What is it that we ask of one another? Do we seek in each other the face of Christ? Or do we allow the ego to write its story on one another’s bodies, forever condemning ourselves to misery and grief?
Very early in the text of A Course in Miracles we are taught that the proper way to see our brothers and sisters is as to the answer to our prayers.
If you would know your prayers are answered, never doubt a Son of God. Do not question him and do not confound him, for your faith in him is your faith in yourself . . . Remember that the Holy Spirit is in him, and His Voice speaks to you through him. What can so holy a brother tell you except truth? (T-9.II.4:1-2, 5:5,6)
But in order for this to work, we must see each other not as means to an end – even the apparently noble end of salvation – but rather as salvation itself. Jesus is clear: “Salvation is of your brother (T-9.II.6:3).” If we see in each other anything else – if we are even willing to see anything else – then we are bound to misery and its grisly dirge that echoes down through tired centuries.
Sensitivity is called for here, and also honesty. In all our relationships – those that form our daily life, those that pass in weeks or months, and those more fleeting yet – we have to be clear about what we are asking. We might be appear to be very kind and helpful at the level of form while deeper down we are simply angling to feed the ego.
We are all of us riddled with appetites. We want to be satiated, we want to be comforted, we want to be nurtured, we want to be elevated, we want to be remembered, we want to be admired . . . And to meet these wants, we need others. That is what the ego does with those it sees as separate: catalogs them in terms of what it believes it can get and then directs all interaction accordingly. We all do it. We don’t like to admit it, but it’s true.
Seeing that is painful – none of us come to the Course signing up for front row seats to a horror show – but what can you do?
I know of no way to undo all this at the level of time and the body. We aren’t going to beat death with our physical hearts nor perceive Christ with our human eyes. You can sit on a mountain and eat one blade of grass a day for fifty years and still be wrapped in the ego’s barbed folds.
Change is not real unless it happens at the source.
You do not need guidance except at the mind level. Correction belongs only at the level where change is possible. Change does not mean anything at the symptom level, where it cannot work (T-2.VI.3:5-7).
Thus, there is nothing to be gained by working on ourselves or improving our self-esteem or finding better friends or a more affirming spiritual regimen. We can’t just call each other “brother.” We can’t just buy an expensive yoga mat. You can be a vegetarian or a rock star or the mayor or a vagabond. It doesn’t matter. The only way to change – truly and utterly – is to invoke the Holy Spirit. We have to leave the the body and time to their level and turn inward to where real change is possible and can safely be facilitated for us by that part of the mind that knows it has never left God.
When we accept the Holy Spirit’s direction, we are apt to discover that we “are only here to be helpful (T-2.V.18.8.2:1).” And so rather than look upon one another in terms of what we can get, our focus is gently shifted to what we can give. Seeing the worthiness of each other – and responding to it naturally – awakens awareness of our own worthiness.
I have emphasized that the miracle, or expression of Atonement, is always a sign of respect from the worthy to the worthy. The recognition of this worth is re-established by the Atonement (T-2.VI.8:1-2).
Ask then as the day passes: what do you want from your brothers and sisters? Be honest. Are you looking for the face of Christ? Are you serving them in a manner worthy of a child of God? Would you be saved by them?
Or are you asking them to be sacrificed on the ego’s bloody altar, witnesses to the brief pleasures and frail satisfactions that sputter and pop as we stagger through hell, pretending we like the heat?
There is no middle ground between these two choices because in God’s creation there are no strangers (T-3.III.7:7). Whatsoever we do to one another, we do to ourselves, and to Christ.
God knows His children with perfect certainty . . . He recognizes them perfectly. When they do not recognize each other, they do not recognize Him (T-3.III.7:9, 11-12).
Let us be grateful then for each other – those that we love, those we find helpful, those that we dislike, those who confuse us, and those who seem to have been placed on the planet for no other Godly reason than to block our ascent to Heaven. In other words: all of us. For it is only together – in mutual devotion to Heaven, in total willingness, and in loyal service according to the Holy Spirit – that we are going to make it home.