Recently, Scott Britton and I talked about A Course in Miracles. You can read his post and listen to our conversation on Itunes, Spotify, or Youtube.
Talking to Scott reminded me that no matter how much theorizing we do about the Course – and spirituality generally – we still need praxis. We still need to bring it into application.
A Course in Miracles has to be practiced, right? You don’t read about aspirin and expect the headache to go away. You don’t study the underlying chemistry. You take your medicine.
People say, fine. But how do I practice it?
I think the Course is very clear about this! We read the Text, do the Workbook lessons, and study the Manual for Teachers. Collectively they teach us to discern between the Holy Spirit and ego, and to learn from – and teach on behalf of – the Holy Spirit.
The rest is in the Holy Spirit’s hands because the Holy Spirit – who is not separate from us, by the way – knows that everying is actually in God’s Hands. Love holds everything.
I practice A Course in Miracles by giving attention to relationship, and asking the Holy Spirit to interpret each one – really, each moment in each one – in whatever way undoes fear and thus reveals Love for everyone involved.
The Holy Spirit teaches me how to rest and get out of the way by reminding me always that Love holds everying. There is nothing I need to do.
Take grievances. A sense I was wronged yesterday, am being wronged today, and will be wronged again tomorrow. We all collect grievances; they seem to be inherent. Ego loves them.
Upon what does the experience of grievance depend? How is it brought forth?
I don’t analyze the grievance – whether it is justified or not, how to respond to it, who to tell about it. How to get rid of it. How not to.
Instead, I ask: what must I believe for this grievance to matter? What must be true? What, if anything, could not be otherwise? Am I participating in the bringing forth? Could I not? Could it be otherwise?
Really go into this! Not for an afternoon or even a month. Rather, go into it until you have answered it for yourself, once and for all.
We have many diverse grievances but the means by which they occur and appear never changes. Heal that and grievances are gone forever.
These inquiries move us away from the ego’s victim narrative – the precious self under attack from its brothers and sisters, from God Himself, and thus at war with Creation, ever justified in self-defense up to and including murder – and into the problem of perception, which is the confusion of mind and body, idea and matter, cause and effect – which A Course in Miracles is given to correct.
Peace, not conflict, is our reality. Healing, not suffering, is our function.
Yes, it is hard to sustain these inquiries. It requires discipline. It requires stepping outside – way outside eventually – our intellectual and psychological comfort zones. We have to consider some truly frightening stuff. We have to face bravely the dark and what lives there.
Of course the temptation is to not do this but instead to come back to the grievance, which is always personal, always special. The grievance wants to be looked at; it’s happy to be looked at. There’s always a victim, always a victimizer. We say we don’t like that binary but we sure do bring it forth a lot.
It’s almost like we secretly appreciate – find value in – suffering.
So long as we are giving attention to the grievance then we are not giving attention to that which would heal all grievances by healing the mind that thinks it is separate from God and Creation.
That is the only level at which healing is possible. And so that is the level the ego wants us to never ever look at. It works viciously – single-mindedly, tirelessly – to keep us from seeing that we are doing this to ourselves.
That is the “how” the ego will not let you see. That is the “how” we project, in one form or another. And that is what the Holy Spirit heals in us.
In gentle laughter does the Holy Spirit perceive the cause, and look not to effects . . . He bids you bring each terrible effect to Him that you may look together on its foolish cause and laugh with Him a while. You judge its effects, but He has judged their cause. And by His judgment are effects removed (T-27.VIII.9:1, 3-5).
So that is the work then – to see through the projection, to see that we are doing this to ourselves, and to reverse our understanding of cause and effect. This learning naturally occurs when we give attention only to the Holy Spirit, and not at all to ego.
Therefore, this is not a practice we do for an hour in the morning or once a week on Sunday or only at the solstice or whatever. Mind is always creating (T-2.VI.9:7). Vigilance, discipline and willingness are never out of place.
To practice A Course in Miracles is to give attention to it in order to understand the practice and then – over and over – to practice it by giving attention to the Holy Spirit instead of ego. In this way, we remember how to “love in a loveless place” (T-14.IV.4:10) and reclaim our identity as Love (T-14.IV.5:6).
Perhaps it’s timing, I suppose it always is, but I very much appreciate thoughts on how to practice ACIM. Many years ago in the 12 step program I remember reading in the big book, “more will be revealed”. I knew that it was true and so it is. Thanks again
You’re welcome, Bill. Thanks for reading and sharing. Yeah, in my experience, more will be revealed is more or less always the case. I’m grateful for the journey and the fellow travelers. 🙏🙏
Thanks, Sean. This is particularly helpful. Your way of looking at grievance (what do I have to believe for this to be true?) seems like a great tool, and the admonition to keep going deeper is, and has been for me, a key. Do I take time to sit down and write, though? Even now that I’m retired? Hardly ever. Discipline has always been my issue (though not when it becomes habit, interesting).
Thanks, Dierdre. Yes, atonement is a process not an event, and our intention matters. We have to practice it; we have to show up.
I don’t know if it’s helpful but many many years ago I began a writing practice of twenty sentences a day, sort of after Harry Matthews (thought it shifted a LOT from his work). The rule was, no matter what happened, I had to write twenty sentences a day. They didn’t have to be good, didn’t have to be about anything, didn’t have to cohere as a single piece of writing. The only rule was, twenty sentences.
And it was really one of the most liberating experiences of my life. It became a form of writing that anchored the rest of my writing practice, and opened up a lot of space in my heart and mind for healing and creating (which are – as I suspect you know – the same thing).
Some examples of that writing are collected here.
Thanks for sharing and being here, Dierdre 🙏🙏