I have a cold right now – the whole family does. Last night I woke up at about 2 a.m. and as I was standing in the kitchen blowing my nose and admiring the moonlight on a few banks of dirty snow it occurred to me that I had overlooked a significant theme in The Guide to Salvation: the Holy Spirit’s capacity for and call to reinterpretation. That needs reflection and study! I went back to bed and when I woke up a few ragged hours later I couldn’t remember what it was I’d been thinking about. That’s a head cold for you. Luckily, this section references the same idea. Jesus is nice to his addled followers.
I believe in taking A Course in Miracles literally. More and more I am interested in getting past the metaphors – the Christian language – in favor of the Truth, which needs no interpretation and thus has no symbols. So when the course tells me that the Holy Spirit is quite literally in me, being a part of my mind, I sit up and take note (T-5.II.3:7). Yet to say it is part of me is very different than to experience it. This is the challenge, right? It’s fairly easy to understand the principles of ACIM in an intellectual way. But getting past them – not leaning on them for year after year – how can we do that?
First – and a bit of an aside – I think the lessons are really important. I think approaching the text without doing or having done the lessons makes waking up that much more difficult. It is a course – a self-study curriculum in which learning is intended as a result of both study and action. I don’t ask my students to just read Emily Dickinson – they have to discuss her and write about her and visit her home and grave. It’s a big picture and they have to engage it at many levels. There’s no other way.
So creating a meaningful and helpful relationship with Jesus and then deepening into an awareness of the Holy Spirit in our mind is very important and practical and the lessons are geared toward making those things happen.
But I don’t want to diminish the idea of study – of finding ideas or themes that resonate, and focusing on them, and perhaps enlarging their field of resonance. What I am saying is – and if you read with any regularity what I write here, you know is very much my practice – that it’s useful to note those areas of the text that appeal to us and intuitively make sense. The better we understand one section, or one idea, the better we will grasp the others. There are many roads – or passages maybe – into an integrated understanding of A Course in Miracles.
All that is just a roundabout way of saying that this idea of the Holy Spirit as the one who reinterprets feels incredibly powerful to me. In part, it encapsulates the notion – very foreign to the egoic self in which I mostly reside – that the ego is undone by love and forgiveness, not through a hard-fought battle. The Holy Spirit, says Jesus, is the “perfect teacher.”
He uses only what your mind already understands to teach you what you do not understand. The Holy Spirit can deal with a reluctant learner without going counter to his mind, because part of it is still for God (T-5.III.10:1-3).
This makes sense to me, and explains why sometimes I “get it” and can act as one in their right mind acts and why other times I feel like crazy would be a step up.
The Holy Spirit understands the ego. It appreciates what we make – the stories we tell, the images we invent, the places we populate with other egos. Yet it sees past all that to the wholeness of our real identity. And this is so critical to understand: this is all in our minds right now. The Holy Spirit responds to our invitation. It will takes as far in the direction of sanity as we are willing to go. This is not an action that we take. It is just a willingness, an openness. The sooner we can figure out – and then bring into application – that these egos with which we associate can’t do a damn thing to save us (but are actively working to keep us guilty and fearful and enslaved), the sooner the Holy Spirit can really get some work done.
Reinterpreting means seeing differently – seeing rightly. Our egoic minds don’t get it. They can’t. They’re lost in a gruesome fun house of illusions and rather than admit defeat, they just keep adding layers and levels and players and effects. The Holy Spirit is very patient before all of this. As soon as we ask, it will offer its guidance. This is a mystical experience but I always experience it in a deeply practical way. I am led by what is in me but not of me.
It is helpful for me that I am reading this portion of the text while practicing Lesson 41. That lesson is about making direct contact with God – recognizing that our Source is always with us and, as a direct consequence, the separation never happened. Our perfect Oneness is preserved. The lesson encourages us to “sink” past the ego, past the world. Not do battle with it. Not outwit it. Just . . . fall. Just . . . let go. Nothing is quite so foreign to us as that experience – we equate it with powerlessness. Yet if we can do it just once, for just a second, then we will learn that we do not fall at all. Instead we are lifted. We are caught and lifted.
This is the gift of the Holy Spirit, then. To meet us where we are and – on terms we understand and can make use of – lead us to where we want to be. All we have to do is take our hands of the wheel. How long will we wait?