On Purification and the Gift of God

God’s gift was given to us wholly and unconditionally. I do not have one part while you have another. Part of it was not held back for later extension. Love is. In this simple fact, all our seeking and yearning ends, and salvation is accomplished.

And yet.

We do not experience God’s gift that way! We could, but we don’t. It is as if we have been set gently down in Heaven’s field and fall to the ground, bury our face in the mud, and complain that it’s dark and we can’t see and we can’t breathe.

If we would simply stand and shrug off our insistence that Heaven be other than it is – if we could set our decisions about Heaven and God aside and simple let them be – then quite literally all conflict and anguish and guilt and fear and hatred would be washed away, like salt dropped in the sea.

But instead we project God outside of us, and make him vindictive and angry, and we parse the world into myriad others who have things we want that we’re going to have to take by force or subterfuge, before they get to us, and if we’re lucky we might scrape a few moments of meager happiness together before the final iron curtain drops like a hammer on our heads. . . .

The whole time that we spin this dark and broken fantasy, the holy light of Christ shines and shines within – peaceful, beautiful and entirely for us.

How can we undo our resistance and projection in order to experience more fully – even here – the given Love that is God?

In truth, the closer we come to that Love in dreams, the closer we are to the real world in which God’s Presence is both unmitigated and unmediated.

The real world is the state of mind in which the only purpose of the world is seen to be forgiveness . . . No rules are idly set, and no demands are made of anyone or anything to twist and fit into the dream of fear. Instead, there is the wish to understand all things created as they really are. And it is recognized that all things must be first forgiven, and then understood (T-30.V.1:1, 4-6).

The seventh principle of miracles is not a bad place to start.

Miracles are everyone’s right, but purification is necessary first (T-1.I.7:1).

The first time I read this principle I literally swore at it. I encouraged it to go perform a certain sexual act with itself.

I really really didn’t like the “p” word. Purification reminded me of everything I hated about Christianity, most of which could be summed up as: “you’re not good enough.”

On the other hand, the more I practice the Course the more I appreciate its essential benevolence. Often, the sections to which I am most deeply resistant are the ones I need to read most closely. We all have a lot to learn. The sooner we accept that, the better.

Eventually I got around to asking: what does A Course in Miracles mean by purification? In what helpful way can purity be a precondition to miracles? On what grounds can God justify postponing miracles while we purify ourselves – whatever that means?

If we say – as I do from time to time – that we are already perfect, and that what is perfect cannot be improved upon, then in what way or ways are we impure?

If miracles are thoughts (T-1.I.12:1) that “occur naturally as expressions of love (T-1.I.3:1)” when our perception is aligned with truth as God created it (T-1.I.36:1), then it makes sense to think of what we might call optimal conditions for receptivity. We need to be able to hear what God is saying. We need clear lines of communication.

Perhaps it not so different (while being radically different, of course) from cell phones. If the battery is run down, the phone won’t catch the necessary signal. If it’s in the wrong place – under trees, away from towers, in underground parking garages – it won’t work, or won’t work as well. If we drop them in water or fill them with sand they won’t work.

If we leave them at home, they won’t work when we need them.

How do we make ourselves available to hear God’s direction – and accept God’s gift – at all times and in all things?

We are called to be still and attentive and to have faith that through our stillness and attention we cannot fail to reach – and be reached by – God.

It is quite possible to reach God. In fact it is very easy, because it is the most natural thing in the world. The way will open, if you believe that it is possible (W-pI.41.8:1-3).

The question becomes: what brings us to stillness? What brings to that state of quiet attention and certainty?

The answer to those questions will be different for everyone.

Perhaps an early morning walk allows you to enter that space. Or counting your breaths on a zafu. Or gardening. Or reading some sacred text. Or verbal prayer. Or dance. Or baking bread or beekeeping.

I don’t know. But I know that you know: already you have been given the means by which to see and embrace the real world in which God’s Love is all there is.

Very gently, we need to find the sparks of holiness in our lives – those moments, those places, those rituals, those people, those songs, those texts – that awaken in us a fervent desire to know and be known by God. Don’t judge them! If baking enables you to reach the interior then just bake. Don’t worry that you’re not getting there like Joan of Arc did or Saint John of the Cross.

Those little graces – those flickers of light – are the spaces in our lives where the Love of God is able to reach us. Our fear is diminished and so what is given – Love – simply shines. It radiates.

We can enlarge those spaces by giving more and more of our lives to them: longer walks, more prayer, simpler food, careful study, service to others. Don’t sweat the form because that’s just an illusory container for the divine. We’re using the form to get closer to the content. When we’re ready, we’ll let form go altogether.

We purify ourselves by giving ourselves to God: by paying attention to those places in our lives where we allow God to simply be, and then nurturing those places so they can be deepened and enriched. This is not a process that we can force or rush; it is simply a matter of noticing what works and then staying with it.

I like to remember the promise made in Deuteronomy 33:27:

The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms . . .

We are never bereft! But we do forget this fact. To be purified is to push ourselves in the direction of recollection, of recalling the gift that was given to us all in creation. It is impossible to fail in this because “the everlasting arms” are always there to catch us and lift us and assist us in our movement into grace.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • JayCee May 4, 2013, 8:29 am

    I am grateful and appreciate your communication. Thank U. This AM in my moment of stillness, in the course, 26:IX:6. ” The holiest of all spots on earth is where an ancient hatred becomes a present Love.”. Forgiveness for what we have not done paves the way for the present Love which is the accepting God’ s gift.

    • Sean Reagan May 6, 2013, 8:26 am

      Thanks JayCee . . . “Forgiveness for what we have not done” – that’s it right there, isn’t it!

      Thank you!

  • Eric May 4, 2013, 9:42 am

    Hi Sean,

    It’s funny that you brought up the miracle principle that says miracles are everyone’s right, but purification is necessary first. I like to open the course in the morning and randomly read a section. I find often times, it is what I need to hear/read. I usually read from the Original Edition and on the back of the book is Lesson 77, “I am Entitled to Miracles.”

    As I’m reading your blog, I glanced over to my coffee table and grabbed the book and began to read the lesson. The course says that miracles are everyone’s right (everyone is entitled to miracles), but purification is necessary first. This is what Lesson 77 says,

    “You are entitled to miracles because of what you are. You will receive miracles because of what God is. And you will offer miracles because you are one with God. Again, how simple is salvation! It is merely a statement of your true identity. It is this that we will celebrate today.

    Your claim to miracles does not lie in your illusions about yourself. It does not depend on any magical powers you have ascribed to yourself nor on any of the rituals you have devised. It is inherent in the truth of what you are. It is implicit in what God your Father is. It was ensured in your creation and guaranteed by the laws of God.

    Today we will claim the miracles which are your right since they belong to you. You have been promised full release from the world you made. You have been assured that the Kingdom of God is within you and can never be lost. We ask no more than what belongs to us in truth. Today, however, we will also make sure that we will not content ourselves with less.” ~ Lesson 77-ACIM

    Shunryu Suzuki once said that we are perfect just as we are, but could use a little improvement. This humorous line illustrates the contradictory thought of if we are already perfect, how can we need improvement or purification? The truth is, we don’t. But it is obvious that the mind needs to remove the illusory blocks to our awareness to our perfection.

    What is the separation but a block in communication? What is purification, but the removal/removing of these blocks? But in my experience this is not as linear as people may think. There are times when my mind is more open than others, as I am yet a consistent learner. But I have had many experiences (what I’ve read as described in Japanese as satori) when I experience my perfection, or better yet, I experience perfection.

    What I have found when these experiences happen, is that they happen when least expected. Meaning, I’m not forcing the issue. They happened when a part of my mind was open. They happened during times and the kind of situations you described. For example, I was sitting in my yard one day, and all of a sudden the songs of the birds came into the forefront. As I listened to this perfect rhythm. I felt an expansion. The line between the observer and the observed disappeared. I felt an all encompassing love, and it didn’t feel like I was extending love per say, but completely sharing in it. Another time (my most profound experience) I was running errands. Another time, I was at work.

    These are just a few examples. But I think they illustrate what you said that we shouldn’t judge the form. We could chop wood and carry water, as the Zen saying goes, and this could bring us to the stillness.

    But also, as you said, we must pay attention and we must be very sincere. As the course says,

    “This world is full of miracles. They stand in shining silence next to every dream of pain and suffering, of sin and guilt.”~ACIM

    Eric

    • Sean Reagan May 6, 2013, 8:26 am

      Thanks, Eric. Chopping wood, carrying water may have been the best lesson to come out of my very well-intentioned but ultimately immature attempts to study and practice Zen Buddhism. The other thing – which my daughter hears in her martial arts lessons as well – I am paraphrasing for my own obsessions – is that before you’re enlightened, a walk is just a walk. When you take on the goal of becoming enlightened, a walk is no longer just a walk and there is so much to learn and practice and study. Then, when you are enlightened, a walk is just a walk.

      There is nothing to do is the hardest of all lessons for me. It is already done is the most elusive truth. For me, now. The grace of oneness – that dissolution of observer/observed (so essential to Krishnamurti and also David Bohm) – when it comes always brings with it the knowledge that it’s not earned and that merit has nothing to do with it. It’s there.

      I quoted this Emily Dickinson poem in a different thread:

      The Infinite a sudden Guest
      Has been assumed to be –
      But how can that stupendous come
      Which never went away?

      I do think that attention helps us to “find” what is there. The gift of the Course, to me, is that it’s not so much about Love but about helping us undo what blocks our awareness of Love. I have to remind myself of that from time to time: this isn’t about anything fancy – ascended masters 😉 and visits from angels – but something quite regular and natural from which we’ve become estranged.

      We chop wood. We carry water. And then we remember: a walk is just a walk.

      Thank you, Brother!

  • Sean May 5, 2013, 8:21 am

    thanks sean

    • Sean Reagan May 6, 2013, 8:27 am

      You are welcome!

  • zrinka May 6, 2013, 3:29 am

    I – really – like this sentence, beautiful and trutful – It is:) ‘The whole time that we spin this dark and broken fantasy, the holy light of Christ shines and shines within – peaceful, beautiful and entirely for us.’

    • Sean Reagan May 6, 2013, 8:30 am

      I wrote it in the company of bluets 😉

  • Aleta May 6, 2013, 12:11 pm

    I just had to add that I had one of those expansion experiences with all-encompassing Love that Eric speaks about in his post. It doesn’t happen often for me because I keep my mind too preoccupied with idle thoughts, something I need to work on! (Or not!) At any rate, my experience happened when I was walking on a path and I looked down and saw one Tulip Poplar petal (just one petal) on the ground. It was in an instant I saw the Wholeness of Everything, the Love that holds Everything together, in that petal and it sure was amazing!!

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