As our thinking aligns with Love, our behavior naturally becomes an expression of that Love. It is important not to confuse the order, however: it is the alignment of thought that affects behavior. It’s not the other way around.
That is why A Course in Miracles is largely silent on the subject of behavior. It does not codify certain physical activities as more important or better in terms of salvation. We don’t have to go to church on Sunday, genuflect before every cross we see or keep our left hand over our right while meditating. We don’t have to avoid meat, abstain from sex, practice yoga or wear black.
We might do any of those things – they are in and of themselves wholly neutral – but we don’t have to do them. Salvation is not conditional on behavior.
We simply have to realign our thinking from a separation-based model to an atonement-based model. We have to be come miracle-minded.
This means that we turn our thoughts over to Jesus or the Holy Spirit (or whatever symbol of unconditional Love most resonates for you). It also means that we turn our behavior over. This is hard to do! But it becomes easier with time.
A couple of days ago I had to spend some time in Northampton, a lovely little city (or town, depending on your urban sensibilities). I was finished teaching, it was my wife’s birthday and I was buying her some Indian food (and the kids a few slices of the best pizza this side of Heaven), and I had a few minutes before both restaurants opened up. I went to an art gallery I like (I profiled it a few years ago for Niche Magazine) and sat on a bench.
It was a lovely day – the glass sculptures before me were especially lovely, as were the flowers doing little breezy dances in their window boxes) – and in about six seconds I slipped into that quiet but delirious joy that attends those of us who stumble sincerely in the footsteps of Jesus. I wanted to hug everyone. No, I wanted to melt them and pour them into my heart.
got so happy today walking down Main Street –
saw the blue fire we share blaze from every shoulder –
and flames of joy and love
But – and this is my point really – it was clear to me in that moment that not everybody needed to be hugged or melted. That was my need – and it was okay, it was more than okay – but it wasn’t theirs.
So I gave that part of my joy – the expression of it, the behavioral aspect – over to Jesus.
Some people I beamed at. Others needed to be left alone, so I left them alone. The little Sheltie that passed got a scratch on its head. One of my students wandered by and we talked about her studies.
It was very simple. It wasn’t about me. It was kind of a relief actually, to just appreciate the gift of happiness and not feel like I had to do something with it.
So that seems important to me: to be open to awakening and when its fruits appear in our lives to allow Jesus to guide the expression. Maybe you are supposed to be on a stage lecturing the world about sustainability and peace. Maybe you are supposed to be writing haiku in a little hut.
And maybe you are supposed to just pass the time on a bench in the sun, grateful that it’s all being done for you.