There is a tendency to ignore our problems in the world. For a long time I misused the metaphysics of A Course in Miracles in this way. Anytime something difficult or annoying came up, I would say “oh, it’s not real. Time isn’t real. None of this is real.”
Meanwhile, the problem would continue apace, and I would suffer its effects, all the while merrily pretending I was beyond difficulties. It was painful for me and painful for those around me.
There is a better way.
We have to look at those things that function as blocks in our lives. If you are walking around feeling bitter or disempowered about your finances – this is a big one for me – then you have to slow down and make space for that issue. If you feel that your family and your job are standing in the way of your spiritual progress, then you have to make space for that. Whatever it is, you have to face it.
I am a firm believer in putting a positive spin on things. I’ve smiled my way through a lot of challenges. I have a lot of faith in the power of simply breathing, listening, and treating others as you’d like to be treated. When you’re feeling low, you can do worse than smile and tell a joke. I’ve watched a lot of sitcoms for no other reason than I need to shut my brain down and laugh.
But there are times when we need to buckle down and pay attention. Healing requires this. When we see patterns in our lives that are not productive – that seem to consistently cause us or those we love discomfort or even pain – then it’s important to sit down and give it some attention.
Our egoic thought system perpetuates guilt and fear. It teaches sin. It’s underlying message is always the same: you are a bad person and God hates you. You deserve to suffer.
The form this message takes varies for all of us: I have deep-rooted beliefs that money is evil and brings only pain and sorrow. That I know better intellectually is only marginally helpful. I have to sit down with it and turn it over to Jesus. This means making contact with the fact that money isn’t the issue, but my guilt and fear are.
If you have reached that point in your practice where you are ready to move beyond the specific nature of your problems to the abstract – the ontological – guilt and fear that underlie them all, then you know how frightening and challenging this can be. You’d rather chew nails or crawl across cut glass.
But really, this is the ground of our liberation. Guilt and fear cannot stand before the mighty love of God and the companions that we choose to travel with – Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the teachers who make them most tangible to us. So we work our way through the specifics down to the general, the abstract and we keep going.
We must never fear to look more closely at the source of our sorrow and pain and confusion. The resistance is only its unwillingness to be raised to light. The ego thrives on shadow. Bring it to the light of understanding and love – which is itself forgiveness, which is itself healing – and it will crumble without any effort on your part.
It can seem counter-intuitive and even masochistic to dwell on our deepest fears and problems but really, there is no other way to Heaven. There is no other way to wake up. Take the hand of those who walk beside you – take other hands too if you want – and do the work. Sooner than you think, you’re going to find yourself Home.