A Course in Miracles remains for me a practical spiritual discipline in large part because of its inherent simplicity which is – thankfully – immune to our efforts to gussy it up with the intellect.
For me, complication is always a form of resistance, and perhaps my most favorite because it’s also the most fun. Not for nothing is Gertrude Stein so beloved in my canon. The degree to which one can make their spiritual life a complex web of stories, ideals, personalities, philosophies and rituals is a reflection not of spiritual maturity but resistance.
The reason this course is so simple is that the truth is simple. Complexity is of the ego, and is nothing more than that the ego’s attempt to obscure the obvious (T-15.IV.6:1-2).
Complexity in my life often shows up as drama, and drama always reflects an absence of order. Order, in turn, is a form of simplicity.
More and more, when I find myself faced with drama – in relationships, in my internal landscape, at work, in my ACIM practice – I recognize it as a form of resistance and ask: is there another way to see this?
There is almost always another way to see this . . .
A Course in Miracles seems to ask two things of me. First, it asks that I give attention to what is going on internally. This is consistent with its abiding alignment with psychotherapy. When we look at thought, how is thought functioning? What is it hiding? What is it coveting?
To look at thought – at the interior – with the Holy Spirit means simply to look without recourse to judgment. In other words, we see our anger or greed or laziness and we don’t get worked up about it. We leave it to the Holy Spirit. It’s a way of saying, “this isn’t my problem.”
And it really isn’t, and when we recognize that, it diminishes in importance quite quickly. It’s always fascinating to see how much of our time and energy is given to self-analysis and criticism. Awakening is not an accomplishment but more in the nature of an acquiescence.
The second thing A Course in Miracles asks is that I be as kind as possible to my brothers and sisters, because it is with and through them, that I awaken. This is not mysterious! Refrain from being a jerk. Share everything. Be complimentary. Let your yes mean yes.
A Course in Miracles suggests that the Golden Rule is our guide to appropriate behavior in the external world (T-1.III.6:4) because it asks that we “do unto others as you have them do unto you” (T-1.III.6:2).
This is not complicated! And when we practice it in sync with the looking within I mentioned earlier, its fruits are a true, quiet and fruitful peace. Of course we don’t do this perfectly; of course some days are better than others. But that’s okay. That’s what being a student is.
So I step back sometimes. I put the many books aside and just walk. It was lovely out this morning at 3 a.m., the sound of rain falling softly everywhere, the mist making it impossible to see more than a few feet in any direction. How luxurious darkness can be and how gently it holds us, never questioning, never demanding.
It is as if from time to time – no warning, no preparation – one slips into the very presence of God, and walks a while in it, happy and content, briefly given to the loveliness of Home.