A Course in Miracles teaches us that the world that we see is the world that we value (T-16.VI.5:1). It is very hard to accept this! And it cannot be accepted or rejected in pieces or fragments. Perhaps that is the problem. We are okay accepting what we decide is good – yesterday’s walk with the kids, a good night’s sleep, a dream of old friends, the first cup of coffee in the morning – but then we don’t want we have decided is bad. Certain family members, certain aspects of our jobs, certain politicians, and so forth.
But all of those together comprise the world that we see – and it is a world of separation in which some things are held to be beautiful and true while others are harsh and cruel. They go together. No sooner have we identified the desirable, then we have also identified the undesirable. We have become invested in segmenting the world into this and that. And – consciously or otherwise – we are likely to defend that investment. Why? Because of its value to us.
I am often discouraged and saddened – and sometimes angered – by course teachers and communities that focus solely on the course as a sort of remedy for all the emotional ills and ticks and issues that confront us. I reject the implication that the course is easy and that it will heal everything in a sort of giving us our cake while allowing us to chow down on it as well. It is a lot of work to truly study A Course in Miracles and to allow its inherent correction to work in us.
We are giving up everything. That needs to be said. We can’t hold onto to one bit of the separation and expect to know Heaven. Naturally we resist this – at every level we resist it. It’s not rational, it’s mean-spirited, it’s impossible. God would never ask us to give up homemade black raspberry ice cream. And so forth.
But it is worth asking: what is the blackberry ice cream worth to us? What about it do we value so much that we cannot give it to God? I am not trying to suggest that we practice ascetism here, or that ACIM intends for us to live spartan-like lives. Not at all. But I am saying that we need to really look at what is going on when we attach to the world – where we attach, what we think we are getting. Does the attachment serve the ego or the Holy Spirit? Myself, when I look closely and honestly, I am sometimes surprised by the answer.
The reason that vigilance is necessary (T-6.V.C.8:9). The ego is always at work – always and in all ways. Not just when we’re unhappy, but sometimes when we’re happy too. And if we can’t see that, then we are going to spin our wheels in the separation for a long time to come. Vigilance allows us to become aware of how pervasive the ego truly is, how our lives are riddled with its unloving energy at all levels. Our awareness is curative because it is what opens us up to the need for help. To be healed requires an awareness of the scope of the brokenness.
This would perhaps be a grim post if it were not for the simple fact that in awakening we give up nothing. The end result of this vigilance, this willingness to question everything and to give everything up is . . . well, everything. We already have everything of value.
From this side, (Heaven) seems to be outside and across the bridge. Yet as you cross to join it, it will join you and become one with you. And you will think, in glad astonishment, that for all this you gave up nothing! (T-16.VI.11:2-4)
You work the course. The course works on you. And yes, yes. When you wake up, the bowl of black raspberry ice cream is still there.
Maybe you can tell that we recently made black raspberry ice cream in our house. Our berry bushes have been prolific this year and it is my favorite kind of ice cream – the only kind I eat, actually. Here is how we make it, if you are interested:
First gently wash a generous pint of black raspberries. Then combine them with 1/2 cup of sugar and the juice of half a lemon. Let them sit for at least two hours. Gently stir them from time to time so that flavors get all mixed up.
Second, get your sweet cream base together: Beat a couple of eggs until they’re light and fluffy. Keep whisking them while drizzing in 3/4 cup of sugar. When it’s all mixed up, mix a bit more. Then add two cups of heavy cream and one cup of whole milk and mix again.
Yes, it’s a lot of mixing.
Next, drain the juice from the berries – into a juice glass, of course, so everybody can sip a little – and mash the berries into a pulp. You could puree them but we just crush them well. Then combine the berry mash with the sweet cream base and dump the whole thing into your ice cream maker and throw the switch. We start the machine about when we sit down to dinner so that the ice cream is ready for dessert.
Who says illusions can’t be delicious?