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Excerpt: “Seek not to change the world, seek to change your mind about the world” (

Q: My inclination has been for years to feel that I have enough work to do in personal encounters and relationships, and that I do not have to look for more issues coming from the media. I am convinced that the world will not become a better place, and so, not in resignation, but happily, I turn to the only place to go in seriousness, which is inside, and do the work there. I am asking about this because I remember thinking that the world will change some day because of our inner work, and then we will see happy headlines instead of catastrophic headlines.

A: It seems as if you are reflecting the important principle of A Course in Miracles: “Seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world” ( It is essential to understand this passage as pertaining only to content, not form. The opening statement of the paragraph in which this quote appears provides its context: “Projection makes perception” ( This is the thrust of Jesus’ teaching and his training of us. He wants us to learn how to perceive correctly, which means learning to make a connection between our perception and the prior choice we made in our minds to identify with the ego’s thought system or the Holy Spirit’s thought system. Our interpretation of what our eyes see follows directly from that choice. If we identify with the thought system of forgiveness, we can look on scenes of overwhelming devastation and know that devastation has nothing to do with reality (W-pII.13.1:3). We will not be indifferent to the suffering of others; we will be at peace as we deal with the situations in our lives and the world because we will know that pain and suffering do not define our reality. We will be in the world but not of it.

The origin of the world is a thought of attack (W-pII.3.2:1), and therefore it is not surprising that headlines constantly scream of disaster and catastrophe. That will continue until the mind of God’s Son no longer is attracted to separation. When we are unwilling to pay the high price of being separate, we will ask for help to change our minds about our purpose for being here, and then the world will take on a different purpose: “It becomes a home in which forgiveness is born, and where it grows and becomes stronger and more all-embracing. Here is it nourished, for here it is needed” (M-14.2:2-3). When every seemingly separate mind has at last accepted the Atonement, the world will not become a better place with “happy headlines”: “It will merely cease to seem to be” (M-14.2:12). There will be no need for a world when there no longer is any guilt in our minds that needs to be projected. But we needn’t fear that the world will disappear before we are ready to leave it behind: “Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality. Time is kind, and if you use it on behalf of reality, it will keep gentle pace with you in your transition. The urgency is only in dislodging your mind from its fixed position here” (T-16.VI.8:1-3).

In the section “I Need Do Nothing,” Jesus teaches us how to walk his unique path of forgiveness, a path that has us quietly peaceful in our minds while busily active in the world. It is not a path of indifference or escapism. One way of describing this approach is to say that we learn to become passive to the ego but not to the Holy Spirit. Our peace is sustained by our choice to identify with the Holy Spirit’s thought system, because then whatever we do will be done through us, with no effort or strain on our part. That is the essence of Jesus’ message in this section:

“To do nothing is to rest, and make a place within you where the activity of the body ceases to demand attention … This quiet center, in which you do nothing, will remain with you, giving you rest in the midst of every busy doing on which you are sent. For from this center will you be directed how to use the body sinlessly. It is this center, from which the body is absent, that will keep it so in your awareness of it” (T-18.VII.7:7; 8:3-5).

Excerpt from Q&A 

Excerpt: Changing ourselves as we progress with A Course in Miracles versus what the Course teaches about our changelessness

Q: Does A Course in Miracles refer to “God” as an interactive God who makes changes and alterations to our physical and worldly existence in relation to our daily actions? The Course initially states that we are changeless but later refers to all the various changes which we make as we progress. I do not understand if we are capable of making any changes or not. If we are changeless, why bother doing anything at all because we are what we are anyway?

A: Although much of the Course refers to God in personal terms, as if He were a concerned Father, distinct from His children, Who is watching over us, when we understand the basic metaphysical teachings of the Course on God, it becomes apparent that these kinds of personal, human references to God can not be meant literally. They represent the Course’s attempt to “use the language that this [finite] mind can understand, in the condition [of separation] in which it thinks it is” (T-25.I.7:4) and to correct the misperceptions we hold of God from our ego interpretation of God as an angry, vengeful Father who seeks to punish us for our attacks on Him.

The Course spends very little time on the impossible task of describing to our limited, finite minds the true nature of God, His creations, and reality—”there is no symbol for totality” (T-27.III.5:1)—but there are a few attempts. For example, from the workbook, “What He creates is not apart from Him, and nowhere does the Father end, the Son begin as something separate from Him” (W-pI.132.12:4). And acknowledging the impossibility of capturing in words that which is beyond all concepts and symbols:

“Oneness is simply the idea God is. And in His Being, He encompasses all things. No mind holds anything but Him. We say ‘God is,’ and then we cease to speak, for in that knowledge words are meaningless. There are no lips to speak them, and no part of mind sufficiently distinct to feel it is now aware of something not itself. It has united with its Source. And like its Source Itself, it merely is” (W-pI.169.5).

So God, Who is “All in all” (T-7.IV.7:4), cannot act on a part of Himself, as if it were separate from Him. And even to refer to Him as “Him” is to attribute a personal nature to the Source of all that in reality is totally abstract. The Course therefore does not describe God as interacting with His children in the world. That role is given to the Holy Spirit as the Voice for God, providing the Holy Spirit a symbolic function, unlike the Father and the Son (T-5.I.4:1). But since the world is all a projection of the basic ego illusion, which has no reality, there really is no world in which the Holy Spirit intervenes, only a mind that believes there is a world. And even then the Voice for God has no active function in the mind—”It merely reminds” (T-5.II.7:4) us of the truth about ourselves and God, which has never changed.

The Course also refers to God as “the Changeless” (W-pI.112.2:2), and “Formlessness” (W-pI.186.14:1), Who creates “only the changeless” (T-6.IV.12:4). Consequently, it is inconceivable that He could be involved in making changes and alterations in a world of form.

And that brings us to the second question you raise about our changelessness. In our reality as spirit, nothing has changed and we remain sinless, perfect and at one with our Source—this is the principle of the Atonement, repeated numerous times throughout the Course. It is in this sense that we are truly changeless. But clearly this is not what we believe or experience about ourselves. And so the Course does not simply assert what is real and true and leave it at that. That would not be of any help to us, trapped as we seem to be in the morass of our mistaken beliefs. So the Course accepts us where we think we are, acknowledging that we believe that we are each a separate physical being, living as a body in a world of time and space, struggling against forces that seem to be beyond our control. And it offers us the means—forgiveness, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit—to find the way out of this meaningless, senseless maze of beliefs in which we have imprisoned ourselves (T-26.V.4:1). Not because any of it is real, but only because we believe it is. And so long as we believe we have changed ourselves from our true reality as Christ, we will need to move through a seeming process of change that undoes all the changes we believe we have introduced into our identity, until we at last realize that in reality nothing has changed at all and we are back at home in the Heaven we never left, where we have always been.

So this is a process of undoing, and not really doing at all. And any change we may seem to experience in the process of undoing our mistaken beliefs is as illusory as the initial thought of change that seemed to expel us from Heaven. But while we hold on to the belief that change is both possible and real, then change will be our experience. And our only choice will be whether to seek for change that reinforces guilt and separation and seems to take us even farther from our true home, or change that results from the practice of forgiveness in the context of our worldly relationships, allowing us to return.

Excerpt from Q&A

Excerpt: How our serious pursuit of goals in the world reinforces the teacher of wrong-minded change

Those of you who know Jonathan Swift’s brilliant satire Gulliver’s Travels, will recall that he made the wise species the horse, which he called Houyhnhnms. Homo sapiens became Yahoos—the origin of—creatures who did not know anything. But we think we know. We actually think we understand what the world is. We think we understand the meaning of our lives. We think we understand how to gain pleasure and avoid pain, how to achieve happiness and success here. And there are so many wise brains telling us how to do it. Yet none of them knows anything at all for they believe in the reality of what does not exist.

The only way we can find real peace, and have real pleasure and happiness is to return to our minds and choose again: the teacher of sanity instead of the teacher of insanity; the teacher of the gentle laugh, not the teacher who is so serious about illusions. To apply this thought in our everyday life, we need to see how seriously we take everything that goes on here: how seriously we take the news, what goes on in our personal lives—our jobs, families, and bodies—our pursuit of goals where we actually believe that attaining them will bring us something that we need and want.

The only value this world has, and the only value our bodies and our experiences have is that they are classrooms in which we learn that we are minds and not bodies, that we inhabit the world of thoughts of the mind, not the seeming world of external reality. That is the only value. The reason this course is typically not for young people is that we usually spend the first part of our lives learning how to master the world and our bodies; how to attain pleasure and avoid pain; how to form relationships with other bodies; sometimes to have families, acquire an education, get jobs, and so on. All of this is very important in order to survive in the world.

A person cannot do all that, however, while at the same time believing the world is an illusion. Thus, it is usually not until we are a little farther along in our lives—at least in our 30s typically, but it could be later or earlier—that we suddenly realize, as the workbook says, “The world I see holds nothing that I want” (W‑pI.128). We recognize how insane this world is, how nothing here works for too long: relationships, bodies, automobiles, computers, governments, the stock market, and the weather. Nothing works! The world cannot work because it comes from an insane thought that does not work.

Excerpt from Healing the Unhealed Mind

Excerpt: Changing from false empathy to true empathy when helping others

Q: How does one right-mindedly see someone who appears to be in a pretty bad situation, like returning from the war with post-traumatic stress disorder? I see their pain, know that their minds are choosing fear that manifests as symptoms, but at the same time the Course teaches that on another level all that is part of our self. I get confused with these different levels.

A: As a neuro-psychologist you deal with people with traumatic symptoms, vets returning from Iraq with brain injuries and the like. Certainly, if you are a professional with expertise in a certain area, you respond in a way appropriate to your role. On one level, you use your training and experience to make an evaluation about the extent of the injury, the prognosis, and a useful course of treatment, including working with the family. This is no different from a plumber making an assessment about a plumbing problem in a home or a business, and then proceeding to correct it.

On another level, at the same time that you proceed professionally, you use the situation as a way of monitoring your own thoughts. You watch yourself becoming horrified by the situation; perhaps a particular symptom is abhorrent to you, or you become impatient with the person, angry at the system that does not allow proper care or treatment, or even angry at the President who declared war and thus is ultimately responsible for these terrible effects. Whatever your ego reactions, this is what you pay attention to.

In Roman mythology, the god Janus is depicted with two heads, one looking east, the other looking west. In a sense, Jesus is asking us to have this kind of split vision. Looking one way, we honor and respect our professionalism and deal with the situation on this level. Looking the other way, we monitor our own reactions, and if we are feeling anything but peace; perceiving and feeling anything other than shared interests in terms of ourselves and the patient (even though on the bodily level there is a big difference), then we know we have to ask for help, because now we are as sick as the person whom we are trying to help. This reflects the Course’s distinction between false and true empathy (T-16.I). False empathy identifies with the patient’s weakness or problem (the body), isolating the person from others, including ourselves, by virtue of the horrific symptoms that clearly make patients and their problems unique and special. True empathy identifies with our common purpose. We empathize with the patient’s mind, which suffers from the effects of the insane belief in separation, as we all do. This shared mind contains the weakness of the ego, the strength of the Holy Spirit, and the power to choose between them.

To digress for a moment, the pamphlet on psychotherapy, which I mentioned before, was only half finished when I first read it. I was obviously expecting something that would talk about psychotherapy, at least as I experienced it as a therapist. Of course, it doesn’t do that at all. Its focus is only on the therapist. I remember saying something to Helen to that effect, and she looked at me and said, “What else would you expect?,” which of course was true. There is one line in the pamphlet that sums it up, and it is so important that the idea is repeated in the very next paragraph: “It is in the instant that the therapist forgets to judge the patient that healing occurs” (P-3.II.6:1). This says nothing about the patient, nothing about the course of psychotherapy, nothing about technique, nothing about training in the usual sense of the word. The second statement, “Yet it is when judgment ceases that healing occurs … ” (P-3.II.7:1), means that therapists with healed minds do not see their patients as separate from themselves. When we see someone who has a profound neurosis or brain injury, it is tempting to see a difference and judge that difference, even if it is a benign judgment: “Oh you poor dear, let me help you.”

When the therapist forgets to judge, forgets to see separate interests and sees only the sameness of the mind, that is healing and true empathy. As a therapist, or healer in any shape or form, professional or not, when you find yourself making a judgment that the person sitting across from you is different (not in form which is obvious, but in content), you realize that your mind is unhealed and you are an unhealed healer. At that point, anything you do will be contaminated by what is unhealed in you, which is the belief that separation is real, made serious by your sleeping guilt and misperception of your patient. This is false empathy. Being a psychotherapist, neuro-psychologist or any other role has as its sole purpose learning to heal your mind through that form, which means it is the opportunity to undo your belief in guilt. If you do not see it that way, you will be caught in specialness and will think you are doing something important, significant, and healing. What, then, is to be done? There is nothing to be done. Healing has already occurred and needs only to be accepted.

Q: Does that mean that once therapists have healed their own minds, they are not helpful to anyone?

A: No. Actually, it is only then that the therapist begins to be really helpful. On a practical level, you don’t take your shingle down. After all, you still have to eat. Your healed mind deepens the level of healing, healing on eight burners instead of four. The love in your healed mind now can flow through you without impediment.

Excerpt from Healing the Unhealed Mind

Audio: How to make external life changes differently, in a way that is gentle and kind

Audio: How beginning students can adopt a gradual and more kindly change in their understanding of the Course metaphysics

Audio: At what level is meaningful change possible in your life?

Video: Commentary on “Healing and the Changelessness of Mind” (T-7.V.7)


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Audio: How the statement “There must be another way” invites changing our mind and changing our teacher

Audio: You can’t change the form and expect meaningful change unless you change the underlying thought system

Audio: The importance of changing your perception of figure and ground to focus on the mind not the body