Over decades of spiritual searching I have met a handful of people who claim to have awakened to the truth beyond the dream of separate interests, the lives we believe we are living in this world. Most have undergone spontaneous, dramatic shifts in awareness usually following a particularly traumatic experience such as physically dying for a few moments or coming very close to death. Others reached a point of psychological suffering wherein the realization that they could choose instead to experience wholeness finally dawned on them. These people went on to share their awakening with others, motivated to bring light to our darkness. But all too often they unwittingly fell asleep again. Hypnotized by the “specialness” of their experience they began to use it to elevate themselves above the masses, behaving as if they were somehow more deserving of the one love we share, somehow able to heal those less advanced and evolved, better equipped to hear the voice of love, in possession of the “secret” balm for what ails our broken souls.

While there must be cases of this type of sudden, pure awakening in which the individual then remains awake in this world—“in it but not of it” and able to demonstrate the one love we never left–I have never personally encountered such an individual. But I have met many whose longing and searching for truth beyond the dream, whose internal determination to look honestly within has offered glimpses of our true nature, moments of clarity in which time and need vanishes replaced by wonder and the joy of certain unity, the welcome death of the ego. I, too, have increasingly experienced–most frequently as a direct result of practicing A Course in Miracle’s forgiveness–these “holy instants.” Before returning once more to a tumultuous venue of challenging relationships, preoccupation with physical survival; temporary fulfillment and success followed by disappointment and broken promises.

Why can’t whole, infinite love stay? Or, more accurately, why can’t we stay in that moment of awakened communion with the love we are, reunited with our true and only self? A Course in Miracles is the only path I have studied that answers and transcends that question, leading us beyond it by first inviting us to question all we believe about ourselves, the realm in which we seem to engage, and everything that appears to happen to us. By admitting we do not know what we are, what we’re doing, or why we’re doing it, we begin to scrape away at the false self and world we created to hide our true, shared light.

Why would we fear awakening to that whole, eternally loving truth? Because we believe we destroyed it. The moment the “tiny mad idea” of experiencing autonomy arose in the one child of God’s mind and we took it seriously, we experienced ourselves outside that mind, cast into darkness, convinced our seeming error in judgment had somehow obliterated our source. Overcome with guilt and terrified of retribution, we hungrily swallowed the ego’s plan of eliminating our guilt by projecting it outward into a world of constantly fragmenting, evolving, competing and opposing forms. And to make sure we never remembered we could simply choose again not to believe, we repressed the memory of that initial choice to separate, figuratively fell asleep, and completely forgot the awakened, invulnerable, eternal reality no idea however misguided could possibly threaten.

The heavy burden of that unconscious guilt and fear which surface in the guise of every negative emotion—anger, annoyance, frustration, depression, grief, impatience, etc.—weighs heavily on our hearts. So heavily we can’t bear it for long, and must blame it on others, or experience its return in the form of an outside attack from which we compulsively protect/defend our now fragile, finite, false selves. We (the decision maker that chose to follow the ego) also believe that our separate identities offer us something worth attempting to preserve as long as we can. That our “specialness” purchased at the cost of the one, indivisible love we’ve forgotten is worth the price of an unreliable, ultimately deteriorating, unique life punctuated by moments of both satisfaction and tragedy.

A Course in Miracles offers us a process for awakening from the nightmare of our mistaken belief; harnessing the very illusory forms the ego thought system uses to reinforce its tale of separation to undo our belief in it. Little by little, practicing the Course’s unique form of forgiveness that invites the decision maker to catch itself in the act of projecting, recognize the external attack/problem as merely an expression of repressed internal guilt, and choose again for the vision of the part of our mind that recognizes our illusions but does not take them seriously, our error is corrected. Little by little, day by day, as we begin to witness our mistaken belief that someone or thing outside can in any way enhance or disturb our peace of mind and recognize the suffering that belief causes the ego thought system begins to weaken.

Motivated by an increasing awareness of the pain our investment in separation has cost us we choose again, and again for truth, experiencing moments of awakening more and more frequently. Eventually, practicing forgiveness, our reaction to the movie of the outside world that once seemed so attractive and repulsive begins to fade along with our judgments. Old grudges, what the Course calls “ancient hatreds” slip away and we feel more balanced, kind, and tolerant. Something our spouse once did that drove us up the wall no longer rankles. A wave of appreciation washes over us as we notice something beautiful about our child’s spirit we had overlooked before. An understanding that we all share the same mistaken belief and the same longing to dispel it replaces the details of our secret suffering and compassion begins to eclipse our experience of unfairness.

The miracle, the change of mind forgiveness brings, happens over and over in our journey home, undoing our false beliefs and gently awakening us from the nightmare of competition with our source we have been reenacting in our relationships for so long. Awakening A Course in Miracles style is ordinary business, an accessible, practical process anyone can undertake by patiently learning to apply its simple teaching to every experience we seem to encounter in our daily lives, despite the ego’s fear tactics and active resistance. We don’t have to set our sights on awakening; it happens, and happens, and happens as we practice forgiveness anywhere, anytime, with anything we believe we interact. As the introduction to the workbook (the Course’s companion to the text that teaches us to apply its dynamic forgiveness process in our everyday lives) reassures us:

“Remember only this; you need not believe the ideas, you need not accept them, and you need not even welcome them. Some of them you may actively resist. None of this will matter, or decrease their efficacy.”

Author's Bio: 

Susan Dugan is a writer, student, and teacher of A Course in Miracles blogging about practicing extraordinary forgiveness in an ordinary life at http://sudugan.wordpress.com.