Make this year different by making it all the same (T-15.XI.10:11).
I want to distinguish between oneness and sameness.
What is one has no parts that can be compared and found the same or different to any degree.
What is the same is separate but identical and thus equal.
In the world in which you and I live, we will not find “oneness.” We will find claims of oneness and ideals of oneness but their appearance is by definition set against “multiplicity” and “many” et cetera.
I suggest – with I hope all requisite humility – that oneness in this world is fool’s gold.
Sameness on the other hand is very much possible and – because it is tantamount to equality – becomes the closest thing to Godliness – Love (with a capital L) – that we’re going to bring forth in these bodies in this world.
The goal of A Course in Miracles is not oneness but rather to rediscover and then integrate a new way of thinking characterized by the Holy Spirit.
In course terms, the Holy Spirit – by emphasizing sameness and equality – undoes the ego’s emphasis on difference and inequality.
As we see that everything is the same, we realize that special love is not justified under any circumstances. You can prefer vanilla ice cream to black raspberry – that’s just a thing that happens in bodies, like drawing a next breath – but you can’t love vanilla ice cream more than black raspberry.
As this becomes clearer, the differences that naturally appear in our lives – between ice cream flavors, between my kid and some random kid in Tibet, between Joe Biden and Donald Trump – start to matter a lot less.
You start to see how ego uses those apparent differences to justify hatred and indifference. And it seems so reasonable! Of course you hate political rulers who break up families, deport kids, normalize violence against women . . .
And that – that right there – is the separation.
And so that – that right there – is the site of salvation.
And also, that – that right there – is why so many of us tend to romanticize A Course in Miracles by sidestepping its utterly radical emphasis on equality as the foundation of holiness and love.
. . .
I’ll write another post soon about how hard it can be to live this way (which is why we side-step it) but how living this way is actually deeply practical and peaceful.
This post is dedicated to Cheryl, who so kindly reminded me to reflect on this issue this past weekend, and who is always (well, mostly always) patient with my tendency to play ACIM know-it-all. Also, if you like what you’re reading, consider signing up for my weekly newsletter. No sales, no spam. Just thoughtful writing about love and A Course in Miracles.
Darn, Sean. . . I had this long, beautifully crafted reply to your blog almost completed and David asked me to check the weather and lo and behold, all my cherished words written here disappeared. Needless to say, my ego had a silent hissy fit. I may circle back and attempt to reconstruct it later — it was, in essence, an explanation of how I hold the concept of Oneness as the Course teaches it (short version, I don’t agree with you 😉) — but I will save that for when I am recentered.
That being said, I am delighted and humbled by your dedication. For some reason it brings to mind the line: Infinite patience brings immediate results. Then again, I have to laugh, because my disappearing response certainly has tested mine this morning.
But, before I leave, some words from Chapter 18 of the Course, which speaks to that of which we speak:
VI. Beyond the Body
1 There is nothing outside you. That is what you must ultimately learn, for it is the realization that the Kingdom of Heaven is restored to you. For God created only this, and He did not depart from it nor leave it separate from Himself. The Kingdom of Heaven is the dwelling place of the Son of God, who left not his Father and dwells not apart from Him. Heaven is not a place nor a condition. It is merely an awareness of perfect Oneness, and the knowledge that there is nothing else; nothing outside this Oneness, and nothing else within.
2 What could God give but knowledge of Himself? What else is there to give? The belief that you could give and get something else, something outside yourself, has cost you the awareness of Heaven and of your Identity. And you have done a stranger thing than you yet realize. You have displaced your guilt to your body from your mind. Yet a body cannot be guilty, for it can do nothing of itself. You who think you hate your body deceive yourself. You hate your mind, for guilt has entered into it, and it would remain separate from your brother’s, which it cannot do.
3 Minds are joined; bodies are not. Only by assigning to the mind the properties of the body does separation seem to be possible. And it is mind that seems to be fragmented and private and alone. Its guilt, which keeps it separate, is projected to the body, which suffers and dies because it is attacked to hold the separation in the mind, and let it not know its Identity. Mind cannot attack, but it can make fantasies and direct the body to act them out. Yet it is never what the body does that seems to satisfy. Unless the mind believes the body is actually acting out its fantasies, it will attack the body by increasing the projection of its guilt upon it.
Good morning Sean,
Have coffee? Because here is the long version.
Even after a dozen-plus years studying the Course, whenever my teacher says (and she says it ad nauseum) “there is only one of us here,” my head wants to explode. My embodied brain rejects the idea outright.
That is at this level — at ground level — if you will. But at the metaphysical level — in the out beyond — accessible only via faith and trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit (at this point seemingly reached only accidentally), the still small voice within the idea of Cheryl, the idea of Sean. Shared wisdom.
There is no terra firma here. We are dancing on air. But in that constant sky, if we are open enough and willing enough and desire it more than we desire to own our logical rightness, we gift ourselves with a glimpse of that Oneness. (I can see it as a form of alchemy but fool’s gold is, with all due respect, an egoic label.)
In my experience, this has appeared in simple ways (probably all I am ready to handle😏) Someone comes to mind and I check my phone and see a text or an email arrived in that very instant. I hear someone say something inside my mind and later that day, they say it out loud, word for word, and it is completely outside of the context of anything we have ever discussed. I pause to intently watch a frog on my walk and suddenly, I am the frog.
All of this only takes me so far because the ego immediately steps in and begins its analysis, as the Course says, overriding Spirit’s sweet acceptance. And I stay stuck in the investigative mode of what my daughter, Jessie, refers to as my “Enneagram 5-ness.”
But even in the midst of my inability to let go and let God (and not yank it back with mine, mine, mine) I believe it is all interwoven and interconnected.
I just think my “special” relationship with my “self,” my ego’s fear of its own annihilation and the nagging doubt that this particular Child of God deserves to create the good, the beautiful and the holy gets in the way of this “journey” up the vertical axis of the cross to (dare I say it?) a lasting experience of Oneness.
“There is only one of us here” is probably as perfect an encapsulation of the ego’s belief system as can be. No wonder you resist it. I’m sure whoever’s saying it is well-intentioned, but it truly just confuses the simplicity of A Course in Miracles.
Spirit says “look at all your brothers and sisters . . . look at this fucked-up world . . . let’s help!”
And, when undertaken with an understanding of ACIM’s metaphysics (an admittedly nontrivial exercise), that help creates the psychological conditions under which our first and only baby step towards inner peace can be taken.
Only ego cares about oneness! Because ego is about seeking and not finding and what we will never find in either body or world is oneness, perfect love, the absence of differences.
There are two reasons for this: the first is that world and body are illusions, and what is an illusion cannot be home to anything real (both night and day dreams are helpful examples of this), and second because the body and the world are made as an attack on love.
Oneness can be hinted at – it can be idealized – and in the Holy Instant a facsimile can be tasted – but those are all experiences of bodies, and thus reinforce the very error the course aims to help us undo.
The paragraphs from “Beyond the Body” that you shared refer not to actual oneness, but to moments – in time and for seeming selves – in which embodied selves briefly gain a sense of liberation from the body. That liberation is a temporary form of forgetting the body, and temporarily enlarging awareness of mind. They’re a sweetness to be sure but they are not Love.
The body – even at its best, even at our happiest, our most sincere – is an attack on love.
This is very very hard to accept, and it’s why so many of us struggle to find a compromise that in the end just isn’t found in the course (thought it can be found a lot in the course community, including my own work).
It can be helpful to remember that in the shared paragraphs, “you” does not refer to the narrative embodied self (which is an illusion). Thus, it’s not a pep talk for Sean or Cheryl to “wake up” and discover “reality.” Rather, “you” refers to a deeply abstract Creation of God. Neither that Creation, nor God, are aware of this world or its inhabitants. To be “home in God” is to not know – ever – “Sean” or “Cheryl” or “2020” or anything.
Again, this is very very hard to accept. It is impossible for a body to imagine the absence of differences, let alone experience in a sustained way an absence of differences. Even becoming one with a frog – which as you know with all my babble about being in an open marriage with chickadees and so forth I am 100% on board with – requires in the first place that there to be a frog and not-a-frog in the first place.
(Feels like an opportunity to slip something in here about princes, kisses, etc. but I’ll refrain).
Thus, we slip instead into concepts of oneness that we can apply in the world (the default mode of a lot of Neo-Advaitist writing), or spiritual supernatural fantasies (e.g., Gary Renard), or self-improvement (like Marianne Williamson).
All of these strategies are understandable, especially given the alternative: to realize that we are not real and that all our efforts to prove otherwise are forms of hate and violence. And none of them are crimes against God or Nature; they’re just not the path to which the course points.
Facing the hate and the violence – knowing that there is no escape in the body or the world – is hard. It is literally a space in which people give up. It is an existential crisis of the highest order, a monstrous murderous nihilism. And one can get stuck there for a looong time. Or avoid it altogether. There’s a reason Marianne Williamson and Gary Renard’s books sell well, and Ken’s and Tara Singh’s don’t.
Yet if we would know the Peace of God – if we would know the Love that Surpasses Understanding – then we have to get to that juncture and consent to be ruined at it.
Only when we are destroyed there does the beautiful possibility contemplated by A Course in Miracles become possible: only then can we at last see that everything perceived and cognized in and as a body in the world is the same. It is all the same error. All of it. My beloved children and Trump? The same! Coronavirus and my beloved dogs and horses? The same! A rainbow and a nuclear mushroom cloud? The same!
Of course Sean and Cheryl say “fuck that.” But not because we like rainbows better than nuclear war. Because we like “Sean and Cheryl” better than no “Sean and Cheryl.” Because ego.
When that becomes clear – not as an intellectual insight pulled out now and again but as the very fact of our living – then we see also the utter neutrality of the dream/illusion. It is neither good nor bad nor even capable of good or bad. Same with all its contents – even these bodies, these selves.
And then – then! – we have taken the first and only step towards God that is given us to take. We have seen there is nothing to hold, not even the one who would hold it all under the veneer of oneness. And then we wait because the other step is no ours to take but God’s and of that – in these bodies and this world – we cannot speak.
Nobody has to believe this or practice this. We can cycle through the birth/death illusion forever. And there are plenty of effective modifications of the so-called curriculum. But if ACIM is one’s path – and if it offers us the means by which to reach the juncture where the Nameless One, the Formless One, the One-without-Another-One envelopes us at last in Perfect Love – then why put off the inevitable?
Let it all go! Especially this distracting idea that we are one . . . There is too much work to do 🙂
Very glad you did this one (and so thanks to muse Cheryl!). “Same” or “what is not different” has been good languaging for me, because it’s something that can be checked for now and here and “as me”. Appreciating absolute equality is helped, as it applies to What is breathing meditatively, or What notices the “one” who is intending and trying to (be the one who) meditate, or gets to enjoy the most micro moment of a breath – because its equal/same! Oneness was helpful in sharing language as it demystified the heights (the impossiblity) of spiritaulity/metaphysics. The fact that no separation line can be found enabled a personal relationship story with how nothing is excluded. I say personal because just accepting Jesus into my life wasn’t a story that came out for me, and I see how not finding a separating line makes for a working story for others. And by extending this lesson I see why other stories work in their personal ways, including now why believing enough in another like Jesus might lower the guilt of twoness enough to disappear its illusory barriers. And of course there’s a lot more to the story, like the getting sober story was a precusor to believing that something else impossible might actually not be impossible. I appreciate now ACIM’s attempt to use descriptions of the uglier things to be aware of, and it’s lessons that say to allow bad thoughts and think of someone you don’t like first, and such. The sameness/equality of What those are transpiring within is (insane)mind-blowing (and to leave them out would sabatoge noticing What’s the same for them)! And the possible humility that the human would then be the expression of is fascinating to wonder about. It’s only the sameness that would see an acting out of what might think it’s not the same. And in not wanting anything other than that sameness, how would it respond to an arising that might be an eddy around that sameness, of left over space/time imagined not-sameness. “Who” knows?! – it’s only present sameness that “will be then” same with that arising! This same right now is being same in thinking of you, and now same in glad and grateful, and oh you have a video, so same in noticing the looking forward to checking out your channel!
Thanks for sharing this, Mike. I have been thinking about it for the past few days, this idea that languaging functions as a pointer to what – today I’m calling – “One without Another.”
I often use this analogy: there are many ways to get to Boston, but none of them are Boston. You can walk, drive a car, take a bus, board a train, hop a plane, ride a horse and . . . you’ll get to Boston, and Boston will be Boston.
So the Jesus thing can work or the twelve steps or psychotherapy or Zen Buddhism or A Course in Miracles or Rupert Spira or . . .
But the idea that all of them can work is also the idea that none of them can work. Or rather, their “all can work” becomes their sameness. It doesn’t matter what “path” we take because it’s all a dream anyway. Even Awakening. Even Boston.
I think this is why ultimately my Boston analogy fails. It’s not like traveling to Boston. It’s like learning that you’re already in Boston and you have no idea what is going to trigger the remembering. You might even not remember. And you’re still in Boston!
It’s like somebody saying to me, “hey, let’s go to Boston.”
And I say, “we’re already in Boston.”
And they say, “I’ll drive if you pay for gas.”
And I say, “we’re already in Boston – look around you.”
And they look around and say, “yeah, I see cars and a bus station and a sign for the airport – we should take advantage of one of these transportation methods to go to Boston.”
That’s being a little too cute, but I hope not unhelpfully so. It’s good to care about paths and methods but also kind of cool when – like a lightning bolt or slow tide gently rolling up the sand – we notice there’s nowhere to go and nobody going in the first place.
Sean, I just want to say that there’s a gentleness to your presentation that suggests your clarity has been hard-won indeed. And the fact that your clarity is still in process is also part of your gift to us. THANKS and many blessings to you.
Thanks for reading & sharing, Margaret. I hope the course is treating you well 🙂