The desire to know our own self as God knows that self is the cry at the heart of A Course in Miracles. It is a cry that once uttered cannot be un-uttered; it can be ignored and disparaged but not taken back. Our whole life comes to revolve around it, each moment circling a light that overcomes the darkness, an understanding that does not fall into confusion. Lifetimes can pass; lifetimes do pass.
To know our self as God does is to become coherent. Our will aligns with God’s Will, aligns with the cosmos, OM and I AM, one with all Creation. This means letting go of everything that stands between us and God; it means accepting no function but the function of loving in a loveless place. I do not presume to know what this letting go looks like for anyone else. For me it was an existential crisis, a psychological black hole. It was like strangling on a cross, never dying, never knowing anything but a brute suffering bereft of meaning. I wouldn’t wish it on an enemy.
I stayed with it – the grief, loneliness and stupidity of suffering, the banality of agony until, butterfly-like, it passed. It wasn’t like winning a fight or achieving a goal. It wasn’t like receiving a gift. It was like waking up and realizing that the angel with whom I’d been wrestling in eternity was just a dream.
The secret to salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself. No matter what the form of the attack, this is still true. Whoever takes the role of enemy and of attacker, still is this the truth. Whatever seems to be the cause of any pain and suffering you feel, this is still true (T-27.VIII.10:1-4).
I got it.
I can’t speak for other spiritual traditions or other students’ experiences of ACIM. I do not want anyone to suffer, and I do not believe suffering is required. It just happened to be the path I followed, for reasons that no longer matter. I was the one doing it; it stopped when I stopped doing it. A little while later I remembered that nothing real can be threatened/nothing unreal exists and that, as they say, was that.
I sometimes call this local-to-me experience of suffering as a desert. In the context of clarity, contemplation and service, which together are my spiritual practice, my shamatha, it was a long dry spell in which I lost every virtue but one: the virtue of keeping on. When you lose everything, even Christ, even God . . .
. . . that’s when it happens. That’s when the peace comes, moksha, when the wordless understanding fills your mind, reveals the egoic charade, which revelation promptly undoes it. It is less like something new happens and more like you realize what has always been the case. Nothing changes; everything changes. God is my shepherd, I shall not want.
Awakening is the undoing of fear, the clarification of confusion, and the end of conflict. No more than that but also, critically, no less.
I credit A Course in Miracles with this learning-how-to-awaken-to-oneness-in-God-who-is-Love, even though in a lot of ways I find the Course a ridiculously overwritten and overwraught text that attracts a disproportionate number of grifters, conmen and know-it-alls. I’m complicit but not evangelical; if you can find another spiritual path, by all means take it.
But if you’re on this one, if this one calls to you, if you’re still reading, then you are probably right where you need to be in order to finally and fully wake up from the dream of separation. There are no accidents in salvation; you aren’t reading this because God plays dice and came up snake eyes. We are here to remind each other what we keep forgetting: that deep down we are the same, thus equal, and thus one, even though we are not – in perception, in the dream – the same at all.
A Course in Miracles teaches us what the poet Jack Gilbert once called – here paraphrased – “a natural and serious happiness.”
This awakening is not a dream, yet it partakes of dreams, in order to wake everyone up. That’s what this dream we are in is – a dream from which we awaken as one, into a reality that is inescapable and totally beyond what the body and brain can perceive or express, save very clumsily as nonviolence, beauty, dialogue, cooperation et cetera.
If you are a student of A Course in Miracles and you think I have some insight or understanding that you don’t, or if you want to be my friend because I have an insight or understanding that you also have, or if you want to disabuse me of my ignorance about A Course in Miracles or nonduality or whatever, then please reach out and let us work together, in whatever way we can.
Let us help one another – through nonviolent dialogue and cooperation, through prayer, through a shared study and practice of A Course in Miracles – learn and live together a life given to contemplation, clarity and service in order that we might remember – by whatever name you like but which I call – Love.
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