Like the 9/11 attacks on the United States, last Friday’s tragedy in Paris has changed the world. As on that awful day almost fourteen years ago, nothing will ever again be quite the same. But unlike on that day, we are far more aware now of what’s going on, who is behind the attacks, and what their ultimate intentions are.

We are spiritual beings having a human experience. The mortal plane itself, in the words of Buddha as well as A Course in Miracles, is not what it appears to be; the three-dimensional realm is but a mere veil of illusion obscuring a truer truth behind it. But metaphysical principle is not meant to distract us from our mission of transforming the world; it’s a tool to guide and aid us in transforming the world. As spiritual seekers, our job is not to deny the horror of what happened in Paris this week, except in a positive sense: we are to deny its ultimate power before the love of God.

Spiritual seekers should not be infantilized, fuzzy-brained, naive observers merely standing on the sidelines with nothing to contribute but loving hashtags while the world community faces an unprecedented crisis. Quite the opposite, we should be major factors in healing the crisis. Understanding the spiritual dimensions of the problem, we can contribute to the spiritual dimensions of its solution. Given that any reasonable person can recognize the absolute inadequacy of purely rationalistic thinking to strategize a genuine solution to the problem of ISIL and the Islamist fundamentalist jihad, spiritual insight is not only essential – it is pivotal – to providing an answer to the problem.

According to A Course in Miracles, “there is no order of difficulty in miracles.” There is no worldly problem too big or too complicated for Spirit to solve, because the effects of love are maximal. While the problems of the world can be extremely complicated, the miracle represents a divine intercession from a thought system beyond our own, and is absolute in its power. Love takes precedence over the illusions of the world. Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love.

According to A Course in Miracles, “prayer is the medium of miracles.” In praying for a miracle, we are praying for a shift in our own thinking. Praying for a shift in consciousness, we are praying for breakthroughs that cannot be accomplished by the mortal mind alone. By placing the seemingly intractable situation of ISIL’s declared war against us in the hands of God, we are asking that our thoughts about the situation be guided from fear to love. Since the Law of Cause and Effect is the building block of the universe, as our thinking (cause) is shifted, then our experience (effect) will shift automatically. What is placed on the altar is then altered.

A Course in Miracles says that “miracles are everyone’s right, but purification is necessary first.” The most powerful thing we can do as Americans right now is to purify our hearts. And that is not just words; it means taking a brutally honest look at ourselves. We cannot just bring light to the darkness; we must bring our darkness to the light. God Himself will not intercede between our thinking and its effects. There is no returning to God without atoning for our thoughts that were not of Him.

America, we have some atoning to do. We didn’t cause all of what’s happening now with ISIL, but our part in creating this disaster is enormous.

We can atone in our hearts for the part that our own country played, through deeply misguided foreign policy, in destabilizing the Middle East. We can atone in our hearts for the huge amount of suffering and death caused by attacking a country that had not attacked us, our own Security agencies having expressed doubts at the time about the veracity of claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. We can atone for having so casually gone along with a thinly veiled propaganda campaign, waged by our own government and practically unquestioned by the American press, surrendering so easily to the war fever then taking hold of the American mind. On behalf of our country, we can atone for the sin of an astonishing arrogance, shallow thinking on almost all our parts about something as deeply serious as war, and our almost unquestioning assent to the use of violence against those who had done no violence to us.

God is merciful, but He is not mocked. Only in atoning for our errors are we released from their karmic consequence. Until then, there are no guns, no bombs, no worldly force whatsoever that can save us from the effects of our own thoughts and actions. Abraham Lincoln’s words in declaring a National Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer in 1864 reach across the ages to us today in 2015. Don’t let the old-fashioned language fool you.

“… It is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

… We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”

How can we ask God to save us from violence now, when we have countenanced so much of it done so irresponsibly in our name? The Invasion of Iraq unleashed a storm in the Middle East that has done inestimable damage. It has caused and continues to cause immeasurable suffering. It has maimed and killed thousands of our own brave servicemen, and maimed and killed thousands of more people from another part of the world. Until we understand this, allow ourselves to truly feel the horror of it and humbly ask for forgiveness, then there will be no miracle. For only when we re-align ourselves with God will miracles occur.

Recognizing this is hardly naïve. Quite the opposite: what’s naïve is to believe that anything less will change the deeper trajectory by which America is now reaping some horrible seeds that we ourselves have sowed.

Something else that’s naïve, however, is to doubt for a moment the murderous intent of those who have now declared war upon what they call the “infidels.” The infidels, according to them, are not only Western nations but also any Muslims who do not follow the dictates of Islam as they define them. In A Course in Miracles, it says that anger is not justified; but it does not say military action is not justified. Spiritual seekers are not inherently pacifists. Each and every one of us must decide for ourselves, according to the dictates of our own conscience, whether or not to support military action against ISIL, and if so, what. Yet until we have atoned in our hearts for our almost casual acquiescence to an immoral war, we will not be able to hear God’s guidance regarding whether or not war at this point is correct action or not. I do not believe it was immoral to stop Hitler; I believe it would have been immoral not to. But no one – no governmental leader, no general, and no politician — really knows what to do about ISIL now. Only God knows. And He will speak into our ears once we have spoken from our hearts, and preferably on our knees, to Him.

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