On Recognizing Love

. . . it takes no time at all to be what you are (T-15.I.9:3).

The suggestion inherent in A Course in Miracles is that what we are in truth – our true self, our real self, however we want to talk about it – is not a body, and not a long unwieldy narrative attached to a body, nor even a soul in relation to that body or its supposed narrative – but rather Creation itself, forever perfect and joyous and still.

Whatever suffers is not part of me. What grieves is not myself. What is in pain is but illusion in my mind. What dies was never living in reality, and did but mock the truth about myself (W-pII.248.1:3-6).

The appeal of this is obvious but its application is somewhat more obtuse. We can say it but do we know it?

If we are honest, most of us, the answer is no. Or not really. Or we have tasted it, only to slip back into the tedium of day-to-day anxiety and struggle. We have sipped Emily Dickinson’s “liquor never brewed” but lost our way back to the still. We stumble in circles, infused with a memory of the peace that surpasses understanding, bent only on quaffing it again.

The problem is that we have convinced ourselves – and by extension one another – that Truth is some thing and somewhere else. It’s hidden and the map to it is guarded by spiritual cabals that wouldn’t in a million years admit us to their ranks. Hence gurus, hence spiritual paths, hence suffering, hence et cetera.

A Course in Miracles – gently insisting that we abide “unchanged in the Mind of God” (W-pII.6.1:5) – does not help us become awakened; rather, it reminds us that we are awakened. We are already are perfect; we already dwell in eternity. But we don’t know this, and have complicated remembering it almost beyond measure.

The work – and I use that word carefully – is simply to see that we have built the dense walls by which truth is presently obscured. Nothing more than this is required. Nothing more could be required. To see what blocks the truth is to undo those blocks because truth seeks us as we seek it. Truth will readily leap the pitiful impediments we have used to ensnare ourselves once we see them for what they are.

Is that clear? The seeing is itself the Truth; the seeing is what we are in truth. That is why A Course in Miracles teaches us that it takes no time to be what we are. How long does it take to see a chickadee? We look up at the pine tree and it is there: we don’t choose or not choose to be aware of it: awareness simply is. As goes the chickadee, so goes the self.

Thus, when we are giving attention, can we find that which does not change? Can never change, has never changed? Can we find – right here, right now – that which is, and has always been, perfect?

Today, I saw cardinals on the back fence. I saw the moon sinking below western hills. I listened to snow melting in darkness. I tried to write a little. I tried to read a little.

I saw beauty and I saw mystery. I grew briefly – maybe helpfully – wordy. But none of that was perfect. None of that was eternal. It was all subject to entropy, all subject to perception. That is what specificity does – it comes and goes. It rises and falls.

Entropy is characteristic of our feelings and ideas too – they are here and then they are gone, sometimes good, sometimes bad. It is like Leonard Cohen sings:

I know that I’m forgiven
but I don’t know how I know
I don’t trust my inner feelings
inner feelings come and go

Everything coming and going, rising and falling, save what? That is what we are trying to discover, or remember: the what-we-are that takes no time to see or become, which is always present, always perfect.

This practice of giving attention takes us close to the cornerstone of A Course in Miracles:

Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God (In.2:2-4).

Happiness in this world in these bodies is fleeting; its wisdom is unreliable. This is not a problem; it’s just a fact. Everything that we associate with ourselves and our world is just a dream within a dream, ripples on a vast lake briefly observed by a heron as it passes overhead, forgotten when it is gone.

This is not to denigrate that sense of self and world. It is simply to say that it is good to have perspective on the transient nature of self and world. By all means be happy with moonlight and tea and grandchildren and kittens and poems by Emily Dickinson. Live with gusto or intention or quietude. Love intensely. Serve with with joy. Why not?

Simply remember that all of that – those details, those bodies, those memories, those stories, those images, those feelings, those theories – will pass. In fact, are passing. They come and go because they are not eternal. They occur within eternity. They are observed by eternity, as a condition of eternity.

What does not come and go? That is what we are in truth. That is the self to which our practice of A Course in Miracles directs us. We can know that self through attention: when we give attention, this self will reveal itself, because it is attention. That’s all.

It takes no time to be what we are in truth. “The memory of God is shimmering across the wide horizons of our mind” (W-pII.in.9:5). It takes no time to see this and experience the effects of its light because we are looking at it right now. We are here not to learn but to recognize love.

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