dispel the night, and darkness is no more. The light is come today to bless the world (W-pI.162.6:3-5).

We take heart today. Perhaps the peace and happiness to which the course points still feels far off. Perhaps it seems too idealistic, too naive or even too difficult. Fair enough! But today is not a day for judging. Today is a day for trust, and for seeing what that trust brings to us. Over and over let us declare this truth about ourselves, and discover as we do that we say it with God and for God.

←Lesson 161
Lesson 163→

The Tenth Principle of A Course in Miracles

The use of miracles as spectacles to induce belief is a misunderstanding of their purpose (T-I.10:1).

There are really two aspects to this principle, both of which are given to help us be in right relation both with the world and our body, and with the mind which is confused about world and body and needs to be healed.

This principle also addresses a popular misconception of the gospel miracles of Jesus. Often, those miracles are interpreted as reasons to believe in him and, by extension, the religious hierarchy that arose in his wake. The implicit logic is that a man who walks on water is obviously favored of God so of course you should follow him, obey him, et cetera.

But miracles are given to heal. They are not given to establish a new world order. They reveal a Heaven premised on radical equality, not rigorously-enforced leadership pyramids. The emphasis is not on performance but accomplishment. What does the miracle do is more important than who does the miracle.

Nor are miracles conditional upon obedience or belief. They are gifts, freely given. We can deny they are given, and in this way deny ourselves their grace, but we cannot “un-give” them.

Miracles are not spectacular – they are often quite subtle, nearly unnoticeable. Indeed, given the range of consciousness, and how much goes on outside our awareness, it is often the case that the deepest healing offered by miracles is barely noticed by us. We notice the effects later – I’m happier, less likely to lose my temper, no longer jealous, et cetera.

When we insist that miracles have recognizable effects – when we place conditions on them – we are essentially refusing the miracles. Miracles are not about rearranging the natural world to better accommodate our egoic fantasies of wellnesss. They are given to heal the mind that is divided against itself.

If we are waiting on miracles to “fix” our lives in the world, then we are going to be disappointed. They may or may not have observable effects in the material world; they will always have effects in the mind that believes it is a body in the world.

We might think of this principle as laying the groundwork for right relationship with God. Miracles are given freely to all; they are not conditional in any way. Belief is not a pre-requisite for healing.

Similarly, our expectations for the miracle often function as rejections of miracles. We want a better parking place, not a mind that isn’t concerned about parking places because it knows they’re not real.

For all the drama inherent in its creation – it was dictated by Jesus! Helen was a former disciple! Light shows and ascended masters for some students but not all! – A Course in Miracles is very much about dialing the drama down. We are called to give attention to our lives as they are given to us – we need add nothing and we need subtract nothing.

In the end, the miracle allows us to notice life as it is, without anything extra. It heals the mind that believes there is more to add or something to take away, and lets it rest in reality. This rest allows the mind to empty and clarify, becoming kin to a prism through which the light of love passes, healing everything it touches by teaching it how to heal itself.