by Beverly Hutchinson McNeff
Over forty years ago, the Center was founded for the purpose of sharing the transformative message of A Course in Miracles.
The Course is not another religion or dogma, it is a path to healing our lives right now. It is a tool to teach us how to be in the world but not of it.
It tells us that peace is not just a nice idea but our right. To experience the peace that we all are truly seeking, however, we have to want it more than our problems more than our need to be right, and more than our precious opinions and judgments.
We just don’t have all the facts when we make those opinions and judgments. And, even if we do have a lot of what we think are accurate facts, do we really know people’s “back story?” Do we really know what makes people act the way they do? The Course doesn’t tell us that we should give up judgment, it tells that we really cannot judge.
“Remember how many times you thought you knew all the ‘facts’ you needed for judgment, and how wrong you were! Is there anyone who has not had this experience? Would you know how many times you merely thought you were right, without ever realizing you were wrong? Why would you choose such an arbitrary basis for decision making? Wisdom is not judgment; it is the relinquishment of judgment. Make then but one more judgment. It is this: There is Someone with you Whose judgment is perfect. He does know all the facts; past, present and to come. He does know all the effects of His judgment on everyone and everything involved in any way. And He is wholly fair to everyone, for there is no distortion in His perception.
Therefore lay judgment down, not with regret but with a sigh of gratitude. Now are you free of a burden so great that you could merely stagger and fall down beneath it.” (M-10.4)
Many times in my life I have felt like Atlas. Remember him? In Greek mythology, Atlas was sentenced by Zeus to carry the world on his shoulders. Most of us have felt “the weight of the world on our shoulders” at one time or another and many times it is because of all the opinions and judgments we carry around.
As I have matured and grown with the Course, I have found less value in my opinions and my need to share them. The other day, I found myself in a situation where I could have “enlightened” quite a few people with my “opinions,” but for some reason, I didn’t open my mouth. And, you know what? The world didn’t fall apart, “right” didn’t perish, and I was able to offer silent grace to those who were speaking, and I felt lighter.
Maybe that’s why the Course tells us that a quiet mind is not a little gift and that peace comes quietly into the mind that stops an instant and is still. We diminish the power of stillness and quiet, and we might even dismiss it as a nice new age thought but perhaps not practical in this world with all its pressing issues. Yet we’ve been told this idea for a long time in the old saying, “When your mouth is open, your ears are closed.” That is literally and metaphorically true. When we still our participation in the world for just a moment, we can actually experience what is really occurring. We were lost, but now we are found, as the old spiritual “Amazing Grace” reminds us.
This does not mean that we become impotent or docile in the world and our lives. It means that we actually become productive. The Course reminds us that when we don’t think with God we are actually doing nothing. The point is the ego has talked us into believing that all our nothingness is doing something. But, no matter how busy you are with all your nothing, it is still nothing.
Many years ago when our son Jeffrey was learning his multiplication tables, he never had trouble multiplying two numbers together. For example, he understood how 2×2=4 because two twos is four. But when he multiplied a number with a zero, it seemed to stump him. He just couldn’t understand how the answer would be zero. So, to drive the point home, we would have fun coming up with fantastically large numbers and then multiplying them zero times to come up with zero! We would always laugh about how huge a number could be and how it could be disintegrated by a zero! The same is true for our illusions. No matter how huge or seemingly valid the fearful problem or worry may be, the presence of God, the presence of love in our minds, shows us fear and worry’s nothingness and helps us to see the call for love that it really is.
This is a process. We are bound to rush to judgment or project our opinions, but they don’t need to find “fertile ground” in our minds any more. As the Course says,
“Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit. Eventually everyone begins to recognize, however dimly, that there must be a better way. As this recognition becomes more firmly established, it becomes a turning point. This ultimately reawakens spiritual vision, simultaneously weakening the investment in physical sight. The alternating investment in the two levels of perception is usually experienced as conflict, which can become very acute. But the outcome is as certain as God.” (T-2.III.3:5)
It’s interesting that the Course tells us this process of awakening can be experienced as conflict in our minds, and isn’t that true?! Many people have shared with me how they just love the Course and experience such wonderful, peaceful awareness and then everything stops! They become frustrated and stymied. But, if perceived correctly, this can be seen as great movement and healing. We are detaching from the physical sight and seeming reality of this world and embracing a spiritual vision. This path is new to us and it may be challenging at times, but we need to keep reassuring ourselves “the outcome is as certain as God.”
It is similar to birth. When babies are born, their whole world in the womb is destroyed. They die to the only life experience they have. But, to the rest of us, that “death and destruction” is worth it, since now they truly are born to experience life in this world with us. They have to detach from one existence – the only one they know – to experience what we see as them fully living their lives. In our minds their temporary “pain” would be well worth the final outcome. We even slap’em on the rear to welcome them “home!”
The point is that it is impossible to really determine what is best for us or for anyone. What we can gather is that peace must be our goal and love needs to lead the way, if we are to truly live. Any other approach is just a poor substitute of what we are entitled to and not worthy of a child of God.
Let’s get there together! We all need help to awaken; help from the Holy Spirit and from each other. The Course reminds us that the “ark of peace is entered two by two” and that “salvation is a collaborative venture.” Our relationships keep us accountable and help us to awaken faster. It’s sometimes so easy to be in a peaceful state until we open the door and walk outside and deal with those people! Those people help us to look at ourselves and decide that peace is more important than our judgments. Many times I find that I make more of an effort to be vigilant for God because of our son, Jeffrey. I realized he was watching me, and I wanted to be the example I spoke about. Much like the basis of the anonymous programs, joining together gives us support, accountability, and a purpose to keep in mind.
Years ago, when texting was in its infancy, Oprah Winfrey started a movement online to have people take a pledge to not text while driving. Over a million people took that pledge. No one was watching them but themselves. By taking the pledge they were committing to themselves and the anonymous others who took the pledge to not text while driving. They were joining, in a way, to be truly helpful.
What if we decided to take a pledge to be truly helpful – to take a pledge to remember our purpose? So that is what I started back in 2010. We created our Pledge for Peace on our site. If you go to our webpage Pledge for Peace, you can join me and countless others around the world in remembering that the peace of God is our one goal. We will also track your pledge on our world map so you can see everyone who is joining with you in this goal.
Plus, if you take the pledge today, we will send you a free rainbow-colored wristband that says, “The peace of God is my one goal.”
Take the pledge with us to make peace your goal today. We can bring the peace we are seeking into reality, if we truly want it. A Course in Miracles gives us this pledge:
The peace of God is my one goal; the aim
of all my living here, the end I seek,
my purpose and my function and my life,
while I abide where I am not at home. (W-205)
Every great spiritual teaching tells us this world is not our final destination, but while we are here, let’s bring heaven to this world, to our lives, to our jobs, to our finances, to our relationships.
Take the pledge with us today. Let’s be in unity with each other and accountable to remember that we can and will make a difference together.
It’s not easy, we’ll want to fall back into our old patterns, but if you can remember that you took a pledge for peace, maybe you can choose again. As the saying goes, “Success means getting up just one more time than you fall down.”
Take the pledge to make peace your goal today and allow your healing and the world’s to begin. Now, that’s an “opinion” that heals!