WHY IT’S SO IMPORTANT TO NOT TURN AWAY FROM PROBLEMS IN THE WORLD
The mass protests against racism and police brutality that have rocked the US and reverberated around the world is the latest in a string of recent major events that can be used to deepen our practice and understanding of A Course in Miracles. What’s especially useful about looking at large-scale problems through a Course lens is that they can help us understand the mechanics of the ego thought system by illustrating how it plays out in the world, while reminding us of our single spiritual job- to forgive.
USE PERSONAL & COLLECTIVE PROBLEMS TO PRACTICE FORGIVENESS
In the wake of polarising and pressing collective problems, it’s important to reflect on our personal reactions to such issues and bring them to our spiritual discipline of forgiveness, where they can be viewed most productively with the Holy Spirit’s wise and loving counsel. As students of A Course in Miracles, it is imperative that we use all external events, problems, and people in our lives for the one purpose of healing our split mind by choosing the Holy Spirit’s true perception of everything. So what exactly might true perception in reference to the recent protests look like? How can we apply the teachings of the Course to help us view and respond to issues of injustice?
DIFFERENCES ONLY APPEAR REAL IN ILLUSIONS BUT ARE MEANINGLESS IN TRUTH
It goes without saying that every true spiritual path is antithetical to racism or any -ism that supports the idea that some people are less than others based on external factors. A Course in Miracles is no exception. The teaching stresses the innate equality and worth of everyone irrespective of differences in form because there is no form. There is no world because there is no separation from God- only God Is. While we appear to be individual bodies with a vast array of differences that separate us from each other, our true identity is Christ, the holy Son of God, not the physical self we appear to be.
So although the core idea is that we are one in truth, Jesus doesn’t deny that in the world of separation, we do indeed appear to be different to each other in various ways. Age, sex, personality, gender, aptitudes, skin colour, height, socio-economic background, weight, and preferences are only some of the many ways that our body identities differ. However, all the ways in which we appear to be different in the world are all illusory because the world and our bodies themselves are illusory.
WE ARE THE SAME & ONE IN TRUTH
No matter what our exterior physical appearance, state, or situation, we are all still one in truth. Metaphysically, we are the same decision-making part of the split mind that chose to listen to the wrong mind and still retains the power to choose the Holy Spirit’s right-minded thought system instead. We are the mind that is dreaming the dream of separation. And beyond all dreams and illusions of separation entirely, we are still the holy Son of God that is eternally united with Him in the non-dualistic reality of Oneness.
THE IDEA THAT DIFFERENCES IN FORM ARE MEANINGFUL IS AN EGO PLOY MAINTAINED BY JUDGMENT
Racism, homophobia, classism, ageism, speciesism, nationalism, and so forth are based on the divisive idea that some bodies and groups of bodies are inferior or less important, and others are superior, or more important and valuable. They reflect and reinforce the ego’s thought system of separation because they assert that we are bodies, that external differences are very real, define us, and have the capacity to determine our worth. The ego’s thought system is essentially based on making differences real via judgement. In particular times and places around the world, certain body-based attributes are judged to be more preferable, good or ideal, and what fails to conform to that arbitrary criteria are judged as less than.
THERE IS NO HIERARCHY OF ILLUSIONS
This is how the ego establishes a hierarchy of illusions: we are tempted to deem some aspects of the illusion- some individuals, groups, circumstances, problems, and body-based characteristics- as better than others, some worse than others, some bigger, smaller, easier, harder, nastier, and more significant than others. All these judgements are predicated on differences in form, which our wrong mind would have us view as real and important. The Holy Spirit, however, would have us recognise that an illusion is the same as any other illusion in that they are fundamentally false and therefore utterly meaningless.
There is no hierarchy of illusions because differences in form are not real- they are all equally illusory. Whether a body is black, white, purple, green, human, amphibian, avian, old, young, Asian, Mediterranean, healthy, diseased, homosexual, heterosexual, tall, short, thin, heavy, materially wealthy or materially poor, all of these differences are still made up. The ego would have you believe that you are a body. The Holy Spirit would remind you that you are not a body, because you are not an illusion. You are as God created you. You are spirit, God’s one and only Son. Differences in form are all meaningless because they do not exist in Truth.
WE ARE TEMPTED TO VIEW DIFFERENCES AS MEANINGFUL TO HIDE & MAINTAIN OUR FALSE BELIEF IN SEPARATION
We can fruitfully use the issues of racism and injustice in the world as a springboard for reflecting on these principles and noticing all the ways in which we are tempted to make external differences real and meaningful- not just those we perceive in others, but also those we attribute to our own individual bodies. It is our judgements of external differences which serves the ego purpose of perceptually separating us from others in thought. This simultaneously ensures that our ongoing choice to be separate from God remains hidden from awareness, meaning that this original ontological mistake remains hidden from correction within our split mind.
BRING YOUR AWARENESS OF OUTER PROBLEMS BACK TO YOUR MIND
You may not judge skin colour as a valid indicator of a person’s worth and deserved treatment, but there may be many other external differences you are tempted to use to evaluate someone’s worth. This can be anything you perceive that you judge as more negative in another. It might also be something you view as more positive that serves to separate you from others. Either judgement involves division and shatters your awareness of our true unity in God. This is why it is crucial that as part of our daily forgiveness practice, we regularly examine all the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which we are personally tempted to make differences real.
EXPLORE HOW YOUR JUDGMENTS SERVE THE EGO’S INSANE & DIVISIVE AGENDA
Get into the habit of checking in with yourself and notice whether you feel uncomfortable around, afraid of, or superior or inferior to people of a certain ethnicity, appearance, political or religious persuasion, career, sexuality, age, personality type, education, zodiac sign, or financial status. Are the judgements you uncover directed at others, targeted at yourself, the world, or are there multiple judgements you hold against many?
EVERY ATTACK THOUGHT IS AN ATTACK ON YOU THAT KEEPS YOU BLIND TO THE TRUTH
Keep in mind that all attack thoughts are the same no matter how minor or savage the seeming weight of the blow. They are all equally destructive to your peace of mind. Whether your judgements are aimed at another, at yourself, the world at large, or groups of others, you always attack yourself first because each judgement rests on the belief that you are a body, separate from God and therefore separate from your very Self. It is this initial false judgement of who we are at the level of the mind, that results in our failure to recognise that every body we see on the level of the world is just a seemingly separate part of our Self in disguised physical form.
Notice also what you feel as you uncover any hidden prejudices: do you feel guilt, frustration, anger, shame, or self-hatred come up? Understand that these feelings are impossible states within God, and therefore represent fragments of our ontological guilt. Being false, it is our right-minded purpose to uproot and detox these egoic ideas from our wrong mind with the Holy Spirit’s help.
BE WILLING TO LOOK AT THE WRONG MINDED THOUGHT SYSTEM WITH JESUS OR THE HOLY SPIRIT
Be sure to invite Jesus or the Holy Spirit as you explore the hidden egoic prejudices that may influence you. Be ultra-honest with yourself and don’t be disturbed by what you uncover. No one but the Holy Spirit need know the crazy thoughts that flit across your mind. They are the same ego gibberish we all have access to while we appear to be separate from God, and thankfully, they’re not even true or representative of who we really are. The Holy Spirit, being the Presence and Teacher of God’s perfect love, will not judge you, but rather gently correct all the errors that distort your perception of yourself and others.
But we must look. You’re not expected to be perfect, but you are encouraged to work towards perfecting your willingness to look at the hidden egoic beliefs within your mind, and release them to the Holy Spirit for undoing.
EVERY MOMENT OFFERS US THE SAME OPPORTUNITY IN EVERY MOMENT IN TIME
Ultimately, this moment of turmoil affords us a great opportunity; the same opportunity that is inherent within every other moment in time. Our anger, outrage, shame, guilt, hatred and fear all call on us to look at and forgive our shared ego-fuelled propensity to perceive differences between us as real and meaningful, which reflect our wrong-minded belief that our own or others’ worth can be altered. That our worth and very identity can be defined by us, apart from, and in opposition to, what God has established as true.
As Jesus puts it in lesson 190 of the workbook:
“Peace to such foolishness! The time has come to laugh at such insane ideas.”
EXTERNAL PROBLEMS ARE ALWAYS REFLECTIONS OF OUR ONE INTERNAL PROBLEM OF SEPARATION
Bring all your false perceptions to the Holy Spirit so that we can recall the happy lesson that illusions can have no effect on the truth. We are the only one dreaming this dream of separation and are therefore the only one we ever attack and deceive by imagining that we are someone we are not. Anger, guilt, hatred, and criticism we direct and thus project onto any body (including our own), is always Self-condemnation. This is because they mirror the original, unjustified, and self-directed anger, guilt, hatred, and criticism that we hide within our unconscious split mind. This is the true cause of all suffering.
We are all in desperate need of the love that can heal our fractured mind. And being the only way in which we can receive the love and sanity we cast off when we wrongly believed that we could be separate from God, our desperate need for love and healing is our desperate need for forgiveness.
OUR WORTH AND IDENTITY IN GOD IS UNALTERABLE
There is nothing in the world of time and space that can change who we all are without exception: the one, innocent, holy, perfectly loved, loving, kind and worthy Son of God, to which there can be no opposites. However, having fooled ourselves into believing that we could be someone and somewhere we are not, we must practice forgiveness to remove the imaginary obstacles we invented to shut the love and peace of God out of our awareness, and keep us isolated in our dreams of madness.
As Jesus continues in lesson 190, we are being invited to turn within, and look at the darkness within our mind so that we can finally begin getting glimpses of the joyful truth that lies beyond all illusions:
“Lay down your arms, and come without defense into the quiet place where Heaven’s peace holds all things still at last. Lay down all thoughts of danger and of fear. Let no attack enter with you. Lay down the cruel sword of judgement that you hold against your throat, and put aside the withering assaults with which you seek to hide your holiness. Here will you understand there is no pain. Here does the joy of God belong to you.”
*This concludes the first part of the 5-part series titled, ‘ACIM on Racism & Injustice in the World.’ Please click on the arrow below to continue reading the second part in the series.