In the consideration about whether and how to expand my teaching in the ACIM community, money was always the biggest stumbling block. Is it fair to charge for spiritual-related services? Isn’t money distracting at best and downright evil at worst?
For me, money is that symbol – that illusion – wherein the separation from God is perceived in exquisitely sharp and painful detail. It has been that way as long as I can remember. I have always believed at the deepest level that money is the single biggest impediment to Love that the world has ever known.
Challenging – and undoing – that belief has been my single biggest forgiveness of this lifetime, and I am sure that I am only beginning.
What direction, if any, does A Course in Miracles offer its students with respect to money?
Money is part of our experience in the world of separation. It is as much an illusion as anything else – from the grass that makes up the front lawn to the maple syrup we pour on our pancakes to the children that we call “daughter” or “son.”
As such, money is neither good nor evil. It’s nothing. The metaphysics of the course are very clear on this.
Yet few of us perceive the world with that kind of clarity. Most of us – because it is the condition of being here -believe in degrees of importance and value. We love our kids differently than kids we’ve never met across the globe. We believe that cancer is worse than a headache.
But illusions – like miracle – are not subject to any hierarchy. Any one of them – money, say – is as illusory as the next. No more and no less.
So from a course perspective, money is not a means of communication nor a form of energy but simply an illusion.
At the same time, it rarely does us any good to substitute a working knowledge of course metaphysics for an actual experience of peace and joy. We can walk around and say “money is an illusion” until we’re blue in the face but if in our hearts we hate money – or lust after money – then we’re in the illusion as deep as we can go.
An it is very important to be honest about that. The course doesn’t want to turn us into metaphysicians. It wants to help us look at what blocks our awareness of Love. For me it’s money. For you it may be something else.
An honest appraisal of one’s attitude towards money, then, is very helpful. If we believe that having money reflects alignment with God and Godly Love – if we equate an abundance of cash with an abundance of divine Love – then we are confused about about what God is, what we are and what love is.
And if we believe that denigrating money somehow purifies and bring us closer to God – you know, because saints are poor and always hungry – then we are also confused about God and self and love.
In a sense, the clearest attitude towards money that would be consistent with ACIM is this: on Monday we wake up and discover we’ve got a million dollars in the bank and so we smile and say “life is good.” On Tuesday we wake up and all that money is gone forever and so we smile and say “life is good.”
And we mean it both days.
In other words, the happiness towards which A Course in Miracles guides us is not contingent on what appears or does not appear in the illusory world in which our illusory bodies lead illusory lives. Any belief to the contrary is the separation.
That is true whether we are talking about sex or food or money or art or houses or jobs or anything. As soon as we’ve judged it, we’ve invested in it. We’ve made it real. It doesn’t matter if we think it’s good or bad or some combination thereof. We’ve strayed from the essence of the early course lessons which remind us – I am paraphrasing – that we don’t know a damned thing about reality.
So we have to be attentive to where we are – our beliefs, our opinions, our attitudes, our convictions. That is where the separation is operative and so that is where the Holy Spirit stands ever ready to lead us to atonement.
We get healed when we go straight to the problem with our eyes wide open.
That is what I am doing when I charge for teaching: I am trusting that God’s Love will not be withdrawn or diminished because I am doing this. It is a leap of faith into the mouth of the lion.
It is a chance to learn – yet again – that God’s love is not conditional and is always given, always present, always available. Period.
Really, that is what our lives in the world are in the end: repeated opportunities to learn – in different forms, of course – that God’s love is here now.
Our attention to these learning opportunities facilitates salvation.
I was mulling all of this over for weeks on end – talking to people whose judgment I trust, reading and praying. About two weeks ago I woke up in the middle of the night with a clear and sure voice in my mind: “Charge money or don’t charge money, but get on with the teaching.”
Charge money or don’t charge money but get on with the teaching.
The clarity was lovely and impeccable: Jesus was saying that the money was not the important element. The expanded teaching was. And the teaching mattered not because I have something you don’t, or anything like that, but because I don’t know what I have and can only learn it through teaching.
This is a course in how to know yourself. You have taught what you are, but have not let what you are teach you (T-16.III.4:1-2).
When we place our faith not in ourselves but in the Holy Spirit, we learn. Miracles happen and as we witness them, we learn a little more about what we are in truth.
This experience is different for all of us but the essence is always the same. What do we learn when we step into the very conflict that appears most full of risk and most unlikely to be solved?
We learn that we are not alone.
[t]he Holy Spirit is part of you. Created by God, He left neither God nor His creation. He is both God and you, as you are God and Him together (T-16.III.5:1-3).
That is knowledge to which all our learning in this vale of illusions is directed. Money is not the point, teachers are not the point and belief systems aren’t even the point.
The point is that we have forgotten the only fact of our identity: that we are one with God, outside time and space, beyond form and name and judgment altogether.
This is not the peace of the world which always passes. This is the peace that surpasses understanding – including that of our brains.
So how do we get to it again?
We look at what we fear. For me it is money. For you it will be something else: you know what it is. And when we look clearly at this fear – which means we engage with it – we take it onto the dance floor and give it a spin – it dissolves before us. It fades.
And then – for a moment – like stars perceived though a thinning veil of mist – we perceive the Light and Love that composes us and awaits only our acceptance to shine a little bit brighter, that we might all go home, sooner rather than later.