The Little Willingness

Few sections of the text are as succinct as Chapter Eighteen’s “The Little Willingness.” I often say that one can “get” A Course in Miracles simply by working LessonsĀ 79 and 80. This brief rumination on the role willingness plays in awakening has a similar effect. If we can realize what it teaches, then the game is over. We’re home.

The section draws a clear distinction between intention and willingness. They are not the same and they yield radically different effects.

Trust not your good intentions. They are not enough. But trust implicitly your willingness, whatever else may enter (T-18.IV.2:1-3).

And then later in the same paragraph, the relationship between intention and doing, or becoming, is made similarly clear.

Come to it not in arrogance, assuming that you must achieve the state its coming brings with it. The miracle of the holy instant lies in your willingness to let it be what it is. And in your willingness for this lies also your acceptance of yourself as you were meant to be. (T-18.IV.2:7-9).

It is not an exaggeration to say that these simple instructions are the heart of A Course in Miracles: we are called simply to be willing. Everything else is a hindrance.

And yet . . .

Resistance rears its head! It always does. We are so addicted – I think that is really the best word – to our own becoming, our own effort. We think that what is true needs us in order to be true. We think that we have to do something to achieve enlightenment – sit on a zafu a few hours a day for decades on end, not eat meat, become celibate, read the gospel, go to therapy, be super happy, write poetry, raise kids, own a farm, tap on our meridian points, see a doctor, start a business . . .

And all the while, truth is true and goes on around us. It’s just there. It’s like moonlight or the wind in the pines. It’s not our doing. It relies on us not one bit. But we can realize it. We can experience it.

In a way, it is like doing a sort of spiritual limbo dance. How low can you go? How much self can you release? The more you let go, the closer to the ground of God and Heaven you get. But we don’t want to let go – or only let go a little – because we’re scared to fall. If we’re not this self – with this history, this family, this house, this political alignment, this spiritual practice – then what are we?

It is really scary! And there is no way to deal with it but to let go and pass through it. And only you can do it!

So on a practical level, look at your resistance. Look at what you refuse to release. That is all willingness is – the capacity to look at what is without expectation or judgment. You don’t have to fix your resistance. You simply have to see it clearly and wholly. That is all. That is the practice of A Course in Miracles – that is what forgiveness means. We are simply looking at what blocks our awareness of love’s presence. We don’t remove the blocks, we don’t scale the blocks, we don’t do anything but see them.

When we see a thing clearly, then it is undone. This is not our doing. It is a simply a condition of seeing what is True. The false falls away with no effort on our part. All we have to do is pay attention.

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