By Carol Howe
Does it seem like life is spinning out of control with peace of mind entirely out of reach? As our world drifts into deeper chaos and uncertainty, more people are casting about for better answers, and more importantly, experiences. So it’s a great blessing to discover, as unstable as life is for so many, that our peace of mind never actually leaves us, but is hidden, so it seems to have disappeared. A deep comforting abiding peace is actually built into the fabric of everyone’s presence, though it appears to be lost. Peace is always present as an aspect of love and love is what we are. Yes, the most basic intrinsic core of our being is love. Therefore, peace cannot be absent, but merely out of awareness. How can that happen? How can such a priceless asset be hidden?
First, peace has not been our goal; we have not given it priority. Instead, we have raced after the “next new thing” we thought would satisfy. Given our insatiable appetite for distracting ourselves and being entertained, peace of mind – the opposite of conflict that so attracts us – doesn’t sound dramatic or compelling, probably even boring. What we don’t pay attention to, we don’t experience and that includes peace of mind. However, as one plan after another fails to bring lasting happiness or satisfaction, we finally are driven to ask different questions, to look for a better way. And, indeed, that better way is always available.
Since peace of mind is inherent, it is not acquired or attained, but revealed. So our #1 goal should be discovering our peace since all the happy and positive qualities of life are built on that foundation. Also, because feeling deeply peaceful is an “inside job,” dependent only on our choices, our intentions, our goals, we are in charge of attaining that goal. Where we place our attention is entirely up to us and nothing can interfere except our own self-induced conflict. Sounds impossible, but happily, it’s true and you can prove it to yourself. As extreme as it sounds, we finally can discover the “all or nothing” truth that peace of mind always bring happiness and safety and conflict never does so definitely worth exploring.
Before we can honestly prefer peace of mind and all is rewards, we have to acknowledge our ancient love affair with conflict, why we choose it, and at what great cost. There is overwhelming evidence of our current pull toward conflict as one views the various ones in which we willingly engage – global, personal, and even between different aspects of ourselves, such as “I want to do this; I can’t do this.” One war ends and we seek to start another one – internationally or interpersonally.
So why do we do this? From ancient history, deep in our DNA we are wired for survival, for conflict – one tribe against the other. It’s a path that seemed necessary in humankind’s early history and we’ve mindlessly followed it right up until the present moment, clearly presuming conflict to be crucial to our well-being and survival – not only our physical survival, but ego survival. Tantalized by the lure of conflict, we have dug ourselves into a deep hole, honestly believing we can win something valuable – safety, acclaim, material goods, peace, or well-being. We are seduced into believing, like a gambler, just one more round and we’ll finally succeed. But do those in conflict look happy? Are they a joy to be around? Anyone look and act safe in this process? It should be clear that operating out of this fear-based survival frequency no longer serves, the consequences are too grave, impelling us to find a path out of fear and conflict and toward love and peace of mind.
The wisdom principles that actually govern our daily experience, that do reveal our inherent peace and happiness, have been with us for thousands of years, though rarely practiced, as our current world conditions confirm. In every era, various seers and masters have comprehended the hypnotized state of the human condition and offered Truth as its remedy, questioning the status quo and helping us claim our right to be free of psychological bondage.
Familiar to most of us is one of those core ideas, stated as the Golden Rule in the Christian religion: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Of course, it also appears at the heart of all other major religions. The problem is that we often understand it as a good idea or a moral principle rather than the statement of a law that is omnipresent and as inescapable as the pull of gravity. We must revisit this ancient law since, whether we understand it, or not, it is always operable in this way: To be in conflict, something or someone is set up as the enemy, the wrong or guilty one, the one that would disturb our peace and should be punished or eliminated. We then decide what they deserve and do what we can to bring that to pass, or at least to wish that, to think about, and obsess over.
The reason we are urged to notice very carefully how we treat others and what we desire for them is that we always increase in our own experience what we want for others. The more single-mindedly we offer the enemy or the other the “gift” of being wrong or guilty, the more we order up that exact measure of pain and guilt for ourselves. We always receive what we give others and suffer when we want punishment for others. The thought or the request in one’s mind, the focus of all-powerful attention, becomes one’s inner and outer experience. The law doesn’t know about pronouns and that you are ordering up a dose of misery for “them.” The order, the thought, is in our minds, and thus, will be visited upon us. And one is not given a pass for lack of understanding the consequences of wishing another ill. We can’t learn too soon the power of our thought and attention, how it specifically drives our experience, and radically change our minds if we are ever to have our peace revealed to us.
Therefore, the law is not a suggestion but a reminder that what we desire for another will, indeed, be done to us in some form since we cannot escape the fact that the desire and attention is in our minds. Knowing, without fail, we invite for ourselves the experience we want for others, it’s in our best interest to treat others and ourselves kindly and compassionately, understanding that everyone is doing the best they can with their current programming and conditioning. Thus, we inevitably chart our own course for happiness and deep peace of mind or pain and misery. At every moment we each make our own internal choice, resulting in our specific life experience. Thus peace is, indeed, an inside job!
A Course In Miracles, a modern restatement of ancient wisdom, with all its repetitive lessons, presents a powerful reprogramming process for changing our unexamined inclinations toward conflict and how we treat one another. Since peace is always present, but inaccessible with our current conditioning, we very much need this assist in replacing so much of what we now believe. As we continue to practice remembering the truly wonderful aspects of ourselves and others, changing our minds about virtually everything, we feel better, life is more fun, and we gather the courage to step onto the path of love and joining in place of conflict and separation. The ego may fuss, but tune it out. We learn to become aware of choices, to notice when we merely react instead of actually considering our current perspectives, behaviors, and their consequences. Of course this takes practice, but we are not at the mercy of programming unless we choose to be. We change our minds when we finally see it’s in our best interests to do so.
A Course lesson entitled, “I can choose peace instead of this” says it all. When we are at peace, the mind is clear, less foggy, perception broadens, and answers are more more obvious. We feel safer and more grounded. ACIM steadily reminds us that underneath all the unfortunate and unhelpful conflicted thoughts/behavior, we are always at peace – eternal, brilliant, deserving, and good. This powerful guide to peace, and thus, contentment and security deals with us as the reluctant learners we are and loves us all the way through. Our hearts’ desire is really only to love and join, however out of our awareness that many be. Peace of mind is actually a big deal – don’t dismiss until you’ve tried it!
Carol Howe is one of the original and most respected teachers of A Course In Miracles. A personal friend of co-scribe Bill Thetford, she wrote his biography, Never Forget To Laugh. Throughout her 40 year career with ACIM, she has guided many thousands on their journey to inner peace. To download a free copy of her latest book “The Best Guide Ever to A Course In Miracles,” visit https://www.carolhowe.com/p/ebook