A Course in Miracles Lesson 236

I rule my mind, which I alone must rule.

What kind of ruler are you?

That is the question behind today’s lesson. What kind of ruler do you want to be? What kind of ruler do you need to be? The mind is a kingdom given to us to rule. How shall we govern? How shall we assert our authority?

Another way to frame the fundamental question is: what is your relationship to power?

It is not an accident that the lesson urges us to serve, rather than to rule. Or rather, that it equates true service with ruling. In A Course in Miracles, true power is found in our willingness to share freely with our brothers and sisters, without fear or condemnation. Always ask: how can I help here? How can I be of service?

In this, the course tracks a long Christian tradition of subverting the world’s ideas about power, leadership and accomplishment. When John and James seek positions of influence in Jesus’s Kingdom, and the other disciples grumble, Jesus gently admonishes all of them.

Whoever among you seeks greatness shall be the minister of all, and whoever seeks to be first shall be the servant of all, for I did not come to be ministered unto but to minister (Mark 10:35-45).

For most of us, the mind is an unruly kingdom. It is full of ideas, images, visions and stories that seem to spring up from nowhere. Some we like, others we don’t. We are often anxious or depressed on behalf of the mind’s content. We seem to be doing its bidding, rather than the other way around.

What we want or need seems beside the point. Mind asserts itself over and aginst us, like a child veering between tantrums and boundless play, with no loving parent to guide and care for it. The result is chaos and pain.

A Course in Miracles invites us to reconsider this characterization of mind, and to realize that true power lies is offering the mind – its function and the many forms (ideas, images, visions and stories) it generates to God. That is, we offer the mind to God, through the Holy Spirit, to be used only for the purpose of atonement.

When we do this, we are actually allowing the mind to do the only thing it really can do – which is to serve (W-pII.236.1:5). To become a servant of our brothers and sisters – to teach atonement and nothing else – is not our highest or best function. It is our only function.

When we learn that we can offer our mind to God on behalf of our brothers and sisters, we are effectively realizing that love, not fear, is our true motivation. Thus we are released from suffering, and given the function of salvation.

Those who are released must join in releasing their brothers, for this is the plan of the Atonement. Miracles are the way in which minds that serve the Holy Spirit unite with me for the salvation or release of all of God’s creations (T-1.III.3:3-4).

Thus, our “exercise of power” is really the open-minded and full-hearted expression of willingness to choose the Holy Spirit rather than ego. We ask that our thoughts reflect God’s Thoughts, and then actively seek those Thoughts so that we might follow them to shared happiness and peace.

Sometimes we ask, what are the Thoughts of God? The simplest answer is that they always guide us into relationship with our brothers and sisters, in ways that elevate the happiness and inner peace of all involved. Are you happy? Are you free of conflict? If the answer is yes, then you are thinking with God. If the answer is no, then you’re not.

It is not a crime to not think with God! This is not easy work we are doing, because we are undoing the habituated thinking of decades, in a world that does not support that undoing at all. We have to be patient and gentle with ourselves, as God is with us.

Somewhat cryptically, this lesson concludes by reminding us that our “gift to God” is also God’s Gift to us (W-pII.236.2:3). In a sense, the Course is suggesting that God’s “gift” is the free will which we accept by returning it to him for HIS ends, rather than ours.

This is a fair and helpful characterization! Left to our own logic and perception, we are easily sidetracked into schemes of sacrifice and bargaining, which always lead in the end to shared suffering. Cooperating with God – availing ourselves of Creation – becomes the way that we honor our will. We recognize it is not ours alone but rather is shared with God, and with all life.

To say this is to realize that peace and joy are a shared goal of all of us, and is altogether reasonable. Atonement abides no loss or other cause for grief. Our “rule” is the giving away of everything that obstructs the free flow of Love; our power is the power to serve in God’s Name. Nothing else becomes us.

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