We have to make a commitment to A Course in Miracles. If we can’t or won’t, then we need to move on. We need to find what works instead and commit to it. There’s nothing special about ACIM. It’s just another way of getting to the truth. If it’s right for you, great. If it’s not, great.
We just have to get clear about all that and it has to happen at the level of the body, at the level of this world in which we live. We have to say: “enough.” And then say that we are going to try this path and see how it works. We are going to really follow it and see what happens. There is nothing else to do.
This is obviously deeply personal movement – the decision, the declaration, the practice. Nobody can do this for you. And I think – it is true for me certainly – that very few people are even qualified to opine on the subject of what we should do, what spiritual path is healthiest and most likely to be fruitful and so forth. Some things it seems we need to do on our own, or discover on our own.
We all have different pressure points, different lines in the sand. I know people who get sober after one drunken night and others keep going until they literally topple drunk into the grave. It’s hard to explain or understand. It only makes sense when you get to that quiet interior space, even for a moment, and you make some contact with your own truth. There is a voice that speaks to us and when we hear it we can say, “okay I’m ready.” But not everybody gets to where they can listen. It can’t be forced.
And then once we’ve made that commitment – once we’ve reached that point of wanting the other way, the better way – then we need to get on the path and stay on it. For many years I had a kind of smorgasbord approach to religion and spirituality. A little Buddhism with a generous helping of Thomas Merton. Some Philip Kapleau seasoned by St. John of the Cross. Throw in some therapy, some energy healing, a few tarot card readings and maybe a law of attraction seminar or two.
I am not saying those things are bad or that taking them that way, cafeteria style, is going to dilute their effectiveness. Maybe it will and maybe it won’t. What I’m saying is that for me, that approach was a way of not listening to the inner voice. Jesus was saying, this is the way for you, this is what is going to work, this is what is going to bring you peace and I kept saying, well, okay. But this way works for this person and that way looks kind of more interesting so . . . I’m just going to keep searching.
And on and on I’d go, poking about and reading and showing up here and then disappearing from there . . . It’s an old story.
Ten years ago, when my wife and I moved our family to our current digs, it was a big leap in a lot of ways and we made a deal. We agreed not to judge it or even talk about in terms of right or wrong for one year. We just felt like we had to give the whole big thing some time to settle out and find its rhythms before we started even looking at it. I think that is a good approach to A Course in Miracles, maybe to lots of things. Just try it and see what happens but really try it. Really give it the space in your life. Let it grow. It’s not going to be very effective if all you do is read the popular miracle teachers and never crack the text. Or if you sort of read those sections of the text that make sense but never do the lessons.
Again, it’s not that there is only one way to do the course but it’s a course, right? If you came and took my English class and said “I’m not going to read all those Emily Dickinson poems and letters you assigned, I’m just going to kind of absorb the vibe through your lectures,” well, I’d say fine and more power to you. You’re the student. It’s your call. But you’re not going to get the full effect of Emily Dickinson. You aren’t going to really get whatever I can offer in terms of reading and appreciating her. You just aren’t. The course is set up the way it is for a reason. Why not try it that way?
It’s good to ask from time to time what we are getting by insisting on our own way. God seems to give us a lot of flexibility! We can postpone or half-ass it or whatever for a long time. Lifetimes maybe. And for what? All my own efforts ever brought me was grief, sometimes more than it seemed I could bear. You lose everything only to learn you can always lose a little more. So you give up. Okay, I’ll try it your way. It helps me to remember that humility, to stay close to it. There’s some energy in it, some willingness.
I’m not the perfect ACIM student, not by a long shot. I’m arrogant and stubborn sometimes. I can be lazy too. But it’s all fear and I’m slowly getting past putting any other name on it. It’s all fear founded on guilt. And the whole time I’m playing the fear and guilt game, whatever variant seems to work best, Jesus is sitting about an arm’s length away waiting. Any time you’re ready, Sean. For decades I just skipped right over him – didn’t even hear him. It must be the wind.
But you know, some days now I look up and look over at him and I think, “maybe now. Maybe now I’m ready.” It feels like right before you crest the mountain, coming up through the fog. Or right before you leap off the quarry lip into still clear water. Am I ready? Am I? Because once you leap, you can’t go back. That’s what it comes to.
Me, I sit like that a long time. Jesus won’t come to me – I have to go to him. I have to take the tiniest of steps, utter the whisper of yes. And I don’t. Something happens – the phone rings, the kids barge in asking will I make pancakes, it’s time to drive to school, the dog needs her walk. Whatever. It’s okay. He doesn’t go anywhere. He calls and waits, calls and waits. For you too. Both of us, even now.