The power of decision is my own.
The first paragraph of this lesson is in many ways the essence of A Course in Miracles without any softening or spoon-feeding. You’re suffering because you choose to suffer, and you can choose not to suffer. It’s on you, brother. It’s all on you.
We tend to respond in one of two ways. The first is to argue by posing apparently impossibly ethical quandaries – – are you saying that the Jews in Auschwitz “chose” to suffer in that way? That I “chose” to have my dog run over by a car? My son to be diagnosed with cancer?
The second is to simply deny it. Go through our day – and then our life – without ever actually considering the nature of our being and the extent of its creative power.
Let’s take the first response seriously. Let’s go all the way down on the extreme example of the holocaust. Is A Course in Miracles truly suggesting that those who suffer the worst the world has to offer – genocide, rape, starvation, torture – chose it?
If you believe you are a body, and there is an actual world in which that body lives, then the range of experiences open to that body include the worst the world has to offer. You can win the lottery and live happily ever after and you can also be murdered by a serial killer before the sun sets. For most of us, experience won’t reach those extremes but they’re still there. Pretending otherwise is a fool’s errand (T-2.IV.3:10).
All A Course in Miracles does is teach us that there is another way to see the world – at its best, its worst, and the apparent range between them. This seeing teaches us how to perceive with the Vision of Christ, which is a synonym for Love, rather than ego, which is a synonym for fear.
The hallmark of love is radical acceptance – it excludes nothing and noone. It perceives cries for love and extensions of love, and the response to both is the same: love.
If you have the gift of everything, can loss be real? Can be part of peace, or grief of joy? Can fear and sickness enter in a mind where love and perfect holiness abide? Trust must be all-inclusive, if it be the truth at all (W-pI.152.2:3-6).
Therefore, the course gently teaches us that there are no exceptions to love. The holocaust is a vast demonstration of fear, an enormous cry from the heart of the cosmos for love. Most of us are not called to make that cry but we are all called to respond to it – by consoling those who suffer, and showing those who cause the suffering that there is another way.
Is it clear? Right now, the course asks you to perceive only love or the call for love, and to realize that both call forth the same exact response. The secret-which-is-not-a-secret, but which can be hard to remember is: sometimes you are the one crying out, and sometimes you are the one responding, and in both instances, in the end, there is only love.
As God created you, you must remain unchangeable, with transitory states by definition false. And that includes all shifts in feeling, alterations in condition of the body and the mind; in all awareness and in all response (W-pI.152.5:1-2).
Again, this all-inclusiveness is a function of radical acceptance. Exclude nothing and you will remember God’s Love. There will be nothing else to know.
Please note that attempts to understand – which give rise to the challenge inherent in “is the course really saying . . . ” questions – is often not a sincere attempt to learn, but a delay tactic. We understand just fine – it’s application that we don’t want to face. I don’t mind saying it’s good to love one’s enemies, but to actually love those enemies . . . that’s a step too far.
This is why denial of the lesson is the second response, and the one that is actually harder to deal with. We don’t want to be responsible unto love, we can’t actually argue effectively against love, so we just . . . flush it down the memory hole. Forget about it and then forget we forgot about it and go on with our lives.
Lesson 152 is really responding to our habit of denial. It’s saying that to deny our responsibility for love – to hide from it in fear – is actually a form of arrogance. It’s arrogant because it asserts that we can decide what Creation is and what it is not. We are in charge – our will shall call the shots – because God is a cruel and malignant tyrant.
Denial is a very passive-aggressive response to what we fear. The solution – as ACIM would have us practice it – is true humility. Let us accept ourselves as God created us – no more and no less – and then live the life that naturally appears, in which we are gently included as co-creators with God.
Today we practice true humility, abandoning the false pretense by which the ego seeks to prove it arrogant . . . truth is humble in acknowledging its mightiness, its changelessness and its eternal wholeness, all-encompassing, God’s perfect gift to His beloved Son (W-pI.152.9:1-3).
This is true peace. Acceptance – which is the absence of resistance – is the end of conflict. It brings forth the gentle light of creation in which all life is seen equally as a loving reflection of a loving Creator, including our very own self.
. . . we accept of Him that which we are, and humbly recognize the Son of God. To recognize God’s Son implies as well that all self-concepts have been laid aside, and recognized as false (W-pI.152.10:2-3).
Thus, radical acceptance and true humility become the means by which we remember our gentleness and innocence, and our “right to Heaven and release from hell” (W-pI.152.10:5). And as we remember them, we offer them to everyone we meet, everyone we have met or have yet to meet, and even those we will never meet. How else will they remember God? And how else will they teach us to remember God?
This is not an easy lesson, but it is not meant to be. It is meant to challenge us in a deep way, asking us to see our arrogance and violence and let it go in favor of a humble quiet in which we can at last hear the Voice for God, which substitutes peace for anxiety and depression, truth for self-deception and dishonesty with others, and all of Creation for the petty illusion of separation (e.g., W-pI.152.12:3).