Ask: How can my personal desire become a means for peace?

“Your response to a student's recent question re. visualization included the following: [The Course] ‘teaches you to use your goals in the world as the means to become aware of the Truth within you. Instead of ends in themselves your goals become means to the goal of peace.’ How would you apply this to my desire to get a sailboat?...because I did truly enjoy every aspect of owning one. I know that getting a boat will not bring me peace but I still would love to get one… How could this personal desire for a sailboat become a means to my ultimate goal of peace?” – ES

Some of our desires and preferences are just expressions of personality. They are neutral in themselves. We are not always looking to them for salvation (wholeness, peace), in which case they would be obstacles to peace. If you feel moved to act on this desire simply bring the Holy Spirit (awareness of Truth in your mind) with you in the process. Let It be your partner in decision making and in any actions you take. Then the situation will be a means to be aware of the Holy Spirit. As your awareness of and trust in the Holy Spirit grows so will your peace.

Learn about the books The ACIM Mentor Articles, The Plain Language A Course in Miracles, 4 Habits for Inner Peace, and Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace at


hannah said…
i think something just clicked!!!

im still wondering though if asking holy spirit to be present in your decision making will generally lead to 'better, happier' etc outcomes in the world, or if the value lies purely (and wonderfully... thanks for the click, i cant believe i didnt see this before!!) in the fact that asking for holy spirits presence in our daily choices as well as for help with choosing peace in our minds, would be another way of awakening our awareness of HS a constant presence?
ACIM Mentor said…
Yes, Hannah, a side effect of this practice is that your life in the world will be more harmonious.
hannah said…
apologies, im still a bit confused as to outcomes in the personal selfs world. i think you are saying that both outcomes (peace in the mind regardless of outcome, as well as more frequent desired outcomes??) will present in the selfs life?

more harmonious because id be less attached to outcomes, and also because outcomes would less often be fear induced, and so more often occur as the personal self would like them to be? (less 'mishaps' to practise not feeling like a victim with i mean!)

in my recent experience of one story, one song, i saw that all outcomes are 'embraced' by love. everything, even the painful stuff. there are no happenings outside of love, even in the illusion of not love! what seems discordant up close in time and space is part of a beautiful harmony if we step back enough to hear the whole song. (i know im repeating myself here, but im trying to make sure the heart of my query is expressed.) the experience of peace left me wondering about how personal selfs happy dreams could include wordly outcomes of seemingly separate minds with different desires, that we must need to drop desired outcomes to be at peace.

ok, while writing that i saw that this (impossibility of peace including desired wordly outcomes more often) would be so if minds were in fact separate, but this question of mine was forgetting that only One mind exists. the separate self i still strongly identify with sees randomness, but randomness and chaos dont actually exist. well, i certainly feel more peaceful with this now, even if im not on the right track! i think im hearing the teacher of truth within me!?
ACIM Mentor said…
Hannah, a more harmonious life for the life does not refer to outcomes the ego wants. It simply means you will make healthier choices and set healthier boundaries so the self's life will be quieter and more harmonious. There will be less drama.
hannah said…
thank you, that is clear now.

i just saw/felt that my question was not only inspired by a desire for peace, but also by fear of and belief in separate self and sacrifice, so was coming from a mind holding two different goals! i cant 'loose' peace or believe in outcomes of sacrifice unless im holding on to that mistaken identity in such a way that i shut out willingness to be open to truth. when im present with the truth in my mind, the only part of my question that remains is that it held a desire for truth, but i can see i was looking for peace where it isnt. all of the rest of the energy behind the question is a desire to make not truth true. i can be at peace no matter what occurs in the world, whether it be my selfs preferred outcome or not, because with enough practise and desire for peace i can remember that only the truth is true.

thanks again for helping me clear more of that attachment to ego.
will said…

I recently went through a three month period where the surface fear was very low and my peace of mind and feeling of safety was strong. I was back in contact with some people whom I hadn't talked with in a while. I told them about the peace I was having and very soon afterwards I was listening to the ego again. The period of peace ended and I was back in the world and it was a nightmare. In 20/20 hindsight I was able to watch the nightmare taking place almost as from a distance. I contacted the people by email and said I was sorry but I had to get out, get away from what was happening. I could see both frames of mind with clarity which made the world's (ego) frame of reference really clear. I remember that suddenly being able to see both states separately and very clearly. I saw the ego and knew it for what it is. It was like a gift to see the separation. Unfortunelty that didn't automatically bring back the peace. It's been a month and I guess when the ego grabbed hold of my attention it got a fairly good grip. I'm working my way back but I have a way to go. Anyway that is how I perceive it from the dream if that makes sense.
will said…
Something else that writing above just brought to mind. In that three month period of peace I began to understand the Holiness of what we are doing. Not a feeling just more of an intellectual understanding. When I share the gifts I receive from the Holy Spirit using the ego to explain it the ego automatically takes responsibility for all the good that is happening. It is saying "I'm special", the ego, not me so much. The saying 'throwing pearls before swine keeps coming back.' Not that the people are swine but meaning that the act of talking about gifts with the ego clearly present is the pearls before swine. I don't know just something that I have been aware of.
will said…
"Nothing is so subject to delusion as piety

So indiscreet as to boast of his successful amours

Verily believed he was really the man which he affected to be."

The Memoirs of Cardinal De Retz
hannah said…
will, i always find your comments really interesting, though i dont always get your drift immediately!

you mentioned the clarity of seeing both thought systems simultaneously and thus seeing each for what it is in that comparison.. i think thats what youre speaking of? and how the ego tries to get its talons back into the mind once our minds have chosen to see outside of its story?

and.. in your second comment where youre speaking of both the holiness of sharing truth and of throwing pearls before swine, im wondering if youre speaking of the dynamic HS spoke to helen shuchmann about, where 'it' suggested not only asking holy spirit what to say/do, but also to ask what not to say/do? said that it wasnt helpful to anyone to 'waste' that energy, but could indeed strengthen ego identification instead?

and in relation to the third comment, is that an expression of ego thinking its closer to the truth than it is? ah, maybe in response to the last line of my previous comment. understandable if so, its easy to think im the one doing the healing, or that liz is the one healing me.. but im not afraid of that, as it is only the personal self that thinks anything is happening at all!

did i understand your meaning in any of this, or have i barked up all sorts of wrong trees!? ;)
will said…
There really wasn't much to the last one, it wasn't directed at anyone in particular or as an attack or anything. It's just very difficult to do the Course when you have to use the very tool (ego, personal mind) your trying to get away from. Piety (spirituality) is so easy to be led astray on since the ego uses self esteem, false pride, the need to be right, your belief in what it says and on and on... It is so difficult to stay conscious of what is happening in your head 24/7 especially when your goal is silent.
will said…
The ego likes to boast, likes to take credit and is quick to blame. It's loud and convincing.
will said…
What I'm reading from the Cardinal de Retz piece is:

First line is about the ego (us individually) and how it likes to boast of it's spiritual accomplishments.
Second line is how the ego (we as individuals) will boast of anything and everything.
Third line we believe to our core the boasts of the ego is who we are.
hannah said…
WILL - its funny! it is difficult, as you say.. i went through periods of self harm once id realised that understanding about truth and love and equality on an intellectual level, plus experiencing peace joy and love on and off for years wasnt enough to make me stop choosing to hurt others if my ego felt threatened, it was a very difficult time! such guilt! and yet.. im finding that the difficulty is lightening, and its not that im transcending ego, but i Am moving through feeling guilty about my ego. its getting harder to take it seriously for extended periods of time. i reckon that open communication about what ive felt thought done etc has been really transformative, as has listening to others share their experiences, though i hear liz when she says listen to others experiences but dont compare your own to theirs, turn to the teacher within. this blog community is a wonderful learning place though!

the third line of that writing is what excites me at the moment.. thats what makes the lightening of the seriousness possible.. it doesnt matter what the ego boasts, it really isnt such a serious matter.. cos our believing it doesnt make it the truth! yippee! and beyond the yippees.. the silence ;)

im reading the four habits at the moment, (thanks for the prompt to buy it will, perfect timing!) and something that liz has helped me really accept is that so much of this ego 'stuff' will just fall away naturally! i mean... how relaxing is that!! im free to hold onto it through caring about it, feeling shame about it or worrying about others opinions when they observe it in me, or by trying to pry it from my mind as though it were real, disgusting and threatening.. or i can just.. drop it! be me as i know myself now, while spending as much time as i'll let myself getting to know the presence in the silence. i just ordered releasing guilt too, very exciting!

hows the journey back going will?
will said…
I am still heavily identified with the ego as my identity. So I am cautious of what goes on in my mind as well as individual ego's around me. When I am in a good spiritual state of mind the ego "infers" this is permanent; that I have finally 'got it.' It feels so good who wants to think about the coming storm? But the text seems to say beware, 'things will become more difficult as time goes on but I will have powerful allies standing beside me.' I really enjoy the good times emotionally but am pretty suspicious that it's the ego in disguise.

will said…
I have a lot of stuff floating around in my head. I was a practicing roman catholic, I was a practicing alcoholic, I am a recovering alcoholic, I had mental illness, I was a mental health counselor, an addictions counselor, I was the states gatekeeper, the "assessor," in my area of the state on who got what level of treatment, I was caretaker of two very ill people over a ten year period. That's a lot of crapola floating around.

For instance when you get sober from alcohol and after awhile begin to feel "real good man" like you have it licked you are about to get your butt kicked in a very serious way from the alcoholism. Butt kicking being its stock in trade. In the Course you have to sort your way through if it's the HS or what?
will said…
If there are recovering people reading this, my own assessment is that the brain is a container of liquids doing very specific and intricate processes. When you keep pouring something like alcohol into that mixture, over the years it's very hard to tell what is going to be there for you when you quit; what electrical connections have been effected or just burned out. Most of the time it's not good, almost impossible to live with, so you relapse and continue drinking... or whatever. Put a raw egg in a glass with some alcohol and watch what happens.
will said…
The physical damage done by alcohol is called mental illness. It's a damn shame but when most people sober up they have the choice of living with mental illness (it's called alcoholism) or continuing to drink and finding what relief there is if any. Not much of a choice.
will said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christine said…
Leggo my ego. Will, lesson 132 in Practicing A Course in Miracles. We all have to let it go!
hannah said…
WILL, i hear you.. ive had a similar experience, different substance though, marijuana. i undertsand the concern with what those years may have done to the body.. and just thank god that my mind is not located in my body, so no matter what i may have done to the body, i am still perfectly capable of wakening to truth. i mean.. phew right!? my dad and my step dads ex wife are both recovered alcoholics, and i understand that the path to recovery appears different for different folk, but it took them both many years, and seemed much harder than my own recovery. i wish you peace, and choices that have become easy.

addiction, what a journey.. im astonished that now i look back on those years and i wouldnt change a thing. only because i value what im focused on now so very much, and without the painful highlighting of crapola and the domino effect that addiction has of spreading crapola, who knows how long my spiritual focus would have stayed focused on the outer world more than on my mind! but yeah, sometimes (often!) it felt like the amount of crapola (great word, i enjoy it!) experienced meant the task of sorting out what is HS and what isnt was just.. huge, too many layers not enough time!

its helped me HEAPS to remember that HS is simple and consistent, and that it doesnt doubt, worry or judge anything, though thats only been really helpful the last couple of years. also SUPER helpful was that i made a decision, about 5 years ago, to just.. trust that the more i immersed myself wholeheartedly in a thought or idea, (while STILL observing my mind and what it was doing, and watching the effect the idea was having on my feelings and other thoughts etc) rather than kind of.. dipping my toes into an idea, or fence sitting on anything too much, the quicker id see/be shown the truth or falseness of the said thought/idea/way of looking. i guess this wouldnt be helpful without having at least the beginnings of trust in there being a real and helpful 'force' in the universe? but i tell ya what.. that decision to trust id be shown if i was mistaken and to know that id learn quicker if i wasnt scared of that (making a mistake).. looking back i can see that it was the start of a real acceleration in starting to sort out what was HS and what wasnt.. via helping me to know that Love would help me figure this all out, (from within my own mind and from 'outer world' feedback) .. to know that i could trust Love to teach me and trust myself to learn. fear of getting something wrong; of putting my trust in something false and there being a bad outcome rather than a good outcome of sorting out what wasnt true after all.. that was a huge brake on my accepting that i could actually learn what was HS and what was ego.

and to your deleted comment (i too often sit here between 1-3am...) loved it. yep, sometimes the gut is listening to ego, sometimes its listening to HS. i know you dont need reassuring.. but youre honest with yourself, youre good at observing your mind, you want peace, and you keep returning to the journey back to truth. sounds like a bloody good formula to me!
will said…
Thanks Christine, I'm just sitting down to read 132.
will said…

When your feeling good and the other guy isn't there is always the temptation in the Course to say "Hey man just get your act together, all you have to do...."

Then you read these one liners like in Lesson 132:

"The thoughts you hold are mighty and illusions are as strong in their effects as is the Truth."


This isn't directed at you, I just love these one liners.
will said…
I do have to laugh. Lesson 132 gives you that very heavy one liner in the beginning but then spends the rest of the Lesson telling you how easy it is. "Yet is salvation easily achieved..." "There is no world." "...You can loose it (the world) from all things you ever thought it was by merely changing all the thoughts that gave it these appearances!"

Hey wait a minute, it said a few paragraphs back "illusions are as strong in their effects as is the Truth."

Don't take this serious I'm just having fun with it.
Christine said…
I just happened to have lesson 132 opened...I have the book next to my computer...I am sorry, I didn't mean to seem like to say "hey, just get over it" - gee whiz, it took me eons to get over stuff, and when the thoughts I used to have about person, place, or thing creep back - I now have a toolbox to instantly go to to help me not go down that path.I am not "feeling good"/ OR bad!! Ha! I am kind of neutral/happy go lucky nowadays...a lot of work/time/etc. went into my being aware that this is how we can be and really are!
Kind of going with the flow now...not plotting and planning like I used to, not over reacting to perceptions, etc. Forgetting the past 'emotionally', maybe not factually (because I am expert on places, dates, and times!)
Thanks, Hannahlily - helpful and clear writing!!
will said…
Christine! You weren't doing anything! OK? Nothing was directed at you. I was just following my own train of thought. And that's all I'm saying about that:)
will said…

Just getting up from a much needed nap. When I was active in recovery one of the things that I repeatedly ran into was people trying to get sober consistently misjudged the power of addiction. Addiction is incredibly powerful when your caught up in it. If I was guessing I would say of the people who try to quit their addiction 1 in a 100 get clean/sober but I suspect that number is too optimistic. For me there are similarities with the ego and addiction. I think the power of the ego is almost always underrated. It's like "if I just say the right words then that's all I need to do." Again like addiction/recovery. That's where the train of thought comes from that I was talking about. When you felt I was directing my comments at you, my focus was on AA/Recovery and the similarities with the Course.
hannah said…
WILL - its interesting. this post was about how we can use our attachment to the personal selfs story (in ES's case seemingly 'worldly acquisition' desires but it could just as practically in the aim of peace be about desiring release of fears/struggles) as a way of attaining peace. liz pointed out how asking holy spirit to be present in the process rather than just sorting it out ourselves is a way to bring our awareness of HS into our minds, and that with time and practise this helps us to trust HS. and that this awareness and trust is what brings peace to our minds, regardless of the outcome of the situation. and this goes for planning fun stuff in the world or sorting out the crapola in our minds, or 'being with' physical dis-ease.

you may already be aware of this, will, but im sharing in light of the questions you have been asking yourself (deleted post) as well.. repetition/study of these ideas is helpful ;) and im finally feeling like a happy learner.. it doesnt matter if i can or cant share this feeling with you now, but im sure willing to give it a go.. especially if i strengthen in myself what i share.. so selfish ;)

its practicality (totally?) impossible to feel at peace with strong personal self pain/discomfort while youre still strongly identified with said self. only a shift in what you identity as your true being can allow peace to be present/chosen in what the ego would call 'shitty' circumstances. otherwise its just pretended peace, denial, or, as you say, more ego stories!! so trying to feel really peaceful with the choices it feels like alcoholism and all the attached domino effect crapola seems to offer you would be kinda.. fruitless, wasted effort, ego effort, unless you were also practising that which would allow you to open your mind to a shift in 'self' identity. cos then the choices you feel you have will be totally different choices then the ones youre looking at now. they really will! but i gather youre studying ACIM and practising the 4 habits for inner peace while doing whatever you feel is best and kindest for your body, but maybe being just a tad mean to yourself when youre feeling low? well, that sounds familiar! ;) and youre being honest about what you do and dont currently believe, (in any one moment!) and as long as youre open to "being happy rather than right" about youre doubts, thats all you can honestly do! im assuming a lot here, reading what you say and between the lines..
hannah said…
im finally experiencing the effects of not (nearly as often!) feeling guilty when im going through a period when ego (more obviously than at other times :) ) feels like the reality, rather than as you say, will, a period of feeling more spiritually centred and strong. once i really accepted (embraced, allowed, stopped fighting/judging as failure) that this whole journey was actually a process where i simply would go back and forth between ego ranting/pain and feeling optimistic and even sometimes peaceful, well, the feeling of actually integrating ACIMS teachings rather than just thinking about them has accelerated. choosing peace is not always, but usually, much much easier. ive realised i can use every single story , seemingly happy or sad, as a wall between me and peace, or as a bridge to peace. i can use every story as a reminder that only the truth is true.

i agree too, will; physical addictions turn the volume of the already raucous screams of the ego up to 'you cant ignore this 'terrible reality' levels'. and i know when i decided i wanted to let go of addiction, let go of this incredibly effective tool of the egos (for proving myself the pain filled, victimised, helpless perpetrator of my own unhappy, trapped life), the shit really seemed to hit the fan. scuse me if these descriptions feel offensive to you will, thats just how i saw myself. that was rock bottom for me.. feeling like a victimised perpetrator! laugh.. at least i think that was rock bottom ;)

laughing with you re the 'illusions have strong effects' 'peace is easy' thing.. used to drive me wild! some aspects of the course didnt make clear sense until id started to experience moments of truth. not revelation level truth even, but just.. 'this world and who i think i am isnt real' truth. baby steps truth!

ok.. despite experiencing slight discomfort right now at how much ive talked already.. i just noticed something and feel to share it.. your last post was at 4:24. i had the most bizarre string of synchronicities around the number 424, and HS still uses it when i feel wobbly. wont go into that story, but the bottom line is that it was HS's way of telling me, when i was still very heavily steeped in doubt, and didnt trust my own mind at all, that 'you are COMPLETELY supported through this transition period.' it was incredibly helpful to me in my journey to opening to trust, and as i was very doubtful, it appeared in 'whack me over the head so i simply cant chalk it up to coincidence' ways! sharing in case it turns out to be something that helps you too ;)
hannah said…
and thanks christine, im someone who loves communication but has always felt it a struggle, so that is nice to hear :)
will said…
"this whole journey was actually a process where I would simply go back and forth between ego/ranting pain and feeling optimistic..."

a great one liner for sure:)! That should be the subtitle under the title of the text!
will said…

'A Journey Back and Forth Between Ego/Ranting Pain and Feeling Optimistic'
Anonymous said…
After reading all these posts, I went back to my emails and an advertisement came up, the first one showed two words "Awake" "Asleep" and then it switched to another advertisement . . .

Don't fall victim to Identity theft
Get Trusted Protection with
Identity Guard

You can substitute where you see fit. Know that I am a light hearted soul that takes the seriousness out of well, the seriousness.

hannah said…
laughing out loud, both of you! lovely humour injections!

i have hilarious communications from ads too, movies, the radio, rubbish off the ground even! finding out it was all HS, that there WAS nothing outside of me leading me to pain or peace.. laugh, cant STOP the communication! :D it wasnt always directly (immediately obviously) helpful or clarifying. sometimes i followed the 'signs' into shitty circumstances i learned from, which lesson my personal self valued so i trusted the process more! all this is just part of the story, but it can be so helpful in the development of trusting HS, so that we can start the real journey of opening ourselves to truth in our minds. and a wonderful effect has been that how the synchronicity occurs is often so funny, that it REALLY helps me bring more humour into life, to pop my seriousness bubble, if only for a while ;) only since ive started changing what i identity as reality has that anxiety started to shift in any major way. and i know i have a long way to go, but im no longer fighting the process as much, as i feel SO much less guilty about ego, its a part of this til the last stage! and something liz has brought home for me.. i cant force the stages of growth/awakening to truth, these occur NATURALLY!! all i need really do is follow the four habits, study the course as long as that feels needful. oh the joy of accepting that as we put our part in this process into practise, the false parts of our thought system fall away in their own time and order. we cant force stages, they follow one upon the other NATURALLY! her use of words like falls away, fades, naturally follows.. i looked back and realised yeah.. focus has helped me, study has helped me, but this process is not one ive made happen, nor have i chosen the order or even the direction usually that real shifts toward peace occurred in.

one more synchronicity story.. the experience i had with synchronicity that left no doubt in my mind that it was something i could trust, was around flamingos, a mind blowing experience that left me knowing the universe would use flamingos to tell me that true communication was occurring, that i could trust. not sharing that experience, but an example of how the 'universe' uses the symbol for me. when my nephew was suicidal and i was scared and sad, and driving away from his house, and the words went through my head 'not my will be done but gods will' (not a phrase i had ever once turned to for comfort!) i had a 5-10 second experience of peace that was unshakable, that nothing 'wrong' could nor ever had occurred in all of time and space. the awareness/feeling of total peace passed, but as i turned a corner around the park, and there was a black van parked there with a huge flamingo painted on the side of it.

love to you all :)
Anonymous said…
Lovely share Hannah - a mirror's reflection.

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