Often, without thinking about it or paying much attention, we decide what the end of all our spiritual seeking will be. We imagine that one day we will be completely happy, surrounded by lots of shiny people who are also utterly joyful. Jesus will be there. Maybe the Buddha too.
But that “end” is also a projection that has to be undone.
Anything in this world that you believe is good and valuable and worth striving for can hurt you, and will do so. Not because it has the power to hurt, but just because you have denied it is but an illusion, and made it real. And it is real to you (T-26.VI.1:1-3).
How uncompromising and unconditional that language is! That which we hold valuable in this world will hurt us. Period. It is not that it has the potential to hurt us, or that it might hurt us if we aren’t careful or lucky, but that it will hurt us.
And we are not talking about some things in the world, but all things. Emily Dickinson poems, Bob Dylan songs, walking with dogs, sitting by streams.
Even our ideal of awakening and the awakened self.
The degree of holiness or helpfulness which we attach to our projections does not matter. They are all illusions. And when we deny their illusory nature, they become real. They become our reality. And thus we remain separated from God.
It is not so hard to say that a chair isn’t real or that a war on the other side of the planet isn’t real. But try to say that your goal of waking up isn’t real. Or that Jesus isn’t real. See what happens. If we are being honest, we will see that we resist that assessment.
And so maybe we intellectualize it. We say these things aren’t real but we quickly return to that illusory state in which we believe they are. It’s comforting to think that we’re on the “right” spiritual path or found the “right” teacher. Who can blame us?
We think these things are good: a Course in Miracles, Jesus Christ, our daily practice of prayer and meditation, our weekly phone call to our teacher, our shelf of spiritual books. How can they not be? They are the very foundation of our seeking and our efforts to be transformed into Christ.
We have to be willing to see that our projection of what is sacred and holy and righteous is as illusory as our projection of what is profane and sinful and evil. Both come from the same place; both have the same goal: to keep us mired in a world of loneliness and pain. There is no middle ground.
Make no illusion friend, for if you do, it can but take the place of Him Whom God has called your friend. And it is He Who is your only Friend in truth. He brings you gifts that are not of this world, and only He to Whom they have been given an make sure that you receive them (T-26.VI.3:3-5).
We have to refuse to make decisions alone – even the decision to pursue awakening. Even the decision about what awakening looks like and feels like. We have to hand over all our projections, not just the ones we’ve decided we don’t like or don’t work – all of them, without exception.
In its way, a Course in Miracles is gentle and forgiving. But as our practice deepens, we see that it is also rigorous and demanding. It allows for no compromise. Seeing this – and not resisting this – is what transforms hatred to love.