Enlightenment

"Enlightenment is but a recognition; not a change at all."

There are people who have lived on the earth, and perhaps there are people living here now, whose minds have been completely healed by the Holy Spirit. In all religions, there are stories of saints and prophets who worked miracles. That is because, when the mind returns to God, it becomes a vessel for His power. The power of God transcends the laws of this world. Saints and prophets have actualized the Christ within them. They have been purified of fearful thoughts and only love remains within their minds.

These purified beings are called the Enlightened ones. Light means understanding. The enlightened understand. Enlightened people don’t have anything we don’t have. They have perfect love inside, and so do we. The difference is that they don’t have anything else. Enlightened beings, Jesus and others, exist in a state that is only potential in the rest of us. Jesus and other enlightened masters are our evolutionary elder brothers. The Christ-mind is merely the perspective of unconditional love. You and I have the Christ-mind in us as much as Jesus does. The difference between him and us is that we are tempted to deny it. He’s beyond that. His every thought and action stems from love. The unconditional love, or Christ within him, is the truth that sets us free, because it’s the perspective that saves us from our own fearful thoughts.

We are in trouble because we fight too much. We fight ourselves, each other, our planet, and God. A thoroughly loving person is like an evolutionary mutation, manifesting a being that puts love first and thus creates the context in which miracles occur. Ultimately, that is the only smart thing to do. The mutation, the enlightened ones, show the rest of us our evolutionary potential. They point the way.

The Ego

The ego is like a gravitational force field, built up over eons of fearful thinking, which draws us away from the love in our hearts. In Course terminology, our entire network of fearful perceptions is called the ego. The word ego is used differently here than the way in which it is often used in modern psychology. It is being used as the ancient Greeks used it, as the notion of a small, separated self.

It is a false belief about ourselves, a lie about who we really are.

Even though living that lie is a terrible anxiety, it’s amazing how resistant we are to healing the split in our mind about who we are. As uncomfortable as our life might be, as painful or even desperate at times, the life we’re living is the life we know, and we cling to the old rather than try something new. The ego is our mental power turned against ourselves. It is clever, like we are, and smooth-talking, like we are, and manipulative, like we are. Remember all the talk about a silver-tongued devil? The ego doesn’t come up to us and say, "Hi, I’m your self-loathing." It’s not stupid, because we’re not. Rather, it says things like, "Hi, I’m your adult, mature, rational self. I’ll help you look out for number one." Then it proceeds to counsel us to look out for ourselves, at the expense of others. It teaches us selfishness, greed, judgment, and small-mindedness.

Holy Spirit

"The Holy Spirit is the call to awaken and be glad."

Free will means we can think whatever we want to think, but no thoughts are neutral. There is no such thing as an idle thought. All thought produces form on some level. Taking responsibility for our lives, then, means taking responsibility for our thoughts. And praying to God to save our lives, means praying for Him to save us from our own negative thoughts.

The Holy Spirit was God's answer to the ego. He is God's eternal communication link with His separated sons, a bridge back to gentle thoughts, the Great Transformer of Perception from fear to love. Often the Holy Spirit is referred to as the Comforter. He comes to us in many forms, from a conversation with a friend to a serious spiritual path; from a lyric in a song to an excellent therapist. He is the inexorable drive toward wholeness that exists within, no matter how disoriented or crazy we get. God can’t force his way back into our thinking, because that would be violating our free will. But the Holy Spirit is a force of consciousness within us that delivers us from Hell, or fear, whenever we consciously ask him to, transforming our thoughts from fear to love.

Something within us longs to go home, and He is that something. The Holy Spirit guides us to a different perception of reality. His correction of our perception is called Atonement. In asking the Holy Spirit to help us, we are expressing our willingness to perceive a situation differently. We give up our own interpretations and opinions, and ask that they be replaced by His.

When angry, we pray, "Dear God, I am willing to see this differently."

Surrendering a situation to God means surrendering to Him our thoughts about it. Some people think that if we surrender to God, we’re giving up personal responsibility. But the opposite is true. We’re taking the ultimate responsibility for a situation by being responsible for our thoughts about it.

Sometimes people think that calling on God means inviting a force into our lives that will make everything rosy. The truth is, it means inviting everything into our lives that will force us to grow, and growth can be messy. The purpose of life is to become aware of our perfection. So, once we call on God, everything that could anger us is on the way.Why? Because the place where we go into anger instead of love, is our wall to the awareness of our perfection. Any situation that pushes our buttons is a situation where we don’t yet have the capacity to be unconditionally loving. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to draw our attention to that, and help us move beyond that point. Our comfort zones are the limited areas in which we find it easy to love. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job not to respect those comfort zones, but to bust them. We’re not at the mountaintop until any zone is comfortable.

Love isn’t real love until it’s unconditional. We’re not experiencing who we really are, until we experience our perfect love.

In order to ensure our progress toward the goal of enlightenment, the Holy Spirit has a highly individualized curriculum for everyone. Every encounter, every circumstance can be used by Him for His purposes. He translates between our perfect spirit Self, and our worldly insanity. He enters into the illusion and leads us beyond it. The spiritual path, then, is simply the journey of living our lives. Everyone is on a spiritual path, most people just don’t know it.

The Holy Spirit is a force in our minds that knows us in our perfectly loving, natural state, which we’ve forgotten, but enters into the world of fear and illusion with us, and uses our experiences here to remind us who we are. He does this by showing us the possibility of a loving purpose in everything we think and do. He revolutionizes our sense of why we are on the earth. Everything we do in our lives will be used, or interpreted, by the ego or the Holy Spirit. The ego uses everything to lead us further into anxiety. The Holy Spirit uses everything to lead us into inner peace and happiness.

Only Love Is Real

"God is not the author of fear. You are."

Love, or God, taken seriously is a radical outlook, a major departure from the psychological orientation that rules this physical world. It is threatening not because it is a small idea, but because it is so terribly huge. For many people, God is a frightening idea. Asking God for help doesn’t seem very comforting if we think of Him as something outside of ourselves or judgmental. But God is love and He dwells within us. We were created in His image, or mind, which means that we are extensions of His love, or Sons of God.

The Course says we have an authority problem. We think we authored God, rather than realizing that He authored us. Rather than accepting that we are the loving beings that He created, we have arrogantly thought that we could create ourselves, and then create God. We have made up a God in our image. Because we are angry and judgmental, we have projected those characteristics onto Him. But God remains who He is and always will be: He is the energy, the thought of unconditional love. He cannot think with anger or judgment. He is mercy and compassion and total acceptance. We forgot this, and having done so, we have forgotten who we ourselves are. I began to realize that taking love seriously would be a complete transformation of my thinking.

A Course in Miracles calls itself a mind training in the relinquishment of a thought system based on fear, and the acceptance instead of a thought system based on love. To surrender to God means to let go and love. By affirming that love is our priority in a situation, we actualize the power of God. Through a mental decision, a conscious recognition of love’s importance and our willingness to experience it, we call on a higher power. We set aside our normal mental habit patterns and allow them to be superceded by a different mode of perception. That is the meaning of miracles.

Once we get to the point where we realize that God is love, it’s not too difficult to understand that following God just means following the dictates of love.

The question is no longer "What is God?" The question we ask now is, "What is love?"

Love is energy. It’s not something we can perceive with physical senses. But people can usually tell you when they feel it and when they don't. Very few people feel enough love in their lives. The world is rather a loveless place. We can hardly even imagine a world in which all of us were in love all the time, with everyone. There would be no war because we wouldn’t fight. There would be no prejudice, oppression, or violence of any kind. There would be no sorrow. There would only be peace.

Most of us are violent people, not necessarily physically, but emotionally. We have been brought up in a world that does not put love first, and where love is absent, fear sets in. Fear is to love as darkness is to light. We need love in order to live happily, as much as we need oxygen in order to live at all. It's not that mysterious, really. Without love, the world is simply not a great place to be. So the problem with the world is that we have strayed from God, or wandered away from love. According to the Course, this separation from God (Love) first happened millions of years ago. But the important revelation, the crux of the Course, is that in reality it never actually happened at all. The introduction to A Course in Miracles states,

The Course can be summed up very simply:

"Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God."

What that means is this: Love is real. It’s an eternal creation so cannot be destroyed. Anything that isn’t love is an illusion. Remember this, and you’ll be at peace.

The Course says that only love is real:

"The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite."

When we think with love, we are literally co-creating with God. And when we’re not thinking with love, since only love is real, then we’re actually not thinking at all. We’re hallucinating. And that’s what the Course says this world is: a mass hallucination, where fear seems more real than love. Our craziness, paranoia, anxiety and trauma are literally all imagined. That is not to say they don’t exist for us as human beings, and need to be brought to light in order to be released. But they do not replace the love within us. They are literally a bad dream.

The Course explains that our mind has been split in two, with one part staying in touch with love, and the other part veering into fear. Fear manufactures a kind of parallel universe where the unreal seems more real than the real. In A Course in Miracles, sin is loveless perception. The way out of sin or fear is through opening the mind to God or love. Love casts out fear the way light casts out darkness.

The shift from fear to love is what the Course means by a miracle.

It addresses the real source of our problems, which is always on the level of consciousness. Thoughts are like data programmed into a computer, registered on the screen of your life. If you don’t like what you see on the screen, there’s no point in trying to erase it off the screen. If you don’t like the effects in your life, you have to change the nature of your thinking because thought is cause; experience is effect.

Thoughts of love in your mind produces love in your life. This is the meaning of Heaven.

Thoughts of fear in your mind produces fear in your life. This is the meaning of hell.

Our worldly problems are actually just symptoms of the real problem, which is always a lack of love. The miracle, a shift from fear to love, works on an invisible plane. It transforms the world at the causal level. Anything else is just a temporary palliative, a fix but not a healing, a treatment of the symptom but not a cure.

To say, "God, please help me," means, "God, correct my thinking."

"Deliver me from hell," means "Deliver me from my insane thoughts."

God Himself will not violate the law of cause and effect. It is the most basic law of consciousness. As long as we follow the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have done to you), we are safe. Adam and Eve were happy until she "ate of the knowledge of good and evil." What that means is that everything was perfect until they began to judge, to keep their hearts open sometimes, but closed at others. "I love you if you do this, but not if you do that."

Closing our hearts destroys our peace. It's alien to our real nature. It warps us and turns us into people we're not meant to be. Freud defined neurosis as separation from Self, and so it is. The real Self is the love within us. It's the Child of God. The fearful self is an imposter. m The return to love is the great cosmic drama, the personal journey from pretense to self, from pain to inner peace.

The Present

"All your past except its beauty is gone, and nothing is left but a blessing."

God exists in eternity. The only point where eternity meets time is in the present. The past is merely a thought we have. It is literally all in our minds. Our capacity for brilliance is equal to our capacity to forget the past and forget the future. The Course teaches, "Give the past to Him who can change your mind about it for you."

All that is real in our past is the love we gave and the love we received. Everything else is an illusion.

A miracle is a shift in thinking from what we might have done in the past or should be doing in the future, to what we feel free to do right here, right now; a shift from man’s way of thinking to God’s way of thinking. We want a new life, a new beginning. We desire a life untainted by any darkness of the past, and being entitled to miracles we are entitled to that full release. This is what it means to say that Jesus washes us clean of our sins. He completely removes all loveless thoughts. The physical world of the ego is a world of constant changes, ups and down, darkness and light. The physical world of time is not the real world. The spirit world of eternity is our real home. We are on our way there.

God

"There is no time, no place, no state where God is absent."

There have been times in my life, when I have felt that sadness would overwhelm me. Something didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, or there was some conflict between myself and someone else, or I was afraid of what was going to happen or not happen in the future. Our lives in those moments can be so painful, and the mind begins an endless search for things that could make us feel better, or change the situation. What I learned from the Course is that the change we’re really looking for is inside our heads. Our outer circumstances will always be in flux. One day they love you; the next day you’re their target. One day a situation is running smoothly; the next day chaos reigns. One day you feel like you're an okay person; the next day you feel like you're an utter failure. What can change, however, is how we perceive those experiences. And that shift in our perception is the meaning of miracles.

There’s a Biblical story where Jesus says we can build our house on sand or we can build it on rock. When our house is built on sand, then the winds and rain can tear it down. When our house is built on rock, then it’s sturdy and strong and the storms can’t destroy it. Our house is our emotional stability. When it is built on sand, our sense of well-being is based on circumstances working out our way, based on fleeting things and passing moods. One disappointing phone call and we crumble. When it is built on rock, we’re not so vulnerable to life’s passing dramas. Our emotional stability rests on something more enduring, something permanent and strong. When our house is built on rock, it means we're depending on the higher reality of God.

I had never realized that depending on God meant depending on love. I had heard it said that God was love, but it had never kicked in for me exactly what that meant. As I began to study A Course in Miracles, I discovered the following things about God: He is the perfect unconditional love within us. Whether we follow Him, i.e., think with perfect love, is entirely up to us. When we choose to love, or to allow our minds to be one with God, then life is wonderful. When we turn away from love, the pain sets in. So when we think with God, life is peaceful. When we think without Him, life is painful. And that’s the mental choice we make, every moment of every day.

You

"The Thought God holds of you is like a star, unchangeable in an eternal sky."

The perfect you is the love within you. The perfect you isn’t something you need to create, because God created it. To remember that you are part of God, that you are love, is not arrogant. It’s humble. To think you are anything else is arrogant, because it implies you created yourself. Your job is to allow the Holy Spirit to remove the fearful thinking that surrounds your perfect self. Love is changeless and therefore so are you.

Psychologist Carl Jung posited the notion of the collective unconscious. His idea was that if you went deep into your mind, and deep into mine, there is a level we all share. The Course goes one step further; if you go deep into your mind, and deep into mine, we have the same mind. The concept of a divine or Christ mind is the idea that, at our core, we are not just identical, but actually the same being. "There is only one begotten Son" doesn’t mean that Jesus was it, and we’re not. It means we’re all it. There’s only one of us here. We’re like the spokes on a wheel, all radiating out from the same center. If you define us according to our position on the rim, we seem separate. But if you define us according to our source, the center of the wheel, we’re a shared identity. At the bottom of it all, what we are is love.

The word Christ is a psychological term. No religion has a monopoly on the truth. Christ refers to the common thread of divine love that is the core and essence of every human mind. The love in one of us is the love in all of us. There's actually no place where God stops and you start, and no place where you stop and I start. Love is energy, an infinite continuum. Your mind extends into mine and into everyone else's. It doesn't stay enclosed within your body.

A Course in Miracles likens us to sunbeams thinking we’re separate from the sun, or waves thinking we’re separate from the ocean. Just as a sunbeam can’t separate itself from the sun, and a wave can’t separate itself from the ocean, we can’t separate ourselves from one another. We are all part of a sea of love, one indivisible divine mind. This truth of who we really are doesn't change; we just forget it. We identify with the notion of a small, separate self, instead of the idea of a reality we share with everyone.

You aren’t who you think you are. Aren’t you glad?

You’re not your grades, or your credentials, or your resume, or your house. We aren’t those things at all. We are holy beings, individual cells in the body of Christ. We are who God created us to be. We are all one, we are love itself. Accepting the Christ is merely a shift in self-perception. We awaken from the dream that we are finite, isolated creatures, and recognize that we are glorious, infinitely creative spirits.

A lot of today’s most common psychological orientation is to analyze the darkness in order to reach the light, thinking that if we focus on our neuroses, their origins and dynamics, then we will move beyond them. But, we get in life that which we focus on. Continual focus on darkness leads us, as individuals and as a society, further into darkness. To focus on Christ means to focus on the goodness and power that lie latent within us, in order to invoke them into realization and expression.

"I accept the Christ within" means,

"I accept the beauty within me as who I really am. I am not my weakness. I am not my anger. I am not my small-mindedness. I am much much more. And I am willing to be reminded of who I really am."

 

 

Return to Love by Marianne Williamson presents the principles of A Course in Miracles with simplicity and clarity.

 

 
 

Home | Download | About ACIM | About Us | Video | Recommended