There is nothing wrong with wanting a better body, more money, wilder and more vivid sensual experiences, awesome health, unbridled optimism. Part of being a body – and part of being a separate self – means wanting those things. It is those things.
It’s just that those things don’t exist and so, in the ultimate sense, they aren’t going to make you happy or satisfied. They’re sort of like mosquitoes. You brush one away and scratch the itch, but then another mosquito lands. On and on it goes. You can never swat all the mosquitoes.
There are helpful life hacks that can modify and amend our apparent physical experience. Diets, exercise regimens, meditation, psychotherapy, investment strategies, yoga . . . truly the list is endless. And partaking of it is fine. It’s more than fine. Given a buffet, why not help yourself to the myriad dishes?
Yet all these methods – including A Course in Miracles – subtly reinforce the very problem that gives rise to all the dissatisfaction and grievances that led to our searching for them. They take as fact the existence of the separate self. And so long as we are working on that self – even if very subtly – then we are going to experience depression and guilt and fear. Separation is depressing and guilt-inducing and fearful.
What am I saying here? I’m saying that if you feel like running, run, but don’t expect running to reveal the face of God. Even if you do happen to see the face of God while running, it’s not happening because you’re running. It’s happening because you are ready to see that you are always seeing the face of God. The same with becoming a vegetarian or a peace activist or a poet or anything else. Illusory projects directed at an illusory self will only yield illusory results. Those results come and go. Chasing after results – really, just believing there is one who can chase results – is the separation.
All we are doing in our study of A Course in Miracles is looking into the possibility that the separate self concept is an illusion. If it is, then the anguish that attends it is illusory also, and we are free. Is that so hard?
Often, when I say this, this way, someone asks: and what if we are wrong? What if the separate self is real?
To which the best answer is: how would you know? And who cares (with an emphasis on “who” rather than “cares”)?
If taking the separate self as real is the end of our inquiry, then that is a positive development!. It means that we can turn away from nondual paths and practices and seek out alternatives that are more consistent with what we have discovered. There is nothing wrong – and a great deal good and right – about that.
In either case, truly, there is nothing to fear or be worked up about. If we reach the Gates of Heaven, wonderful! If we don’t, wonderful! I love to bake bread; I have become somewhat skilled at it over the years. The apparent mistakes – the loaves that didn’t rise, the spices that didn’t mix well, the sweeteners that overwhelmed the dough – were all “errors” that informed my eventually consistent baking. Seen in that light, can I really say they were “errors?” I learned from them. Was there not – is there not now – simply baking?
If your life sucks, then go ahead and make it better. There is nothing wrong with this. But spare a thought for the underlying conceptual structure that makes your suffering possible: the discrete and separate entity known as the self, alone in a world that wishes it ill. Can you really and truly find that self? And if you can’t, why are you so worked up about its so-called problems?