The Unfailing Mercy of God

One of the ideas I am seeing and engaging is that thought has relative value – within a certain framework, say – but not beyond or outside that framework. And – importantly – that the framework itself is valueless.

So, for example, thought is useful when I wake up and think about my day. It reminds me that my daughter was a little sick at bedtime and so I want to pay attention to that today. It is my turn to make breakfast, we have to go to the dump before the snow starts at noon, I have several drafts of research papers that need to be read and critiqued.

Thought is helpful in the framework of life in this body and this world. That is its relative value.

But I don’t want to simply be skillful in the context of this body and this world. I want to be kind and helpful, yes, but my real interest (I say that carefully, of course, because we can always lie to ourselves and I am hardly above or beyond that) is in awakening. I want to be saved, know Heaven, realize Atman, enter Nirvana et cetera. Is thought – are egoic thought patterns and habits – helpful in that regard?

In other words, can their relative value expand in order to undo the structure in which they have that value?

A Course in Miracles suggests the answer is no because ego and spirit are not in communication.

They are opposed in source, in direction and in outcome. They are fundamentally irreconcilable, because spirit cannot perceive and the ego cannot know (T-4.I.2:10-11).

This makes intuitive experiential sense to me. I do not beat myself up for driving to school and teaching and coming home and cooking dinner and playing with the kids and walking the dog and getting a good night’s sleep and so forth.

But those experiences are not in and of themselves conducive to awakening. To the degree I am looking for salvation in them, then to that degree I am going to miss salvation. Healing has to come from outside that dream.

Thus, in the course, Jesus specifically emphasizes that we not overlook how real dream of separation is to us.

You cannot undo it by not changing your mind about it. If you are willing to renounce the role of guardian of your thought system and open it to me, I will correct it very gently and lead you back to God (T-4.I.4:6-7).

That sounds lovely and straightforward on the one hand but on the other, not so much. Obviously there is a level at which we deeply resist this sacred invitation. Why? Because the egoic self – with which we are both infatuated and invested – sees nothing but death in Jesus’ words.

Another way to say this is to say that thought – ego – cannot conceive of what lies beyond it. It cannot see what it cannot see.

In his dialogues with David Bohm (I am looking at those in The Ending of Time),  Krishnamurti talks about what a shock it is to see this, really see this.

I realize at the end of it all there is no relationship between me and truth . . . it is as if you have knocked me out, because my million years of experience say, go after that, seek it, pray for it, struggle for it, sacrifice for it. I have done all that. And suddenly it is pointed out that I cannot have any relationship with that (105).

Krishnamurti is using different (less specific) language than the course but the point is the same: we are not going to be healed on terms that make sense to the ego and that includes the whole shebang: this self with its accumulated history and narrative, this spiritual path we have chosen and so arduously walk, this world in which we seem to act and be acted upon. Spirit – God – Truth – is unrelated to all that.

Here is how the course describes this moment of insight:

The roads this world can offer seem to be quite large in number, but the time must come when every one begins to see how like they are to one another. Men have died on seeing this, because they saw no way except the pathways offered by the world. And learning they led nowhere, lost their hope (T-31.IV.3:3-5).

So are we willing to go to that space? And to simply be there – no matter how scary and painful and hopeless it seems to get – trusting that Jesus (that grace-filled symbol of Love) will be there too?

Forgive yourself your madness, and forget all senseless journeys and all goal-less aims. They have no meaning. You can not escape from what you are. For God is merciful, and did not let His Son abandon Him (T-31.IV.11:1-4).

How justified our faith in God’s mercy! And how sure and uncompromised our place in God . . .

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • janine December 14, 2013, 4:12 pm

    Dear Sean,
    Thx again for your beautiful contemplations. I struggle regularly with my self made image and I very often am aware of the fear that trying to let it go can generate. Sometimes the Course feels to me as if I am in the middle of happily cooking dinner for all my loved ones and I am being asked to drop everything and let it all be and just go, trusting all is well. Without any doubt it is an ego trick again (fear) but what I think that holds me back is this very subtle fear of becoming careless, ruthless whatever when I stop thinking and simply surrender. I can easily rationalize my way through it but need to remind myself aganin and again. Funny in a way because the underlying belief must be that I think I am important for the well being of my loved ones. I am sure we all are but not as result of a silly belief. Thx for your insightful review,

    my warm regards

  • Cheryl December 15, 2013, 8:03 am

    When I began this journey with the Course six years ago the phrase “A River Runs Through it” began showing up in my life, very literally, but in different contexts. At the beginning, I merely took note and delighted in the synchronicity: the novel and movie, of course; the title of a New Yorker column; a sign on the banks of Oak Creek in Sedona, next to the bench where I chose to sit. Now I am seeing it differently. But, of course, I am still relying on thought, using assumptions, to interpret its meaning.

    But I sense an opening, a very slight shift in my willingness to step into the flow while still holding on to a tree branch of thought. The metaphor has new and deeper meaning. This is a roundabout way of saying, after reading this blog, Sean, I clicked on the underlined words “kind and helpful,” and it took me on a journey of sorts, into the flow of your writing. And, this morning, it brought me here:

    “So again, we do not have to do anything other than pay attention. This is going to be challenging at first, but sooner than most people realize or expect, its benefits emerge. Some light enters and once there is light, the darkness is undone. So we begin to see that we can do this – we can pay attention – and we see that to which we pay attention isf forever new, forever unfolding. And in a sort of penultimate sense, we see at last that even our attention is unfolding – is part of the whole enfoldment. Like water rushing down hill for the slow-streaming river, what we are doing is natural and even easy. We might even say, it is.”

    And I got it. Something clicked. In a new way. I don’t know how long I will stay there or where the flow will take me next, but I wanted to offer, once again, my gratitude to you for these words, the ones that come through Spirit, that help me see.

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