In August 1997, I purchased my first copy of A Course In Miracles (ACIM) so that I could join a brand new study group that was forming near my home. At the time, I had only recently become aware of ACIM, and knew nothing of its actual teachings. However, since the summer of 1994, when I had hit my spiritual bottom in life, I had been engaged in a journey to “know the Mind of God”.
It seemed a bold and perhaps naïve goal on my part. Who was I to presume that I could know such a thing? However, I established the goal at a time when my life was a complete mess, one that I was acutely aware was self-made. I already knew my mind was a wreck. I was hoping I could learn something by knowing the Mind of God that would be helpful to me in straightening out my life. So, when the mother of my ex-girlfriend invited me to join this new study group, it instinctively felt like the next step I was to take. Without knowing a thing about ACIM, I immediately said “yes”.
The Opposite of Love Is Fear
I still remember that first meeting. Being a brand new group, we simply began at the beginning. Our facilitator host began the meeting by reading aloud the brief, two paragraph Introduction that opened the text portion of ACIM. We spent the rest of that meeting unpacking the ideas contained in just those two short paragraphs. These are ideas that not only rocked my world on that night, but, would revolutionize my own thinking over time. They continue to influence my every thought even down to this very day, twenty years later.
There is not a wasted word in either of those two paragraphs. In the first paragraph, I learned the “course” is “required” yet also “voluntary,” but only insofar as when I would take the course. I took that to mean that, one way or another, I am going to have to learn what the “course” teaches. It would either be in this form or another, at this time or some other, but life requires these lessons to be learned. I was not free to “establish the curriculum” to my own liking. However, I was at choice as to what I wanted to learn at a “given time”.
The opening paragraph of the Introduction continued by asserting that the “course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love,” stating that the meaning of love is “beyond what can be taught”. However, it quickly adds that ACIM “does aim” at “removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence” and that love is my “natural inheritance”. I was still a long way from believing that last part about myself, but the idea of there being “blocks” in my “awareness of love’s presence” was an idea I was willing to investigate.
The last sentence of the opening paragraph really rocked my consciousness that fateful evening. I had always believed the “opposite of love” was hate. But, the “course” was telling me the “opposite of love is fear,” not hate. I had never heard that before, but immediately it made sense to me, as did the concluding clause, which asserted that love is “all-encompassing” and therefore “can have no opposite”. These ideas were the beginning of what the “course” describes as the “thought reversal” that is required for success in achieving ACIM’s goals.
Nothing Real Can Be Threatened
After that idea packed first paragraph, the second and concluding paragraph was a downright pithy, yet profound, summation of ACIM and its objectives.
Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God.
When I heard that read aloud by our facilitator, I knew I was where I was supposed to be. I instantly equated the “peace of God” as being what I was really after in my own pursuit to get to know the mind of God. It was peace that I really desired and here were two short sentences that offered the key to peace. It was like an invitation that if I could really understand the truth in these two short statements, I wouldn’t have to spend all the time it was clearly going to take to complete the course. However, I still had a long way to go in understanding this whole “real” and “unreal” thing before I would know the peace of God.
What did the “course” mean by “nothing real can be threatened?” Of course, it can. I am real. My body is real, and it can surely be threatened. Right? Then that second sentence, “nothing unreal exists,” initially sent me into a circular loop of inquiry. Well, I exist. Right? Therefore, I am not unreal. So, I must be real. If I am real, then I cannot be threatened. But, there I was right back up against my belief that my body was real, and certainly could be threatened. Right? How was it possible that “herein” these two statements “lies the peace of God”? I wasn’t feeling it that night, but I do admit I was intrigued and more importantly, I was willing to learn.
I Want The Peace of God
It would be another year or so before I began getting a handle on the ideas of “real” and “unreal”. By then, I had been steeped in the distinctions between “love and fear,” “knowledge and perception” and “truth and illusion”. I had come to understand that the “body” was not “real”. What was “real” is what was eternal and unchanging. The “body” is temporal, impermanent and constantly changing. Therefore, it was not real in the sense intended as a formula to experience the peace of God. “The “real” that could not be threatened was that which God created in accordance with truth principles, not that which I had made based on my own limited perceptions.
By the time, I reached Lesson 185 in the ACIM Workbook, I truly had realized that not only did “I want the peace of God,” it was all I wanted. For me, it had become the end game, the goal behind every choice I was making. Lesson 185, “I want the peace of God,” begins: “To say these words is nothing. But, to mean these words is everything.” By the end of my first year working with ACIM, I meant it when I said these words. This is not to say that I was experiencing the “peace of God” full time. I still have not achieved that goal. Indeed, who amongst us does experience the “peace of God” full time? However, it is to say, I was clear on my goal. I had grown from wanting to know the mind of God to wanting the peace of God for my very own.
I want the peace of God. Lesson 185 states: “No one can mean these words and not be healed”. As a child of God, simply because we want the peace of God, it is given to us freely. I want the peace of God. “Many have said these words. But few indeed have meant them.” If you truly desire to have the peace of God, and you claim it with conviction and purpose, your success is assured. In doing so, you will learn through experience that your own personal peace and God’s peace are one and the same.
The peace of God is yours. No one who truly seeks the peace of God can fail to find it. For you was peace created, given you by its Creator, and established as his own eternal gift.