The unhealed healer wants gratitude from his brothers, but he is not grateful to them. That is because he thinks he is giving something to them, and is not receiving something equally desirable in return (T-7.V.7:1-2).
This concept of relationships – giving to get and needing to come out ahead in the bargain – is very stressful. Yet it is also hard to see, especially when it is happening, and it is also hard to relinquish. In the first place, we are habituated to it. And in the second, when we question it, it is seductively logical and sound.
For example, if we sit down at the table and there is only one slice of pie, then you and I cannot both eat it. We are going to have to share it. Or fight over it. Or one of us will say “you eat it” and feel secretly pleased with our righteousness, or bitter that we always have to be the one to take the high road.
In terms of bodies, and in terms of the world bodies inhabit, there is really no way around that outcome.
It is very hard to be consistently and genuinely grateful in that scenario! In truth, we don’t want to be grateful because we are winning at someone else’s expense. And we do want a gratefulness that is not conditional on satisfying the body’s wants and perceived needs. As Bill Thetford once said, there has to be another way.
It is helpful to practice gratefulness, even when we are not feeling it – perhaps especially when we are not feeling it. A focus on gratitude when it seems that things are not working out, can be instructive. We are sick, we can’t pay the bills, someone we love has died, the car won’t start, the rose bush didn’t bloom . . .
When I say “practice” gratitude, what I really mean is simply to notice it. If we can’t find it, it is only because we are actively hiding it, which is a childish (but effective) form of resistance. When attention seeks gratefulness, gratefulness will be found. Why? Because the mind that seeks it is the mind that knows that where it is. And gratitude wants to be found. Gifts always do.
In this way we learn that gratitude does not need to be linked to anything external. There is nothing wrong with being grateful for a sunny day or a friendly email or a homemade molasses cookie or whatever, but gratitude is hardly so limited. It’s like the sky. It’s just there. It’s always there, but we don’t always notice it. Gratitude for what works is like a grain of sand. Gratitude for gratitude’s sake is the whole desert and then some.
When gratitude becomes us, it naturally extends itself. When I am grateful, I am relieved of the drive to get and become. So I am more available to those around me. I am more present and less judgmental. I see what is, rather than what I would have it be. I am not bent on getting something from you. I am not cultivating some gift by which I hope to elicit a certain response from you. I am not dwelling on what you haven’t said or haven’t given.
It is so much easier to be in relationship this way.
Gratitude ends desire’s rampages and the result is life-giving stillness. When we are in the presence of a brother or sister’s gratitude, it is like a weight is lifted from our shoulders. It is like a giant breath too long held is released. This gentle clarity is our reality. This lovingkindness is our home.
The mind we share is shared by all our brothers, and as we see them truly they will be healed. Let your mind shine with mine upon their minds, and by our gratitude to them make them aware of the light in them . . . This is true communion with the Holy Spirit, Who sees the altar of God in everyone, and by bringing it to your appreciation, He calls upon you to love God and His Creation (T-7.V.11:2-3, 6).
Our practice of A Course in Miracles – our learning how to heal and be healed – is enriched when we give attention to gratitude. In particular, we can begin to loosen the notion that it is contingent on anything external. It does not spring into existence because of circumstances the ego deems fortuitous. It is the essence of what we are in truth.
I enjoyed reading your post on Gratitude. Thank You.
I am reminded of my own day and how I experienced Thankfulness and Gratitude in such a unique way. I had the privilege of being drawn into someone’s life as she shared her life story which included a good measure of fear and poverty. And I was grateful that I could see the falseness of the story the ego was projecting out into the world through her. Nothing about it seemed true and real. Instead I saw her as a Brave Soul who walked this world with a big smile on her face no matter what challenges showed up for her to deal with each day. I was sure one day soon she would SEE her own abundance and richness of life which had nothing to do with the material aspects of the world. I was grateful for the reminder that I could contribute in a positive way one conversation at a time. She left with a couple of new perspectives and I left with the assurance that everything in this moment is ABSOLUTELY PERFECT. My whole world is blazing with Gratitude. Infact it’s like a mantle that gently wraps every moment of every day.
With a Grateful Heart,
It’s so nice to hear from you! I love that beautiful story that you share. It reminds me of the importance of seeing our brothers and sisters not as bodies locked in this or that story but as rays of light – sparks of love that rise up in a blaze of Gratitude! It truly is a gift, one that gives without end.
I just wanted to say thank you for your posts.
I came across it this evening after doing a little research on ACIM.
I have been researching everything I can get my hands on for the past year and a half on all different religions. Trying to find the meaning of this life. One that was more like a nightmare about a year and a half ago. I encountered a lot of not-so-nice things. Some may call them demons, witches, monsters and the worst of all, a friend. I was literally on the ledge. One pulled me off. I couldn’t take any more of the circumstances. After leaving with only the clothes on my back, getting to a hospital, then a shelter, then back to my home town a few states away…And then after much reading and counseling, I learned that what I experienced was identical to a cult-like atmosphere. I was so confused. Being a long time Christian, I thought me and God could work this thing out. I dove into Catholicism and read about Buddhism and anything I could get my hands on. I was introduced to something called Unity along the way. I liked it immediately. The positive affirmations etc. And along with reading a lot of books from Super Soul Sunday and meditating with Chopra and Oprah, ACIM seemed to appear around every corner. I finally visited a Unity church last Sunday and there was a guest speaker, Jon Mundy, who has been doing ACIM for 30 years or more. When someone asked him a question about reincarnation, he said, “ACIM is all or nothing” And that scared me. He handed out a little magazine. So I read through it that night and one of the articles stated that they are very similar to Christian Science. So I put it down and got a bit nervous, then started googling it and saw more things about cults. Got a bit nervous again. Prayed. Then, Googled authors I have read, with ACIM. And all my top picks were saying great things about ACIM. Still nervous. Prayed. Stepped away for a day from over-thinking it and today I came across your posts.
I love your approach. The first one I read was about it being a CULT. And It was refreshingly happy to see your responses and perspective. I have been reading a lot of your other blogs all night and the more I read, the more I feel this is my path. The approach you take keeps me reading. And I am excited to get started. I ordered the book through the library a couple weeks ago and am still waiting for it. I wasn’t even sure I was going to pick it up when it came in, but now, I feel I can relax and enjoy it and keep your page on my computer as a guide. You show in a very clear way the correct approach to stepping into ACIM. I am glad I came across your post. I know there are people that will take things too far or far out. I feel you have a very balanced and insightful take on this. I hope more people see it the way you do.
I know I want to be, and am, compassionate and kind and a whole list of other things, including peaceful. I never understood why, as a Christian, we didn’t magically get that way once we “got saved” or baptized or whatever. I am starting to understand little bits at a time how we just need to get out of our own way. I think a lot of the answers I have been looking for will start to appear. I am not going to go crazy looking for them. But just let it be. And I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to write these blogs and always being so kind, even when people are not so kind.
I am learning more each day and hope to have a better view of things once I dive into the book. But while I am waiting for it to come in, I will continue reading your posts. It’s nice to see kindness in action. And it will give me a bit of an intro to my new path.
And God Bless you and your writings,
Thank you for writing. I’m glad you are finding something helpful here. I have been very fortunate over the years to have met good friends and teachers along the way. They lift and support me. You too!
There are so many ways to think about these questions – the meaning of life, how to be happy, what does it mean to have a body, live in a world and so forth. For me, after many years of searching, A Course in Miracles turned out to the most practical and helpful of those ways. It’s not for everyone. But for me, it was the way.
I think that Jon is right, in the sense that we turn to the course and just do it. Read the text, do the lessons, and so forth. We can explore a lot of paths but in the end, we have to choose one and walk it. It’s scary in a way, but it’s also how we get home.
Anyway, I’m glad that some of what I write here is helpful. And I appreciate your kind words very much. Let me know how your study and practice of the course goes. I am here – I’m grateful you’re here, too!