The other day I re-read part one of Love Holds No Grievances by Tara Singh. It is a beautiful book, not quite 100 pages, and so full of wisdom and insight that even a handful of sentences can change your life. If you give the words the attention – which is to give yourself the gift of attention – then you will awaken from the sleep of forgetfulness.
Reading Tara Singh saved A Course in Miracles for me. Before I encountered him, the Course was mostly an intellectual exercise. I was studying Ken Wapnick very closely; I wanted to be his equal and then I wanted to supplant him. That is what you do in academia; you study the elders and then you replace them. And then wait for the new guard to arrive with their veneration and the destruction it inevitably hides.
Tara Singh called me to application. He reminded me instantly that my intellect and the culture in which it was effective was not going to save me. It was not going to end the internal conflict and its myriad external effects. It was not going to restore to my awareness God’s Creation and my home in it. I was forty years old, I had been studying and thinking and arguing and professing all my life, what did I think was going to be different this time? I treated ACIM as another idea, another thought system to be mastered. I was cheapening it without even recognizing I was doing it.
And Tara Singh made clear there was another way and that it lay in application, in practice. In that insight, I realized what was missing in my life, and began the slow and difficult journey of becoming responsible.
I found my practice. Theory, at last, was joined to praxis.
People get confused about this. A lot of students will say, it doesn’t matter what you do. Rob banks, cheat on your taxes, eat chips and watch television. They say – mostly parroting Ken Wapnick – that A Course in Miracles is not about behavior. This is true but in such a shallow and technical sense as to be almost useless. It’s like pretending you can live in the blueprint of a house, rather than the house the blueprint would have you build. It’s good to have a blueprint, sure. But you need a hammer and nails. You have to follow the blueprint; you have to do what it says; you have to build what it teaches you to build.
So that was what I got reading Tara Singh. I got that the Course was meant to be lived, rather than merely studied. And learning this changed everything.
It is not easy to read or follow Tara Singh. He’s not a coach, like Marianne Williamson. He’s not an academic, like Ken Wapnick. He’s a Teacher in the Platonic sense. He read the Course and brought it into application and discovered thereby the truth of “Nothing real can be threatened, nothing unreal exists.” And then he taught it by speaking the truth – the truth of his experience of living what the Course teaches.
Very few people, if any, are actually doing that. And it’s really hard to study with those people because you can’t fake it. They won’t let you use them as a distraction. They aren’t trying to get anything from you – your money, your admiration, your attention. It’s a different kind of relationship. You can take it or you can leave it, but you can’t use it avoid the truth.
That is why Tara Singh will say things like, stop watching so much television. Or paint your room and put fresh flowers in it. Keep a gratitude list. Read Walt Whitman and Thoreau. It is incredibly personal but it never deviates from the Text, Workbook and Manual for Teachers. If somebody has the integrity – if they are speaking from truth – then it lands differently in you. Practicing A Course in Miracles means allowing it to take form in your life. The question isn’t, what does it mean to not let grievances hide the light of God in you but rather, how does letting go of grievances manifest in your living?
You just have to do it. Or learn that you can’t do it, and then learn how. But it’s always the doing – the giving of attention to your own life, to finding truth in your own life and then allowing it to transform you.
Because that is what A Course in Miracles does – it transforms us. When we are living it out in our lives – when it touches all of our relationships, when it affects what we eat and how we sleep – it changes us. I am personally a slow and stubborn learner, whose handiness with words occasionally obscures my confusion and laziness. It’s easy to stunt like a prophet. But still. The Course calls me to accountability in every minute. I learn how to be silent. I learn how to be honest. I learn how to become responsible for projection. I learn how to discern between the Holy Spirit and ego, and then listen only to Holy Spirit.
What Tara Singh taught me – which is also what Thérèse of Lisieux taught me, by the way – is that you have to become a saint. Thérèse saw clearly that if she was going to take the Sermon on the Mount literally then she was going to have to be a saint, and she accepted that responsibility. She brought everything to it – her labor, her prayer, her creativity, her passion, her confusion, her loneliness, all of it. And she learned what everybody learns who does this work. You can’t become a saint – that’s obvious as soon as you try. The effort to become anything hides the light of God in you. But you can consent to be transformed by allowing every block to your remembrance of Love, which is our shared inheritance, to be undone in us.
Tara Singh says that one sentence of the Course will awaken you if you give it the attention it deserves. You read “love holds no grievances” or “my grievances hide the light of the world in me” and you are instantly brought to the crisis of, is this true or not? If you don’t know, then the crisis is, will you find out?
We don’t want to find out because we know at some deep place that when we do, we will realize that A Course in MIracles is calling us to be saints. Not for nothing did Helen Schucman say that Mother Teresa was an example of living the Course, and not for nothing did Tara Singh and his family of students enter into a sustained relationship of service with and modeled on Mother Teresa’s example.
We have to let go of the personal. It’s funny that we don’t want to. I fought this for years before I let go even a little, and even then it wasn’t because I was wise or anything. It was because I was scared if I didn’t I would die. It was still selfish! But it was enough. When you let go even a little, just for a millisecond, you realize that there is nothing you would hold onto even if you could. Life provides; God provides. The given is everpresent and always sufficient.
Then the work is just to remember it and, for me, remembering it means being in relationship with you, in order to learn that together we are Christ. Tara Singh was a teacher. I am not a teacher. But I am a fellow student and fellow traveler who will study with you, and support you in your study. I will not leave you alone in the classroom because the classroom only exists with you. Together we learn that we are Christ, and then together we share our freedom with the world.