Reading A Course in Miracles: The Only Answer

There are times when a certain section of A Course in Miracles will show up in your life at just the right time. It doesn’t always work that way, but sometimes it does. I had that experience with this section yesterday. A couple of issues that I’d been wrestling with boiled over in a moment of stressful insomnia. Six hours later, over tea and A Course in Miracles, I was given the answers. I could have had them earlier, but I’m not the sharpest tool in the ACIM shed.

A quick observation. There are times – not often, but they do happen – when my intuition, or Christ mind, or Jesus – speaks so clearly to me that someone else might as well be in the room. It’s that direct, that intense. But more often – far more often, actually – it works like this. I ask Jesus for help and nothing happens and so I ask Jesus for help and nothing happens except I recall this phrase from the Course or that line from the New Testament. I ignore it and ask Jesus for help again. And after banging my head against the wall – the banging time is shortening, fortunately – I remember. That phrase or line is the help. That’s the answer. It’s subtle and far less spectacular than feeling Jesus as a tangible presence, but it’s no less functional.

That’s how this section worked for me today.

I have been incredibly aware of how fearful I am lately. It seems like everywhere I turn, I can see the fear that drives me. Big, little. It doesn’t matter. And I’m angry about that! It’s like come on, God. I’ve been a good doobie. What’s with all this fear? What’s with the complete absence of progress?

And it came to a head the other night. I woke up at about 2 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep. I was flustered with a work situation, one that seemed to indicate I needed a new direction if not a new gig altogether. Every time I tried to sort it out I got bogged down in metaphysics. The world isn’t real. I’m not real. And there in the dark I got royally pissed about it. I wanted clear and simple answers to a problem. I needed help right here in the dream. And what was I getting from Jesus? Bupkis.

I rolled in the blankets and paced the house. I started to worry about what not sleeping would do to my health. Was I going to die from insomnia? My daughter and I had a busy morning planned. How was I going to be chipper and alert if I couldn’t sleep? How unfair was all this?

And so I gave it to Jesus straight: either you give me full and total enlightenment right now or we’re finished, you and I. Kaput.

Nothing happened.

Well, maybe a little something happened. I wasn’t happy, but I wasn’t sure what else to do. I vaguely sensed that maybe quitting on Jesus wasn’t the answer. So I did the day’s lesson. Then I read The Only Answer.

Then I burst out laughing.

This section delivered two important ideas to me – both of which neatly addressed my frantic worries of the night before. First, God can’t force enlightenment – or awakening – on us. To do so would play directly into the ego’s hands by implying that what is perfect needs help to remember its perfection.

Second, it gently reminded me that the way to Heaven – the way out of this world – is through forgiveness, which is seeing this world we made and in which we find ourselves with the vision of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is our model and coach, the Holy Spirit is the means, and the Atonement is the sure result. We think we’re stuck and there’s nothing to be done, but that’s only because we’re choosing to think that way.

You are in an impossible situation only because you think it is possible to be in one. You would be in an impossible situation if God showed you your perfection, and proved to you that you were wrong. This would demonstrate that the perfect are inadequate to bring themselves to the awareness of their perfection, and thus side with the belive that those who have everything need help and are therefore helpless (T-6.IV.10:1-3).

That is a powerful statement about the limits of what God will do – and the lack of limits about what we can do. And it’s a great reminder to anybody frustrated about why they’re practicing and practicing the Course and nothing seems to be happening. They key to salvation is to remember that we are doing this to ourselves (T-27.VIII.10:1). If Jesus interferes with cause and effect he’s upsetting the most fundamental law there is. He’s violating our divinity. Jesus wasn’t ignoring me at 2 a.m. – he was honoring me. Had he forced my awakening he would have played right into the idea that I’m not capable of waking up myself. Rather than confirm my weakness while I was complaining about how rotten my life was, Jesus was gently acknowledging only my strength. What I did with that strength was up to me.

The other thing this section emphasizes is the development of abilities. In Heaven, abilities – because they are potentials and not accomplishments – are meaningless. Here in the world that we’ve made and in which we believe we live, they’re helpful. Or rather, they can be helpful because Holy Spirit can render them helpful. And in fact, letting him render them helpful is actually how we’re going to get out of this “impossible situation.”

In an impossible situation, you can develop your abilities to the point where they can get you out of it. You have a Guide to how to develop them, but you have no commander except yourself. This leaves you in charge of the Kingdom, with both a Guide to find it and a means to keep it. You have a model to follow who will strengthen your command, and never detract from it in any way. You therefore retain the central place in your imagined enslavement, which in itself demonstrates that you are not enslaved (T-6.IV.9:3-7).

Again, that is considerably powerful testimony in favor of our God-given power – right here and right now. We are blessed with abilities: to love, to pray, to see, to communicate. And those abilities take a form in this world. We raise families, we make friends, we have jobs, we have hobbies. We volunteer in the community and we do some art on the side and we support this business instead of that one. Whatever. Those are all means and ways to continue to develop our abilities. Our capacity to love and to extend that love are enlarged by our active engagement in the dream. There’s nothing wrong with that.

The key is to do with Jesus as a Guide and accept the Holy Spirit as the means. It’s okay to be in the world and take action in it. We aren’t metaphysical failures because we’re caring for our children. Or choosing to buy milk instead of homesteading a cow. Or homesteading a cow instead of goats. Or writing on a blog instead of in a College P.R. department. That’s to mistake content for form. The real issue is whether we are actively relying on Jesus – literally turning to him as a model and guide – and whether we are engaging with the Holy Spirit, seeking to rely on spiritual vision rather than the ego’s dim and judgmental physical sight.

Another way of phrasing it is to ask who are our teachers? Are we learning from the ego or from the Holy Spirit? And Jesus? We have to make a choice in this regard. We are always making a choice in this regard.

It’s a process. We’re shifting the nightmare to a happy dream – one of love, one of peace. And we’re the ones who do it because we’re the dreamers. This is an important aspect of miracles: they reestablish our proper role by aligning our thinking with God’s and reminding us who we are and what we can do. They are like lights that show us the way out, each a little brighter than the last.

So this section lifted me. It made me laugh. And it restored a little equilibrium, that calm center in which you can say “it’s all good” and mean it. We can ask questions – all we want – and if we listen, the answer is right there.

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