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On Kindness and Salvation

In the opening dialogue to the book Science, Order and Creativity, F. David Peat says to David Bohm that the answer to the world’s problems lies “not in the accumulation of more and more knowledge” but rather in wisdom. It is the absence of wisdom that causes our most serious problems. Bohm replies with characteristic insight.

But this implies goodwill and friendliness. This seems to be lacking today, among scientists as much as the general public (Bohm and Peat 14).

It’s an interesting distinction, one that both men explore for the balance of the book. But it got me thinking. In my reading and teaching, the assumption seems to be that wisdom – often undefined – is the problem with human beings. Indeed, my ACIM preceptor Tara Singh wrote a whole book on the subject (The Future of Mankind: Affluence without Wisdom is Self-Destructive).

Bohm’s answer put me in the mind of A Course in Miracles, which teaches repeatedly that our brothers and sisters – our relationships with one another – are essential to undoing the blocks that impede our awareness of love.

A teacher of God is anyone who chooses to be one. His qualifications consist solely in this; somehow, somewhere he has made a deliberate choice in which he did not see his interests as apart from someone else’s (M-1.1:1-2).

And see too the ninth principle of miracles.

Miracles are a kind of exchange. Like all expressions of love, which are always miraculous in the true sense, the exchange reverses the physical laws. They bring more love both to the giver *and* the receiver (T-1.I.9:1-3).

It’s quite clear that we aren’t going anywhere alone. We need each other. The question is, what are we supposed to do with, for or to each other?

And I think the answer is right there in the two examples above: we are supposed to love one another. And if we’re struggling with that definition, then we can bring David Bohm into. To love one another is to practice friendliness and good will.

Jesus – and he is hardly alone in this – taught the same thing some two thousand years ago.

Everything whatsoever you desire that people should do for you, do likewise for them, for this is the Law and The Prophets.

We aren’t students of A Course in Miracles because we want to make the world a better place. Nor are we trying to sell everybody on our particular path towards Heaven. The world is an illusion, as are the many bodies traipsing through it, and our goal is to see that clearly in order to remember the Oneness that we are in truth.

Thus, we don’t focus on form so much as on the content symbolized by the form. There is no difference between the ACIM student who teaches the Course full-time and the banker who practices the Course. We bring it to bear in our lives with all the willingness we can muster and it goes to work. What that looks like is always different and intensely personal.

And so if we get focused on fixing externals – the degradation of local farm land, bullying in schools, war in the Middle East, hunger in the Sudan – then we are drifting from a core ACIM principle, which is that we want to heal our minds. It is an inside – not an outside – job.

There is a tendency to think the world can offer consolation and escape from problems that its purpose is to keep. Why should this be? . . . Seek not to escape from problems here (T-31.IV.1:1-2, 2:5).

Yet I think that as we endeavor to bring the Holy Spirit to bear on our lives – asking for guidance, listening to its calm still voice – that we will be directed towards kindness. How could it be otherwise? It is our brothers and sisters who pave the way to Heaven, showing us where our fear and guilt and anger lie and then enabling us to forgive it. And kindness spreads very quickly because it is an act of love. Love isn’t like pennies – we don’t give it up when we give it away.

Extending love through kindness multiplies love. I don’t know what form this will take: donating money, sharing food, offering a hug, buying a pony, protesting a war, buying local tomatoes, scattering seed for chickadees, volunteering at a senior center, praying more, praying less, smiling, learning some jokes, teaching guitar lessons for free. Who knows?

But I do know this. I can’t always say what constitutes wisdom. But I am always quite sure what constitutes kindness. I recognize it, both when others extend it to me and when I extend it to them. It is the most radical and beautiful thing we can do: to love one another as we would be loved, to see that this interest in being loved belong to all of us equally, and we can only meet it together.

It is that to which our attention is most helpfully directed: kindness, friendliness, good will to all our brothers and sisters, regardless of how we feel about them, regardless of what they do or how they act. We can place no conditions on this love, because that is the only way that we can receive it.

And truly, it is the only we want – and the only thing the world needs.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • sally March 8, 2013, 12:32 am

    Thinking of Kindness and the meaning of Salvation, as realizing again I am One wih God, I Thank you, Sean, for this Post filled with various ways to think about problems, wisdom, solutions and action and the need for more understanding of it all. When I worked in a women’s gym as a trainer/customer service representative, there were times when customers were unfriendly or rude. The very next time I saw these ladies in the gym, ‘Something’ ‘Caused’ me to gently walk up to them and greet them politely and warmly with eye contact………and low and behold, they responded as if nothing unkind had ever happened. I knew I had to find a way to not dislike them and the ‘Something’ ‘Caused’ me to offer good will and friendliness with out my planning to do it. I see now that Jesus was with me, even when I had wandered away from him, and he led me to do a miracle for the ladies, me and him too. Even though I did not know what a real miracle was at that time, it must have been real because the next time the ladies arrived at the gym, our mutual greeting was warm and sincere and happy. I thank my Invisible Teacher, Jesus/Holy Spirit for His patience with me and our Father for making the Plan for us, to Learn His way of Being. love,sally

    • Cheryl March 31, 2017, 11:18 am

      Just read your comment Sally and felt compelled to comment as we share a similar path. I worked at a women’t gym for seven years. It was a job I thought — as an introvert who tended to prefer the company of men — I would come to dread and despise. But, love being what it is, I found the relationships (both easy and difficult) were the source of great learning and inner growth.

      Who would have known. I like to say now that from a purely spiritual perspective, it was the best job I ever had. 🙂

      And thanks, Sean, for opening the space for these discoveries and this dialogue. Hope all is well.


      • Sean April 4, 2017, 1:45 pm

        You’re welcome, Cheryl. Thank you for reading & sharing.

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