This is one of those incredibly practical A Course in Miracles (ACIM) lessons that’s worth incorporating into your daily practice, and coming back to over and over again throughout your day, to stay grounded in the truth. It reminds us that whenever we feel upset, regardless of the specific form your upset takes- whether it be anger, frustration, depression, anxiety, worry, fear etc- or the apparent cause you attribute that upset feeling, it’s never the real reason you’re actually upset.
ts important to emphasise that Jesus is very clearly saying that there is no difference between the forms your upset takes. The reason for this is that there is only ever one real cause behind feeling upset, whenever or however that seems to arise within your experience. So in other words, whether you feel angry, afraid, annoyed, anxious, jealous, betrayed, sad, ashamed or depressed, these states are all fundamentally the same. There’s no real difference between them despite the fact that they feel different, and appear to be caused by all manner of different external stimuli (things, people and circumstances).
The Course explains that the real cause of all our states of upset is always, and only ever, our choice for the ego as guide, and thus our belief in the separation from God. This thought of separation, and the resultant guilt and fear this belief necessarily entails when taken seriously, is all these feelings of upset ever represent. Incidentally, this is also why all forms of upset are essentially the same: they’re all illusory states that don’t exist in truth, meaning that they don’t exist in God, and therefore cannot be true if we accept the Course’s non-dualistic metaphysical assertion that God is all there is. Properly seen through this right-minded lens then, all forms of upset are simply different symbolic representations of the same problem; of our false belief in separation.
This is an incredibly subversive idea because the ego’s very ‘existence’ hinges on our seeing differences and making them real, which reinforces and fuels our belief in separation. Lumping all our unsavoury feelings into one simple category- as reflecting the unreal- and thereby seeing them all as the same, goes directly against the ego’s desire to emphasise difference, make things ultra complicated, see and make real endless problems and ’causes’ outside of us, and thus convince us that we’re all powerless victims of external forces beyond our control.
The ego’s insistence that all of our upsets are different- with some being bigger or more important than others- also helps entrench our belief in a ‘hierarchy of illusions,’ which is one of the ego’s primary defenses against the undifferentiated oneness of God. What could be more complex and difficult to solve than our lack of peace and discomfort, if all our feelings are multifaceted, have different causes outside our control, with some being more serious than others? This ego perspective guarantees to make the attainment of peace impossible. At best, it reduces peace of mind to a fleeting, flimsy, undependable and conditional experience.
In contrast, the Holy Spirit’s idea that all our negative states are caused by one single factor- our mind’s unconscious belief in sin- does the complete opposite. It radically simplifies everything. It eradicates all the endless excuses as to why we can’t be at peace and feel a stable sense of contentment. It insists that if all these problematic states of unhappiness and suffering are simply the result of one single and internal problem (our belief in separation), then we can easily feel better because the problem was, and always is, within us; meaning that the solution is within us also.
Rather than needing anyone or anything else external to us to change in order for us to feel better, we can simply choose to feel better by solving the true problem where it really is- within our mind. It returns control over our emotional and psychological well-being back to ourselves. Now we don’t have to feel powerless in the face of external issues or people we can’t control. We are not victims of the world we see, and we don’t have to pretend and play-along as though we are anymore. Instead, we are reminded that we are indeed fully responsible for how we feel and what we believe. And in that recognition is reborn the awareness of our true power and freedom- the power of our mind’s ability to choose between the ego’s insane thought-system of sin, guilt and fear, or the Holy Spirit’s sane thought-system of forgiveness.
We all have the ability to go within, choose the Holy Spirit as our Guide, and undo our belief in the separation from God via forgiveness. We all have the ability to see things right, by first learning to see ourselves right, along with everyone and everything else too. We are not a body, we are Spirit. We are the Holy Son of God Himself, and His Son cannot suffer unless he consents to suffer by forgetting who He is. Even then, suffering can only be a false, self-inflicted state of mind.
Remember that we are only speaking of our internal experience here- of how we feel, what we think, believe and how we choose perceive things (with the ego or Holy Spirit). The Course is absolutely not saying that you as an individual are responsible for what appears to happen to you; that you consciously chose to experience or attract tragedies or difficult circumstances to you. This is a Course in true perception that is applied at the level of the mind; not on the level of behaviour and carried out through physical action.
ACIM asserts that your unconscious split-mind projected out your life script, along with all the illusory scripts (or dreams) of the false material world. It is not the individual self that decides what occurs to you. The script has already been written. It was written the instant the split-mind projected it’s belief in separation out onto its made-up world of bodies.
While we are not encouraged to deny our experiences in the world, we are however asked to practice forgiveness using the specifics of our lives. That is, we are being trained to go within, search our minds for our specific ego feelings and thoughts, and use them as material for practicing forgiveness. In doing this, we’ll be making use of what the ego originally made to hurt (our individuality, the world, our judgements and unkind attack thoughts), to heal our minds instead. We use the specifics of our lives to teach us the sameness of all illusions, and get us back to the non-specific, abstract and all-encompassing oneness of God. This is how the Holy Spirit helps us reverse our erroneous ego-thinking, which is what will inevitably wake us up to the true content of God’s Love within our mind.
Although not explained within this lesson that ‘I’m never upset for the reason I think,’ its worth noting that the Course teaches that a big part of us doesn’t want to be at peace. We secretly want to be upset. If we’re upset for reasons outside our control, no one could deny that we’d be victims. What’s so great about being a victim? Nothing on the face of it, but it does serve a sneaky ego purpose. We have a huge ego-investment in being victims and feeling powerless because it implies we’re innocent. We haven’t done anything wrong- someone else has. Its someone else’s fault. Its much safer that way. Why and how could that be considering we would all readily protest that we don’t want to feel upset, angry, frustrated, worried and so on? Consciously, that may be the case. However, its a different story when we check in with the split-mind we made unconscious to us through denial.
ACIM teaches us that we unconsciously believe in sin; that we attacked and overthrew God and destroyed Heaven. The incredible guilt and fear we feel at believing ourselves to be murderous sinners ensures that we already, and only ever, suffer from this repressed guilt over believing ourselves to be the worst imaginable ‘perpetrator/offender’ possible. This self-concept is founded on the idea that we lost our innocence when we betrayed God. Given we projected our belief in this sin (along with our guilt and fear) onto this made-up world of ours in a bid to escape the horror of this belief, it becomes imperative to the ego’s ‘safety plan’ for us that we constantly project our mind’s repressed guilt onto others, and maintain the further delusional yet conscious belief that we’re innocent victims.
That way, we can ensure that when God does eventually find us to take His revenge- as we expect Him to rightly do- He might actually take pity on us when he finds we’re just poor, miserable and wretched creatures. How could we, weak and pitiful as we are, have attacked God Himself? In fact, we might even be able to convince God that the guilty one must be someone else by pointing the finger at our own perpetrators, who we can claim made us the perennial and powerless victims that we appear and pretend to be.
Although this is clearly an insane ‘blame someone (anyone!) else’ strategy, it is nonetheless the ego’s twisted version of a plan for ‘salvation.’ It is also, unfortunately, the ego’s lies and it’s ludicrous plan for ‘salvation’ that we have believed and accepted at the level of the mind. It explains why projecting our guilt feels so effortless; why judging, attacking, and perceiving others as different seems to happen a bit too automatically; and why we’re so addicted to- and if we’re honest- even relish the victim role.
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit’s plan for salvation is simple. It reverses the ego’s mad, nonsensical ramblings by simply reminding us that the awful, unforgivable, sin we think we committed, never happened. We didn’t and never could separate from God, let alone attack Him. How could part of Himself attack Itself? How could a faint ripple in the ocean declare itself independent from the ocean, as the Course poetically compares it? (T-18.VIII.3.)
In this view, there is no sin and therefore there can be no guilt and no fear. There will be no punishment for what never has, or could, occur. There is simply a quiet realisation and acceptance that we are still innocent and whole in God, by denying the reality of sin, guilt and fear we have (mis)placed our belief in. And now we’re free to reverse our faulty ego thought-system with the Holy Spirit’s help. We’re free to take back our projections of guilt and fear, and forgive ourselves, others and the world. We’re free to join once more with Jesus and the Holy Spirit within our right-mind and its content of Love. From this new place of residence within our right-mind, we can now view everything through the Holy Spirit’s true perception.
There are countless reasons to make this lesson part of your daily arsenal of right-minded ideas you use to readjust your perspective and ground yourself in truth. But all reasons aside, the emotional and psychological benefits of actually using this idea, will ultimately show you the value of remembering that you are never upset for the reason you think. Remember to remain diligent but always gentle. Happy practicing!