With respect to my post yesterday – choosing to see peace instead of conflict and anguish – I think it is fair to say “okay, but how?”
It is nice when somebody says “I am no longer going to relate on terms set by the world. I am no longer going to follow its confused and endless paths to nowhere. I am no longer going to accept its empty assurances of joy and peace and love.”
But what does that mean exactly? Anybody can say it but what does it look like?
So I want to try and show how it might play out – how it plays out for me anyway. It might be different for you – probably it will be – but maybe this will still be helpful.
Let’s say that somebody angers you. That’s a big one for me. Somebody does something and it completely upends us psychologically. There is a big effect in us. This anger becomes all we think about – whose fault it is, what it does to us, how to get rid of it, how to get revenge and so forth. Maybe you are familiar with this!
If we are going to really toe the ACIM line, what happens next?
We have to create a sufficiently large space to see what is going on. That’s first. We have to be able to observe our feelings and thoughts: see how they rise up, how they linger, where they go and all of that. We have to see the whole big picture of it as it is happening.
So right away, rather than freak out or act out or react to the situation, we are doing something different. We are simply paying attention to what is going on in an interior way.
There is a lot of peace in this step alone. I am not saying it always works, but even a little, it can be very calming. We start to see how much of what bothers us is actually internal. There is the external influence but then our interior goes all wonky. The thoughts and ideas and feelings just take off!
So just seeing that is a good start.
Next, we pay close attention to what our brain – or our ego, if you like – tells us to do with respect to the situation. Maybe it wants us to lash out physically. It says, that person would not treat me so bad if I whacked them upside the head more often. I really want to smack them.
We can see that impulse clearly and then say, okay, that’s one choice. But that’s a worldly choice. So I am not going to do that. We don’t berate ourselves for feeling this way or having this fantasy of revenge or retaliation. We just see it and pass over it.
Maybe next you see that you want to get drunk and forget all about your feelings for as long as they’ll stay stuffed in a bottle. And you say the same thing. That’s one way to handle this but it is a worldly way so I am not going to choose it.
A sort of rhythm emerges, right? Every solution that the ego proposes, we give it some consideration – enough to see that it is the same old same old – and we say, no. That’s not it. The ego is going crazy – get drunk! Throw a punch! Sue somebody! – but at the deeper level we just calmly watch it. This is what it means to see with the Holy Spirit. We don’t attach to the egoic drama. We just patiently say no thank you.
When we do that consistently, we are in essence telling ourselves that there is another way to live. We are saying, okay, the miracle isn’t here yet but I am okay waiting for it. I’m not going to listen to the world’s terrible advice. I am going to wait for God to reveal a new way. I know it’s there and I’m holding out for it. I’m tired of hell and so I’m just going to wait on Heaven.
When we have the attitude of “I-will-do-this-for-a-thousand-years-if-need-be” then what happens is that this way of thinking – this new way of seeing – becomes a habit. We start to realize that all our ideas and strategies are losers. We may not yet have anything better to take their place, but at least we are stepping off the ego’s insane merry-go-round of bad, badder and baddest choices.
And then, at some point, the voice of our healed mind rises above the din. It can do this because we aren’t so invested in the ego’s voice any more. There is some space, some room for the Holy Spirit to be heard. When it is, it is be the most familiar voice you ever heard! And once you’ve started to track it, you’ll get better and better. Really, the ego doesn’t stand a chance. It never did.
So this all begins simply with observing what is going on internally and having a little faith that there is another way. When we hit a bump, instead of reacting, we give it the space in which to observe. We pay attention to our thoughts and feelings. We pass over the familiar bad ideas and eventually – quite unexpectedly – we stumble into the miracle. We stumble into the Truth. In a very real and tangible way, we see that we knew all along how to be peaceful and harmonious and holy and joyful. It’s what we are. It’s so simple!
This is all very natural, by the way. It is a lot easier to see oneness than to see fragmentation and separation, but we’ve had a lot of practice pretending otherwise. If you have ever given anything up – smoking, heroin, booze, sex, chocolate, whatever – that is kind of a rough model. We are actively choosing to see things differently. It’s tempting to go back. Sometimes we will. But if stay the course – and the Course – then sooner or later, the longing for misery ends. The patterns of death and scarcity end.
It is worth the wait, and worth the work, both.