My holiness blesses the world.
Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis – or has surfed through some of my more hand-wringing posts of the past – knows that work and money are a big challenge in my life. I can be comically confused about those issues, alternately conflating them with spirituality and grace and then despising them as pits of unholiness in which the devil himself croons and calls, luring us siren-like away from salvation.
This ACIM lesson invokes that struggle.
This idea contains the first glimmerings of your true function in the world, or why you are here. Your purpose is to see the world through your own holiness. Thus are you and the world blessed together (W-pI.37.1:1-3).
That is so simple and straightforward. Yet it’s funny, because when I read it the ego quietly comes in and does a little editing. It obliterates the second sentence, while leaving the first and third intact. Thus, it gets the pleasure of being reassured it has a function in the world and a reason for being here – and that it (and the world) are going to be blessed as a result of that function.
But, without that very specific and concrete second sentence, the egoic self still gets to ask its favorite question: what I am supposed to do with my life? I accept my grandeur of course but how do I manifest it? How do I get all that glory?
And then it devolves into brainstorming sessions, lists, google searches for helpful ideas and spiritual programs, impromptu goal-setting workshops . . . All of which keeps that second sentence, and the whole point of the lesson, out of mind, ensuring that all this frantic questioning and searching will never yield up an answer but just go on and on and on.
One of the aspects of ACIM that I love dearly is that it is quite unambiguous. If you read the text carefully and do the lessons faithfully and pay attention to the process as it and you unfold together, you will wake up and remember your identity as part of God. You will be free in every spiritual and religious and moral sense of the word. I’ve had enough crumbs to know the banquet that’s being offered.
But the ego won’t give in without a fight. Resistance is so attractive! It can be so reasonable, so reassuring. Why is that? Why is that when faced with Heaven we grasp instead for the straw hut off to the side?
In part because we still identify with the egoic self – and that self is deeply reassured by our refusal to participate in a course designed to remove the blocks to our awareness of love, which is our real and true identity. It is always helpful to ask which self is feeling good, which self is being serviced by our resistance.
How do we battle the ego? Well, we don’t. The world teaches us that we have to defeat our enemies, but spirit – and Jesus – tell us to love them. It’s crazy if you look closely at it – this idea of turning the other cheek – but it works. The ego survives by virtue of the careful attention we pay it. When I fall into the mode of analyzing my life, my income, making color-coded charts, lists of pros and cons for this job and that job . . . it’s the sort of busywork that keeps the ego humming. More details please!
So I step back. I notice the resistance. I see what form it takes – I try to be very specific. “Oh, I’m skipping that second sentence. Let me read it closely a few times.” I return, again and again, to the calm specificity of the lessons – or the textual passage – that is giving me problems. I ask for help in understanding it. And I try not to sweat it. Jesus isn’t up there with a stopwatch wondering why in hell I’m such a slowpoke and poor learner. It’s all okay. Or it’s going to be.
I resist that second line because it is so abstract it means that all my questions about who I am and what I’m to do are no more significant than this morning’s decision to put bananas in the pancake batter instead of chocolate chips (yeah – my kids weren’t too happy but those bananas had to go somewhere soon). I’m here to see the world – all the world – from the center of holiness. I’m here to replace physical sight with spiritual vision. I’m here to work the simple and natural miracles of awareness and attention which can only beget love. If that’s true, it doesn’t matter whether I’m teaching kids how to read Emily Dickinson, or writing poetry, or advising politicians on how to speak to rural voters. It’s all the same.
The ego thrives on specificity, right? Sean is this and he’s that, and you’re not those things, but you are these other things that he’s not, and that’s totally different from people who live halfway around the globe and speak different languages and on and on and on. This lesson clearly indicates that those differences, be they big or small, are not the issue. They don’t matter. Come back to that calm center. Make contact with your holiness. Radiate it. Radiate it when you’re at the bus station, in the kitchen, walking in the woods, talking to the bank teller, the cashier, the postmaster, the kid next door. No exceptions.
Your holiness is the salvation of the world. It lets you teach the world that it is one with you, not by preaching to it, nor by telling it anything, but merely by your quiet recognition that in your holiness are all things blessed along with you (W-pI.37.3:1-2).
That’s unappealing to the ego, which hates equality, and despises any thought system in which it has to share power with others. But to Spirit – which is where we are heading, no matter how halting our steps – it’s the only game in town. Salvation is always at hand.