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...we can trust nothing outside us, because everything is an illusion, projected by the ego to distract our attention from our minds. But the one thing in all the world we can trust is what is inside—in our right minds, the “resting place”—and that is the Holy Spirit. And so He is always asking that He be offered a place where He can rest. The same metaphor is used in many other places. There is the lovely lesson, “I will be still an instant and go home” (W-pI.182), which states that the Christ in us Who comes as a little child asks that He make His home in us. And there are other places where Jesus says the same thing—that he will rest in us and we will rest in him. Finally, we read this beautiful statement of the unity of our rest that embraces the Sonship as one—it closes Lesson 109, “I rest in God”:
You rest within the peace of God today, quiet and unafraid. Each brother comes to take his rest, and offer it to you. We rest together here, for thus our rest is made complete, and what we give today we have received already. Time is not the guardian of what we give today. We give to those unborn and those passed by, to every Thought of God, and to the Mind in which these Thoughts were born and where they rest. And we remind them of their resting place each time we tell ourselves, “I rest in God” (W-pI.109.9).
Excerpted from The Journey Home
Q: How can I approach Jesus to bring peace to someone else’s troubled, fearful, restless mind while not being able to practically communicate with this other person (either verbally or otherwise)? Is it at all possible, because it is often (to put it mildly) hard enough to bring peace to one’s own mind?
A: Since A Course in Miracles tells us that peace is the result of choosing to identify with the Holy Spirit or Jesus in our minds, it is not really possible to ask Jesus to bring peace to someone’s mind (M-5.III.1:1-3; 3:6). Moreover, Jesus does not bring peace to our own minds. The Course teaches that a lack of peace is the result of having made a choice in the mind to identify with the ego thought system in some way. This results in a feeling of guilt, which replaces peace in our awareness. This person’s fearful, restless mind is calling for help. To be helpful to them, we must first recognize that this is the choice they have made, and acknowledge the ability of their mind to choose differently. We then review our own mind for any judgments we are holding against this person, and any disquiet we may be experiencing, thus recognizing our own need for healing.
Our “prayer” for someone else begins with our asking the Holy Spirit or Jesus for help in letting go of our judgments and misperceptions about ourselves and the other person. This is because if we perceive another person as in need, or lacking peace, we have first perceived this lack in ourselves, as you point out. If we do let go of our misperceptions and accept the Holy Spirit’s correction, we will experience peace. The peace in our mind is then extended throughout the Sonship; it joins with the peace that is present in everyone’s mind, whether or not they choose to be aware of it. This is the process by which we “offer” peace to a brother. The real action is always in our own mind. There is no need to communicate externally with the other person. By choosing peace ourselves, we are a reminder of the peace that is theirs, but neither we nor Jesus can choose for someone else, as He tells us: “I cannot choose for you [or someone else], but I can help you make your own right choice” (T-3.IV.7:11). Once we have allowed the Holy Spirit’s thoughts to replace ours, he will guide us to act in a way that would be loving toward this person, or not to act at all. This will be the under the guidance of the Holy Spirit if we have in fact done our own “homework,” as outlined above. This is how we can live the following prayer from the text, which holds the answer to your quest for peace as well as your friend’s: “I desire this holy instant for myself, that I may share it with my brother, whom I love. It is not possible that I can have it without him, or he without me. Yet it is wholly possible for us to share it now. And so I choose this instant as the one to offer to the Holy Spirit, that His blessing may descend on us, and keep us both in peace” (T-18.V.7:3-6).
Excerpted from Q&A
Q: I was born into a difficult, abusive, and painful life. Spiritually, I began working very hard on myself using the principles of A Course in Miracles. I thought the fact that my outer life had so dramatically improved was an indication that I was doing okay spiritually. Then, through “no fault of my own” (downsizings and company closures) I lost my very good job, my house, my 401K, and even my friends. I went through a long, very dark, and angry period and turned away from the Course, Jesus, and God entirely. Eventually, I worked through it, and, overall, I think I have been willing to face some horrible things inside myself, as well as my apparent need to be a victim. I think I have also shown a willingness and an effort to forgive others and to try to believe that I don’t deserve to be punished. I know the Course does not say that a person’s outer circumstances will change to correspond to inner changes, and I shouldn’t expect them to, but I am certainly not far enough up the ladder to entirely give up wanting and hoping for at least a little positive feedback in my outer experience. I don’t understand what happened in my mind to change my life so dramatically or why my inner and outer efforts haven't seemed to make any difference. Could all of this have happened because of my feelings of separation from other people? If so, how do I truly fix my perception at a time when I am feeling more separate and more different than ever? Can my script be changed?
A: In circumstances such as yours, it is really hard to avoid wondering “What am I doing wrong?”; but that is always the wrong question, and it would seem that part of you is aware of that. It is not helpful to dwell on it, first, because there is no way of knowing why you chose this script, and second, because the only relevant issue now that you are experiencing these conditions is whether you will invite the ego or Jesus to guide you and comfort you. Hear Jesus teach about this choice:
“Temptation has one lesson it would teach, in all its forms, wherever it occurs. It would persuade the holy Son of God he is a body, born in what must die, unable to escape its frailty, and bound by what it orders him to feel. It sets the limits on what he can do; its power is the only strength he has; his grasp cannot exceed its tiny reach. Would you be this, if Christ appeared to you in all His glory, asking you but this: Choose once again if you would take your place among the saviors of the world, or would remain in hell, and hold your brothers there. For He has come, and He is asking this” (T-31.VIII.1).
The ego would have you gaze outward and assess what you do not have. Jesus would have you look within and identify with the treasures that are unconditionally yours. It seems as if you have already experienced the peace of God that is not conditional on anything external, and now part of you is questioning whether that is enough to sustain you—a normal wavering for a mind still split between two allegiances. In the lesson “I am sustained by the Love of God” (W-pI.50), Jesus asks us to look at what we place our faith in as a means of sustenance, happiness, and protection. An honest assessment will reveal that our faith is in whatever will enhance and guarantee our continued life as a body. Yet, Jesus teaches us that “all these things are your replacements for the Love of God” (W-pI.50.2:1). That is why, however successful we may be in the world’s terms, we will never be truly happy and peaceful—we would be living a lie, forcing us to conceal the tremendous guilt and fear that choice engenders.
What might help you, therefore, is to look upon your distress as a crisis of trust: is the peace of God enough? is the Love of God enough? If your trust were unconditional, you would not need this course; you would not need a teacher who asks only for “a little willingness” (T-18.IV.2). You do not have to be at the top of the spiritual ladder to apply this—Jesus approaches us with this lesson very early in the workbook. What better time to work with the lesson than when you are in the midst of a struggle? “Do not breathe life into your failing ego,” Jesus gently urges us in our moment of wavering (T-17.V.8:4).
This obviously will not get you a job or money or other things you would like to have; and it is not meant to deny the frustration of not being able to get a job despite your many attempts to do so. This course should not be used as a means of avoiding one’s responsibilities in the world under the guise of spiritual advancement, although, unfortunately, it has been used that way by many. Its purpose is to help us see that the only meaningful aspect of our lives is learning how to use our experiences as a way of getting in touch with the content in our minds that we are always choosing. As we choose against the ego and for Jesus and his thought system of forgiveness more and more, we will approach our problems entirely differently—not that we will ignore them, but that we will no longer give them power to disrupt the peace that defines us as God’s Son. Jesus thus encourages us:
“You have surely begun to realize that this is a very practical course, and one that means exactly what it says. I would not ask you to do things you cannot do, and it is impossible that I could do things you cannot do. Given this, and given this quite literally, nothing can prevent you from doing exactly what I ask, and everything argues for your doing it. I give you no limits because God lays none upon you” (T-8.IX.8:1-4).
Excerpted from Q&A
...the savior’s vision, devoid of all interference to the truth, and therefore free from all judgment, asks to be told the meaning of what it beholds. As we ask for the corrected perception of the Holy Spirit, what we behold becomes some expression of forgiveness, some expression of the unity that is truly there but had been concealed behind the ego’s need to separate and to attack. However, once again, we are not the ones who give the answer. The answer is given us by the Holy Spirit. Our responsibility is simply to clear away all the obstacles to that answer, as we have already seen clearly expressed in this crucial statement from the text:
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. It is not necessary to seek for what is true, but it is necessary to seek for what is false (T-16.IV.6:1-2).
Basically the four obstacles to peace represent these barriers, of which judgment is one way of understanding their basic ingredient: the judgment against God, others, and ourselves, seeing all of creation as separate individual beings, encased in bodies whose sole purpose is to attack and be attacked. All these interferences are undone by the gentle process of bringing the obstacles to the love that is underneath them, which then allows love to shine them away. Speaking of the holy instant, in which no body can exist, we choose to let these obstacles go—“the limits you have placed upon love”—and let love answer us:
It [the holy instant] calls to you to be yourself, within its safe embrace. There are the laws of limit lifted for you, to welcome you to openness of mind and freedom. Come to this place of refuge, where you can be yourself in peace. Not through destruction, not through a breaking out, but merely by a quiet melting in. For peace will join you there, simply because you have been willing to let go the limits you have placed upon love, and joined it where it is and where it led you, in answer to its gentle call to be at peace (T-18.VI.14:3-7; italics mine).
And this lovely prayer from Part II of the workbook for students expresses our wish to let all interferences go so that we may “wait in quiet” beyond the ego’s “raucous shrieks” (W-pI.49.4:3)—that we may hear God’s loving answer. We no longer presume in our arrogance that we understand the world, and so can humbly wait to be told by the One Who does:
Father, I come to You today to seek the peace that You alone can give. I come in silence. In the quiet of my heart, the deep recesses of my mind, I wait and listen for Your Voice. My Father, speak to me today. I come to hear Your Voice in silence and in certainty and love, sure You will hear my call and answer me.
Now do we wait in quiet. God is here, because we wait together. I [Jesus] am sure that He will speak to you, and you will hear. Accept my confidence, for it is yours. Our minds are joined. We wait with one intent; to hear our Father’s answer to our call, to let our thoughts be still and find His peace, to hear Him speak to us of what we are, and to reveal Himself unto His Son (W-pII.221.1-2).
Excerpted from The Journey Home
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