What a relief it was for me to discover that this world is not real and this body within this world is not real but that I am. Well, not at first, not exactly. I mean, I liked the idea that there is a solution to the world and that I could be part of that solution. But I have to admit, it was going to be a very long time before I really accepted that the world is not real.
While I was trying to accept all that the Course was teaching me and seemingly failing at it over and over, I was impatient and frustrated. But now in retrospect, I understand that the process was necessary. We cannot be thrown into this new way of seeing without some preparation and I am grateful for each step of the way. I see now that the slow pace was kind.
I know some people who always suspected that there was more to life than we could see and that religion often got it wrong. Many of my friends did not buy into the story of an angry punishing God. I was not one of those. I bought the whole story without questioning it. That changed for me when I got divorced and lost my standing in the church I had believed in so thoroughly.
I went through a period of anger at the Church and at God and that was perfect as well. It was the way I threw off the old teachings so that I could become open to something new. As I look back on that period of my life, I see how gently planned it all was. I was guided to Unity Church and they helped me to understand that my thoughts were powerful and that I had some control over what I chose to believe. I was also guided to some books about near-death experiences and another about Edgar Cayce. My mind was beginning to open.
Then, one night I heard someone talk about A Course in Miracles and for reasons I didn’t understand, I knew I had to have that book. I was still a long way from understanding how perfectly our lives are planned so that we can gently awaken to the truth. Even with this amazing book to guide me through that process, it was still slow going.
Even though I was fascinated by what I was reading, I was pretty resistant to some of the teachings. I was not consciously aware of my resistance; it just showed up as an inability to do what was asked of me, and as a lack of understanding of some of the concepts. That is pretty normal, I’m sure. I figured out something early on, though. If I just kept doing what was asked of me regardless of my beliefs that it wasn’t working, things continued to improve even though it seemed ridiculously slow to me.
It became my mantra that if nothing else, I could be persistent. I started, as do most others, working on the situations that showed up in my life. I had grievances in my relationships with family member and co-workers and so I worked at loosening those grievances, trying to accept that there was another way to see things. What really helped me to speed things along was discovering Pathways of Light.
I started taking the courses they offered and became a minister. I did a lot of inner work with these courses and that helped me. Then I took the Miracles Practitioners courses that helped me to understand the Course, and more importantly, to practice the Course even more diligently than I had before. All along, I was continuing to undo the ego in my mind as I watched my thoughts and brought them to the Holy Spirit to be healed.
It was often frustrating as I found myself bringing the same thoughts to Him over and over again. I made an assumption, though, that if anyone was failing to do their part it wasn’t the Holy Spirit. This helped to open my mind further so that I could be guided more efficiently. I began to accept that when things were going wrong, I was doing it to myself and to watch my mind even more conscientiously so that I could accept correction.
Another turning point for me was to choose a single goal. For me that became the peace of God. The peace of God was my goal in every situation. So, if I was angry, I asked myself if this anger would bring me the peace of God. Since it didn’t, I let the anger go. It simplified all choices. I might still have to work at it, but in the end, I always chose the peace of God.
After a while, I began to notice a pattern. I was experiencing the same errors in many different forms. For instance, I would feel like a victim when my husband behaved in certain ways. I would feel like a victim if my children didn’t behave respectfully toward me. I felt like a victim of sickness and injuries. Ok, sometimes it takes me a good while to catch on, but eventually, I do.
I was taking each incident to the Holy Spirit and looking at it with Him. I would ask Him to heal my mind and show me another way to see the situation and He would do that. But when I recognized the pattern, I was able to undo that entire belief. I was able to accept that I am never a victim of the world I see. From that point on, I knew without a doubt that I alone am responsible for my life and I stopped projecting my problem onto others. That sped things up a lot!
Once the pattern was seen, I began to look for other patterns and discovered many. This let me heal not just a single incident or thought but to heal the entire category just as happened with victimhood. I started accepting that all my problems were the result of my thoughts and had nothing to do with anyone or anything outside my mind. I could not have done that first because it would have frightened me and my already heavy burden of guilt would have become unbearable.
For a very long time, for years in fact, it seemed I was taking tiny baby steps toward awakening, and I was. I now see that was a good thing and am grateful that it worked out that way. We all come here with some things to work on, our part in the Atonement Plan. Mine was to undo the belief in Victimhood and the idea that I could be mistreated. I also discovered that another part for me to undo was the belief in guilt. This one turned out to be even harder for me than the others.
Last year, I finally accomplished this. I had, again over a long period of time, given up the idea that others were guilty for what was happening in my life. That was undone when I let go of the belief in victimhood. But what I clung to for a very long time was the belief I was guilty for past behaviors. I couldn’t seem to shake this belief even though it didn’t make sense. Everything I read in the Course told me that I am innocent, and yet, it felt like I carried around a huge burden of guilt that I couldn’t shake.
The form the guilt took in my mind was parenting guilt and the guilt I felt that I was not a good daughter to my mom. Those were the memories that would surface in my mind to torture me. One night, as I lay in bed unable to sleep because of some memory from the past where I was unloving or unkind to my mom, I told the Holy Spirit that I could not tolerate this any longer. I knew it didn’t make sense and I didn’t want to continue to do this to myself. I told Him I was done with it!
The next morning, I had the thought that I should talk to my friend Cate Grieves who awakened a few years ago through A Course in Miracles. I told her what was going on and asked her how she did it. She talked to me about it reminding me that there is nothing we can do in this world that in any way affects who we are in reality, nor can it affect the love of God.
She told me about a process she used when she was working on guilt. She said she visualized sitting on a bench with Jesus, telling him what was going on in her mind. She felt like there was a black hole in her that was this guilt. She visualized Jesus putting his hands in and around the black hole, and he simply drew his hands together and it was gone.
She told me this. “I think talking with Jesus is where the answer is, Myron. He is the symbol of radiant love. His answer will be accepted by your mind. His answer is stronger than the ego’s. His answer will clear out even the smallest belief of guilt.”
I did what Cate suggested and it worked perfectly. All that guilt I had been carrying around most of my life just vanished. It was a miracle for me just like it was for Cate. I knew that the Holy Spirit had chosen to answer my prayer about guilt in this way because He knew, as Cate did, that my love and trust in Jesus would allow me to finally accept the healing.
I also think that the fact that I had made up my mind that I wanted to be free made a big difference. From the Course: “What He has saved you from is gone.” Always use the ideas from the Course with conviction. Without conviction, doubt enters in and undoes what you are trying to do. My decision to be free infused my request with conviction and removed the doubt I had before.
Without the belief in guilt in my mind, there was enough light to help me shift into a new place, one in which I experience peace and happiness nearly all the time. Most of the untrue thoughts that were left in my mind fell away without effort on my part. I still have ego thoughts but I almost never believe them or give them my attention, and when I do have a thought that I am attracted to, it is easy for me to release it now. So, my mind is not completely free of ego, but I am much freer of the ego than ever before. It took a lot of little steps but that is just fine.