This week I started reading "A Course in Miracles" workbook again.

"A Course in Miracles" (ACIM) is a spiritual mind-changing system that, I believe, if everyone practiced, we would have peace on earth.

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Jesus is the author and it is to be read as if Jesus is talking to you, personally.

After reading the text, which is 31 chapters, then you are to begin the workbook. There are 365 lessons, one for every day. Some people take a year-and-a-half or more to complete the ACIM workbook.

The Jan. 5, lesson 5, is titled: "I am never upset for the reason I think."

The lesson continues: "There are no small upsets. They are all equally disturbing to my peace of mind."

This verse is designed to correct you from your habitual tendency to slough off upsets as too insignificant to bother with.

This teaches you to be mindful of your emotions. You begin to look at what causes your happiness or your moodiness.

For a moment, you are to search out situations, or persons that are distressing you, even mildly, and then apply the idea to each one: "I am not upset for the reason I think. I am not worried about ...... for the reason I think. I am not depressed about ...... for the reason I think."

We cannot let some situations go and hold on to others because each is equally disturbing to our peace. We control our peace. What an awakening thought!

The purpose of the lesson is to teach us that the cause of the upset is not the external situation, event or person as you think. Also, as we go through the exercises, we find that our disturbing emotions are not any different than our neighbor's.

We begin to see we are all the same, in that, we all want love. I read Marianne Williamson's book, "A Return to Love" many years ago and really enjoyed it but at the time, could not blend it with my, then, contemporary fundamentalist beliefs. If we don't keep an open mind, then we will not grow.

Something like ... believing if we sail to the edge of the earth we will fall off. Also, I did not realize that Marianne was writing about the principles of "A Course in Miracles."

Today you will find thousands of authors interjecting ACIM principles of peace into their books and articles. Each lesson is to be practiced throughout the day.

When someone cuts you off in rush-hour traffic and you get miffed, remember: "I am never upset for the reason I think."

When they don't hire you for the job for which you interviewed and you get depressed, remember: "I am never upset for the reason I think."

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You will realize that this lesson does not identify the reason for which you are really upset. For now, the course wants to teach you only that what you think is upsetting you is not the true reason.

Little by little the course shows you your thoughts are based on your past experiences. We come up with a reason that satisfies our being ... but it's not necessarily the truth. The lesson does not ask you to identify or be without the upsetting feelings of fear, anxiety, hatred, worry, depression, jealousy ... only to realize that your emotions are not for the reason you think.

Of course the goal is to let those negative emotions go. But to do that we have to shift our thinking that negative emotions are different things with different causes. We will find that all of them stem from the same cause and their meanings we project into the world we see based on our past. (Projection is a word you must research. It will knock your socks off and shift your thinking.)

How does Jesus fit into all this?

The ACIM is from Jesus to you. Jesus taught love. Those who have had near-death experiences have felt that love and can attest to it. It changes their lives. Jesus' plan is for us to love one another as we love ourselves.

But we keep slipping and stumbling because we don't keep focused. We slip into anger, etc., due to our fear-based mentality.

Our normal modus operandi is survival. When attacked our reflex is to attack back. That is why war is such an archaic way of solving a problem.

I am pleased with this course because it teaches us, through mindfulness, the truth about ourselves and the love that is available for us all in this world.

We start reading ACIM as pupils and miraculously become advanced teachers of God. The whole intent of the exercises is to form a habit of spiritual practice that will last a lifetime.

"... We need to practice them awhile, until they are rules by which you live. We seek to make them habits now, so you will have them ready for whatever need" ('ACIM' T-30.In.1:2-5,7-8).

Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10).

"I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it" (John 12:46,47).

Have life to the full, and be that light in 2017 and from then on.

The Rev. Ellin M. Dize is executive director of nonprofit NRS Inc. and facilitates A Course in Miracles spiritual discussion group at St. Paul's UCC. She can be contacted at NRSsolutions@yahoo.com.

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