I find a relaxed and open state most helpful when reading the text of A Course in Miracles. It’s a remarkably consistent and logical piece of writing, with a knack for delivering just what we need at a given time. Come to it without expectation, if possible. If all you remember is a sentence, take heart! That sentence is your lesson for the day, or the week even.
This morning, two related ideas jumped out at me as I read this section on healing. Maybe three. One – that one that prompted that “maybe” a sentence back – has to do with changelessness. To be unchanged is to be in a state of sameness, or what I have called lately radical equality. There is no conflict in what is the same, because there is no inequality. This is another way of saying there is only peace and only joy.
I have begun to cultivate – or seek – an awareness of this radical equality. It is difficult. You have to let the boundaries get watery. You have to let them wither and fall away. Your perception – that itch on your knuckle, that snow falling outside the window, that song playing on the computer – is not a field of separate objects or experiences, but you. Your body is inside your mind – not the other way around. The world begins to develop the quality of a lucid dream – a peaceful dream in which all things are designed to work for the greatest good, and do work for the greatest good without any effort at all on your part.
This state scares the hell out of the ego and so it is not easy to attain. The ego will fight your willingness to let go and experience the joy of Oneness. But it is so important to work at it, and to learn that the ego can only mount its defense with your permission. When you withdraw your permission, it’s over.
Related to that is the idea of gratitude towards one’s brother or sister.
The unhealed healer wants gratitude from his brothers, but he is not grateful to them. That is because he thinks he is giving something to them, and is not receiving something equally desirable in return. His teaching is limited because he is learning so little. His healing lesson is limited by his own ingratitude, which is a lesson in sickness (T-7.V.5:1-4).
This description of the unhealed healer is so apt that it makes me blush. I’m like the embarrassed student who has to raise his hand when the professor asks who turned in the essay on Emily Dickinson when the assignment asked for a paper on Robert Frost. Yup, that’s me.
I am happy to be grateful to God. No problem with gratitude to the Holy Spirit. I am certainly and deeply grateful to Jesus. But to you – my brother or sister?
Sadly, not so much.
But it’s good to see that, right? Even if it does make me look like a schmuck? It’s good to take note of where our resistance shows up. Some people don’t want a personal relationship with Jesus. That’s not especially challenging to me (although I don’t want to imply that it’s easy). But gratitude towards people is. So I have to look at that. I have to ask the Holy Spirit to look at it with me. What’s going on?
Ingratitude towards one another is a sign that we are still heeding the laws of the ego. We are still invested in the idea that to give without getting in return is to lose. We are not learning – are not practicing – the critical lesson that to have, give all to all.
So I stop. I go back maybe and re-read that section. And I ask my guide for help. This business about giving to have, Jesus? It’s sailing right over my head. Can you break it down for me? Make it simpler?
And the answer is always yes.
The truth is, we cannot get to Heaven alone. In the New Testament (Matthew 25:42-45), Jesus taught that whatsoever we do the least of our brothers or sisters, we do to him.
I was hungry, and ye did not give me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of these least, ye did it not unto me.
Some teachers make this about punishment – we didn’t help the poor and so we’re screwed when it comes to Heaven. But it’s really just a statement of radical equality. We are in one another and part of one another is a very real, a very tangible way. This is why projection is so dangerous – we are not hurting the people upon who our projection rests, we are hurting ourselves. And this is why when we forgive them, we are really forgiving ourselves.
If we see this – if we are able to make it real, a kind of spiritual practice – then our brothers and sisters become the very means by which Heaven is attainable. We get there with and through one another. Your forgiveness saves me as mine saves you. And so what response but gratitude is justified?
When we walk around with ungrateful hearts, it is a sure sign that we are under the ego’s rule. The answer is simple enough: ask the Holy Spirit to restore us to gratitude. And that restoration will almost always take the form of a brother or a sister – perhaps they will appear right there in the world with you, or perhaps you will just think of them. But it will be a forgiveness opportunity – a chance to bless and thus a chance to teach love – and we are the only student in the class.
So if I haven’t said it – or thought it – lately, let me say it now: thank you!