By Gary Renard
About 12 years ago, shortly after the release of my first book, “The Disappearance of the Universe,” I started an online study group at Yahoo about the book and “A Course in Miracles.” It has gone on to become the largest Course study group in the world. That’s where I met and became good friends with Gene Bogart, who produces and cohosts my podcasts with me. We do them every month or so, and it’s been great fun, as well as educational. Both the study group and the podcasts stick to the Course, which can lead to lively conversations when there are people asking questions who don’t want to stick to the Course.
We’re often asked what the Course means, and we usually start by saying the best way to know what it means is to go by what it says. That may seem obvious, but the Course says a lot of things people don’t want to hear. For example, it says, “There is no world!” This is the central thought the Course attempts to teach. Most people don’t want to hear that.
Most people want the world and the things in it they are attracted to, hoping at the same time the bad things will not come to them, or at least not be too bad. Yet the Course also says (with the Voice of the Course, Jesus, speaking in the first person), “I once asked you to sell all you have and give to the poor and follow me. This is what I meant: If you have no investment in anything in this world, you can teach the poor where their treasure is. The poor are merely those who have invested wrongly, and they are poor indeed!”
The Course is talking here about our psychological investment. Its teachings are always done at the level of the mind, not at the level of the physical. Letting go of your psychological investment in the world and putting your belief where it belongs is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight, which is a good thing. If it happened too fast, it would engender fear. The mind has to be prepared for the higher life form that is your true home. This home is your oneness with God.
You prepare yourself to go home by undoing the ego and gradually letting the Holy Spirit become the dominant force in your mind, and in the end, the only force in your mind. True forgiveness, the first step of which was described in my last article, is what facilitates this undoing process.
There will be many opportunities to forgive. During the first year of our Yahoo study group, we coined a phrase for these opportunities. We started to call them JAFO. This is an acronym for “Just another forgiveness opportunity.” The phrase is born of the fact that there will always be forgiveness opportunities as long as you appear to be here. However, it’s possible to get to the point where these forgiveness opportunities cannot affect you. When that time finally arrives on your spiritual path, these JAFOs will cease to be challenging and forgiveness will be automatic.
The Second Step of Forgiveness
Once you’ve learned to stop yourself from reacting with the ego, which takes determination and discipline, you can go on to the second step in forgiveness. Eventually, all three steps will blend into one, and you will do them as a habit without having to think much at all about the steps. You’ll just know. This is much like the Zen concept of just knowing as unarticulated truth. But at first it’s essential to learn and practice the steps so you know what you’re doing, and so you know what it is you’re choosing between. That’s how the steps become a part of you, and you’ll know they’re a part of you when you miss forgiveness if you don’t do it. One of the reasons for that is you’ll know you are the one who is actually getting the benefits of doing it.
The second step in true forgiveness involves what the Course calls the “Holy Instant.” That’s the instant you switch from thinking with the ego to thinking with the Holy Spirit. The ego has been telling you what you’re seeing is real, that the body is real, that you have a real problem you need to take care of with real people in a real world. The Holy Spirit has a totally different story.
What you’re seeing is not true. It’s a projection that’s coming from your own unconscious mind, and it’s possible to experience that. People are not bodies, they are still perfect spirit at home in God; they have merely forgotten. The Course asks you, “What if you recognized this world is a hallucination? What if you really understood you made it up? What if you realized that those who seem to walk about in it, to sin and die, attack and murder, and destroy themselves, are wholly unreal?”
Eventually it would be impossible for you to ever react to the world the same way you used to, and in choosing the Holy Spirit you are taking the second of three steps that awakens spirit in yourself. As the Course teaches, “Mind is the activating agent of spirit.” By choosing spirit, you activate it in your own mind. The Course also says, “…miracles heal because they deny body-identification and affirm spirit-identification.”
The world we once believed in is a dream, and nothing more. Shakespeare was right. “We are such stuff as dreams are made of, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.” The Course asks you, “…who reacts to figures in a dream unless he sees them as if they were real? The instant that he sees them as they are, they have no more effects on him, because he understands he gave them their effects by causing them and making them seem real.”
This is lucid dreaming on a whole new level. Eventually you become aware that you’re dreaming. Every JAFO is equally forgivable. Maybe the things you thought were so heavy and important aren’t. You begin to relax. Real peace of mind is yours. Ironically, you function better in the dream because you can think more clearly, and you have the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit to lead you.
But the Course doesn’t stop there. It takes you all the way home. In the next article we’ll examine step three, which is spiritual sight. You’ll learn to see the way the Holy Spirit does, and thus get in touch with what you really are.
ABOUT GARY RENARD
Gary Renard is the bestselling author of “The Disappearance of the Universe” trilogy, including “Your Immortal Reality,” and his latest, “Love Has Forgotten No One: The Answer to Life ” — all based on “A Course in Miracles.” As a teacher and worldwide speaker, Renard has taught “A Course in Miracles” in 24 countries and 43 states, appeared in seven documentary movies, won the Infinity Foundation Spirit Award, and hosts a monthly podcast. For more information, visit www.garyrenard.com.