Becoming Foolish

Either we are a part of God’s plan for salvation or we are practicing our own plan. We can’t have it both ways – a little bit of God’s plan and a little bit of ours. Or God’s plan mostly but with a little flavor of our own tossed in like salt. A Course in Miracles is very clear: there is no middle ground in salvation (T-28.VII.2:7). That can seem intimidating at first, but if we give it some space, there is real peace in it. It allows for a helpful choice.

Reason will tell you that there is no middle ground where you can pause uncertainly, waiting to choose between the joy of Heaven and the misery of hell. Until you choose Heaven, you are in hell and misery (T-22.II.7:7-8).

What is God’s plan for salvation? Rigorous honesty is necessary here. I don’t really know what God’s plan is. I can probably find a quote from the course or some teacher. I can always substitute somebody else’s idea for the vacuum in my own mind. But if I am willing to look at my experience and really sit with it and not gussy it up, then I can admit that God’s plan is a mystery to me. I’m way too wrapped up in my own plan to give more than a passing glance at God’s. I don’t want to say that, but it’s true.

But getting clear on our willful ignorance is very helpful. When I am clear that I am more about me than about God, then I can give some attention to my own plan and how it is working. I can see that my plan is always centered on bodies – mostly my own, but I’m not opposed to using yours if it furthers my own goals. My plan is always centered on getting something that I believe will sustain me.

When you get down to it, my plan is to survive as long as possible in a world that is bent on making me suffer before snuffing me out. I can be quite sophisticated in hiding this, make it quite polished and subtle, but what good is that?┬áThe ego’s plan is sustained by our refusal to look at it (e.g. T-7.VII.4:4-5). Part of the reason we’re so unhappy is our insistence that we’re not unhappy (denial) or, in the alternative, that the cause of our unhappiness isn’t internal but out there somewhere (projection).

Either way, in order to get some relief, we have to raise our inclination towards hell and misery into the light of understanding.

We are pulled in the direction of spiritual and religious life because we are unhappy and in conflict. We are broken and – however dimly – we recall a state of wholeness. Seeing this – accepting it as a premise – can we then ask how our plan for restoration to God’s grace and the peace of Heaven is working and not resist the answer?

It is not a matter of concluding that we happier today than we were ten years ago or that we have become more patient or can quote more bible passages more fluidly or write more insightful poetry. All of that is simply improvement, amendments to the external. They don’t reveal Heaven; they function as the middle ground – a little getting better, a little staying the same – that keeps Heaven obscure. We cherish the so-called middle ground because it allows us to account for a little progress while still holding onto the essential guilt and fear. That is our plan for salvation: Heaven by degrees and always with the reservation that if we want to turn back, we can.

In a way, our plan is quite successful. It does exactly what it’s supposed to do – allows for illusions of progress without ever really addressing the true source of separation. That’s why we’re still unhappy. That’s why we’re not at peace. On and on it goes.

And then one day – more exhausted than inspired – we just give it up. We fall to the side of the road and say, “I quit. I don’t know what God’s plan is but I know mine is pretty lousy. So I’m done. It’s over.”

When we put our plan down – fully and finally – then God’s plan is instantly revealed. The impulse is to pretend we already know God’s plan. Or to say that yes, our plan is not working but only pretend to give it up. Or find some new method or system that this time – this time! – will allow us at last to tweak our own plan to perfection.

We have to let our plan go entirely. When we do, it is simply replaced by God’s plan. But not until then. There is no middle ground. We have to resist the impulse to pick anything up. Our job is to let go, not replace.

A Course in Miracles is very helpful at getting us to that place where we see the hollowness of our learning and the futility of the action that flows from it. That’s really all it wants to teach us. It just wants to get us to that place where we can let go of our plan and make space for God’s. That is why Jesus can say in the Introduction:

The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance (In.1:6-7).

We think we are students of the course in order to build magnificent temples. Really, we are students in order to learn that a) we wouldn’t know magnificent if it brought us roses and chocolate and b) the temple – magnificent or otherwise – is already built.

The upheaval that attends letting go of our plan can be distressing. We often experience undoing as unsettling. But deeper than all that is a mighty sense of relief. Some space emerges in which one can perceive at last the truth of “I need do nothing (T-18.VII.h).” One can be simply grateful for what is without feeling any need to rush in and embroider it with their own pattern.

I went a long time – lifetimes perhaps – trying to be wise. Finally, it is becoming possible to be a fool. And all I can say is “alleluia.”

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Aleta January 23, 2013, 1:02 pm

    “More exhausted than inspired” — yes, that is how I feel lately, but when I finally acknowledge that I really am trying to stay in that middle ground and meld my own plan of salvation with Gods’, Jesus says, let’s choose again, and then I experience the peace that comes with letting go.
    Thanks, Sean!

    • Sean Reagan January 23, 2013, 5:01 pm

      You’re welcome Aleta! Thanks for reading –

      Sean

  • Sally January 23, 2013, 10:13 pm

    First I want to express how refreshing is to read Sean’s Posts with my appreciation for his thoughts and the chuckles I get at his honesty expressed in his unique way…..they help me relax into accepting the Truth………………. after a brief time of inner-resistance!
    As for the Post on Foolish/ness…..?Becoming or always have been? Memories of my time used, constantly trying to improve my ‘Planned’ goals and changing my mind; over and over, on and on. Then in 2010 I came across ACIM and Lesson 135 ! The Lesson itself is not about Planning, yet that is what ‘spoke to me’, and even though I’m still stumbling my way along, Jesus words in the lesson spoke to me SO intensley that with my increased ‘little willingness’ I cannot be the same as in my past……..for so many years being a Control Freak (that I considered was necessary in order to be Organized) until Holy Spirit’s feedback, was given me using humans, and wih Jesus’ patience with me, the Letting Go has been more beneficial than painful……in fact, I must admit, HOW MUCH MORE Calm and peaceful my mind and life has become, finally waking up to the Fact that my Teacher actually does know what is best for me to learn than I do. How wonderful to realize what a Privilidge to find ACIM and rather than dreading days ahead, now looking forward to constant Learnng of Truth (that I have been longing for since my youth), via a Home Study Course that has NO Semesters or end of the Academic year. With Gratitude forever.

    • Sean Reagan January 24, 2013, 3:12 pm

      Thanks Sally. It is interesting how the course yields up what is needed when it is needed – often in seeming contradiction to what we’re studying. I think you are onto something when you talk about connection to the inner teacher. That is what we are really doing – learning how to be learners, and trusting that we’ll be taught, and getting out of the way so learning can happen! Easier said than done, but I hear you – the days are not so troubling when you know you are no longer alone.

  • Michael January 24, 2013, 10:35 pm

    Hi Sean,

    This was a really good post for me, because I found it provocative and challenging. I have been feeling good of late, by and large, like a blossoming fullness. I’ve discovered/learned how to give more genuinely to others (or rather this experience is unfolding over years and years of whatever has been happening)- and when it occurs just once in a while, just once in one hunder interactions, it is amazing. So, I read this and I had the reaction- what if I’m full of @#$^??? Maybe I’m not being honest with myself… Maybe I’m saying I’m happy, but really just deluding myself and following my own plan here…

    For me, that is a beautifully laid ‘ego trap’. I often reflect on a seeming paradox in the Course, for myself, which is that my own plan for salvation won’t work, but God’s certainly will, but also God’s will is not separate from mine. So, only God’s plan will work, but actually its my plan, too. Take that down to your deductive logic professor, and he will engage you in coursework immediately.

    God desires that I be happy. I desire that I be happy. What’s the problem? I find for myself that the problem is that I link my happiness to a desire that it take a particular form, and this ultimately results in unhappiness. God desires I be happy simply because He made me, and that is what I am, and no form can have any relevance to that little bit of Reality. He simply desires I appreciate that he did some pretty @#$% good work in creating me, and enjoy what I am. Be it. Extend it. Delight in it. Express it.

    As long as I’m doing that, I am happy, and it is not possible to truly harm or miss the boat. This notion that it is as simple as being ourselves bowls me over. Your post was really good and challenging because I had the reaction that maybe I could be happy and deluded… Meaning, happy, but following my own plan to ruin. Maybe I can’t trust my own happiness?

    Then I came to the conclusion that this belief- that I could be happy and deluded- is a trap. Its not real. It is a perfect example of out-thinking myself. There is no gap between God’s will and my own. The belief that there is, or could be, is the belief that shatters perfection.

    I re-read your post and am not sure you wrote the post with the intent of fostering this type of reaction, but in the end it was really helpful for me to go through this process and remember the simplicity of all this. We’re perfect. Happiness is natural. Eternity has arriven.

    Peace-
    Michael

    • Sean Reagan January 25, 2013, 8:31 am

      I’m glad it was helpful, Michael. That is the number one way the ego asserts itself in my life: it takes a peaceful situation, a joyful situation, and asks in a very reasonable way, “what if this isn’t real? What if you’re just fooling yourself to avoid the real peace and the real joy?” One seed of doubt can overwhelm the blossoms of happiness very quickly!

      I like your process of looking at it, though. That is my approach too sometimes. Not freak out – or try not to freak out – and simply stay with it. I think that is what forgiveness really is – holding up to the light that which we want to keep hidden. When I can keep the doubt in the light – where Jesus and the Holy Spirit can see it with me – then it tends to dissolve quite naturally. It is a process that still happens in time, but I’m okay with that. The development of trust – that our minds are healed and can rise to their own protection – is very important. As you said, it’s a thought that we’re separate from God. It’s not a fact.

      If you keep at your own site, which I hope you will, then you will start to have visitors, and then regular readers, some of whom will share their atonement/separation experience with you, and you’ll see that it doesn’t matter what you intended in any given post! People – including the writer – just see what they need to see in the writing. It’s a question of who we read with – Jesus or the ego – and where we are in the awakening process. I am very slowly learning that I can’t really take credit for any of it, even though I want to, and often do slip into a sort of “look at me write!” space.

      In the end, writing makes me happy and helps me learn and most valuable of all, it puts me into relationship with other students who tend to function as my teachers, whether they know it or not, and when I am ready to allow myself to be loved and healed in that way.

      So thank you!

      • Michael Mark January 26, 2013, 11:04 pm

        Thanks for the encouragement, Sean. I worked on a new post today and upon publication Wordpress offered me this little nugget in some widget off to the side. I thought it expressed your sentiments quite nicely!

        “Words, once they are printed, have a life of their own.”
        Carol Burnett

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