We picture ourselves crucified. Condemned unjustly, whipped and beaten and forced to drag our cross through dusty streets. We suffer nails driven through our hands and feet so we can hoisted up, left to dangle in agony before jeering passersby until death drops its heavy black curtain.
Over and over we play this – this passion play, this fantasy crucifixion. We are not treated fairly by the boss or the teacher. We don’t get paid enough. Our kids don’t respect us. Our wife or husband is always asking more than we can reasonably give. Supper is too hot. Breakfast was too cold. The movie is too loud. The traffic is too thick. It always rains when we plan a picnic.
And it is never ever our fault. That is the essence of this all-important picture. We are innocent; the world is cruel and unfair and out to get us. Our brothers and sisters torture and torment us. Wittingly or unwittingly they wield the whip, heft the hammer, raise the cross. As victims, we proclaim our innocence. By consenting to a narrative in which others are always evil and thus worthy of condemnation, we justify attack. We get to have our righteousness cake and eat it, too.
The only problem is that it doesn’t work. The very premise – that our suffering is ours alone – is wrong. We are in this crucifixion thing together.
You cannot crucify yourself alone. And if you are unfairly treated, [your brother or sister] must suffer the unfairness that you see. You cannot sacrifice yourself alone (T-27.I.1:5-7).
Can we make contact with that inside us that longs to suffer? To play the victim? To be put upon or ignored or mistreated? If we can, then can we also see that this longing is not merely that we suffer but that somebody or something else be responsible? You don’t have to get metaphysical about it. Calmly observe your thoughts and feelings. See if it isn’t so.
This fantasy – that we can be set apart or made special in suffering, like lambs driven to the butcher’s block – is only possible when we insist on identifying as bodies tethered to the physical world. But if we let that go, even a little, what happens?
[W]hat you really are cannot be seen nor pictured . . . Show this unto your brother, who will see that every scar is healed, and every tear is wiped away in laughter and in love (T-27.I.5:2,5).
A Course in Miracles abides no equivocation. There is no middle ground and no settlement wherein we take a little bit of Heaven and a little bit of hell and call it a day. If we see ourselves on the cross, then we have condemned ourselves and all of our brothers and sisters. Period. How hard this is! How seemingly hopeless. We have given ourselves to the rule of death.
It is not will for life but wish for death that is the motivation for this world. Its only purpose is to prove guilt real. No worldly thought or act or feeling has a motivation other than this one (T-27.I.6:3-5).
It is so clear and uncompromising! And yet to be free, all we have to do is be willing to see it. We do not have to change it or amend it in any way. We want only to get clear about cause – it is inside of us, not outside.
We might think of the Holy Spirit as a sort of interior light. It is our healed mind and has never known division, never accepted pain, never demanded of anyone that they suffer. We are called only to make contact with it and allow its radiance to shine away every scrap of illusory meaning and purpose from which we have culled both self and world. There is no other way. We loosen our grip on our picture of crucifixion and another picture emerges.
The Holy Spirit’s picture changes not the body into something it is not. It only takes away from it all signs of accusation and of blamefulness (T-27.I.9:3-4).
And so emptied of the desire to attack – especially under the guise of innocence – the body simply reflects the interior light. It becomes the channel of the Holy Spirit. It forgets the past and holds no thought for the future. None of this is our doing. We might say it out loud as an idea, or read it in a text (T-27.I.11:4) and say, oh yes. That’s right. That’s me. But that is a lie. Better to be honest and say we don’t know how to be happy, how to be loving, how to undo the heavy clouds that obstruct our vision of a healed world. Better to acknowledge that we like to suffer and we like to blame others for it. That works for us.
But even acknowledging all that, accepting it, we can say too – perhaps we can see it now – that this pattern of despair, this habit of crucifixion say, is not worthy of us. It binds us to the anguish of the world, to the frailty of the body, and to the fleeting pleasures we scavenge before toppling into the grave. It is not what we would offer each other. On some level, that is true, isn’t it? That seeing – that little spark of desire that another way reveal itself, just the possibility – is sufficient.
We don’t end it – not the suffering, not the longing to suffer and not the desire to hold others responsible for the suffering. We simply see the futility of it and so glimpse beyond the darkness the clear light of truth. Thus is the body healed and thus does it heal.
Let [the body] receive the power to represent an endless life, forever unattacked. And to your brother let its message be, “Behold me, brother, at your hand I live (T-27.I.10:6-7).”
How different that message is from the one we have made and daily embrace, to our sorrow and the sorrow of those we could save and be saved by. And yet some part of us lifts at the thought, rises to the vision: the better way that is forever here. It is love, and it is now, and it lays no body on a cross.