A Course in Miracles does not instruct us to do anything with difficult feelings or ideas other than give them to the Holy Spirit who will translate them through the Light of God’s love into salvation.
In other words, the goal of the course is not to make us happy when we are sad or peaceful when we are angry but rather to teach us that we are responsible for the way the way that we see.
“See” in this context does not refer to the function of the body’s eyes, but rather with the internal process of attention and interpretation. That is the only level at which true change is accomplished. When we accept this, we learn that happiness and peaceful are eternal characteristics of what we are in truth. We cannot be apart from them.
Thus, Lesson 311 reminds us that judgment “judges what it cannot understand, because it cannot see totality, and therefore judges falsely” (W-pII.311.1:4) and urges us to “make a gift of it to Him Who has a different use for it” (W-pII.311.1:5).
The fruits of this “gift” accrue immediately to the giver – to us.
How surely, therefore, must the real world come to greet the holy sight of anyone who takes the Holy Spirit’s purpose as his goal for seeing. And he cannot fail to look upon what Christ would have him see, and share Christ’s Love for what he looks upon (W-pII.312.1:5-6).
Those lessons are very clear: we are giving our penchant for judgment to the Holy Spirit and we do not rush to fill the apparent void that results. Surrendering judgment is frightening, but if we can sit with the fear without trying to “fix” it, we will quickly realize we are neither alone nor bereft. There is nothing to fear.
How beautiful we are! How holy and how loving! Brother, come and join with me today. We save the world when we have joined. For in our vision it becomes as holy as the light in us (W-pII.313.2:2-6).
That is a truly beautiful, simple and powerful sequence of lessons . . .
What does this look like in application?
Happiness and peace are indeed our inheritance but they are already given. Acceptance, not discovery, is our calling.
Last week I attended a meeting that was challenging on many levels: I knew nobody there and I was not especially well-versed on the subject. I got lost trying to find it and forgot to bring some necessary materials. For the few hours before, during, and after that meeting I felt varying degrees of fear, guilt, shame and anger.
Our natural reaction to unpleasant emotions is to get rid of them. We typically do this in a couple of ways. First, we justify them by saying the external circumstances are causing them. In my case, I might argue that fear is perfectly natural because I don’t know any of the participants, and anger is okay because the directions were terrible and/or I stupidly forgot my files and so forth.
That is a form of projection (which means any relief if offers is shallow and temporary), and I tend not to do it with reckless and mindless vigor anymore. Instead, I use the second method: I try to fix the bad feelings. For example, I am scared of all these strangers and so I will sit in the meeting and make a point of smiling brightly at anyone who glances at me. I am a manifest model of kindness! I radiate a single message: “I love you my brothers and sisters!”
There is nothing necessarily wrong with that – smiles are nice. But it is important to see that in doing so, I am assuming that it is my job to fix the fear (or anger or guilt or what-have-you). My intentions are good and my method is gentle but it is still coming from the ego. It is still about what I want – an end to fear – and about how I intend to accomplish that goal.
A Course in Miracles is so much simpler! It teaches me to give all the negativity – no matter how dramatic or insignificant – the Holy Spirit and then just let it be. We don’t give people gifts and then unwrap them for them. We give the gift and step back and the let the receiver so what he or she will. And what the Holy Spirit wills is the undoing of that which blocks our awareness of Love’s presence.
So this giving of scary feelings to the Holy Spirit works wonders – or miracles, say – because “[t]he Holy Spirit is the Christ Mind which is aware of the knowledge that lies beyond perception” (T-5.I.5:1) and “the shared Inspiration of the Sonship” (T-5.I.7:1).
The Holy Spirit is the Mind of the Atonement. He represents a state of mind close to enough to One-mindedness that transfer to it is at last possible (T-5.I.6:3-4).
So when those challenging feelings arise I want first to not project them, which is really a matter of being aware that I am projecting them. Projection ends when we see it happening.
Second, I want to be aware of my seemingly natural and absolutely well-intentioned inclination to “fix” what is painful. And becoming so aware, I want to choose not to try and do anything on my own but rather avail myself of a better Guide.
That availing leads naturally to the final possibility of which I need to be aware – the gifting of bad or scary feelings to the the Holy Spirit. And this is nothing more than holding those feelings in awareness without judgment and without aggression.
That is not easy to do – to just sit with our anger, for example – but that is what the course asks. It seems counter-intuitive and maybe even dangerous, but still. That is the directive. We have to trust that healing moves through us but is not of us. We have to have faith.
In a sense, this giving – which is a form of attention – reflects a state of unknowing or not-knowing (dialogue on the same here) that has been much on my mind of late. We come at last to the place where we can see clearly that we do not know but that God does, and we accept at last that this insight is sufficient, and so we stop trying to make reality what it is not. There is nothing else to know, and no other way of knowing it.
Happiness and peace are indeed our inheritance but they are already given. Acceptance, not discovery, is our calling. The search ends in our sigh of surrender, the softly-breathed yes to the Christ in all of us.