A Course in Miracles directs us to what is most natural – the acceptance of our being as the extension of God’s love, which love is gratefully and automatically extended. God is being and being is known through sharing. There is no effort or strain involved in this state at all. In fact, all the strain – and worry and fear and anxiety and guilt and stress – that we experience is the direct result of avoiding that state at all costs. We deny ourselves Heaven at a great price. The cost is not that Heaven is lost – it cannot be lost, because it is all there is and it is everywhere – but that we are simply fighting ourselves, expending all our energy in a war for an illusion that in truth we do not even want. Grace allows us to decide otherwise. It is also the result of choosing otherwise.
We cannot truly wake up until we come to terms with the truth that we do not want to wake up. We want the ego. We made it and we identify with it and we are not going to give it up either quietly or gently. This lesson is hard to accept, because it flies in the face of what we consider our good intentions. Yet our good intentions are inherently untrustworthy. Not that they can’t from time to time yield good. They can and they do. But by their very nature – good not bad – they ensure the continuation of the dualistic thought system that blocks awakening. We have to go beyond them, to what has no need of distinguishing good from bad because it knows only love without qualification or exception.
We see that maybe. Or we intuit it. The Course suggests we evaluate the success we’re having with the ego’s belief system and it advises us to use great honesty in the process. If we do, we are likely to admit that the ego’s rule has brought us only ruin and depression. We are miserable. This is always the starting point of miracles. It is what Bill Thetford said to Helen Schucman. “There has to be a better way.” We can come to this realization over and over. There is a better way and we are being taught it all the time if we can only listen.
Don’t pay attention to the world and its laws, counsels the Holy Spirit. They are designed to hinder you. They were made to raise doubt and nurture fear and spread guilt. There is no middle ground here, which can be a real problem for us if we’re not careful. Salvation isn’t half-hearted. It’s not a cafeteria where we take a little of this and a little of that and call it a meal. We are either in or we’re out and if we’re out an inch, then we’re out a mile. We’re all the way gone.
The world teaches us that kind of thinking is nonsense. There are degrees and shades everywhere. Just look at a thermometer. Look at your experience – sometimes you are a little annoyed and sometimes you are royally angry. Sometimes you’re rested and sometimes you’re tired. Some people are generous and some are stingy. It’s harder to climb a mountain than to step over a small rock. And so on. Everything we perceive in the world testifies to this. We see the form – the people, the landscape, the emotions – and they all testify to the law that everything is relative. Then the Course arrives in our lives and it seems confusing at best or dangerously misguided at worst. So we equivocate. We take those lessons that make sense, and gently disregard those that do not. We skip over the confusing or challenging parts of the text and dwell on those that confirm our comfort zone.
We can go a long time in this mode – confusing the illusion of progress with Heaven. The ego is perfectly happy to throw us crumbs in order to keep us from contemplating the greater banquet. And we’re happy to take them. Undoing the whole world – upending its laws – trying to live in a dualistic world with a non-dualistic mindset . . . what can that be but sacrifice? What is it but discomfort? No God who loves us would allow such a state. There must be an alternative.
There must be an alternative to God . . . That is the ego’s favorite idea! That is how it came into being and that is how it maintains its being. Once we utter it, the ego leaps in because it is always ready to argue that it is the alternative, it is the solution. It’s got a better idea – it always has a better idea. It can help us find a way through the confused and weary and hateful world, scavenging a few shreds of joy and fleeting moments of peace. But then we are back at the beginning, right? Because soon enough, we aren’t satisfied and we begin to think – again – there must be a better way . . .
And so we come back over and over to this place. We come back to that state where we are lost and confused and lonely and tired and fed up. And again the Holy Spirit speaks to us. Again we are called to that wholeness of mind that is what we are in truth and has never changed and will never change. And we go a few steps in that direction – maybe more than a few – and the egoic voice grows shrill and fearful and crazed and so maybe we turn back but maybe this time we don’t. Maybe in all that screeching we still hear the Holy Spirit’s still voice. Maybe we just remember it. And so we keep going. It is grace that leads us home. And grace that is our home. It’s okay that today it makes no sense. You aren’t ruining anything. You aren’t destroying your last chance to be saved. Just try again. Maybe pray on your knees. Maybe walk in the woods. Maybe just sip some tea and listen to a friend. Bake some bread for someone you love. Tell a joke. Find a way to smile and laugh. There is a memory there that will serve you well, because it is the memory of the Kingdom of the Heaven, and when you hold that memory and don’t surrender it to the ego, you will see at last that you are saved here and now. Knowing it, you will share it. Sharing it, you will affirm and reaffirm it. In that affirmation – that grateful yes – you will be at last fully and completely restored to your rightful place in the mind of God.