Life can seem very complex and confusing at times, so it’s not surprising that we find it complicated and difficult to make decisions. It seems as if we have so many choices, and each of these choices has different outcomes. How do we know what the right choice is? How do we know we’ll get what we want? I’ve read recently that, overwhelmed and confused by the multiplicity of choices on grocery store shelves, shoppers tend to head right for a familiar brand and select it. No wonder we tend to stick with familiar patterns of behaviour and ways of thinking and make the same decisions over and over again.
A Course in Miracles teaches that, although decision-making seems complicated, it’s really quite simple and straightforward: in every instant we are deciding, and every decision is essentially a choice for either heaven or hell; that is, for happiness or unhappiness, love or fear, peace or conflict, joy or pain. On the one hand, there’s everything we could possible want, and on the other hand–nothing.
“Okay,” you ask, “but how can I know which is which? Sometimes I do what I think will bring me happiness but then it all falls apart and ends up bringing me pain.”
We can’t know, at least not by ourselves. How could we? Everything and everyone changes in this world. In addition, we don’t have all the information, we don’t see the big picture, we don’t even really know what we are or what we really want, so how can we possibly know what will be best for us and bring us happiness?
Fortunately, there is a guiding spirit operating in us and this spirit does know. A Course in Miracles calls this spirit the Voice for God, or the Holy Spirit, which is always within us reminding us of the truth and telling us what is best for us–and for everyone else involved–in any decision we make.
A great deal of the Course is devoted to helping us to both get in touch with this Voice and to decide to listen to it. Of course, we have to want to hear it before we will actually hear it and listen to it. In order to do that, we have to let go of the belief that we’re essentially alone, that it’s all up to us, and that we know best. We have to stop seeing ourselves as separate from our Creator; we have to trust that God’s will for us is always happiness and that guidance is always there for us.
The Course also says that every decision we make stems from what we think we are. If I see myself as lacking, powerless, and not good enough, the decisions I make will reflect that perception–as will the results. If I see myself as whole, full of the power of spirit, and worthy, my decisions and their effects, will reflect that perception. Moreover, my decisions will actually teach me what I think I am, and they will teach others, as well.
This is a fascinating concept: Just as we’re making decisions all the time, so are we teaching all the time, and what we teach can’t help but reflect what we think we are. Whether I see myself as worthless, fearful, and depressed, or as worthy, loving, and joyful, it will end up reinforcing that same perception. This will, in turn, teach me that what I believe about myself is â€œtrue.â€ It will also teach others what I believe I am.
Here’s an example from my own life. My mother was often depressed; she put herself down and saw herself as a “poor-me.” She had grown up with an unlovable perception of herself and it shaped her whole life. As she saw herself, so I saw her; she taught me how to see her as she saw herself. I didn’t want to see her that way, but the “evidence” was overwhelming. The world was not a friendly or safe place in her eyes, and she also taught that to me.
When I was a teen-ager I worked after school in a public library, and I really liked and admired the reference librarian, She was cheerful and friendly, outgoing and confident, and above all, loving and forgiving. In her eyes, the world was friendly and safe, and I also learned that from her. She taught me that there was another way to be, a way based on a more loving perception of oneself. Whereas my mothe’s perception tended to drag me down and contributed to feelings of insecurity and fear in me, the librarian’s perception lifted me up and helped me feel capable, confident, and adventurous.
Since we are always making decisions and teaching others what we are, it’s important to be clear about what that is. A Course in Miracles offers us what I believe is a true rather than a faulty perception of ourselves. According to the Course, God is wholly loving and could only create us in the same image and likeness, that is, as wholly loving, as well. That is the truth of what we are, no matter what we think or do, or what others say we are. That is what the Course calls us to accept and teach, so that, in demonstrating it to others, it will become stronger in ourselves. If we can demonstrate love, love must be in us.
Teach only love, for that is what you are.
It’s also important to be clear about what we want to teach others. The goal of the Course is to teach us the truth about ourselves, so that we may in turn teach that to others. Just as what we demonstrate through our behaviour teaches others about us, it also teaches them about themselves, because in truth we’re not separate or different from one another. If we see and treat others lovingly, they will learn that that is what they are. What a great gift to give! No matter how badly people think about themselves, by being loving to them, we teach them that they must be loving as well. It’s also a great gift to give ourselves, because only by giving love can we find love. Holding even one person out of our hearts brings us guilt and pain.
If we decide that we want all our decisions to reflect the truth about ourselves, if we’re clear about what we really want, and if we decide to teach only love, it will not be hard to make the “right” decision about anything. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It is simple, and it also can be easy–if we use the power of decision we all have and decide to listen to the Voice for God remind us of the truth, help us see it, and tell us what to say and do. A Course in Miracles provides a clear roadmap for making this decision that will bring us the peace, joy, happiness, and love for which we all yearn.
Originally published in Tone Magazine