In many ways, our problem is our investment in improvement, in becoming something other or better than what we already are. We state that we are broken – take it on faith, really – and then set about making it all better. We pray, we meditate, we exercise, we do yoga, we read this or that spiritual writer. Our sincerity is beside the point. When we are in a state of becoming, our identity – what we might call our “isness” – is obscured. It is like trying to get a handle on a painting while it tumbles down a hill or falls over a cliff. The energy of change forever blocks the peace that is our natural inherence.
The problem can be quite acute, especially when we begin to sense its operation and then question its necessity and efficacy. Improvement is the problem and so we decide to be the sort of people who aren’t improving. We work very hard at not becoming which is itself becoming. We realize that improvement is not helpful and so we set about getting rid of it which is – wait for it – itself an improvement.
And so at last we see that we are faced not with a problem to be solved but rather a paradox that cannot be solved, at least not by any means at our disposal. What should – really what can – we do?
The way out of conflict between two opposing thought systems is clearly to choose one and relinquish the other. If you identify with your thought system, and you cannot escape this, and if you accept two thought systems which are in complete disagreement, peace of mind is impossible (T-6.V.B.5:1-2).
The egoic thought system – our default state – teaches that we are broken. The healed mind knows that we remain as God created us – perfectly whole and true. The ego concedes that we can be whole and perfect and true but assures us we aren’t there yet. It then proceeds to set us on a course of improvement and becoming that it promises will result in the perfection. And of course it never works. The ego’s view of perfection is like the horizon – it remains forever distant. We never arrive.
I have come to see the egoic thought system not as a malevolent enemy but more of a well-intentioned but hopelessly misinformed and naive child. It doesn’t matter whether it wants to save us or not because it can’t. It doesn’t know how. And so it guesses and it chides and it whines and it prevaricates. And we in turn coddle it and nurture it and praise it and so forth when all the while, what is needed on all counts is simply for someone to pay attention in a serious and sustained way. What works? What doesn’t? What is needed? What is extraneous?
There can be no conflict between sanity and insanity. Only one is true, and therefore only one is real. The ego tries to persuade you that it is up to you to decide which voice is true, but the Holy Spirit teaches you that truth was created by God, and your decision cannot change that (T-6.V.B.6:1-3).
It is not up to us to decide what is true and what is real. That is already settled. If we are willing to accept that, we will experience such profound relief! We are not really on a journey, we only think that we are. More importantly, there is a teacher – a guide – within us whose direction is so loving and sure that mistake and delay of any kind are impossible if we will only listen to it.
Thus, our practice of A Course in Miracles really boils down to this listening – this attentiveness. We need to become aware of what is going on in an internal way. That awareness will naturally inspire inquiry – what is helpful and what is not, what is the goal and what are the obstructions. And finally, that inquiry will naturally reveal the truth – the ground – that underlies our seeking. Beyond the mess and seeming complexity of our physical and psychological lives is a vibrant stillness in which change is not possible. We are of that stillness and it, in turn, is of us. No division is contemplated; none is attempted.
Such is salvation’s call, and nothing more. It asks that you accept the truth, and let it go before you, lighting up the path of ransom from illusion. It is not a ransom with a price. There is no cost, but only gain. Illusion can but seem to hold in chains the holy Son of God. It is but from illusions that he is saved. As they step back, he finds himself again (W-pI.155.8:1-7).
The less you do, the more you will gain, and everyone will gain along with you. We are very near to Heaven! And all our brothers and sisters wait on this smallest of steps. Even now we are being urged to take it – not alone but together. If you listen – if you will – the quiet call will be clear at last.