So much practice – that word itself is problematic – is based on becoming. We observe that something is wrong – we are unhappy, unsatisfied, unenlightened – and we want to change it. And it is our sense that there is an “I,” an egoic self, that is capable of making that change. Indulging that self – pursuing that change – always leads to depression or sadness because it is illusion predicated on illusion. The first illusion is that something is wrong and the second is that we can change it in the future.
It is very hard to break out of this pattern. Every thought in our mind and every observation of the external world is quickly sucked into it. Really, when we want to break out of it – or try and break out of it – we are solidifying it. A Course in Miracles teaches that every miracle is nothing more than the end of an illusion (T-19.IV.A.6:8). We need a miracle to change our mind. We cannot do it ourselves.
The idea of becoming – be it smarter, or healthier, or wiser or whatever – is deeply associated with time. The two cannot exists apart from one another. We see ourselves as distinct points evolving along a line. It might be helpful to question that in terms of its usefulness. Does it bring us peace? Does it bring us joy? If it doesn’t, might it be a faulty proposition? Is it possible that there is another way to think?
If we are serious about studying A Course in Miracles, then the answer to that last question must be yes. As momentous as it may seem, we really do need to make contact with new structures of thought. The challenge is how to do that. If you have a one room shack you cannot simply dismantle it and build a castle with the materials. You need a fresh approach – the whole thing has to be made new.
Awareness is curative, at least a little – awareness of everything as it arises. Let’s say that awareness doesn’t judge – it doesn’t separate all that comes into its ambit as good or bad. It has no degrees to it – I like this a little and I like that a lot and I hate this a little and hate that a great deal. If we are honest, then we might say that awareness – defined the way we defined it – is not possible. That’s not how the mind works. It’s not how the mind evolved. If we aren’t naming everything and assigning it a value, then we won’t be able to survive. It’s just how the mind works.
But the course suggests – via lyrical metaphor – that there is a way out of the mind’s apparently rigid system. We need to “send forth only the messengers of the Holy Spirit (T-19.IV.A.I.i.15:1). If we can do that – whatever it means – then we are going to have a different experience. The world of the egoic self – in which fear and guilt drive us to fragmentation, ensuring more guilt and fear, and thus locking us into a cyclical misery – will disappear.
The world will be transformed before your sight, cleansed of all guilt and softly brushed with beauty. The world contains no fear that you laid not upon it (T-19.IV.A.I.i.15:2-3).
I said earlier that this is lyrical and metaphorical – it comes from the section The Obstacle to Peace which I find simultaneously one of the most helpful and exasperating sections of the course. What does it mean to send forth the Holy Spirit’s messengers? What are they? Who sends them? And how? Sometimes I wish Helen Schucman had stood down on the poetic language of the course in favor of something simpler and more direct.
To understand this issue – dissolving existing patterns of thought, communication with the Holy Spirit and all that – it is helpful to refresh our understanding of how the course defines and views the Holy Spirit. First, according to the 38th principle of miracles, the Holy Spirit is the “mechanism of miracles.
We have to take note of that principle. The miracle, which ends illusion, is facilitated by the Holy Spirit because of his “ability to perceive totally rather than selectively.” In other words, the Holy Spirit’s vision is of a united whole. That vision brings peace. Any inclination to perceive separation – this and that, good and bad – comes from the ego. It breaks what is one into many parts and pits them against one another. It is unnatural and painful and can yield at best but a temporary and unpredictable respite from the violence that is its foundation.
The Holy Spirit is in our mind – as the ego is an idea about the self, one to which we are deeply wedded and altogether invested, the Holy Spirit resides there as well, forever an alternative to our habitual mode of destructive thought (e.g. T-3.VI.7:4 and T-4.IV.11:2). So this business of sending forth messengers of love is not something that happens outside us – we aren’t inviting some mysterious energy force into our lives. Rather, we are recognizing what is already there. And our recognition of the Holy Spirit is all that is needed to activate its graceful seeing. If we want it, we’ve got it.
I know that is easier said than done. I often think in this regard of optical illusions. Are you familiar with this one?
It looks like lines but then suddenly you see the letters – and you see the name that is “hidden.” But the name is not really hidden – it is there, we are simply not trained to recognize it. Once we do make contact it, it is easier and easier to find it. And after a while, it ceases to be an illusion at all. We just see what is.
I think that discerning the Holy Spirit’s presence in our thoughts – in our mind – can be like that. We search and search and the harder and longer we search, the more frustrated we become. But when we relax a little – when we trust it’s there – then it is revealed. Again, not so much through effort as through a sort of letting go, an easing into what is there, even if we can’t make it out yet.
We have the capacity to bring miracles to illusions – and to end the hell implied by illusion – because we can always choose to see with – to think with – the Holy Spirit. It is within us – that peace, that grace, that love, that gentleness. We are not separate from it. Can we ease into that? Are we ready?