January 2014 – “There is no peace except the peace of God.”

“Seek you no further. You will not find peace except the peace of God. Accept this fact, and save yourself the agony of yet more bitter disappointments, bleak despair, and sense of icy hopelessness and doubt…” ACIM, Workbook page 384 Lesson 200.

Lesson 200 summarises succinctly the whole of A Course in Miracles. It tells us that this world is unreal because the Son of God, which is all of us, could not make a world that opposes the Will of God. It tells us that we do not belong in this world, “This world is not where you belong. You are a stranger here.” Then it tells us that we must change our mind about the purpose of the world if we want to liberate ourselves. This means we look upon the world and everyone in it with love and forgiveness, recognising that it is simply a mental projection and, therefore, unreal. “You will be bound till all the world is seen by you as blessed, and everyone made free of your mistakes and honored as he is.”  This means everyone is forgiven and recognised as being one with God. It also means letting go of the illusions we have believed to be true.

Jesus tells us to stop looking for happiness in this world as we will only find misery and pain. He makes it clear what we should ask for: “Yet you can ask as easily for love, for happiness, and for eternal life in peace that has no ending. Ask for this, and you can only win. To ask for what you have already must succeed.” If we want “peace that has no ending,” we will only achieve this when we awaken or become liberated from the world of the ego.

This lesson could be seen to be quite a depressing one. Does it mean that we should not have any happiness in our lives because the world is unreal? Can we not enjoy watching our children grow up; gazing at a lovely sunset or eating chocolate ice cream? I don’t think this is what Jesus means when he tells us that there is no peace except the peace of God. He means that there is no lasting peace or lasting happiness in this world, because nothing can endure in the world of form. Everything is transient and ends in one way or another, sooner or later. We don’t deny this world and we certainly can continue to enjoy the things that give us joy but, at the same time, we must try to detach from it. We begin to relinquish the world by not valuing the things we have created. This doesn’t mean we become sad about the illusory nature of the world. On the contrary, if we change our mind about the purpose of the world, we can look upon it with joy. If we look upon the world as a classroom in which to practise our forgiveness lessons and awaken from the dream, then it does have an important function; it can lead us back to God!

In Lesson 200, Jesus tells us that if we can leave behind all the hustle and bustle in this world, our rushing around and our self-imposed goals, then we can find peace. “Peace is the answer to conflicting goals, to senseless journeys, frantic, vain pursuits, and meaningless endeavors. Now the way is easy, sloping gently toward the bridge where freedom lies within the peace of God.” The ego would not want to believe that its endeavours are meaningless nor its goals conflicting, but we are trying to overcome the ego and so, at some point in our lives, we will have to admit that things that did seem very important to us (to our egos) at various stages in our lives, are not really important at all. All that is important is to extend God’s love to all who cross our paths and to awaken altogether from this dream world, which arose because of the “tiny, mad idea” of separation, which lead to the creation of the ego and the world of time and space. But it is important to remember that the ego and the world of time and space are only mental projections and they have not had any impact on our true nature. Our Self remains blissfully unaware of the dream we are dreaming, as it remains at peace in Heaven, as it was when created by God

One could look back at one’s life and remember all the things that seemed important: dating, getting married, having a career, having a family, having political allegiances, going on holiday, etc. With hindsight one can see that all these things did seem significant events in our lives and some of them did give us great joy. But did any of them endure? How long can we keep going round and round on the wheel of life, alternating between pleasure and pain, before we become aware that there has to be a different way of finding meaning to life, even if many things in our lives do give us joy and happiness.

As long as we go on searching for happy moments, laughter, sunshine, passion, etc., in this world of ours, we will be unable to avoid the sad moments too. Because this is just the way things are in the world of the ego, the world of yin and yang, of duality and of transient pleasures. And that was what Buddha discovered one day sitting under the Bodhi tree. He said that desire for things of the world causes suffering. This is because even when we manage to satisfy our desire, pleasure does not last. He said the way to avoid suffering is to detach from the things of the world.

To return to Lesson 200, Jesus describes our world as “hell,” and says we need forgiveness here in hell although it is not needed in Heaven because it is unknown there; there is no need for it there. He asks us to forgive, which means letting go of all our illusions and he says, as mentioned above, we must change our mind about the purpose of the world, if we want to escape from it.  We need to stop seeking for, what he calls “idols,” as they won’t give us lasting peace. The way to leave this world behind is to recognise that there is no lasting peace except the peace of God.

“Today we seek no idols. Peace can not be found in them. The peace of God is ours, and only this will we accept and want. Peace be to us today. For we have found a simple, happy way to leave the world of ambiguity, and to replace our shifting goals and solitary dreams with single purpose and companionship. For peace is union, if it be of God.” We were never meant to be solitary, separate individuals living in a dream world. We were always supposed to have remained as we were when God created us. It is useful to remember frequently that, “I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.”  Lesson 201

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