How do we pursue the goal of the Course? In spiritual circles we tend to extol the values of the child, who is fully in the present, rather than seeing the present as the means to a future goal. We tend to associate the goal of spiritual awakening with openness and receptivity, qualities that can seem at odds with the determined pursuit of a goal.
Yet A Course in Miracles is surprisingly goal-oriented, not in terms of worldly goals, but in terms of reaching the ultimate goal. It would have us pursue the goal of God with the same focus, discipline, and unwavering determination as a salesman would pursue his monthly sales quota. What follows are twenty-five principles I have gleaned from the Course for how to achieve the goal of the spiritual life.
1. Formulate the goal clearly. To shoot for a goal, you have to know what you are aiming for.
"Seek and ye shall find" does not mean that you should seek blindly and desperately for something you would not recognize. Meaningful seeking is consciously undertaken, consciously organized and consciously directed. The goal must be formulated clearly and kept in mind. (T-4.V.5)
2. God is the only goal you really have.
You are my goal, my Father, only You. (Lesson 287)
God is the only goal I have today. (Lesson 256)
3. When you desire the goal fully, you have achieved it.
You will remember everything the instant you desire it wholly. (T-10.I.4)
4. The pursuit of other goals is the greatest threat to reaching the goal of God. It is also the only threat.
The goal of God is lost in the quest for lesser goals of any kind….All other goals are at the cost of God. (S-1.III.6)
The full acceptance of salvation as your only function necessarily entails two phases; the recognition of salvation as your function, and the relinquishment of all the other goals you have invented for yourself. (W-pI.65.1)
5. When you set the goal, the Holy Spirit enters and makes the goal a reality on a deep level of your mind.
This invitation is accepted immediately, and the Holy Spirit wastes no time in introducing the practical results of asking Him to enter. At once His goal replaces yours. (T-17.V.3)
When you accepted the Holy Spirit's purpose in place of the ego's you renounced death, exchanging it for life. (T-19.IV(C).2)
6. The goal is a real power. Once set, it will make sure that you reach it and that everyone involved will play his part in its accomplishment.
The goal's reality will call forth and accomplish every miracle needed for its fulfillment. (T-17.VII.5)
The goal establishes the fact that everyone involved in it will play his part in its accomplishment. This is inevitable. No one will fail in anything. (T-17.VI.6)
7. The means you use to reach the goal must be truly in line with it. If there is any discrepancy, the means will not take you to your goal, or will at best take you there slowly.
We have said much about discrepancies of means and end, and how these must be brought in line. (T-20.VII.1)
It is extremely difficult to reach Atonement by fighting against sin. Enormous effort is expended in the attempt to make holy what is hated and despised. Nor is a lifetime of contemplation and long periods of meditation aimed at detachment from the body necessary. All such attempts will ultimately succeed because of their purpose. Yet the means are tedious and very time consuming, for all of them look to the future for release from a state of present unworthiness and inadequacy. (T-18.VII.4)
8. First, establish the value of the goal in your mind. Once you do that, the means will be provided.
The means and purpose both belong to Him. You have accepted one; the other will be provided. (T-18.V.3)
Think you not the goal itself will gladly arrange the means for its accomplishment? (T-17.V.14)
9. The primary means for the goal of God are forgiveness and true perception.
Forgiveness is the means. (8 occurrences)
Salvation is the Holy Spirit's goal. The means is vision. (T-20.VII.9)
10. Do not lose sight of the goal. Remind yourself of it frequently-ideally, several times an hour.
As often as you can, remind yourself you have a goal today; an aim which makes this day of special value to yourself and all your brothers. (W-pI.126.11)
The ego is totally confused about reality, but it does not lose sight of its goal. It is much more vigilant than you are. (T-11.V.7)
11. Structure your time so that you set apart times devoted to attempting to reach your goal.
Try, also, to determine this time [when you will do your longer practice period] in advance, and then adhere to it as closely as possible. The purpose of this is to arrange your day so that you have set apart the time for God, as well as for all the trivial purposes and goals you will pursue. (W-pI.65.4)
12. Bring specific versions of the goal (such as the Workbook lessons) into each unit of your life (each hour, day, year, situation, encounter, practice period, etc.), setting the goal at the beginning of each one.
The clarification of the goal belongs at the beginning, for it is this which will determine the outcome. (T-17.VI.2)
The value of deciding in advance what you want to happen is simply that you will perceive the situation as a means to make it happen. (T-17.VI.4)
13. In each day and each situation, shoot for the whole goal, and count the simple attempt as success.
Father, I thank You for today, and for the freedom I am certain it will bring. This day is holy, for today Your Son will be redeemed….I was born into this world but to achieve this day, and what it holds in joy and freedom for Your holy Son and for the world he made, which is released along with him today. (W-pII.341.1)
14. Hold a fixed determination to succeed. Refuseto settle for anything less.
Realize that, whatever form such [ego] thoughts may take, they have no meaning and no power. Replace them with your determination to succeed. (W-pI.rII.In.4)
Your mind and mine can unite in shining your ego away, releasing the strength of God into everything you think and do. Do not settle for anything less than this, and refuse to accept anything but this as your goal. (T-4.IV.8:3-4)
15. In relation to everything, ask, "What is it for?" Do you see it as being for the attainment of your goal, or for something else?
In any situation in which you are uncertain, the first thing to consider, very simply, is "What do I want to come of this? What is it for?" (T-17.VI.2)
The test of everything on earth is simply this; "What is it for?" The answer makes it what it is for you. (T-24.VII.6)
16. Your experience of everything is determined by the goal you set for it. The goal "makes it what it is for you."
The Holy Spirit knows that the situation is as the goal determines it, and is experienced according to the goal. (T-17.VI.5)
17. See everything in your life as a means of meeting the goal of God: your body, time, abilities, money, possessions, behavior, decisions, situations, relationships, faith, belief, logic, perception, etc.
All things you made have use to Him, for His most holy purpose. (T-14.VI.5)
The body is the means by which God's Son returns to sanity. Though it was made to fence him into hell without escape, yet has the goal of Heaven been exchanged for the pursuit of hell. (W-pI.5.4)
All you need do is make the effort to learn, for the Holy Spirit has a unified goal for the effort. If different abilities are applied long enough to one goal, the abilities themselves become unified. (T-7.IV.3)
18. Concentrate on what helps you meet your goal and overlook what interferes with it.
You will therefore make every effort to overlook what interferes with the accomplishment of your objective, and concentrate on everything that helps you meet it. (T-17.VI.4)
19. Refuse to give power to the obstacles that stand in your way. Look upon them, then look beyond them.
Never accord the ego the power to interfere with the journey. (T-8.V.6)
This tolerance for weakness will enable us to overlook it, rather than give it power to delay our learning. (W-pI.95.8)
20. When you wander, calmly note that you have gone off the path, forgive yourself, and get back on track immediately
Let us therefore be determined…to be willing to forgive ourselves for our lapses in diligence, and our failures to follow the instructions for practicing the day's idea. This tolerance for weakness will enable us to overlook it, rather than give it power to delay our learning. If we give it power to do this, we are regarding it as strength, and are confusing strength with weakness. (W-pI.95.8)
21. When you find the means difficult, realize it is because you are uncertain about the goal, and have given a higher priority to other goals.
How can one be sincere and say, "I want this above all else, and yet I do not want to learn the means to get it?"…The means are second to the goal. And when you hesitate, it is because the purpose frightens you, and not the means. …If you think they [the means] are impossible, your wanting of the purpose has been shaken. (T-20.VII.2-3)
You are unwilling to cooperate in practicing salvation [doing your practice periods] only if it interferes with goals you hold more dear. (W-pI.RIII.In.4)
22. Pursuing opposing goals at the same time leads to "deep distress and great depression."
If I forget my goal I can be but confused, unsure of what I am, and thus conflicted in my actions. No one can serve contradicting goals and serve them well. Nor can he function without deep distress and great depression. (W-pII.257.1)
23. Do not look back on your pre-goal life wistfully, only honestly.
Be speeded on your way by honesty, and let not your experiences here deceive in retrospect. They were not free from bitter cost and joyless consequence. Do not look back except in honesty. (T-30.V.9-10)
24. In pursuing your goal, be gentle with yourself, but also firm.
Determining to keep your will clearly in mind, tell yourself with gentle firmness and quiet certainty [the idea for the day]." (W-pI.73.10)
25. You can afford to be patient with your progress because the outcome is certain.
Those who are certain of the outcome can afford to wait, and wait without anxiety. Patience is natural to the teacher of God. (M-4.VIII.1)