What is it that we want from each other? Our lives can seem to move so quickly that slowing down long enough to examine our motives feels altogether impossible. But inner peace is contingent on clarity about relationship. We cannot see Christ in anyone until Christ is all we are looking for in them.
I have written before that rigorous honesty is a precondition of awakening. The path laid out A Course in Miracles is most beneficent when we are willing to look clearly at our habits of thinking, our various desires, and the errors we make – or seem to make. This isn’t pleasant but it’s only when we raise it to the light that healing becomes possible.
And so again: what is it that we want from one another? In the text, Jesus suggests that we mainly see in one another what we can get for ourselves. Using the metaphor of walking on a journey, he points out that we always want to either lead or follow, and our brothers and sisters are simply there to either lead us or follow us.
Thus, our relationships with each other are always about what we can get – our needs, our wants, our desires. You are simply a means to my personal ends, and vice-versa.
[t]his is what you made your brother for, and learned to think that his purpose is. Unless he serves it, he has not fulfilled the function that was given him by you. And thus he merits death, because he has no purpose, and no usefulness to you (T-31.II.4:4-6).
We have to look closely at what we want. Sometimes when I write about the Course, I want to be praised and admired – for the beauty of the prose, for the profundity of the insight. I want you to follow me and tell your friends to follow me, too. I don’t always want that, of course, but sometimes I do.
When I read Tara Singh’s books, I often do so in the position of a penitent. I am not worthy! He shares honestly and deeply about how A Course in Miracles functions and I push higher and higher on the pedestal. I make my teacher so remote, I lose him in the clouds and thin air.
When we do this – demand that people follow us or demand that people lead us – we separate ourselves from them, and from Christ, and from God.
Is it not clear that while you insist on leading or on following, you think you walk alone, with no one by your side? This is the road to nowhere, for the light cannot be given while you and walk alone . . . And thus there is confusion, and a sense of endless doubting as you stagger back and forward in the darkness and alone (T-31.II.11.3-5).
Yet there is an alternative. Beyond our demand that our brothers and sisters fill this role that way and perform that function this way, is a deeper call.
If he be the leader or the follower to you it matters not, for you have chosen death. But if he calls for death or calls for life, or hate or for forgiveness and for help, is not the same in outcome. Hear the one and you are separate from him and are lost. But hear the other, and you join with him and in your answer is salvation found (T-31.II.5:7-10).
Thus, behind my desire to be somebody’s leader, and my desire that somebody lead me, is simply a cry for help: or love: for companionship. It is in you, too, and in Tara Singh, and in all living things if we will only be still a moment and listen. The call for love that we perceive in another is our call, too, and the mutuality is the essence of salvation.
Because he is your equal in God’s Love, you will be saved from all appearances and answer to the Christ Who calls to you. Be still and listen . . . Christ calls all with equal tenderness, seeing no leaders and no followers, and hearing but one answer to them all (T-31.II.7:1-2, 5).
This is a promise, then. If we do not get lost in the form the other presents, and if we are clear about the nature of what we want from one another, then we can slip past all that and perceive each other for what we are in truth: the light of Christ, here to offer a hand and a lantern, a sip of water, a new pair of shoes. Whatever.
That which we give to each other is what we receive. That’s why it is essential to be clear: if we want Love, then we have to give Love. And that is also why it is so important to listen carefully – with Christlike intensity – to what we are saying to one another at the deepest levels. In the end, there is only one voice. There is only one need, and only one response.
He asks and you receive, for you have come with but one purpose; that you learn you love your brother with a brother’s love. And as a brother, must his Father be the same as yours, as he is like yourself in truth (T-31.II.10:5-6).
Perhaps a useful meditation – or way to undo our selfishness and greed – is to simply reflect on what it means to love one another with “a brother’s love.” It might shift us away from what we can get and towards what we can give. It is in that space of generosity that we realize we are – together – Christ, the one Child of God, born anew in love, and in Love.