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? The 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.”