Attention and the Stillness of God

Our desire to come to attention – to bring the mind to the stillness of God – cannot be accomplished by the self. If there is a shred of ambition in it, a shred of a thought for personal gain, then it will not reach that depth. It’s not that nothing can be accomplished by the half-hearted. A little effort is better than no effort. But if we would know God in the way that ends all seeking, then we have to see that the power to do this is not of us. It is more in the nature of a gift.

We have to see that we did not invent that for which we yearn. Rather, we invented those obstacles that make yearning – and its brother, frustration – a part of our experience.

A Course in Miracles teaches us how to live a life that is not governed by judgment, not ruled by survival and dedicated only to knowing the Truth of God, which is our Truth, too. It does this by undoing the obstacles. Most of us don’t get it. Or we get part of it. We are willing to have some of the blocks removed, but we reserve the right to make another. Or we keep one block or one piece of one block. That’s okay. Jesus is not going to give up on us. But it is not required that we limp along. It is not required that we release suffering slowly, drip by precious drip over lifetimes. It is not required that we stay a little lonely and a little scared and a little guilty.

We can let it all go. It can all be healed.

Jesus intimates in the Course that our learning and our awakening are not optional – only the time it takes to learn and the time it takes to awaken are within our control (I-1:4-5). The curriculum is established and the end is sure. When we get there, when we bring it all into application . . . that is a question only we can answer.

It is frustrating, isn’t it? On the one hand, the state of attention in which one discovers that the separation never happened and God remains eternally present is a gift. On the other, it’s up to us when we open it. Why would god give us the potential to wake up without unsaddling our resistance? Are we being toyed with? Is God playing games?

It is not God’s game. It’s ours. And it’s not a particularly fun game either. To be so close to Heaven – to have it literally “at hand” – and then to go on with the guilt and the shame and the anger and the fear . . . It is a game in which there are only losers. God waits and we delay.

How can we come to the fundamental change? How can we end our resistance?

We have to start where we are: with these bodies, these personalities. It’s no good pretending they’re not real. We can’t fake awakening. but if we start at the level of the physical, then we can clear some space in which Truth will be more evident. So we have to bring these bodies to stillness. We have to refuse to be controlled by them. We only judge because we think we have to protect the body – feed it, entertain it, clothe it, shelter it, stimulate it. I’m not saying a cup of coffee is a bad thing but maybe¬† we want to look at it differently. See the need and how we react to it. Maybe arrange our lives differently so the coffee is less prevalent. Or the fine clothes. Or the washboard abs. Or whatever it is.

We have to bring some order into our lives. When we are not being ruled by our bodies, then we can practice attention. We can sit still for an hour. Yes, I am hungry but I will eat later. That’s a right use of time. Right now I am practicing bringing my mind to God. I’m not very good at it but it’s important. I’ll read my book later.

If we do that often enough then we begin to realize that the stillness is more nourishing than any meal. It is more enlivening than any form of recreation. And it sustains us. When we rely on it, it supports and lifts us. It teaches us that we are not alone, that great companions are available. How amazing!

The lessons of A Course in Miracles ask us to remember God hourly. If you look at them, you will see that in each lesson is the reminder to bring our attention to God throughout the day. It’s not just whatever the big theme of the lesson is, it’s also that coming to awareness. It doesn’t matter what you call it – meditation, contemplative prayer, inner seeking. The form that reaching for stillness assumes is between you and God. In truth, it’s not even that interesting. The name of the experience is not the experience.

But the effect of the reaching . . . that is what we are after. That is what we are trying to bring into application. To know the separation is unreal and that our integrity as perfect children of God remains unaffected . . . who would not drop everything right now and rush towards it? Who would bother with names and positions?

It starts with order. It starts with our insistence that right now, in these bodies, we are going to begin. Doing the lessons, creating space in the day – every hour, every half hour – to recall God, to express God. When we do that we are like little spiritual toddlers, fumbling with the wrapping and the bows on the gift that was given to us at the instant of Creation. And sooner or later we are going to see it happen – the gilded paper come ripping off, the satin bows go flying. That which obstructs the gift will disappear and we will be at last where we began and never left: the Kingdom of Heaven.

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