I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my seeing.
Lesson 18 of A Course in Miracles is simple but hearty, like oatmeal. It doesn’t pose any dramatic challenges to the structure of our thinking; it doesn’t expose any fireworks or light shows. And yet, the idea contained in this lesson is so fundamental to our practice of the course and its promise of salvation that we could spend weeks on this one lesson and not reach the end of its healing potential.
Lesson 18 teaches us that all minds are joined and so an experience in one is experienced in all. Another way to frame this is to say that there are not “minds” but simply “Mind.” In our separated state, we equate the body’s brain with the mind, and it makes sense to us that “our” mind is separate from somebody else’s. But A Course in Miracles teaches us that this is not so.
In the holy instant the condition of love is met, for minds are joined without the body’s interference and where there is communication there is peace. The Prince of Peace was born to reestablish the condition of love by teaching that communication remains unbroken even if the body is destroyed, provided that you see not the body as the necessary means of communication (T-15.XI.7:1-2).
Thus, Lesson 18 is also an early introduction to the role communication plays in healing.
I want to offer two brief observations related to this lesson.
First, it is essential to our practice that we be willing to let go of what we think of as “our” self. As confusing or even disturbing as the idea may be, we are not our bodies and we are not the many stories we tell ourselves about our bodies. Salvation is hindered by our refusal, often buried quite deep, to give up on this embodied narrative self. Yet over and over, the course reminds us that its function is not self-improvement but a complete restoration of our true identity.
We do not do this; we simply consent to its being done for us. Thus, willingness – which must be checked and rechecked – is our sole prerogative. It’s okay to be scared so long as we retain a shred of willingness to give up our whole self.
Salvation is a gift. We don’t buy it and we can’t bargain for it. Thus, we have to be in a space of receptivity for it. Think of a kid at his or her birthday party. Consider their joyful anticipation combined with a complete confidence that gifts will be forthcoming. They have no doubt; they are ready. That is the space we want to be in.
The second observation I want to make regarding this lesson is personal.For a long time I was annoyed with A Course in Miracles because it asked me to give attention to my brothers and sisters. In an infantile – not a childish – way, I needed everything to be about me. I believed that any attention given to you was attention taken from me. And that felt intolerable and there was not a lot of interior resolution to change it.
In my mind, I rationalized this situation by saying that once I “woke up,” once I “got it,” then I would be very compassionate and helpful to everyone. But until then, no. Even when I began to appreciate intellectually that the forgiveness I extended to you was offered to me as well – that, in fact, there was no other way to offer forgiveness – I still reserved a special desire to be the special child of God, the favored brother of Jesus, and premier student of A Course in Miracles.
I think a lot of us feel this way to varying degrees, and also, it is this very selfishness and egoic attachment that ACIM is given to heal. The whole point of becoming miracle workers is to help others become miracle workers, too. In fact, in some ways, the course can be seen as little more than an introduction to waking up – its real goal is to make us fit for leading others back to God. This leading back need not take the form of A Course in Miracles. The form is quite irrelevant. But the content – which is a clear, lucid and innocent love – is relevant indeed. And we only “get” that love when we offer it to others. In fact, we might not even know that we have it until we see ourselves extending it.
Thus, salvation is a shared experience. It is a shared experience of sharing and this so because minds are joined. Of course Lesson 18 is only the beginning of this insight and yet in another sense, it perfectly illuminates the path ahead. We go together, literally.
Thank you, for being with me.