Eternity is perceptible in time, and beyond the chaos and clamor of the world, Heaven’s song and the Voice for God rise in stillness, resonant, clear and true (W-pI.164.1:4-6). It sounds great; but is it our experience?
Often, the language of A Course in Miracles – poetic, abstract, ripe with symbol and metaphor – is not precisely a reflection of experience than a condition or state to which we aspire. Lesson 164 repeats several times its emphasis on practice and practicing. It clearly contemplates that we are working – expending effort – in an attempt to shift our thinking away from the ego and toward God.
How holy is your practicing today, as Christ gives you His sight and hears for you, and answers in your name the Call He hears! How quiet is the time you spend with Him, beyond the world (W-pI.164.3:1-2).
In those sentences, we begin to sense what is involved in this holy perception and – as importantly – what is not involved. The egoic self – the “we” as “we” understand ourselves – is not involved. It is the Christ in us who sees and hears. It is the Christ in us who perceives “[a] melody from far beyond the world” (W-pI.164.2:3) and responds accordingly.
Christ is not only Jesus in A Course in Miracles. Christ is the self created by God and we are all of us it – you, me, Jesus, Bill Thetford, Tara Singh. All of us. Christ is God’s effect; to associate it with one body or one body’s story is to misunderstand it. Lesson 164 is speaking not only to the little “I” that lives in the world but also to the Holy I that remains one with God and remembers this oneness.
Practicing this lesson can have a stereophonic effect: it is working explicitly on two levels, at the self we think we are, and the self we share with God. You can feel wobbly sometimes with this lesson (and others like it), as if you are being pulled out of your body, or seeing beyond the body’s eyes. And you start to wonder just how literally we are meant to take this ACIM thing . . .
The answer is almost always: as literally as is helpful in a given moment.
Everything is here; everything is given. Now is the time we accept it.
I barely slept last night, though – unusual for me – I did not perceive the sleeplessness as some sort of penance. I was happy sitting at the window watching fireflies after midnight, and happier still rising a few hours later to walk with the dog beneath pinwheeling stars, some of which fell trailing grand smoky streamers that lingered in mind long after they had faded.
Later still I sat outside with my tea, alternately grading papers, reading A Course in Miracles and watching goldfinches pick seeds from nearby dandelions.
And I thought about the lesson: the intimation of Heaven and the Voice for God resonating in the space behind what I know as the world. It’s easy to make too much of these moments – the ego is always happy to fake spiritual progress in order to dissuade us from looking honestly at where we are in the process.
A Course in Miracles meets us where we are (see, for example, T.2.IV.5). At any given moment – when we are crazy, when we are at peace, when we are asleep – it meet us. We are never without guidance, so long as we are open to guidance, and willing to accept guidance.
I am deeply personally aware of the inclination to substitute wordiness or bookishness for spiritual experience. There’s nothing wrong with reading and writing; they can contribute to a sound foundation in course metaphysics and teachings, but sometimes we have to step beyond them – or I have to anyway – and look right into the beating heart of the present.
A wise woman who knew the course cold without precisely knowing it once said to me that it was okay to accept literally that every single problem I had or would have or could imagine having could be perfectly solved in the present moment. When I tried to discuss it – correlate it to other spiritual traditions – render it logical – she just shook her head.
“Just try to trust it,” she said. “Sometimes it is better to trust than to know.”
Carol Howe has a helpful note on the part of her site advertising her upcoming shows and events.
And a reminder for us all. It would be helpful if we asked fewer questions about how to solve problems or be on a spiritual path, and focused more directly on the experience we’re having at the moment. :>) Only in the present can we experience the Light we really are!
She is right, of course. Jesus says the same thing at the beginning of Lesson 164.
What time but now can truth be recognized? The present is the only time there is. And so today, this instant, now, we come to look upon what is forever there; not in our sight, but in the eyes of Christ (W-pI.164.1:1-3).
So that is the way to experience the poetry of the course. That is the way to know its sweetest promise of joy and peace. We put aside the body’s insecurities which can only yield an endless cycle of wanting (W-pI.164.8:1) and give our attention instead to what is, right now, right here. Everything is here; everything is given. Now is the time we accept it.