On Spiritual Solutions

The other afternoon – somewhat out of the blue – I realized that I’d been wrong in a significant way with respect to my study of David Bohm. Bohm often uses the term “ground” to refer to that from which experience (life) rises but – at least in Wholeness and the Implicate Order – he is not referring to a metaphysical ground but rather a quantum ground. That is, he means a ground that can be measured and quantified. It is truly enormous in both scope and potential but it is also ultimately limited. As such, it is not eternity. It is not God.

At times on this site, I have written as if it – or flirted as if – were  otherwise. I have certainly done that in conversations and in my thinking. Why? Well, ostensibly I liked the feeling of having a world-reknowned physicist in my camp. But in truth, I think focusing on Bohm was a way of not focusing on my spiritual practice. Bohm is not wrong. I simply misappropriated some of his ideas because they helped me sustain – with apparently good intentions – my separation from God. Spirit, being outside of time and space, is not measurable. Insisting otherwise was simply a way of ignoring Spirit.

A Course in Miracles is deeply abstract and this presents some real challenges for both its serious and its casual students. Because we all believe we are bodies living in a world of form, we effectively are bodies living in a world of form, and we want help with that, at that level. I don’t want this head cold I’ve got, I need more money, I’m tired of this relationship and want another one, and so on and so forth.

A Course in Miracles does not deny our belief in these problems but it does not make them real by pretending that if we solve them at the level of form, then we’re going to know God. Our problems – so-called – stem from the belief that we are separate from God and they are solved by our remembrance that that separation never occurred and so all its effects (poverty, hunger, loneliness etc.) never occurred either.

There is no other problem and there is no other solution, but we have to be willing to see this. It is tempting – and easy – to see it otherwise.

It is critical to understand that our seeming problems in the world do not reflect a clash of material things – people who are not behaving the way we want, events that are not unfolding the way we want, things that we are not receiving in the amount that we want and so forth – but rather reflect a decision to think apart from God which is to say, to want something other than Truth.

For example, I often complain in my life about a lack of money. Sometimes this lack appears to be quite severe and sometimes merely inconvenient. But in either case, I tend to feel insecure or disempowered, the opposite of peace and joy.

It is tempting to say the “solution” to this particular problem is more money. Indeed, at the level of bodies and form what else could the solution be?

But Jesus suggests that the problem is that I have listened to “the endless insane calls” I believe are made upon me (as a body in the world) when I could – as easily – accept the truth that “the Voice for God is in you” (T-5.VII.3:1) and give my attention to that.

[T]he first step in the undoing is to recognize that you actively decided wrongly, but can as actively decide otherwise. Be very firm with yourself in this, and keep yourself fully aware that the undoing process, which does not come from you, is nevertheless within you because God placed it there. Your part is merely to return your thinking to the point at which the error was made, and give it over to the Atonement in peace (T-5.VII.6:3-5).

There is no point in the Text, Workbook, Manual for Teachers or related materials comprising A Course in Miracles where Jesus compromises this essential point. Thus, the sooner we give our attention to it – and truly make it the integral core of our practice of A Course in Miracles – the sooner we will know the peace that surpasses understanding.

I am not in any way denying the appearance of problems in the world, nor suggesting we should blithely ignore them. Eat when you are hungry, sleep when you are tired, and take an aspirin when your head hurts. But do not confuse the temporary alleviation of symptoms for the undoing of the underlying problem.

The problem of separation, which is really the only problem, has already been solved. Yet the solution is not recognized because the problem is not recognized (W-pI.79.1:4-5).

We do not recognize the problem of separation because we are so focused on its myriad symptoms and trying frantically and obsessively to solve them all. But there are no solutions at the level of symptom, only moments of respite. Sooner or later, we have to accept this, and begin to look beyond the world for the solution God gave to us because we are his beloved children.

Is it possible to look at our seeming problems in the world and see them not as real issues demanding solutions now but rather reflections of a wrong-minded choice? A decision, however subtle or apparently hidden, to accept separation rather than Atonement?

What happens to the problems we think we have when we accept them as finished? When we see them only as reflections of the perceived separation from God which never happened?

These are important questions and it behooves us to find – to experience – the answers.

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • the happy forgiver February 27, 2014, 6:55 pm

    These are the perfect words for me to hear today. Thank you.

    • Sean Reagan February 27, 2014, 7:01 pm

      Glad they resonated . . . thank you for being here . . .

      ~ Sean

    • George Maxwell February 28, 2014, 6:00 pm

      Ditto!

  • Cheryl February 28, 2014, 7:19 am

    Hi Sean,

    I’ve pondered what you have written here for a day now, and I think for me, the fear of ultimate Oneness comes down to this: Will I even know my self?

    And, of course, that is an ego thought as spirit recognizes there is no self to know. And I imagine I cling to this fear (and my separation) because my limited sense of what I am cannot conceive of being no thing. In other words, I won’t take the leap without assurance of a safety net, and I can’t trust God enough to see the safety net is, was and always will be in place.

    And, to add on to an earlier “conversation,” I think I arrange these coincidences I’ve shared to help me build this trust little by little. They are, in a way, my baby steps. In considering them carefully, I don’t perceive them as a way to bolster my ego or enhance any sense of “specialness” but more as a way to walk the bridge to the “other side.”

    • Sean Reagan February 28, 2014, 9:09 am

      This is very much my own thinking as well. I am working on Lesson 139 which speaks directly to this issue. It’s a paradox: we have to let go in order to learn we won’t fall but we won’t let go until we’ve learned we won’t fall. And thus we rattle on, confused and hurt and lonely and scared and angry and guilty . . .

      I think we are all composing a narrative that we call baby steps, and the narratives are all unique at the surface level, but beyond them is the only problem we have: the belief that what we are in truth is separate from God which, as you pointed out earlier, is just another way of saying that we don’t know what we are and fear we never can. So we use coincidence, or intellectual attachments (Bohm, Wilber, Whyte et al), or the law of large numbers or whatever and it’s all a front for the truth that we have only one problem which is already solved. All that is asked of us is acceptance – the solution need merely be accepted. Period. The world – however we perceive it – merely obscures that truth. There is nothing in it that can save us.

      At some point we see this: we see it with icy clarity: and rather than run (which we have been doing for years, for lifetimes maybe) we just say “okay. I’m too tired to keep running and hiding.” And we stay with it: the fear, the darkness, the apparent lovelessness. And we see that all our efforts, however well-intentioned, are the problem. We see that we have to let go and risk “death.” There is no other way. It is my experience and understanding that when we reach this space things get interesting fast.

      Love,
      Sean

  • Cheryl February 28, 2014, 9:18 am

    Funny, I immediately responded to your last sentence with a mix of anticipation and dread….in a visceral way.

  • Eric March 3, 2014, 8:21 am

    You are afraid of this because you believe that without the ego all would be chaos. Yet I assure you that without the ego all would be love. ~ACIM

    Eric: As I sit here this morning. I see the areas of my life where I attempt to make compromises. I can see myself saying, “OK, you can have these dreams, but just let me keep a couple of them for myself. Haven’t I earned that much at least?”

    My relationship with the Holy Spirit has been kind of casual lately. But this is one relationship that cannot be casual. I think stumbling upon this passage says as much.

    The Holy Spirit’s vision is no idle gift, no plaything to be tossed about a while and laid aside. Listen and hear this carefully, nor think it but a dream, a careless thought to play with, or a toy you would pick up from time to time and then put by. For if you do, so will it be to you. ~ACIM

    Eric: There is no compromise and yet I continue to make them. It is like an addict/alcoholic trying to compromise how often/much they will use/drink, while still using/drinking. It is the attempt to find the solution within the problem, rather than removing oneself from the problem all together. It is what Tara Singh called the attempt at modification rather than real change, or as the course says in the pamphlet; the attempt at keeping one’s concept of the self, but without the suffering it entails.

    And you will either escape from misery entirely or not at all. Reason will tell you that there is no middle ground where you can pause uncertainly, waiting to choose between the joy of Heaven and the misery of hell. Until you choose Heaven, you are in hell and misery. ~ACIM

    Eric: At the branching of the road, it is that pause that can cause unneeded suffering. It is the reason in the mind’s awareness knowing that there is no middle ground in which to pause, and yet there is the insanity to do just that.

    All will be chaos if you let go. All will be chaos if you choose what is not the familiar way. It seems ridiculous when writing it down. All will be chaos to let go of this and move forward? But there is that uncertainty. Yes, trying to find the solution on my own has hardly worked out, and yet there is a distorted comfort in the familiar of this compromising-suffering road. I may not like it, but I ‘know’ it, like the prisoner who doesn’t want to be released from prison, because that is what he knows.

    The spiritual path can be strange. Is ignorance bliss? It seems so sometimes. Before the path, there might be a nagging feeling that something is off. That there is more to life than this. But we are good at distracting ourselves from this with external stimulation. Especially western society.

    But once we begin to see a deeper truth on the path, there is no going back. Yes, there can be delay. There can be a pause-sometimes a long one- in the middle of the road, but there is no going back to the way it once was. It is like the addict/alcoholic getting a taste of freedom from addiction. Even if they relapse and go back to the drug/alcohol, it will never be the same. The illusion will never be intact the way it was before. Freedom ruins addiction. Whether it be drugs, alcohol, or the ego.

    Letting go of egoic thinking can feel like death coming, but we know deep down that it is not really the death of ourselves, but of the illusions we hold of ourselves. But it can feel like chaos, not because it is, but because of the clinging to it, afraid to let it go.

    Eric

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