On Death, Trust, Love and A Course in Miracles

A Course in Miracles teaches that we are entitled to the “perfect comfort” that comes with “perfect trust” (T-2.III.5:1). What does it mean to be trusting? And, perhaps more to the point, in who or in what shall we place this trust?

To trust is to have faith in the reliability or fidelity of something perceived to be external to us. It reflects a level of confidence – to confide in – and thus owns a certain intimacy. To trust is to accept that notwithstanding uncertainty, what occurs will be okay, or even more than okay because our interests and the other’s do not significantly diverge.

The course invites us as students to trust the Holy Spirit, to take that spirit as our teacher, and to entrust to that spirit the whole of our learning process, without qualification or condition. We are assured that doing so is not an error and is, in fact, the most efficient way to remember oneness.

The Holy Spirit is the only Therapist. He makes healing clear in any situation in which He is the Guide . . . Trust Him, for help is His function, and He is of God (T-9.V.8:4-5, 11).

In course terms, the Holy Spirit perceives the world of form and uses it in order to point beyond that world to Love, which is our natural inheritance. This works because the Holy Spirit is Love, and is in us in a very real and tangible way and so we, too, are love, or creations of love.

So all that really happens as a consequence of our study is that we remember what we naturally are, and accept it as our identity, and henceforth live from that knowledge. Trust expands from “in” a being or deity and reaches the whole of our living, without limit or qualification. This is love.

So the suggestion here is that whatever “trust” is going on in our lives – that our debit card will work, that our partner will be on time for dinner, that our ACIM book isn’t going to suddenly turn into gibberish – are symbolic of the only trust that matters which is trust in the love brought forth in our living together in a consensual harmonious way.

Even our trust in the Holy Spirit is fundamentally a matter of trusting this love.

So the suggestion is that we actually formally trust this love. Let go, however briefly, of the symbols and forms that are its stand-ins, and really trust love. Even if this love – which is not of a body for a body – is not yet precisely or perfectly or presently our experience, this practice can still be fruitful because all communication is premised on trust.

That bears repeating: “communication is based on trust.”

When we trust the one with whom we communicate – a friend, a teacher, the Lord on high – then our communication is open and honest. We don’t judge what is communicated in advance – playing one aspect of it up, downplaying another. Our communication becomes utterly dialogical, utterly given to healing in and through mutuality, openness, consent, attention . . .

That is relatively straightforward as a concept, but how do we bring it into application, as Tara Singh used to say? That is, how we do allow the concept to inform our experience of living, of bringing forth love in our living?

Let’s say that space and time are user-generated interfaces which are functional but not truthful, and that the discrete selves populating that interface, and to whom that interface appears, are actually aspects of the interface. They are not separate from it.

Whatever reality is, it’s not what we perceive and think about. That’s the screen – the story – that obscures reality.

So long as one is clear that we’re looking at a screen and a story on that screen, then it’s not really problematic. But if one believes that the screen and the story are themselves reality, then problems emerge. In ACIM parlance, one becomes separated. And the separation is painful.

It is very hard on this view to be trusting.

On the view that we are actually separate and discrete, and what is happening is a reflection of what is true, then it makes sense to value communication as embodied (in cultures, communities, selves). Then at best death does end the familiar and useful mode, necessitating some new mode.

On the view that what is one cannot be separated, and thus cannot actually experience loss or sacrifice, then communication is always something other than the language-based exchange between separate entities that death appears to obliterate.

I am wondering if, because it is clear that death does not end communication, that rather than question the nature of communication, one should instead question the nature of death.

To the body, death will always be a terminus. To the body, other bodies will always be subject to evaluation in terms of needs perceived to exist in this body. To the body, the self will always be local, able to comment only on what the body, by virtue of its perceptual and cognitive limits, allows according to its time and space-based coordinates.

The question is whether there is another way to see? Can we see in a more global way? A cosmic way? Can oneness, or love, be the perspective?

The suggestion is: yes, it can be, but one has to trust it. When we do, insights are given which – and instructors are given who – point gently beyond the body.

A while back I had the insight that who was special to me went with me regardless of whether we were in actual dialogue or physical proximity. I don’t mean that “Other” and “Sean” were two units now unified as one (OtherSean), like two balls of clay combined to make a single mug.

Rather, I mean that the separate units are functional illusions behind which unity rests patiently, and in which the illusion of separation was easily discarded because it lacked utility.

This unity, as such, encompasses everything.

The work is how to live from that insight, where living is brought forth in and as bodies for whom conflict appears as a natural phenomenon, and separation an actual limitation on communication and loving, always understanding that the appearance helpful or unhelpful, but not true.

A Course in Miracles is helpful to me in this specific way. It says, here is a practice that will help you navigate the world of separation in a way that undoes your belief in separation while strengthening your intuition that only love is real.

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