Service, Looking Within and A Course in Miracles

For a long time when I “looked within” I closed my eyes and tried to concentrate on an area in the vicinity of my physical heart. Maybe sometimes the brain. It was as if there was a little pinprick of light buried deep in one of those organs and that light, that spark was God. The harder I looked within, the tighter I scrunched my eyes! I’m not saying it was entirely fruitless – well-intentioned prayer never is – but for me there are better ways. Over the past year or so I have brought to bear a new way of looking within and it has nothing to do with my eyes or my heart or my brain. It is called service.

If we want to wake up, we have to begin where we are and with what’s available. Salvation is like being stranded on a desert island. You wish you had a boat or a radio but you don’t. So you start by learning how to harvest coconut milk. You build a hut against the weather. You wait and you pray and you wait some more. Isn’t this beach just wonderful?!

More and more I learn that “understanding” A Course in Miracles, while nominally helpful, is hardly the big deal it’s made out to be in some circles. Understand it or don’t understand it, you are still loved by God. You are still being guided back to Heaven. What counts is our ability to bring the principles of the Course into application – and that is very very difficult. For me it is. If we are being rigorously honest with ourselves – a prerequisite for awakening – then we have to see how hard it is for us to be kind, to be gentle, and to be entirely without motives. The human brain, which modulates our life in this world, is wired for survival. It is very good at this. We are always thinking about how to get more for ourselves and how to protect what we already have. We are always dividing the world into us and the other. The deeper you go, the clearer this becomes.

A Course in Miracles will undo all that. It will undo it in a profound way. Personality will literally end – the lovelessness of I’m special and you’re not. I’m this and you’re that. Loving one’s children more than the neighbor’s children and caring more for those children than those half a globe away . . . . that kind of special love would disappear. Trusting God completely means that the impulse to survive is over. We don’t have to take thought for tomorrow. There’s nothing outside this moment. But how many of us are there?

It’s not enough to know that’s the goal. It’s not enough to be really eloquent is writing or preaching it. Words are just shadows of the direct experience of Truth. As my practice deepens, I find myself asking Jesus: how do I get past myself? How do I let this “me” go?

His answer is almost always some variation of “serve somebody.”

I know it’s a truthful and helpful answer because of how quickly and utterly I resist it. “Uh, I’m not actually a servant. I’m more of a prince. A marquis maybe. Service is so . . . menial. I want the grandeur of Heaven and I’d like it in worldly terms.”

We are always asking Jesus if he has any other plans! Isn’t it true?

But knowing the futility of resistance, and being committed in my own stumbling way to waking up now, I try to heed. I try to serve. And I learn that service begins in willingness. It begins in asking Jesus for specific guidance: who needs help, what kind and when? Remember the beginning of one of the earliest prayers in the text?

I am here only to be truly helpful.
I am here to represent Him Who sent me (T-2.V.18.8:2-3).

So it is our function to serve. Set aside the metaphysics, the chatter about happy dreams and nightmares, the personality of this teacher and that one. Right now you believe you are here in this world and it is a world in which many of your brothers and sisters are sad and hurt and lonely and confused. To serve them is to love them. It is to bring the love of Christ, which is your inheritance, to them. Your awakening is intimately related to their awakening. You hasten both when you let Jesus use you to help others.

It is always amusing to see how much progress “we” make when we forget about making progress and focus on somebody else. Maybe it’s listening to a student who needs somebody to empathize with their difficult home life. Maybe it’s a child who really really needs an adult to make a puzzle with her and do it without talking or rushing. Maybe it’s the neighbor who needs a hand mowing the lawn because she’s got a sick kid. Maybe it’s your office mate who needs somebody to laugh at his jokes. Maybe it’s the old cat who needs extra patting. Maybe it’s the waitress who needs somebody to say, “you’re doing a great job and we’re in no rush.” Maybe somebody needs you to pray for them.

One thing I’ve learned, there is no shortage of opportunities to help others once I let Jesus call the shots. I just say, “Jesus, you’re better at this servant thing than I am. What do you want me to do here?” And bam! We’re ready to go.

And do you know what happens when we serve? We turn within. We see inside.

Looking within is unrelated to physical sight. It is also unrelated to space and matter. Instead, it is a way of directly experiencing Love. We say “looking within” and we are really talking about experiencing our Christ nature. Service undoes the focus we place on our selves – as bodies, as personalities, as special people. We tend to our brothers and sisters and as they are healed we are healed because we are actively loving.

Release from guilt as you would be released. There is no other way to look within and see the light of love, shining as steadily and as surely as God Himself has always loved His Son. And as His Son loves Him (T-13.X.10:1-3).

Can we come to that service that is an extension of God’s love? It is devoid of personality and has no taint of self-righteousness to it. It flows effortlessly because it is not really from us. Rather, it flows through us as trusting and obedient followers of Jesus. It is kindness offered for no other reason than that divine kindness is continually offered to us. We retain it – we enlarge its healing capacity – by giving it to others.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” said Mary, when she asked to bear God’s son. You don’t have to believe literally Luke’s gospel to see the willingness, the faith and the trust that is implicit in her words. Let it be our statement, too, as students of A Course in Miracles, as followers of Jesus. The need for servants is great and the call to serve goes out all the time. Would you answer? How will you answer? Salvation resides in our Yes.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • SALLY NAVE June 3, 2012, 10:12 pm

    Dear Sean,
    Doing a Search on my new 18 month life at 81, on ACIM, I came across your site and I deeply sensed my Mind’s Real life connection with the natural way that ‘He’ uses you and your style.

    I was raised no religion and after my teen age joining of a fundamentalist church, followed by 32 years as devout Roman Catholic, and after I left all religions and persued New Age, then Buddhism and Taoism. All this experience caused me to think “I may as well choose one of these as nothing seems to have the WHOLE TRUTH that I’ve been longing for forever, it seems.
    I had totally overlooked that in my 40s at my job, a co worker offered me some strange cassettes and cards that I politely returned and again in my 60s on a Bird Watching trip, in a coffe shoppe I asked a young man what he was reading in a Blue book that he, alone, was deeply engrossed in and he looked up at me with sweet smile and said ” It’s A Couse In Miracles”; so I proceeded to my daughter’s table for breakfast before returning to home. And even that did not sink in my thick skull. BUT in Aug. 2010 a daughter in Prescott called and I asked if she had read anything good lately and she mentioned, with very little commetnt, ‘The Disappearnce of the Universe’. Because I thought it was Science, I ordered it from the Library and that’s my story of how patient and loving God is to continue casting the line and hook to me, that I never took for so many years.

    Just finishing reading the ‘Service, Looking Within and ACIM’ my Joy was manifesting as streams of tears, as this day, in my own verbally clumsy way, I’ve been trying to connect with Jesus while being unable to come up with the words that I relally wanted. So I gave up and got out of bed at 10am, due to his Idea that I felt sure he gave me, for a goal of finishing my large family MemoryBook. Yet, in spite of a tiny not good sensing, that I pushed away, I began my day, with asking his Guidance in what to read in Text. The pages opened to a place in Ch. 1 or 2 where he spoke of Miracles and how I am to let him guide me. Not remembering from my past reading all my red underlining, I was surprised to read how strong Jesus was in saying he’s UNwilling to accept our errors or that of others, and the meaning started the wheels turning in my Mind of the 2 Monthly Volunteer Jobs I have taken on here at the Sr. Community where I live with 152 other apartments. As you mentioned with my unkind and unloving thoughts, I felt very uncomfortable with the 4-6 ‘sisters/brothers’ and lady Minister who spoke of the many Bible teachings that Jesus Teaches us are not correctly understood by all Religions + the Residents Birthday Party that I often thought when the leader gets gruff with the residents, ‘Why am I here?’ And gradually in recent days, and now with JUST reading your article on Service, Holy Spirit has shown me personally, HOW He wants to use me in these 2 jobs; by lovingly seeing each of them as innocent and displaying quietly His Love through me to towards them, and allowing them individually find their own way Home to God in the way that is right for them now.
    When you spoke of that wonderful flow, I have noticed for years something helping with my life and I began calling it the ‘Sacred Flow’ and it brings such happiness to me, I felt it as I read your example.
    With the LOVE of Gratitude for being Guided to your Thoughts,
    and His Peace and contentment to you and your family,
    Sally Nave ( I will not write such long emails after this one)

  • Sean June 4, 2012, 5:19 pm

    Hi Sally,

    Thank you so much! I love that story about finding your way to the Course. It was floating on the perimeter of my life for many many years before I allowed it in. But there are no mistakes and I’m sure it is here for you and I when we need it – which is when we can use it most to help others. It’s still really hard for me. I slip into “me and mine” so naturally. I know exactly what you mean when you talk about annoying people – people who are getting God a different way, people who are rude or impatient. Why can’t everyone be loving on my terms!

    Anyway – I’m so happy you wrote. It is always nice to know someone is out there reading and that they find this or that post helpful. You are right when you talk about the way He uses me and my style. Yours too! Maybe that is what I really meant to say about service – that we just hand our whole self over and say, “use it. Whatever I can do – however I can do it, just do it for me.” Total giving.

    Anyway, thank you so much for your note. It made me very happy.

    with love –


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