It Is Christ Who Asks and Christ Who Answers

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.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Eric May 1, 2013, 7:13 am

    Hi Sean,

    Thank you for writing such an honest blog. I certainly don’t think you’re alone when it comes to wanting praise or be recognized for profound statements. In fact, I know you’re not alone.

    Interestingly enough, ACIM came into my life due to my desire to help people overcome their addiction to smoking. I wasn’t consciously looking for spirituality. In fact, I would say at the time, I was consciously, not looking for spirituality. At that point, I’d pretty much had it with the idea of God. In fact, I had a pretty strong animosity toward the idea. I was fed up with the hatred, separation, and bigotry that I kept seeing done in God’s name. It was first being introduced to Eckhart Tolle, that I would eventually find the course, or it find me. That is an interesting story in itself, because of my strong resistance to the course, even before I read a page of it.

    Anyways, I have written a lot of blog/articles on quitting smoking. And like you, at times, I wanted, as you said, to be praised and admired – for the beauty of the prose, for the profundity of the insight. I think at times all of us want something like this. To be validated. To have feedback that what we’re doing is worth something. Yet, when we share, truly share, it is already worth something. I have received praise for my blogs/articles. I’ve had people tell me that I must be able to read their mind, or that I am awesome, LOL, or I should write a book. And to be honest, I both enjoy and am a bit embarrassed by reading such things.

    But you know what I really love to read? It is the heartfelt messages and/or emails from people telling me how much I have helped them to do something they never thought they could do….quit smoking. That’s the whole reason I even began to write in the first place. To strengthen my own ideas and share them with others. I was able to free myself from a 2+ pack a day addiction. How could I not share this freedom with others? While it is nice to read the accolades people have given me, it is reading the gratitude people feel about being finally free from such a useless absurd addiction, that really feels validating. It’s not like I discovered some new secret to quitting smoking, but I am thankful that I can express it in a form that people can relate to, to the point where it helps them open up their mind enough to see that there is a different way.

    You wrote: “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.”

    Eric: I’d like to share two miracles of healing relationships that happened to me when I first started to read the course. I’ll try to make it short. I mentioned before that I held an animosity toward the idea of God. After the first time reading the text, that animosity was gone and it has never returned. While my mind is obviously not completely healed, I am no longer closed off to the idea of God. I found that to be a miracle, since my animosity was so strong.

    Yet, another miracle happened, that I would have never thought would happen. I forgave my mother. To put it in context, my mother was an alcoholic who suffered from schizophrenia. She was extremely abusive, both emotionally and physically. As Forrest Gump said, life really was like a box of chocolates, who just never knew what you were going to get. They say, you’re never supposed to hate your mother, but I surely did. I wanted nothing to do with her and I never spoke to her in years.

    It was about the time I started reading the course and doing the lessons that my sister was getting married. She told me that mom was coming. I hadn’t spoke to her in years at this point and many people were worried that we would be fighting, since our last conversation was basically ripping into my mom for all the things she did.

    But the fight never happened. Instead, I talked with my mom for hours at the reception. The hatred, the animosity had melted away. I realized that underneath the fear and guilt from the disease and addictions, that all my mom wanted was to love and be loved. And underneath all of my hatred and animosity was a son that only wanted the same thing.

    We never became best friends after this, but that searing hatred and animosity had melted away and never returned. It was a release I think for both of us and I let her back into my life. Unfortunately, she unexpectedly passed away this last October, but I am grateful to the course for the healing of our relationship and helping me open my mind up enough to see there is a different way.

    Eric

    • Sean Reagan May 1, 2013, 11:56 am

      Thanks Eric . . . Quitting smoking was one of the toughest things I ever did in my life, and I was only one pack a day, and only for a year or so. It is such a crazy and intense and debilitating addiction. It’s cool that you have helped other be liberated from it.

      I think Tolle is an entrance point for a lot of students. I was thinking of his writing the other day, actually. I was dismissive of him – in an intellectual sort of way – for a long time, but I have come around to appreciate his work. His book Stillness Speaks is very powerful and straightforward.

      Thanks for sharing those two stories, about overcoming resistance to knowing or remembering God, and about your mother. I like that latter one a lot. I know you know the Course quote – “The holiest of all spots on earth is where an ancient hatred has become a present love (T-26.IX.6:1) – and perhaps it’s not entirely on point with your experience, but that’s what I thought of. A lot melts away inside us without our doing, and it’s incredible to see it.

      Thanks, as always, for sharing.

      Sean

  • Eric May 2, 2013, 7:57 am

    Hi Sean,
    I think the quote you provided about holy spots is completely on point. Considering, that ultimately, the world is experienced entirely in our mind, the quote about holy spots on earth is where ancient hatred has become present love makes complete sense to me. I’ve always loved this quote, though some people dismiss it, because it still is reference to the “illusion”.

    Yet, when I hear about “holy spots” such as Findhorn Retreat and apply this quote with the idea that ultimately the world is experienced in the mind, then for me, the idea that Findhorn Retreat is considered holy makes sense to me.

    There was really nothing special about Findhorn Retreat until people came together for a different purpose, one of healing. A holy purpose. Now it is one of the most popular spiritual retreats. Is the location holy in itself, or the content/purpose of being at Findhorn Retreat what is holy, as minds join to heal? I believe it is the latter.

    Since the world is ultimately experienced in my mind, the holy spots on earth are where my own ancient hatred becomes present love, and as my mind joins with other minds, this idea is shared and strengthens.

    Often times we associate locations with our past experience of that location. When bad things happened and we have not forgiven, the ancient hate associated with the location is still looming over us, but when we forgive, this ancient hate associated with this particular spot on earth is released.

    As the course tells us, ” To forgive is merely to remember only the loving thoughts you gave in the past and those that were given you. All the rest must be forgotten. Forgiveness is a selective remembering, based not on your selection.”~ACIM

    The location/spot itself hasn’t changed, but the purpose/content I have given it, has.

    Speaking of present memory and Tolle’s book, “Stillness Speaks”. I really like that book and every once in a while take it out and read some of the passages. It’s simple, yet as you said, very powerful.

    It also reminds me of the section in the course called, “The Present Memory”, because there is a line in which I think Tolle got the title of the book from, considering he is a huge ACIM fan.

    The stillness speaks in gentle sounds of love the Son of God remembers from before his own remembering came in between the present and the past to shut them out.~ACIM

    • Sean Reagan May 3, 2013, 7:56 pm

      “The location/spot itself hasn’t changed, but the purpose/content I have given it, has.”

      That is it right there. That’s it. Yes. Especially when connected to your earlier point about minds coming together with the purpose of healing.

      Thank you Eric.

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