Before reading further, stop and ask yourself, “What do I want in this New Year?”
Chances are “the peace of God” is not high on your list, or may not even appear at all. Chances are that one of your New Year’s resolutions is not, “resolve to experience the peace of God this year.” Yet, A Course in Miracles says that this is all you really want–even if you’re not aware of it!
Before Christmas, the Globe and Mail offered their “Critics’ Gift Guide” featuring items such as, video games ranging from $280 to $660, miniature drawings of Prince William ($200-$250), Earbuds–earbuds?– for $100-$365; and a five-hour DVD collection of â€œWorld Cup Soccer Highlights. No one mentioned the peace of God; yet it doesn’t cost anything, and it’s the only gift we really want and the only one that can bring us happiness.
We can all relate to wanting peace, what we usually call “peace of mind.” Who wouldn’t want “a state of rest, contentment and fulfillment, characterized by the absence of war, conflict, anxiety, guilt, fear, and want,” as Robert Perry has defined it in his “Glossary of Terms from A Course in Miracles.”
We may not identify this peace as the “peace of God,” but the Course teaches us that there is no peace except the peace of God. The peace of God is our birthright; it is inherent in our having been created by God; it is what God wills for us. “For you was peace created, given you by its Creator, and established as His Own eternal gift.”It is our true state, one of eternal stillness in which we are perfectly happy. No wonder we long for it!
I am sure that our desire for peace comes from our remembering somewhere deep within us the experience of true peace, this peace of God. We long for peace and happiness and are constantly searching for it, usually in the world.
I believe we really know that peace can’t come from outside us; from our spouse remembering to turn lights off after himself –or to put the toilet seat down–, or from our kids helping out with the chores without our having to bug them, or from having more money, but that doesn’t seem to stop us from looking for it there. This is a guarantee of failure, for as long as we seek “out there” for something to bring us what we think we want, we will continue to “seek but do not find,” as the Course describes it. We search for peace in others, in situations, in possessions, when it can only be found deep within us where the memory of it resides.
So how do we reach this place of peace that abides deep within us? It begins, says A Course in Miracles, with doing nothing; nothing but accepting the truth of what we are, accepting our holiness and the holiness of every living thing. Accepting that, no matter what and despite appearances to the contrary, we are still as innocent, pure, and loveable as God created us, and so is everyone else.
Accepting this requires a shift in perception in the way we usually see: choosing to see things differently; that is, seeing the truth in everyone and everything instead of seeing them with our limited perception, our judgements, our grievances, our resentments, and our expectations. As the Course says, “peace of mind is clearly an internal matter. It must begin with your own thoughts, and then extend outward.”
In short, it requires, forgiveness. Forgiveness, says the Course, is the “necessary condition for peace.” No matter how much we search for peace, we will never find it if we hold anger, carry grievances, or keep even one person out of our heart. In order to experience peace, we need to forgive; that is we need to see everyone, including that one person, with a healed perception. This means seeing beyond our faulty perceptions and distorted concepts of others and ourselves, and looking beneath all appearances to recognize the truth in which we are all one and equally deserving of love.
It requires letting go of fear. We were all created by love and as love and, according to A Course in Miracles, love is all there is, all that is real. It cannot change, be taken from us, or harmed in any way; therefore, there is nothing to fear. As it says in the Introduction:
Nothing real [love] can be threatened.
Nothing unreal [fear] exists.
Herein lies the peace of God.
We begin by accepting that love is all that is real, but it is only when we give love in the form of forgiveness that we truly experience peace. This is a gift that has no cost attached to it. It is a gift “that keeps on giving,” because, in giving it, we receive it, and so does everyone else. And in this peace, we remember God together. The peace of God is all that we want, and if we do what it takes to experience it, the Course promises that we will find it.
The whole motivation for A Course in Miracles is to teach us to love and forgive so that we will find and keep the peace of God. Surely this is a New Year’s resolution worth making!
Originally published in Tone Magazine, January 2007