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Miracles are Effects, Not Causes

my_daughters

My girls . . .

A miracle, as that word is brought to application by A Course in Miracles, is not a cause of anything but rather an effect. It is an effect of a decision to give attention to the present moment without bringing either the past or the future into it. The miracle denies nothing and accepts the wholeness of whatever arises. Thus peace, thus joy.

Each day, each hour and minute, even each second, you are deciding between the crucifixion and the resurrection; between the ego and the Holy Spirit (T-14.III.4:1).

We are given the power to choose between peace and conflict, which decision is internal and altogether unrelated to what is external. What is external has nothing to do with anything; it is merely a canvas on which our thoughts leave faint trails of either joy or sorrow, according to our internal decision. The external is the trail of wind across the lake, faint ripples bearing witness to the greater passage. The miracle serves us by witnessing unto how we have exercised our capacity for decision.

The miracle teaches you that you have chosen guiltlessness, freedom and joy. It is not a cause, but an effect. It is the natural result of choosing right, attesting to your happiness that comes from choosing to be free of guilt (T-14.III.5:1-3).

“Choosing right” in this instance relates only to what is going on inside of us – at the level of thought, and the levels that are beyond thought. “Levels” is a misleading term, because it suggests both a physical space (in “here” and out “there) and a linear progression from conflict to peace. But if we give attention to thought, we will see that there is a great deal beyond the egoic chatter that seems to define and contain us. And that “beyondness” – somewhat like descriptions of the material universe – is forever expanding. Its limits are literally incomprehensible. You cannot reach the end of within.

bare_trees

The trees largely bare of leaves now, raking a cloud-filled sky . . .

“Thought” in this case does not mean ideas or what can be rendered in language: that is the surface, that is the shallows. We can’t think our way to what A Course in Miracles calls the thoughts we think with God (W-pI.51.4:4). As Tara Singh pointed out in Nothing Real Can Be Threatened, God’s love is a “state superior to thought.”

There is no peace or love at the thought level. Though merely projects the outer world of unreality and lives in that abstraction (164).

Nor is this a new idea limited to ACIM. Consider, for example, William Samuels.

In its most intellectual presentations, metaphysics merely states the impossibility of an actual fallen state; but, alas, it still leaves us attempting to play the part of a self-righteous pseudo-identity healing a personal view of the universe, calling everything seen “via the senses” a dream “that isn’t going on in truth,” and it leaves us still having to see the nothingness of that dream . . . there is no peace in this (A Guide to Awareness and Tranquility 54).

When we choose – however briefly, even unintentionally – to let go of this pseudo-identity (which is the egoic self), then we know peace. The miracle enters perception as a witness unto this “right” choosing: we feel it – a sense of happiness, quiet contentment, inner peace, a singular desire to continually serve our brothers and sisters. And over time, the miracle teaches us – because we are not nearly as complex and mysterious as we think – to choose rightly more and more often for no other reason than we really like how miracles makes us feel. Reflexively, we do what makes us happy. We are, it turns out, naturally inclined to grace.

looking_west_at_dusk

Gazing west at twilight . . .

Attention to the truth of this speeds up awakening. When I talk about giving attention, I am simply saying to be aware of when miracles are and when they are not and then be miraculous. We can’t learn this through the acquisition of facts or ideas, but we can see it and bring into application, not unlike learning to swim or play guitar or bake bread.

There are no mysteries! Only miracles attesting to the power of choice upon which all our joy is founded.

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Complexity as a Form of Love

One wakes at an unfamiliar hour, nudging the day before them the way a canoe gently shifts the lake even as it is carried towards the center. Trails of mist, a bass-eye view of surfaces and a sense one spent their midnight pacing marble balustrades. Oh moonlight tell me how to guide my kingdom home! I no longer want what I once wanted is now all that I want. The quiet deepens and something settles the less one subjects it to study. For example, the backyard dogwood tree altogether leafless and blue jays pocking the suet Chrisoula makes. Lessons hardly abound. And what I don’t know becomes the elision in which definition yet readies its tangle. Inclination towards complexity as a form of love? Boughs of pine lifted, mergansers making a line north, sunlight after how many days rain? Awareness now of the risk inherent in both biography and history, clocks and calendars, which is to say the impulse to do away with them itself is gone. Is mediated? Lust wrecks the directive longing forever offers. There are dances, there are loaves of cinnamon bread, and there is the mail which though it never quite arrives is always here. Perhaps service is the willingness to be still in the face of ontological difficulties, in which stillness wordiness makes a not-unhelpful legend. Still. Maybe? I am saying not steps, but feet. Not maps but where we are, right now, together.

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Gifted by Thieves

. . . the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2)

. . . ye know not what hour your Lord doth come (Matthew 24:42)

Let us first rephrase the latter passage: Let us call our “Lord” the “Truth in which Love is no longer denied” and let us say that this Truth does not “come” but rather that we regain – or recall – our awareness of it. For what we say is God is not absent from us, and what we are – right now, right here – is capable of knowing this non-absence (this here-and-nowness) as the singular fact of existence. Nothing is that isn’t God. That is the Truth!

There is no separation: there is only a belief in separation. And when we look gently and closely at this belief – which is simply to raise it to the light of understanding – then it will naturally dissolve, like a handful of salt thrown in the sea.

We need do nothing but give attention. A Course in Miracles teaches us that “Truth comes of its own will unto its own” (T-13.XI.6:5). Who looks will see, and who sees perceives correctly, and who perceives correctly knows at last “what is capable of being wholly shared” (T-13.XI.4:2). We do not need to know what that is right now; indeed, we only need to know that we don’t know. That is honesty and honesty calls forth Truth. We are not bereft. Salvation is sure.

The coming and going of specific forms are akin to faint ripples on the lake’s surface at dawn: they are not separate from the lake, and the lake’s wholeness is neither impaired nor improved by their brief and shifting presence.

We did not invent love: we did not make peace. The words, yes. The images and ideals, yes. But the essence of love and peace? The truth of love and peace? Those transcend the limitations of our apparently separated selves: and yet are also available right now within us, because separation is an illusion. Go beyond the image you make and go beyond the words you use: what do you find? What do you experience? Because Truth is there: it can be encountered outside the limits of time and space.

When you have learned that you belong to truth, it will flow lightly over you without a difference of any kind . . . Have faith in only this one thing, and it will be sufficient; God wills you be in Heaven, and nothing can keep you from it, nor it from you (T-13.IX.6:6, 7:1).

When we make attention our gift to the world – which is to say that when we offer it without condition or exclusion of any kind – then it is given us to become aware of that which was always was: Love, peace, the stillness of Heaven. Call it what you will because the words are not what matters: the same force that brings the bluets each Spring bears you along as well. The coming and going of specific forms are akin to faint ripples on the lake’s surface at dawn: they are not separate from the lake, and the lake’s wholeness is neither impaired nor improved by their brief and shifting presence.

We are not what passes: not the forms that come and go, not the landscape forms traverse, and not the wordy ideas they use to fuel their passage. We dwell in an invariable peace beyond (but not opposed to) the reach of change. Merely question your belief that truth – and you – are other than this wholeness, other than this deep and abiding peace.

You do not have to know that Heaven is yours to make it so. It is so (T-13.XI.10:5-6).

The hour is now: the doors are open. And we can look now at the first biblical passage of this post: Paul’s admonition that the day of the Lord is like a thief in the night. But it is given us to see that the thief is neither a stranger nor a criminal but a brother and a savior: and he comes not to steal but to offer a gift: remembrance, through Truth, of the peace and love forever composing us.

For how can you remember what was never true, or not remember what has always been? It is this reconciliation with truth, and only truth, in which the peace of Heaven lies (T-13.XI.11:7-8).

In the end it is simple, so simple we are apt to miss it: we don’t have to say yes and we don’t have to beg. We only have to see what is now.

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In the Spirit of Christ

I always knew there was another way but couldn’t find it. Wouldn’t walk it? Oh, who cares at this late juncture: rain and wind at 3 a.m., dog growling at the window. Foxes of the world be warned: we will not tolerate your thievery. In the basement guns whisper that haven’t been fired in a decade or more. Our capacity for nothingness remains unoptimized. Just because I know my way around a Ruger .22 doesn’t mean I want to use it. Three times before 5 a.m. I get up and look for stars and seeing none burrow back into a warm hollow of blankets and sheets. Better to rest than plumb the darkness and call it prayer. Coffee beckons but it’s always been a shitty excuse for sleep. The truth is, I like a space where nobody calls on me, nobody wants from me. And is that grace? Is that service in the spirit of Christ, which this time around I’m bent on following? One can become very silly when insisting on the prevalence of a separated self, its prerogatives and appetites, its lists and stories. Oh me, oh my indeed! But bluets remain instructive, even in Fall when they’re yet a dim longing. The pilgrim dawn finds me bleary-eyed and wordless in a barren landscape I can neither describe nor traverse. Prisms witness unto a language that remains elusive; bluets talk to me in my dreams. They say, The other way looks: the other way sees. It’s okay, they say. And: it’s more than okay.

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Where the Road Dips

Perhaps there is no 4 a.m.. Or so I think at 4:16, listening to Debussy in bed, the dog waiting patiently near my feet. Again one enters the divine again, again one ascends the lightsome spiral. We go outside in darkness, no stars, no moon, not even a breeze. “Oh westron wynde, when wilt though blow?” Rain is quietly polysyllabic in the welter of sentinel pines. One of the neighbors is up (and out) so we talk briefly about the recent influx of dead coyotes. “Enjoy your day” indeed. Water sounds where the road dips, and coming back, chickadees like tinsel rustling in shadows. Gifts abound though I often confuse them with lessons. Coffee as prayer, morning as church and me as the covetous minister. All relationships are holy or none of them are. Is that it? Some mornings nothing settles while others arise before you, gentle and sure as mist floating in off the river. I write and write but it doesn’t always help. You want to get somewhere or is that you just want me to take you? Three hours later, a dozen or so sentences and still. Still.

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Attention is a Form of Acceptance

Attention is a kind of questioning, but not questioning as the brain and the egoic self understand it. The egoic self wants answers that do not exist and so cannot be found because its maxim is seek but do not find (e.g. T-12.IV.4:1-5). But attention is content to let what is be. It no longer projects its wants and uncertainties. Attention is a form of acceptance in which need itself ends and so seeking, too, ends.

But attention is not exclusive. This is a condition of its capacity to heal through undoing: nothing is left out. Nothing is forbidden. Whatever arises belongs. Whatever arises is welcome.

Attention includes even itself – that is, it gives attention to attention and to the gift of attention. Has it been made conditional – offered only to those people, places and things that the ego deems favorable? Has it excluded what causes pain and discomfort and fear? So long as it is conditional or exclusive it is not attention, but projection – another attempt, however veiled or nuanced, to make an ideal self against which the world stands in ruinous opposition. You and I are not that.

When we are attentive, we are merciful: unto that which we perceive, which is our brothers and sisters, and so by extension unto ourselves. Mercy is the willingness to offer love and succor in the face of grief, injustice and conflict. The merciful love because they know that love is all, and this knowledge is not of the brain. It is not subject to change. It is not intellectual. Language does not make it – rather, it consents to be temporarily contained by words in the interest of a greater and more fullsome release for all.

You who perceive yourself as weak and frail, with futile hopes and devastated dreams, born but to die, to weep and suffer pain, hear this: All power is given unto you in earth and Heaven. There is nothing that you cannot do. You play the game of death, of being helpless, pitifully tied to dissolution in a world which shows no mercy to you. Yet when you accord it mercy, will its mercy shine on you (W-pI. 191.9:1-4).

Do not hide from what appears before you: do not reject what appears before you: do not even judge what appears before you. Analysis is not our task any more: love is. And since we do not know what love is, then we must become willing learners: and the salient quality of all devoted students is their attentiveness. Only that!

Life offers itself to us that we might offer it to our brothers and sisters, to chickadees and bears, seascapes and landscapes, to starlight and space. It is given that we might give it – that is its law, that is what ensures Creation. Through attention we learn what is already done because it is always being done. This is the end of learning: this is the beginning of joy.

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Allowed to Dream Together

In the morning I scrub the eggs of shit and straw and saw dust. Slice an abundance of not-quite-stale bread. It has been a lovely fall for falling leaves, but now my heart must travel the bare branches and raw winds that nearly killed the pilgrims. The path emerges is one way to say it. The path is always there and at last we see it, is another. How quietly I scrounge the cupboard, looking for cinnamon while everyone else is asleep. Coffee nurtures a familiar prayer! Well, I am getting on, or going by, as we all are. Find a way to say yes to those who want to help, okay? A little rain spits hard on the glass, and I step outside with the dog to pee. There is no path, really: there is only this. How lonesome they must have been, but for the God they struggled to please. In the end it’s better to let the truth be true. Soon it will snow, an old dream seeded with light, but one we are allowed to dream together. As hours later I make French toast, leaning over the warm stove, listening to the kids wonder who discovered maple syrup and how.

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