I am under no laws but God’s.
Lesson 76 of A Course in Miracles brooks no middle ground. It is like Bob Dylan’s song Precious Angel: “You either got faith or you got unbelief and there ain’t no neutral ground.” Yet the absence of wiggle room is a gift, for it forces us to confront the lesson in helpful terms: what are the laws of God? And what am I that should be subject to any other law?
This lesson is easy to understand when you also understand that the self to which the lesson refers is not a body. It is associated with a body (because it has dissociated from God), but this is an illusion, not a fact.
In this sense, A Course in Miracles is a course in identity correction.
How simple is salvation! It is merely a statement of your true Identity (W-pI.77.1:4-5).
Lesson 76 addresses a critical aspect of that this self-confusion. If we consider ourselves bodies in the world, then we are subject to its laws. The lesson invites us to notice the way we subject ourselves to these apparent laws, and to consider an alternative.
There are no laws but God’s. Dismiss all foolish magical beliefs today, and hold your mind in silent readiness to hear the Voice that speaks the truth to you. You will be listening to the One Who says there will be no loss under the laws of God. Payment is neither given nor received. Exchange cannot be made; there are no substitutes, and nothing is replaced by something else. God’s laws forever give and never take (W-pI.76.9:1-6).
Of course, these laws are the opposite of those which appear to govern the world in which we live, and the bodies with which we are associated.
In that world, if we are not careful what we eat, then we will get sick and die. If we don’t pay our mortgage or rent, then we will lose our shelter. We can seek satisfaction in one partner, then trade them for another. When someone we love dies, we never see them again. Et cetera.
To the body, those laws will be forever real. This is important! From the body’s perspective, if you and I sit at a table with a single slice of pie, and I eat the pie, you do not get any pie. I love my children more than children I’ve never met in a country I’ve never visited, even though I know this is not coherent.
We don’t have to resist these appearances; we merely have to notice them. The fix, so to speak, arises as a condition of our noticing, and it not something we do.
Thus, Lesson 76 is not an invitation to run this world or its various bodies by new rules. Rather, it is an invitation to see that what we are is not of this world and so we cannot be its subject. Thus, we cannot seek salvation in terms of the world. Doing so is an exercise in futility; it can never work.
. . . how simple is salvation. Look for it where it waits for you, and there it will be found. Look nowhere else, for it is nowhere else (W-pI.76.2:3-5).
How shall we understand this in terms of application?
Don’t get hung up on the fact that the world and the body are subject to laws like nutrition, capitalism, gravity, evolution and so forth. To the body, those laws will always appear real. Their appearance is not the problem; the problem is our investment in those appearances as if they are real and causative.
In this sense, the lesson is an opportunity to open our mind a little, that it might perceive a new way of thinking, one that is aligned with laws not of our own making.
We do not need to prove God’s laws. We do not need to establish and maintain them. You need only be willing to notice them, even the tiniest bit. They are already our reality. So really, our willingness to perceive God’s laws is our willingness to perceive our own self, which is not a body, and for which sacrifice of any kind is impossible.
As this becomes increasingly clear, we begin to appreciate the course’s emphasis on seeing things in stark relief. What works works and what does not, does not. What’s helpful is helpful and so we ought to make use of it; but what is not helpful should be set aside as a distraction and not picked up again.
Again, A Course in Miracles emphasizes correction of our self-confusion.
I do not know the thing I am, and therefore do not know what I am doing, where I am, or how to look upon the world or on myself. Yet in this learning is salvation born (T-31.V.17:7-8).
So this lesson is a chance to go deep within and admit that we are lost. We can face the surrender of the entire world – everything we think we know, everything that we believe – and accept that we have no clue what comes next. We don’t know how to proceed. This is a good space because it is a space of learning. It is a space of receptivity to Bill Thetford’s “another way.”
The workbook lessons are always opportunities to shift our thinking, away from fear and towards love. That transition can seem to take time and it can seem difficult. That’s okay. Our thinking – especially with respect to what we are – is cloudy indeed.
Yet with every application of every lesson, the clouds thin and drift away. Magical thinking – the notion that salvation can be obtained in bodies in terms of the world – is undone.
Magic imprisons, but the laws of God make free. The light has come because there are no laws but His (W-pI.76.7:5-6).
We are not bodies, though we associate ourselves with bodies. We are love itself, and subject only to the laws of unconditional giving. This is our salvation; this is the foundation of our joy and inner peace.
I belong to an ACIM group and last week we discussed Lesson 76. I have been at sea with this lesson and not ready to move on to the next. How literal is this message? In group, we were allowing that “wiggle room”, but I felt an unease. In that wonderful flow of the universe I found your words. Thank you!
Thanks, Kathy! I’m glad it was helpful.
I hear you . . . of course we all respond to the Course differently, but I do feel that this lesson does not encourage “wiggle room.” In a way that is very hard for the egoic self to manage, the Course is always telling us there is no middle ground. You’ve got to go all the way or you’re not going at all. And we all want that little out – that little space to change our mind! I know I do. But then the Course reminds me a) salvation doesn’t work by degrees and b) that’s okay because all I really want is salvation. So leaping in whole hog is a good thing.
Thanks again, Kathy!
This lesson really resonated with me.. I like the idea of the course being one of “identity correction” and that the “fix”, as you say, arises simply from our noticing, rather than anything we do. Trust and awareness, vs. achievement.
I heard a preacher many years ago compare our relationship with God to that of trapeze artists. One is trained not to try and grasp the other person’s wrists as they meet, but rather to hold his/her arms out (submissively) for the other to grasp. I like that analogy. I remember that preacher, in his southern drawl, driving home his point by repeating “don’t grab, don’t grab!” Kinda funny, but it made an impression.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Thank you, Mark. I’m grateful for your insights. The Proverbs passage is perfect. Thank you.