Although I have read it several times, I do not often refer to or often reflect on the Manual for Teachers. Mostly this owes to a sort of passive aggressive humility: I’m not worthy of being a teacher of God but if I say that loud enough and frequently enough people will reassure me that I really am worthy of being a teacher of God.
That sort of egoic silliness is what it is. We all do it in places in our lives and hopefully it is also being undone. But its premise – the distinction I draw between student and teacher in terms of A Course in Miracles – is, strictly speaking, nonsense. Once we become students of the course, we have also become its teachers. Indeed, the course hinges on this fact. We learn love by extending love. We are doing this together or we are not doing it at all.
The manual teaches that everything we do as teachers of God is premised on trust (M-4.I.1:1). And oddly – and interestingly – it is not trust in God to do what’s right and deliver us from the clutches of our enemies and so forth but rather trust in the world, that pesky external horror show through which we stumble, victimizing and being victimizing, and cursing God and Jesus (often through a veil of feigned praise).
The teachers of God have trust in the world, because they have learned it is not governed by the laws the world made up. It is governed by a power that is in them but not of them. It is this power that keeps all things safe. It is through this power that the teachers of God look on a forgiven world (M-4.I.1:4-7).
There is considerable clarity in this! We are not changing the world nor expecting it to change as a result of divine intervention. We could win the lottery tomorrow, have it taken away the next way and be left penniless in an unfamiliar city and the smile on our face and the light in our eyes wouldn’t change a bit. We trust the laws of God. We know the mad laws of the world can’t touch us. They can’t stop us from bringing forth love.
That sounds impossible, of course. Or way off in the future perhaps. But we can begin to move in its direction by embracing our role as devoted students. In truth, there is nothing out there that is not helpful as a learning tool. Everything – from the bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima to the peanut butter on our English muffins – can help to end our perceived separation from God. The atonement rests on giving up entirely our role as the deciders of what is true and what is not.
It takes great learning to understand that all things, events, encounters and circumstances are helpful. It is only to the extent to which they are helpful that any degree of reality should be accorded them in this world of illusion (M-4.I.A.4:5-6).
The clarity in those lines is such a blessing!
Yet it is impossible to apply this principle without some sense of loss or fear. I think if we are honest, we can agree that it is painful. The whole point of judging the external is to protect the ego’s prerogative. When we let it go, the ego is instantly in peril and responds accordingly. When we are willing to look at the world without judgment, we are tacitly acknowledging that there is a greater power than what we possess and – more importantly – we are willing to let that power have its day. God and the ego cannot coexist and the ego’s capacity for resistance can be vicious indeed.
The thing is – and it is the ego’s undoing although this can take a long time, lifetimes perhaps – once we get a taste of the freedom and joy inherent in releasing judgment, the game is over. We might sit at the table still, and we might throw the dice from time to time, and we might even contemplate anteing up again, but in truth, we can’t go back. All that’s left is accepting this fact.
It is scary to step away from the table and leave the room where the game of a separated life is being played. It really is. I want to let go of the self but I don’t know what will happen. It’s like the quarry jumping I did as a kid. You go to the highest cliff and you look down. And you back up and you think it over. You talk to your friends. You discuss where to land, what to do with your arms while falling and so forth. You go back and take another peek. Hours can pass. Lifetimes even.
But sooner or later – having come this far and not wanting to go back (and I really do not want to go back this time) – you just jump. And all your planning just disappears in that instant. You just trust that it’s going to be okay and you step off into space. You leap.
And it is okay.
Now what was seen as merely shadows before become solid gains, to be counted on in all “emergencies” as well as tranquil times. Indeed, the tranquility is their results; the outcome of honest learning, consistency of thought and full transfer. This the stage of real peace, for here is Heaven’s state fully reflected. From here the way to Heaven is open and easy. In fact, it is here (M-4.I.A.8:3-7).
It is good to be reminded from time to time that the complexity and the difficulty are our own doing. The way is clear and straight and the company is nothing if not helpful. We stumbled and rise and keep going. We trust. We leap. And we land in Heaven, where we have always been.