In his book No Death, No Fear, Thich Nhat Hanh includes a beautiful meditation on Jesus Christ. In effect, he asks us where was Christ before Jesus was born? Where was Christ after Jesus was executed? Where is Christ now?
Jesus Christ is still manifesting in many thousands of ways. He is manifesting himself all around you . . . We need to be alert in order to recognize his manifestations. If you are not mindful or attentive, you will miss his manifestations . . . as a flower, as a drop of water, as a bird song or as a child playing in the grass (93-94).
We must be careful, he writes, not to miss these things.
Of course, Thich Nhat Hanh writes as a Buddhist. His teaching is grounded in Buddhist thought. But I find it interesting nonetheless. I find it helpful. There is a clarity to his insight that is practical and reassuring. Tara Singh used to say to his ACIM students, Tomorrow I will teach from the Koran and you will all leave.
The Truth is not hiding in this or that form of truth.
As I write – at this moment – I gaze out the window at the dogwood tree. It’s flowers are turning yellow and falling to the ground. The ones that remain tremble in the rainy breeze.
Am I looking at a tree or am I looking at Christ?
My answer – as a student of A Course in Miracles – is that it depends. If I am looking with Jesus, who sees beyond form and who does not render all things into this and that, better and worse, bigger and smaller, then I see Christ.
If I am looking with the ego – which seeks only confirmation of fracture and death – then I am seeing a tree whose leaves are dying in anticipation of the long dark and chilly days of winter.
In a sense, A Course in Miracles invites to take a further step than to merely perceive Christ in what is external. That is a beautiful experience – a holy and sacred experience indeed – but it is not, on its own, the experience of Oneness to which we are being gently led.
Seek not your Self in symbols. There can be no concept that can stand for what you are. What matters it which concept you accept while you perceive a self that interacts with evil, and reacts to wicked things? Your concept of yourself will remain still quite meaningless. And you will not perceive that you can interact but with yourself (T-31.V.15:1-5).
When I name the tree at which my physical eyes look – when I give it colors – when I attach its image to a season – and its season to a feeling – then I am dealing in concepts and images. Please see that there is no crime in this: it can be a very loving gesture. It can be very fruitful.
Yet if I can reach that stage – if I can even be willing to reach that stage – where I accept that I am merely looking at my own projections (and thus with my own self) than I am moving more deeply in the direction of Christ. Why? Because the external becomes nothing more than a screen upon which the mind plays out its guilt and fear. It is not there, save as I ask it to be.
There is no world apart from what you wish, and herein lies your ultimate release. Change your mind on what you want to see, and all the world must change accordingly. Ideas leave not their source (W-pI.132.5:1-3).
Christ is an idea. It did not begin and it does not end. Nor has it left its source. Gaze about and each image of beauty and sacredness that you perceive is but a shadow of the glorious Truth that you both have and are. We are called in this world merely to give ourselves to this simple idea: that freed of the ego’s concepts, and the drives and appetites those concepts beget, there is nothing but the Peace of Christ in fulsome radiance everywhere.