Between Attention and Love, This Love

In a newsletter today I wrote about the relationship between attention and Love. You can sign up here if you like. I want to think out loud here a bit more about this. Healing and awakening are both implicated in it.

In his notebooks, Paul Brunton said that misunderstandings about our identity – i.e., our confusion about what we are in truth – is “not only a metaphysical error but also a mental habit.”

We may correct the error intellectually but we shall still have to deal with the habit. So deeply ingrained is it that only a total effort can successfully alter it” (Notebooks 1:37).

This is a helpful observation! We want to be metaphysically coherent and we want that coherence to be sustainably reflected in our living – our families, communities, traditions et cetera. Healing – which is the incoherent becoming coherent – requires the balm of truth in order to reach all levels of our being – the social, political, symbolic, material.

For example, we may logically conclude that God is Love and Love is what we are in truth, and then go on being driven by fear and hate. So at one level we have the pacifying insight, but at another, nothing changes. Somehow the insight that “God is Love” has to bring an end to fear and hate at all the levels.

We need an insight into the unhelpfulness of the old pattern and we need to actually repattern – or perhaps unpattern – it.

“Insight” happens at the level of thought. But the body and the world are the site of repatterning inspired by the insight, recursively deepening it.

What does this process look like in practice for students of A Course in Miracles?

Say that I hike to the top of Mount Ascutney because it is there I feel closest to God. I follow the Weathersfield trail, reach the summit, meet with the Lord in quiet prayer and . . .

. . . hike back down! I have to go back into my life, right? Kids need supper, apples need picking, poems need writing. In other words, I want to the grace of the summit prayer to gracefully inform the other, more common areas of my life as well.

Ascutney at a distance

The union that is implied here – that what occurs on the summit does not stay on the summit, so to speak, but is incorporated with everything else through relationship – hints at the wholeness of reality.

It is fairly easy to say that “God is Love.” Even to believe it is not so hard! But to live that way in the world in a body is not easy at all!

In fact, the world and the body are made to deny that God is Love. They argue that God is at best not real and at worst cruel and indifferent. They argue that you are alone in your struggle to survive. Even the possibility of release through death is denied. What else is hell for?

So I have to remind myself that God is Love. I have to literally forcibly remember to remember that “God is Love” is true and only that is true.

Then, holding that truth like a lantern, I have to go into the world – which is both inside and outside my body – and love in literal pragmatic ways that which is murderously hostile to love.

We are called, you and I, to take literally the prayer of Saint Francis, which takes literally the Sermon on the Mount, which took literally a love that even crucifixion could not kill.

We know what we have to do. We are saints in chrysalis, and now is our time to be reborn in Love. For whatever time is given us in this confusing landscape of body and world, let us offer only love. Let us be the means by which love – the love that even crucifixion could not kill – extends itself to itself, thus remembering itself forever and for all.

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