Several years ago I began to question the wisdom of “following” Jesus. It was part of a broader enquiry that had to do with the wisdom of spiritual paths in general. It seemed to me that they were problematic in and of themselves. In what way could choosing one – A Course in Miracles, say – be helpful? In what way could it be a hindrance?
Somewhere in that process I found myself wondering who or what Jesus followed. That is, it was kind of easy at this point in human history to “follow Jesus.” So many people do it in so many ways. The way to the Christ is through Jesus. Yet how did Jesus get there?
That can be a radical question. It can be a destabilizing question, too. The specialness of Jesus is taken for granted. He was the exceptional human being. Yet even a cursory reading of A Course in Miracles reveals that this is not the case.
It is only my devotion that entitles me to yours. There is nothing about me that you cannot attain. I have nothing that does not come from God (T-1.II.3:9-11).
And, with perhaps even greater clarity, Jesus says “I have stressed that awe is not an appropriate reaction to me because of our inherent equality (T-1.VII.5:6).”
One some level, it was that desire to understand what happened to the mind of the man we know now as Jesus that made ACIM so accessible to me. Or made me so accessible to it. I was ready to accept the essential humanity of the man named Jesus in order to make contact with what is holy and sacred in all of us. Without knowing it in precise terms, I was bent on “removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence (In.1:7) which was my natural – because it was Jesus’ natural – inheritance.
Yet it remains a struggle. I objectify Jesus. I set him up as the guardian to the gates of Heaven. On the one hand, I don’t think it’s a problem. I certainly don’t think Jesus is reaching for a bottle of gin because people are idolizing him. He understands.
But he is also asking us to accept our equality – to reflect on this and to realize it in a fundamental way. For me, coming to terms with Jesus as a brother – as a fellow child of God – remains important. I don’t mean simply saying it (or writing it, in my case). It’s easy to intellectualize spirituality, to commodify it.
I mean really accepting that Jesus’ relationship with God was not special or singular in any way. It is my relationship, too. It is all Jesus wants for us.
When I pray and meditate, my thoughts often turn to Jesus. In doing so, they are turning to some spiritual ideal. And lately, that ideal – that voice of Jesus – has been gently saying, “it’s really not about me.”
And I resist! How can it not be about Jesus?
But you see, Jesus wasn’t walking around looking at himself in the mirror and saying, “now what, oh wise one?”
He was in direct communication with God, a condition made possible by the Holy Spirit, the right mind which mediates for all of us between eternity and time, between the mind of God and the brain-bound, matter-bound bodies of our physical world.
Neither time nor season means anything in eternity. But here it is the Holy Spirit’s function to use them both, thought not as the ego uses them. This is the season when you would celebrate my birth into the world. Yet you know not how to do it. Let the Holy Spirit teach you, and let me celebrate your birth through him (T-15.X.1:3-7).
Somehow, letting go the stranglehold on Jesus seems to matter. It is almost as if to idolize him is to set up yet another block that obscures God. Oddly, loosening my grip on Jesus, is comforting. It is like riding a bike with training wheels for the first time. It’s wobbly and the direction is a bit unsure but you see that you can do it. You see that it’s possible.
I’m not saying that’s wrong to pray to Jesus or that anybody should feel guilty about having a relationship with Jesus. Not at all. Rather, I am suggesting that a time comes when it’s okay to look at that relationship and release it from its specialness. To see that we too can make contact with the Holy Spirit and be taught and guided that way, as Jesus was.
In the Course, Jesus asks us to release him in order that we too might be released (T-15.X.1:9). And he reminds us over and over that in a very practical way, he remains with us – if only we can open our minds a bit about what “seeing” really means.
[T[o see me is to see me in everyone, and offer everyone the gift you offer me . . . We who are one cannot give separately. When you are willing to accept our relationship as real, guilt will hold no attraction for you (T-15.X.2:4; T-15.X.3:1-2).
There’s no rush. Jesus is as patient as the Holy Spirit. God is not looking at a stop clock and wondering where the hell we are already. But when we are ready, we can begin to take Jesus at his word – we can begin to let him go. We can accept the radical equality posited by A Course in Miracles. When we do, the Holy Spirit’s voice clarifies and grows stronger. And the realization that we never left Heaven – that it is indeed ever at hand – and that it’s okay at last to accept that fact – will gently dawn.
These days I’m thinking the sooner the better . . .