Q: I feel like I want to make a difference in the world. Yet Jesus says: “Seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world” (T.21.in.1:7). I feel like I am making my career decisions based on being in others’ lives in a meaningful way, and want not to be associated with those who are only out to “make money and don’t give a damn about others.” (My thoughts, i.e. judgments) I know that I have no way of knowing how I can help others or “the role that is best for me,” as Jesus says but I cannot stop second-guessing the Holy Spirit. Can you comment on this?
A: The Course teaches that the only difference we need to make in the world is to allow our minds to be healed by the Holy Spirit through the process of forgiveness, which is what is meant by accepting the Atonement (See: T.2.V.4,5; M.7.3; M.18.4). Although this is ultimately good news, many times it seems it would be easier to change the world than to change our minds about it, or about anything for that matter. That is because, choosing to believe in separation and identifying with the body entails a strong attachment to specialness and to the ego’s interpretation of everything in the world. That is why the Course asks that we question everything: “To learn this course requires willingness to question every value that you hold”(T.24.in.2:1). This includes what we think are the needs of the world, along with the ways it could and should be changed. Since we do not know what else to do, we have the Course to tell us.
We are asked to look at the judgments about careers, people’s needs, those who don’t give a damn, and those who do, and see in these judgments the opportunity to apply forgiveness as the Course teaches. That is the “career” of a student of the Course. Business is very good indeed, since we have numerous opportunities in our lives to forgive ourselves for our misperceptions. Whatever work or associations you choose can be given to the Holy Spirit to be used for the purpose of healing through forgiveness. In this way, your life and the world become a classroom for learning. This process involves recognizing how much we think we know what is best for ourselves, as well as for everyone else. In our identity as spirit the world is alien to us, and is the domain of the ego. We are very familiar with its dynamics. We are also very resourceful in identifying and solving its problems (or at least trying to). Everything we think we know is based on the ego’s interpretation, and is the source of second guessing the Holy Spirit. For, as bad as it is, we do like being masters and mistresses of the universe. However, considering the disastrous results of following the ego’s plan for the world, it seems reasonable to second guess the ego’s decisions, as long as we’re second guessing. It is worth our while and our little willingness to ask if the ego has ever given us what we truly sought, or even what it promised. In light of the painful effects of siding with the ego and being “right,” Jesus poses some very helpful questions: “Under the circumstances, would it not be more desirable to have been wrong, even apart from the fact that you were wrong? (T.13.IV.3:1), and “Do you prefer that you be right or happy?” (T.29.VII.1:9). It may be helpful to keep these questions in mind when choosing whose guidance to follow in making any decisions.
Knowing our resistance to shifting from the familiarity of the ego’s guidance to the Holy Spirit’s, Jesus asks for just a “little willingness” (T.18.IV). Second guessing may be a good opportunity to remember that we do not know and, after putting forth our doubts, to ask the Holy Spirit to correct our mistaken perceptions about the world. Whatever doubts arise, or however many times we think we know what to do, we can simply return to the practice of forgiveness and remember Jesus’ promise: “All that is given you is for release; the sight, the vision and the inner Guide all lead you out of hell with those you love beside you, and the universe with them”(T.31.VII.7:7). What more could there be to offer the world, when Jesus’ love offers the rest?