Sometimes insight comes in a rush – sort of like a bolt of lightening – and other times it comes in gentle waves, each building on the one before. A seemingly random thought, a certain song unexpectedly playing, this or that line from A Course in Miracles and you look up and you are happier, more peaceful, like a window through which light streams.
A few weeks ago – for no obvious reason – it occurred to me that part of what is most helpful (for me) in A Course in Miracles is the fact that it does not ask us to engage in rituals or pray and meditate for hours on end. I’ve never been much good at that sort of thing, despite my good intentions, and despite trying quite hard at times.
In fact, a month or so before I grabbed hold of the course (as it drifted past me), I had come to realize – and finally accept – that while I wasn’t much good at formal prayer or the rigors of sesshin or ceremonial rituals, I was pretty happy while walking in the forest, and found it generally easy to meet God there in a casual sort of way and so – in this life of stumbles and brokennesses – that would have to pass for a spiritual practice.
It seemed like a compromise but it turned out to be the opposite. Soon after making contact with A Course in Miracles, those walks – preferably with a dog, preferably before the sun rose – began to feel as if I were taking a chapel with me each time I set out. How had I missed this? God was always there, precisely where I had known God was.
This was the beginning of my understanding that prayer and meditation – clearly understood – are not contingent on external pressures but arise naturally from within us. Relating to God is easy. It’s the ego that breaks our back and spirit with complication and travails.
There is a lovely phrase – in a lovely section – that speaks to this. It says, with respect to our impression that uniting with God is difficult, the bailiwick of spiritual geniuses, that “[t]he problem is not one of concentration; it is the belief that no one, including yourself, is worth consistent effort (T-4.IV.7:2).
In other words, the problem is not that we are not working hard enough to hear God’s voice. It is not that we are mentally weak or emotionally paralyzed or spiritually disenfranchised. Rather, it is simply that we are unwilling to give attention to God, and that that unwillingness is premised on the belief that we are not worthy of hearing God’s voice.
That belief – however pervasive, however persistent – is a lie.
Your worth is not established by teaching or learning. Your worth is established by God (T-4.I.7:1-2).
The simplicity of this fact and the clarity it inspires amazes me. Awakening need not take time. Gods knows us now (T-15.V.9:1), and the means to accept this as the singular truth of our existence also exist now. We are literally “mirrors of truth, in which God Himself shines in perfect light” (T-4.IV.9:1).
All that is asked is that we be willing to “be still and know that I am God.” There is no mystery in this – it is most natural thing you will ever do. The chapel goes with us everywhere, and God is never silent within it. Listen.