While I do not think it is necessary to believe that the historical Jesus dictated A Course in Miracles to Helen Schucman, or to believe that Jesus is an enlightened Son of a Divine Father, or in any other way special or separate from us, I do think that it is helpful to have a personal relationship with Jesus in order to fully enter into the course and give it the internal space to fully unfold its miraculous shifts in thought.
On this journey you have chosen me as you companion instead of the ego. Do not attempt to hold on to both, or you will try to go in different directions and will lose the way (T-8.V.5:8-9).
This is not a matter of faith or belief as we encounter it in the church of formal religion. There is no ritual to it. We are talking about a relationship with Jesus that is in truth a relationship with Christ and we are the Christ.
Christ is God’s Son as He created Him. He is the Self we share, uniting us with one another, and with God as well . . . Christ is the link that keeps you one with God, and guarantees that separation is no more than an illusion of despair, for hope forever will abide in Him (W-pII.6.1:1-2, 2:1).
So when we relate to Jesus in this way, we are reaching the truth of the Self that God created, and that we share with one another as God’s Creation.
What does this mean practically?
It is not an error to talk to Jesus – to relate to Jesus – as if he were a body with whom we are sharing a worldly experience. Though I do not do it as often as I once did, I still offer verbal prayers to Jesus. I still sometimes fall to my knees to say wordy versions of “please” and “help” and “thank you.” This is not spiritually immature. It is not naive or foolish.
Even if we are not ready to enter that space of silence and stillness – that centerless center of inner peace and happiness – we can still sense its presence, and we can sense the welcome it offers all of us, being for all of us.
To adopt Jesus as a model for decision-making in the world can be a very fruitful practice. It can smooth out stressful moments and clear an interior space in which to deepen our understanding and application of right-minded thinking, or forgiveness. For many years I prayed the rosary several times a day, not because I was particularly invested in the so-called promises of such prayers, but because they were calming and quieted the egoic chatter that creates such pressure and confusion.
To relate to Jesus in this sense is to render him very much a symbol. To say that in no way denigrates his fundamental helpfulness. It is not an insult, though obviously many sincere people will perceive it as such. There are helpful symbols and unhelpful symbols in the world of illusion, and turning to those that resonate in peaceful and happy ways is how we heal. This includes Jesus, as it can include everything from walks in the woods to kirtan to biking.
Any of these symbols – and there are countless others – are akin to seams in the veil through which the very light of Christ and Heaven stream, blessing us even in our spiritual exile.
The light becomes ours, and you cannot abide in darkness any more than darkness can abide wherever you go. The remembrance of me is the remembrance of yourself, and of Him Who sent me to you (T-8.IV.2:12-13).
Gradually, we become comfortable in the knowledge that when we turn to “Jesus” we are not turning to a superior being favored of God but rather a symbol of our unity with God. We project our holiness and divinity; relating to Jesus personally is a way of reclaiming that holiness, essentially by extending it to our brothers and sisters. That is always the benefit of loving Jesus: we are made better lovers for the world in its delusions. We heal as we are healed.
We begin to sense, in other words, the oneness with our Creator to which Jesus alludes. We begin to sense the Christ, which is the totality of God’s Creation without limit or specialness. Christ is not Jesus; Christ is all the separated Sons and Daughters remembering their unity with God. That is why I always say that we are in this salvation thing together. I cannot do it without you. You lift and take me with you. There is no other, no better way to say it.
When we consider our relationship with Jesus in this sense, we are talking about something that reflects a deeply personal level of sharing and experience, because it is abstract and internal. But it is increasingly the space into which we settle as our relationship with Jesus itself settles. What is happening externally matters less and less because it is either an expression of our Love for all, or it is an expression of our continual call for Love from all.
In either case, we know that it is never the egoic self that answers, but rather the knowledge of Christ flowing through that self that answers. We aren’t really doing anything outside of being willing. So we relax a little and we don’t take the external world of events and personalities so seriously, because we know it is in better hands than ours, so long as we are attending to the foundational relationship that underlies the all.
That sounds very poetic and mystical, doesn’t it? Well, I am partial to that kind of language so I tend to write that way. But it is important also to see that this connection to Jesus is a very natural and gentle relationship. It is a way of seeing that is not aggressive, that does not rush to conclusion or definition. It is like I know that bluets are called “bluets” or “Quaker ladies” or whatever, but mostly I am just happy to be in the presence of their soft blue and violet petals. The intellect can be a useful tool in its place but it is hardly a necessary precedent to the experience of joy.
Even if we are not ready to enter that space of silence and stillness – that centerless center of inner peace and happiness – we can still sense its presence, and we can sense the welcome it offers all of us, being for all of us. Just knowing that we have a home that is not this world, the way the world understands and defines home, is very healing. There is no expiration date on salvation.
So our relationship with Jesus – which, again, can be very simple and ordinary, and the form of which is a matter of what works for us as individuals in the time and space in which we perceive ourselves – really becomes a reflection of the Holy Relationship, a perfect union of God, Self and shared will, that transforms our perception of all life. It is not the only relationship that does this, as A Course in Miracles is not the only path that facilitates this remembrance, but if it is our path, then it is a good relationship to give attention to in a nurturing way, a loving way, such as we are able in a given moment.
Very nice Sean.
There are two passages that immediately came to mind reading your blog.
I have enjoined you to behave as I behaved, but we must respond to the same mind to do this. This mind is the Holy Spirit, whose will is for God always. He teaches you how to keep me as the model for your thought and to behave like me as a result.
The power of our joint motivation is beyond belief but not beyond accomplishment. What we can accomplish together has no limits because the Call for God is the call to the unlimited. Child of God, my message is for you to hear and give away as you answer the Holy Spirit within you. ~ACIM
My holy brothers, I would enter into all your relationships and step between you and your fantasies. Let my relationship to you be real to you, and let me bring reality to your perception of your brothers. They were not created to enable you to hurt yourselves through them. They were created to create with you. This is the truth that I would interpose between you and your goal of madness. Be not separate from me, and let not the holy purpose of Atonement be lost to you in dreams of vengeance. Relationships in which such dreams are cherished have excluded me. Let me enter in the Name of God and bring you peace that you may offer peace to me. ~ACIM
Thank you, Eric. The first quote is one of my favorites. Very practical, which matters to me.
Yeah – that is a lovely forest – very deep and old and unspoiled. I am grateful to walk there. I’m a snob about New England but I know the northwest is lovely, too.
The lessening of the belief in separation while out there . . . yes, absolutely. Something quietens and other voices, other energies can be perceived. I don’t mean to make it sound all mystical – it is just what can happen to anyone when we encounter stillness. That is what trees teach me – stillness. I would be lost without the forest.
I understand what you’re saying. One of my favorite aspects I like about starting work very early is going outside before sunrise in the winters and sunrise during the spring/summer season.
During the winter time, I love to go out to my car when I leave for work on a clear winter morning before the sunrise and just look at the stars. The vastness and the quietness of just standing there looking in wonder.
During this time of season, I love to go out to my car to go to work and just listen to the birds singing their morning song. The rythym of it. How it seems to flow perfectly within the stillness of the morning.
These moments are beautiful and do I dare to say, even Holy?
Today I was puttering around the house doing little chores and I decided to listen to some of your YouTube videos as I did some of these. I came across one about practical application and the issue of the world being an illusion.
I think there are quite a few course students who are afraid to appreciate the vastness of the stars or the song of a bird, because they are worried about “making it real”, something that has been taught and excepted in course circles, but the actual course speaks of this in reference as seeing our brothers as sinful.
But how does the course define what is real? That which is Eternal and Changeless. That would leave what is ephemeral as illusion. When the course (IMO) speaks of making sin real. It is essentially saying trying to make sin eternal, forever condemnable without hope of change. But I digress.
To appreciate a tree or a forest, maybe a waterfall or even the stars, doesn’t necessarily mean that one is trying to “make it real”. One can fully understand that the experience of the tree or waterfall is a passing moment, an ephemeral experience of the manifested that is ultimately an illusion in an Absolute sense and still appreciate it, still hold gratitude for it.
The course tells us that there is another maker of the world. A maker that reflects the Laws of God here. I think that genuine appreciation and gratitude are part of that reflection.
Is not being afraid of “making it real” still fear anyway? Why not reflect the Laws of God and feel gratitude and appreciation in which we can share in the Love of God. Besides, it’s not the tree in itself or the forest in itself, or even the waterfall in itself. It’s the Love reflected within the gratitude and appreciation within the Awareness itself. That is what needs to be made Real.
Thanks for sharing, Eric. I think those moments are holy – bird song has always amazed me, even as a little boy, and I never grow tired of giving attention to the stars and the moon. Something in looking up has always resonated in the human spirit – I think this is why so many stories have evolved involving God up there or Heaven up there. The vastness, the emptiness, the pinprick lights . . . I am very grateful for the capacity to see these things without losing them in metaphysics! My teacher in this regard is Emily Dickinson, who so clearly grasped the eternal and infinite yet loved wholly the flowers and the birds and trees and so forth. That is part of what I think of as my inheritance from the Transcendentalists – the capacity to hold the infinite in mind while still loving appears before us.
It is odd that we are so resistant to this – though I agree with you entirely that a lot of ACIM students do resist it, do struggle with it. I think it reflects a very narrow and rigid attempt to “force” non-duality into perception, when in fact the shift is much gentler and involves no giving up at all. But we are all moving in our own time and way, I guess.
Thank you, again, for sharing here – I am very grateful for it. I know I am a broken record on this account, but some day I hope that our paths cross so that we can talk about these things. Your intelligence and openness is very welcome!
When’s that Hawaii vacation start?
I would like that Sean. Maybe even play a little guitar together too.
I really like that picture of the area you walk around mumbling to Jesus. It reminds me of some of the forests of Washington State here. Walking through nature like this and just enjoying the beauty and quietness away from the man made world of it all is one of my favorite things to do. I often find that the separation from my self lessens quite noticably during these walks, if that makes sense.
Thank U Sean. I am grateful for all. Thank U for the picture of New England woods. As a transplanted New Englander in Florida , I could see the bluets and hear the birds. Hearing the songs of the birds has always been comforting for me and here they sing even in the night. Recently Maya ascended and for me her book entitled I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings……it sings because no matter what we all are free. Thank U
You’re welcome, JayCee . . . so glad the pictures and words were helpful. Florida! Funny you mention it. Many members of my family on my Dad’s side left New England for Florida. How interesting to hear birds sing through the night . . . it almost makes me want to visit Florida, despite being such a homebody.
And thank you for mentioning Maya Angelou – she was such a wonderful writer and also reader. I loved listening to her read poetry.