I think that one of the traps that people often fall into when it comes to A Course in Miracles is their desire to wake up – to leave the dream – while still holding onto their post-separation ideals (if I can say that, that way). In other words, we want to be awakened people but in a context that we choose – this job, this income level, this living location, these friends, this level of adoration and so forth.
But so long as we are judging the world in those terms – in the specific, not the general or abstract – than we are still living in the separation. It might be the happy dream, but it’s still a dream.
I find this very challenging – in fact, it is the single biggest struggle I face as an ACIM student. I’ll give you an example. I had no big plans to teach this summer. At first that seemed fine – it was a chance to focus on some writing projects that have been ignored a bit too long. I had plans for my website, wanted to explore expansion into video and so forth.
But the other morning I woke up and realized that I was really sad that I wasn’t teaching.
So I prayed on it. And within 48 hours I had three confirmed teaching gigs that are going to take up a lot of my time and energy. Two of them are in new settings with new students and that will be its own challenge.
Go Jesus, right?
The problem is – the miracle is not that when I missed teaching Jesus gave me classes. That’s a miracle in the world’s terms. The miracle is – would have been – accepting the absence of teaching, being at peace with that. In other words, not even recognizing it as a loss, an absence.
I’m not angry at myself for thinking this way or feeling this way. But I do take note of it. When I measure my success – hell, when I think in terms of success and failure – then I’m living in the separation. That’s it. And that’s what I want to escape.
How do I do that?
Well, prayer. Forgiveness.
And paying attention to my emotional state. When I say that, I mean that my feelings can be a guide to whether I am moving in the direction of ending the separation or perpetuating it. The Law of Attraction actually holds this as one of their principles. Your emotional state indicates the degree to which you are successfully applying the principles.
Ultimately, if we are practicing A Course in Miracles, we are first aiming for the Happy Dream, which we might define as existing in this post-separation state witih an abundance of joy and love and charity and grace. From that state, says Jesus, it’s just a hop, skip and jump over the bridge to Knowledge, to the Kingdom of Heaven where perception is unnecessary.
When we are miserable, we probably aren’t in tune with that part of our mind which longs to return to Heaven. Whether we can accept it or not, we are judging. We are acting unlovingly. We are perceiving wrong-mindedly.
Our emotional state, then, can be a sort of spiritual barometer that suggests we are moving in the appropriate direction. To take my example above, I was happy to get teaching opportunities and it immediately prompted me to think about what else I could do – how else I could extend myself in a creative way to people who want to learn. And it prompted me to reflect on this business of wanting my enlightenment cake at eating it, too. That’s good. That’s a step in the direction of ending the separation.
It’s not easy, but it is simple.