Yesterday was tough. I didn’t get my routine, my start – a walk in the pre-dawn darkness with my dog, hours alone with tea and A Course in Miracles. My teaching obligations were doubled and there were institutional demands on top of them that necessitated more preparation, both emotional and administrative, than usual. Our beloved old cat is dying, and so Chrisoula – who is both grieving and nursing her – needed me to pull more weight at home.
Isn’t that life?
I can’t count – because they are so numerous – the number of times in this life where I have groused, complained, and caused no end of conflict because I didn’t get my spiritual way. What’s the point of having a practice if the cat’s going to die right in the middle of it? I’m trying to find God here.
But yesterday I knew – and willed into application – a different concept. What is the point of having a practice if the cat can’t die right in the middle of it?
A big part of the spiritual journey is learning that how little we actually have to do. There is nowhere to go because we are already there. There is no learning because we already know. There is no improvement because we’re already perfect.
Undoing – doing nothing – can feel passive and for much of my life I was an enemy of passivity. Take massive action! Do it now! It’s bred into us, isn’t it? We have to accomplish things – eat the right diet, make a lot money. Accomplishments stacked one on top of the other, no one of them sufficient on its own, and the height of them together all the measure of our life.
Yet there is a creativity in stillness, in quiet of which I am beginning to be aware. Reality is here, now. I need to do nothing. So easy to say – so frustratingly easy to say – and yet so hard to convey, in an experiential way.
How do I know ACIM helps? How do I know it’s working?
Because on a morning when I can’t burrow into the text, or devote myself to a lesson, or spend hours tweaking a blog post in which I expound on my latest iteration of the Happy Dream, I don’t lose my sense of gratitude. I don’t feel unhappy. I remain interested in helping others – thanking the cashier at the co-op, listening carefully to students, tickling my kids, baking comfort food for C.
The miracle is that brief moment – just a flash – when we realize that our interests and the interest of another are identical. So much understanding and love can flow from that seeing! It brings a real clarity, a real direction.
So the Course points beyond itself. There is that great old Zen story of the monk who asks his teacher to show him the moon. The teacher points to the moon. The student looks at the teacher’s finger and says, “Ah, thank you. The moon is very beautiful.”
I think on day-to-day basis, it is helpful to make as much of your day as possible about others. What can you give? How can you help? And in the moments of prayer or meditation or study – however you define it – it is helpful to cultivate gratitude. That will inspire a state of awareness, of being alert, and from that state an interior shifting will occur. The clouds break, the veil lifts. We need do nothing. Love will do the rest.