Most of the time I find human nature to be depressing. We all seem so clearly out for ourselves. Put us together and inevitably trouble ensues; we fight, we divorce, we molest, we rob, we kill. We wage war not just on the battlefield, but on every field—in the bedroom, at the office, even on the highway.

It’s a depressing state of affairs; there’s no use pretending it’s not. I believe we all carry this depression. We all bear the constant, terrible weight of staring at the darkness in human nature. We probably don’t think of it in such abstract terms. Instead, we confront it on a case-by-case basis. We are disappointed when a person we believed in turns out to be devious. We are angered when someone whom we thought cared won’t go out of his way for us. We are devastated when a friend stabs us in the back. These individual cases add up. The longer we observe the workings of human nature, the more jaded we tend to become.

I think we desperately want to believe in the goodness of humanity. If only there was a way to reconcile it with the evidence! I have come to believe there is. A Course in Miracles* teaches that everyone, without exception, is purely good. Our true nature is divine. Love is the substance of which we are made and we can never change that. How is it, then, that we humans are capable of such cruelty? The Course says it is because we have forgotten our true nature, we have lost touch with our original purity.

Yet the evidence of that purity is still visible. When we act cruelly or callously, says the Course, we are really seeking the love we have forgotten. We are simply seeking it in a misguided way, a way guaranteed to not work. Consequently, even though our unkind behavior may deliver the prestige, or money, or pleasure we think we desire, it doesn’t deliver the love we truly desire. And so we remain unhappy, which shows we must have really been looking for something besides what we thought. Unbeknownst to us, we must have been looking for the love that is our forgotten nature, for only that will truly satisfy us. Only that will make us feel that we have come home. If love is our heart’s desire, doesn’t that say something about us? Doesn’t that say that our heart is pure? Doesn’t that imply that our nature is fundamentally good?

These are very abstract thoughts, but they have offered me deep comfort in this insane world. I’m still trying to fully accept them, but in my better moments, when I do, I make my peace with human nature. I can look out at all the fighting and have faith that, despite appearances, we are beings of pure love, who have simply lost sight of that love and are groping, blindly but single-mindedly, to find our way back to it.

*A Course in Miracles is a modern spiritual classic. It is aimed at training our minds to shift our perception from resentment to forgiveness, which it sees as the gateway to enlightenment. Its teachings blend Christianity, Eastern wisdom, and modern psychology with its own original themes.

Author's Bio: 

Robert Perry is one of the most respected interpreters of A Course in Miracles. He has been teaching since 1986, is the author of nineteen books and booklets on the Course, and is the founder of the Circle of Atonement, a teaching center in Arizona dedicated to serving students of the Course. Visit the Circle of Atonement's website at, or contact the Circle at P.O. Box 4238, Sedona, AZ 86340. Email:, or phone: 888-357-7520.

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