I am one Self, united with my Creator (Lesson 95)
Salvation comes from my one Self (Lesson 96)
Conflict arises in separation. Indeed, it is the essence of separation, the means by which it functions. Somebody has something we want – a piece of pie, a dollar bill, a pretty hat – and so we become covetous and greedy. We plot. Or else we are worried that somebody wants what we have, and therefore we have to make a plan for its defense.
Aggression and violence, offense and defense, winning and losing, and sacrifice and suffering all come into play when we believe that separation and its effects are real. When separation is the way we see the world, grief is the only outcome we can depend on.
The antidote to this gri situation – the only truly effective one – is to realize that separation is an illusion because we are “one Self,” united with our Creator (W-pI.113.1:1). We are healed when we remember that “serenity and perfect peace are mine, because I am one Self, completely whole, at once with all creation and with God” (W-pI.113.1:2).
Our experience of bodies and the world they inhabit – and the cosmos giving birth to both – is that we are separate, and that our joining is always in pursuit of shared interests and can be broken off at any time. We have friends, tribes and peers which necessitate opponents and enemies.
But A Course in Miracles offers us a more radical way of seeing experience: as a unity in which there are no differences but only sameness.
In this light, our brothers and sisters (broadly defined to include salmon, Ginkgo Biloba trees and snowflakes) become reflections of a fundamental equality that can only beget peace.
Think what a holy relationship can teach! Here is a belief in differences undone. Here is the faith in differences shifted to sameness. And here is sight of differences transformed to vision. Reason can now lead you and your brother to the logical conclusion of your union (T-22.In.4:1-5).
It is this vision – born in the holy relationship, itself born in our willingness to no longer suffer nor contribute to the suffering of others – that allows us to see clearly the fulfillment of God’s perfect plan for our salvation (W-pI.113.2:2). Our “Self” is not the personal individual with its family history, its career, its hobbies and its goals but rather the unified Self extended in Creation. We have no enemies – only brothers and sisters who long for the peace and joy of reunion as intensely as we do.
Thus, today’s review allows us to deepen our willingness to join with one another in bringing about the end of conflict. This is not done through negotiation or compromise. Rather, it is accomplished by giving attention to the underlying unity established by God. There is only one Creation, endlessly extending. Are we ready at last to perceive it? To place nothing before it?
Are we ready now to receive the Gift of God by remembering that Creation cannot be separate from its Creator?
I fail miserably at this daily. I have a lot of anger towards certain people who harm others, especially politicians (and i know nobody is ever really harmed in this illusion, but it sure does seem that way) Every day I tell myself I will forgive, I will see them as One with myself, but every day my temper flares, I feel hatred and anger and frustration. Theoretically, I get it. When I sit in meditation, I can see all humanity as united in One with God. But then I read about the Rittenhouse trial, or Ahmaud Arbery, or the inane arguments against CRT and I just can’t. I just get annoyed and upset. I ask for forgiveness every single time, I ask for help from the Holy Spirit and then it happens again. If I dont react to these things, I feel somehow I’m giving up on any possibility of change. If I just “accept” things, then aren’t I condoning them? And if none of this is really happening, why in the world does it hurt so much? I guess it’s my ego, doing its level best to ensnare me in the world of illusion; the emotions I feel are distracting me from our Oneness. And yet. My grief and anger haven’t dissapated since my studying of ACIM and non-duality began.
I hear this. I am with you with all this.
I think the basic answer is to see that everything we experience – from a thought in our head to a cultural trend to a glance from a stranger and everything in between – reflects either a cry for love or a response TO a cry for love.
I stipulate that this is abstract and does not readily lend itself to a practice. But I think the specific type of spiritual healing which A Course in Miracles contemplates does move us in this direction.
What this hearing and remembrance looks like in practice will vary from student to student because the form the lesson takes has to adapt to the specific form of separation and suffering the student believes is real.
ACIM makes clear that to deny our belief in the body and the world (and all their attendant problems which, yes, are legion) is an error (T-2.IV.3:11). Professing metaphysical ideals of oneness when that is not our actual experience is profoundly unworthy of us. And, critically, it delays our actual realization of “Heaven is here and Heaven is your home.”
We have to give attention to the crisis where and how it appears. We have to be responsive to the symptoms, which indicate the specific nature of the problem AND make clear the appropriate modality for healing.
So two things here that – in practice – have been very helpful to me.
First, the obnoxious anti-masker who tells you to take off your mask in public and the ICE official sexually assaulting an imprisoned asylum seeker are the same problem. And seeing this sameness clearly IS the way to undo the harm IN the dream.
This is in the nature of a cognitive correction. It requires both intellectual understanding (which I know you are attesting to) AND a sort of crazy willingness to experience the actual correction to which the understanding points.
This is a literal leap of faith, and it really has to be a leap.
“Crazy willingness to experience the actual correction” means that we have to look at our personal interior experience of guilt. The reason we separate the external crises and judge them on a scale of less bad to very bad is because of a deep-rooted – terrifying deep, insurmountably deep, cosmically deep – belief in our own unworthiness.
I can’t emphasize enough how utterly fucking insane this gets and how hard it is to sustain it. At least for me.
This aspect of healing is kin to therapy, and it is helpful to have dialogue partners when doing it. We don’t actually walk the lonesome valley alone 🙂 Alone the whole thing can go sideways too easily. Alone we can convince ourselves we’ve gone deep enough or just linger a long time in metaphysical bullshit. We are experts at projection and sustaining separation. So – much like effective therapy – this process often appears exhausting and painful and often feels circular, masturbatory and pointless.
And yet, if we persist in giving attention to the interior shitshow – a thousand turtles deep, ten thousand turtles, ten times ten thousand turtles deep – then eventually we meet the Judge, who is also the Jury and the Executioner – and THEN we are positioned to truly feed the hungry, liberate the imprisoned, and raise the dead.
Second, in my daily practice of being this particular body in this particular world at this particular time, I aim for a policy of non-cooperation with evil and cooperation with good.
I don’t stress about how I am defining “evil” and “good.” I trust my gut.
The goal is not to fight evil – to return anger for anger, hate for hate, violence for violence. I just – to the best of limited abilities – refuse to cooperate with it. Noncooperation is a form of powerful resistance and thus social healing. Gandhi, MLK, Thoreau, Dorothy Day, Franz Jägerstätter . . . we are in good company when we adopt this approach.
But noncooperation is somewhat sterile if it is not partnered with cooperation with good. This is not just finding others who are doing good work and supporting them, but also actively doing that good work myself. Right here in the body. And opportunities abound – ranging from the hard work of homesteading and otherwise disentangling one’s living from oppressive political and economic forces to overlooking my co-worker’s bad mood or my son’s irritability or the fact that it’s raining and cold and I hate doing chores when it’s raining and cold.
Heaven is participative; it is cooperative. It is brought forth in relationships that are given TO bringing it forth. And, critically, in relationships that are also given to refusing attempts to be distracted FROM that bringing forth.
Cries for love, and responses to those cries. All the way down 🙂
When I live this way – a mental practice of facing the interior demons of guilt (who are, collectively, fear) – and an embodied practice of anarchic noncooperation with evil and cooperation with good (which is love) – then I feel, if not ecstatic joy, at least the gentle gladness of knowing I am working with the forces of Good to bring forth a sustainable peace and joy for ALL the world.
That gladness – which, in a lot of ways, is just the pedestrian recognition of “I’m doing the best I can” – is what facilitates the nondual oneness of which ACIM speaks.
That oneness, by the way, is NOT something that happens to Sean or Hilary! So it’s okay for us to forget about it and just give attention to our practice and study. It’s not unlike physical therapy or something like that. We meet with our healer, they give us exercises, we do the exercises and . . . just allow the healing to happen. We can’t force it; we have to just participate in it, cooperate with it, and then let the chips fall where they may, which they very cooperatively do 🙂
I don’t know if that’s helpful, Hillary. I hope so. You speak deeply into my own learning and practice, and I’m very grateful for that. If you ever want to connect via Zoom or Meet or something like that, please feel free.
You write” “First, the obnoxious anti-masker who tells you to take off your mask in public and the ICE official sexually assaulting an imprisoned asylum seeker are the same problem. And seeing this sameness clearly IS the way to undo the harm IN the dream”. And I see that. But one experience is happening to me, and one is happening to someone else–I find it difficult to make the decision that they are the same when I’m doing so *on behalf of someone else*. That is to say, when something unpleasant is happening to me, I feel well within my….rights (?) to recognize each problem is the same. But saying that when it is *someone else* who is experiencing the pain seems arrogant, like I’m inserting myself into another’s pain and how they themselves perceive it. Or do you mean, the way *I* experience someone else’s pain is the same problem as when something painful happens directly to me?
Then you speak of the “crazy willingness to experience the actual correction” as a looking interiorly at our own experience of guilt…Okay. Let me think this through. When I perceive someone undergoing something “unfair” or “painful” I feel anger, sadness, resignation…and I think you’re saying that all these are simply reflections of my own experience of guilt? Guilt on a fundamental level that I separated from God, but on a more experiential level, guilt that I can’t do anything, guilt at my own helplessness, guilt that things have gotten this bad and how the hell did that happen? And then you mention unworthiness and how we externalize and “rank” all the bad things that happen because we are unwilling to face our sense of our own unworthiness….okay. I guess I’m still in the thick of what you call “the fucking insanity” of it all, because I feel lost. And I guess that’s okay. I’ll just keep digging and hope I get to the Judge (I think this is the same as what Wapnik refers to as the Decision Maker? Correct me if I’m wrong) and at some point I will be able to assuredly make the decision for Oneness. Not there yet.
I love your approach of non-cooperation with evil, and cooperation with good. This is how I’ve structured my life. I am an acupuncturist, I love my patients, I love seeing God in them and have it reflected back to me. I have withdrawn as much as possible from what I see as the evil of the world so as to to not perpetuate it. When it comes to non-violence, I am of two minds. As an anarchist, I think some things require revolution to be shaken loose, and nothing less will do. What form that will take I do not know, but I am open-minded about how it will go and my role therein.
The daily, “in the body”, moment-by-moment work of “what am I choosing right now” and choosing Love or choosing again if I see the need: listening to my children, respecting their feelings, helping the man who stumbles in the parking lot, waiving fees for those who cant afford treatment, slowing every part of my life down so I can exist in each moment and be conscious and aware–i agree these are all part of cooperating with good. Interestingly, as an acupuncturist I occasionally get patients who want me to DO lots of fancy, gadget-y stuff with them, machines and the like that perhaps another acupuncturist has done with them. The simple act of allowing their own body to heal scares them, so I tell them just sit with the needles, the healing will come, your body knows what to do and the needles just remind the body how to do it. You need do nothing but relax because you are completely okay. I think we’re so used to FIGHTING our way in this world, and to be told you need do nothing at all can be very liberating. Not sure how this relates but it has something to do with trust.
Thank you for your thoughtful words and your kind offer to Zoom. I may very well take you up on it after the holidays if you’re still open to it.
Thank you Hillary.
With respect to sameness, I am saying that there is actually nobody else and there is actually no other experience. Only this: this this. Nor is there any “I” who is arrogating the rights of others unto itself.
This is the metaphysical pill that is relatively easy to understand but mortally hard to actually swallow. We reduce it to a thing we understand but don’t actually believe.
And, apparently, we don’t have to believe it, we just have to be open-minded with respect to believing it. We have to be willing to have the Road-to-Damascus experience of waking up to the realization that the observer IS the observed, no matter how much our bodies insist otherwise.
With respect to the “Judge,” I am actually using it somewhat the way Cormac McCarthy did in Blood Meridian: the cruelly banal monstrousness of ego, with whom we are all dancing, and from who we must all eventually decline to dance. Whatever is most awful in the world is in us, and that is where it must be faced and undone, in a regrettably literal way.
I speak to the experience I know here, so the requisite warning about grains of salt applies. My ACIM journey included – and still from to time includes – very graphic, intense and sustained dives into a brutal nihilism. This is not for everyone and so far as I can tell is not at all prerequisite for awakening, but it has certainly been my path.
I am using “guilt” in the ACIM quasi-ontological sense of “that which brings forth and sustains ego.” Looking at it sometimes does mean psychological processing of the self narrative – Dad did this, his Mom did that, her father did something else back in Ireland etc etc. Undoing the daisy chain of dysfunction.
And sometimes it means going deeply into the world’s awfulness, ranging from Christopher Rufo’s weaponization of CRT to gun violence to kids in cages/sweat shops/etc.
This “going deeply” is what gets me to the Judge.
The noncooperation with evil/cooperation with good is not adopted because it’s right or better than any other way of living. It just happens to be what resonates for me in the context of the dream – it’s the only way I have found to live in a creative happy way that also undoes the illusion of separation.
I mean, MY satisfaction of noncooperation with evil only occurs because of MY projection of evil 🙂
There is nothing actually at stake.
Sorry, another thing just popped into my head, which I think gets to the heart of my discomfort with “We are all One”(and believe me–in my heart I want to believe it!). That is this: I read daily about people undergoing severe injustice: torture, forced migration and concentration camps, and I think to myself “If I were standing in front of a tortured person, or somebody whose child was killed by an errant bomb, could I really say to them ‘but we are all one! See your brother as yourself.’ I absolutely could not. It would be condescending and arrogant to assume I have even the vaguest hint of understanding his pain, and how to address it. And then I think of myself: white, privileged, living in America with a roof over my head, enough food in the fridge, a reasonable job, and I feel like in no way can I legitimately say “We are all One” even though it may be (fairly) easy for me to get to that perspective myself. Of course it’s easy! Look at my life! My biggest daily enemy is the obnoxious anti-masker who tells me to take off my mask in Publix! I can forgive him and recognize my Oneness with him. But if someone killed my child, or if I was the victim of systematic oppression like the Uighyers? Who am I to think that Oneness is the answer?
Sorry, this is a daily struggle for me.. It’s like two sides pulling me back and forth, tearing me apart.
Wow, thank you Sean and Hilary for sharing these thoughts. Lots of food for thought on a day I was struggling to make sense of this lesson in an applicable way.
You’re welcome Julia – thank you for being here 🙏🙏