I suggest that the other – I am thinking primarily of people here, but the suggestion applies as broadly as one wishes, reaching sunflowers, galaxies and time – is a construction, and that special attention should be given to others we construct who we love to distraction, as well as those we despise to distraction. This is what it means to heal through and with others.
I suggest the other we hate and the other we love are the same person in that they reflect the same interior process of construction, and that they thus reflect the same fundamental problem which is “distraction from love’s creative function.”
This raises two broad questions:
1. How or why is the other constructed? Who constructs? Of what is the other constructed?
And 2. Distraction from what?
The second question is actually easier to answer, and in terms of happiness, inner peace and remembrance of unity with God – more important to answer.
The answer is: distraction from our capacity as love to create, which I distinguish – loosely tracking the language of A Course in Miracles – from our capacity as egos to make.
That is, we construct (or make) the other, and this process of construction is a poor imitation of the process of creation which does not create others but rather as love creates love. Or, more aptly, domains in which love recognizes and remembers itself.
Miracles enable you to heal the sick and raise the dead because you made sickness and death yourself, and can therefore abolish both. You are a miracle, capable of creating in the likeness of your Creator. Everything else is your own nightmare, and does not exist. Only the creations of light are real (T-1.I.24:1-4).
This is consonant with the course’s insistent that Mind is always creating (T-2.VI.9:7), and always producing “form at some level” (T-2.VI.9:14).
What about the first question: how or why do we make the other, especially the special others, who we either hate or love (or sometimes both) to such unhelpful distraction?
A traditional way of thinking about living is that an external world exists apart from us – it’s out there – and that we perceive a faithful reproduction of it via our senses and then think about that reproduction – name it, categorize it, et cetera.
On this view, others are just . . . there. As are we. And some of those others are attractive to the point where we cannot think clearly in their presence, and some are so awful that we cannot think clearly about them or their existence.
A Course in Miracles – and other traditions too, like, say, radical constructivism – assert that we have it backwards. Thought creates the external; consciousness, not matter, is the foundation. And so what we are is consciousness, or awareness, or thoughts in the mind of God or what-have-you, and that is what others are as well.
On this view, those “others” are actually our own self, idealized or despised, but always idolized. We “fall” for this appearance (or projection or dissociation) of our self – into either love or hate – and our falling becomes the full focus of our living. It eats up all our attention. It doesn’t want to share.
When we are in love, we experience this idolization as pleasing. When we are in hate, we experience it as painful. How could it be otherwise? We are always happier when we accept ourselves; and we are always unhappier when we reject ourselves.
The other is just an extension of this basic principle: know thyself, and do unto others as you would do unto your own self.
And, as mentioned above, this idolization and the intensity of the feelings it engenders, distracts us from what is really going on which is the action of creativity that is naturally inherent in consciousness, or Mind, or God, or the Mind-of-God.
[Note my intentional point here that what we call this is far less important than that we perceive It at all; naming matters but not to the extent we usually assert]
So what do we do?
1. We get clear on our confusion. We realign our thinking with coherence. We do this through study and reflection (or clarity and contemplation); and
2. We examine for viability what we learn; we bring it into application, as Tara Singh often said. We become service-minded.
I have been better at the first step than the second, though the distinction between them is thinner than first appears. They are less like steps, one leading to the other, than like puppies chasing one another in a happy circle.
So, you know, what theories or belief systems or traditions appeal to you? Resonate for you? The spiritual ones, the philosophical ones, the psychological ones, the linguistic ones . . . Study them. Understand them. As best you can, know what they are and how and why they matter to you.
You can never do this perfectly or finally because learning is always ongoing – always in flux – but you can become familiar with the general ongoingness. You can swim with the current, rather than against it.
And then, naturally, give attention to how your living is affected by this study. In what ways are you happier? Calmer? Gentler? More helpful?
In my experience “happier, calmer, gentler and more helpful” are intimately connected to others. That is, our living is fundamentally relational (thus indicating the oneness that is our fundament).
But this connecting focuses less on the apparent individuals involved, and more on the collective that together those apparent individuals comprise, and – somewhat more abstractly – on creation itself, which is to say, on “happiness, calm, gentleness and helpfulness” without embodied reference points (apparently collective or individual).
This represents an inversion of traditional models of thinking, especially with respect to cause-and-effect, but it is eminently doable, and there are lots of paths/traditions/practices to provide guidance and companionship. There are no royal roads, but plenty of fellow travelers and maps of varying quality. The way, as such, is arduous but not nearly to the extent we fear.
It begins and ends in the other, a role I cheerfully play for you, increasingly intentionally, and a role you play for me, my gratitude for which is hard to put into words.
This mutuality is our truth, as such, and when we understand it not as some deep metaphysical pronouncement but more akin to puppies chasing their tails, then we’re pretty much already saved.