Some mornings when I wake up I look around and say, “am I in Heaven yet? Did you finally get around to punching my ticket, Jesus?” And then I see the same old light above the bed, the same old fish tank near the wall, the same old A Course in Miracles on the bed stand. The same old dog is still curled up near my feet awaiting the same old walk on the same old trails.
And I fall back on the pillows and think, “damn it. What’s keeping you Jesus?”
I forget that awakening is my responsibility. That the willingness to change must precede the change, and that Jesus and the Holy Spirit cannot will for me, because to do so would violate what is already eternal and divine in me.
I forget that A Course in Miracles is a course in mind-training. Because it is a course, it requires study and practice. Mind-training implies the same virtues: diligent practice, sustained effort. There isn’t any magical fairy dust. There aren’t any secret handshakes.
I act as if I am waiting for a gift from God. In truth, the gift has already been given and God is waiting on me to wake up and accept it. That’s a big difference!
There is an old story about enlightenment. Every time the aspirant scales what appears to be the last and final peak, he finds a plateau at the far end of which is yet another mountain. He climbs and climbs and climbs until one day – exhausted, frustrated and bitter – he gives up, sits down, and just appreciates the landscape. This isn’t so bad! At that precise moment, the mountains disappear and he is enlightened.
We are often confused about what we have to do. We are often riddled with expectation about what effects our actions will yield. And we are deeply conflicted – that is the word – about the role that God is playing in all of this.
It’s good sometimes to stop and see that. Just sit with it. Call it the separation, call it being broken, call it dysfunctional. The words we use are not important. It’s just healthy to sit and appreciate that we are called to something and we don’t really understand what calls, where it calls us, or how to respond to the call. It’s an old problem and we aren’t the first ones to struggle with it.
It’s good to acknowledge that we have a power, but we aren’t clear at all about its application.
We might in that space of stillness, that space of being willing to see, sense that the issue, properly understood, is that we are invested in a conflict between God and the self. That this conflict is the essence of our identity. And it can manifest in many ways. We believe we have to plan against a dangerous and unstable future. We believe we have to use judgment to decide what people are allowed into our lives and who we are going to hold at bay. It’s not the form of the conflict that matters – that’s static. It’s the content. The conflict itself.
We begin to see the degree to which we are invested in defending our bodies against other bodies and against a hostile environment in which all those bodies vainly tangle before toppling into graves. It is an ugly picture. At the shallow level of intellectuality, we might say, “Oh, that’s not me. That’s not true of me.” But that’s just denial. At that level we’re shrewd enough to know such motives are at odds with all the great spiritual texts. We’d rather lie than not be associated with them.
It’s just another riff on the need to be special, the need to be Jesus and not the lepers that he heals.
But if we can be honest, the truth of it might show itself. We might let it in that much. We might catch a glimpse. Don’t fight it! The holiness of the moment is in being able to see clearly without resistance. Bring it up and let it be. Remember that to hold something in light is a metaphor for understanding it. We can only give over for healing what we have accepted as undesirable. This seeing is such a necessary step. Nothing happens without it.
We can’t defend our brokenness, our ugliness, our spiritual immaturity and selfishness. We have to see it. When we do, we learn that it has no power in or of itself to hurt us – only in shadow, where it remains vague and obscure, are we able to believe it has any such power. In the light, it is quickly revealed as illusion and then dispelled.
God knows not of your plans to change his Will. The universe remains unheeding of the laws by which you thought to govern it. And Heaven has not bowed to hell, nor life to death . . . What is created is apart from all of this (W-pI.136.11:1-3, 5).
So my body’s eyes open in the morning and perceive the same old same old. My first instinct is to blame God. You see? It is the separation – over and over. In this moment and in all moments. But if we are vigilant, if we are open to miracles, then we might remember – the remembering might be our second instinct – that it is not that Jesus has forsaken me, or that God is gearing up to do battle, or that the Holy Spirit is nodding off in the corner. It’s that I remain invested in the separation. That’s all. I am still choosing the defense of the body and the defense of your body and the defense of the world. I am still willing to maintain the sorry gap between the little self and the glorious Mind which both knows all and has all.
So after a few moments of griping – why did I choose this path, why does it have to be so damn hard, maybe there’s a better option out there – I come back to the practice. I pray. I ask for help in removing the blocks that obscure understanding. I listen. I read and study.
I practice being the home of Love, a mirror for Truth.
Truth has a power far beyond any defense, for no illusions can remain where truth has been allowed to enter. And it comes to any mind that would lay down its arms, and cease to play with folly. It is found at any time; today, if you will choose to practice giving welcome to the truth (W-pI.136.14:1-3).
Baby step by baby step, it works.