There is Only One Relationship: Notes on Reading Tara Singh’s “Love Holds No Grievances”

I think this is the last in a series of posts on this little book. Previous posts here and here. Many thanks to those of you who read and shared and also who prompted me to come back to it. And always, love and gratitude to Tara Singh 🙏🙏.

In “What is Relationship” in Love Holds No Grievances Tara Singh talks about resigning from relationship in the sense of no longer taking a stand towards it, choosing this side or the other, preferring this side or the other. It’s not the end of the relationship but a transformation.

It is – in practice and applicaton – a way of discerning between special relationships and holy relationship. In truth, there is only relationship and when it is seen as such, then what formerly appeared as separate relationships, each to be judged on its own merits, dissolves. Seeing the one relationship – even if we are confused by it, even if we are resistant to it – allows us to rest in holiness, and holiness extends its blessing eternally, excepting nothing.

We become students of the Teacher who knows. Learning stops being personal. It is challenging but also exciting, like the last leg of a journey you have been on for a long time.

One has to be very careful. Unless one resigns one would create the friction. One would create unhappiness in oneself. You cannot take sides. You have to take the situation as it is (Singh 47).

The practice is to notice when we are taking sides in or for a relationship, any relationship. The practice is to notice when we prefer this relationship to that one, or this mode of relating to that mode.

If we do this, then we will see that this taking sides thing is hard to notice. It seems to naturally avoid being the subject of our attention. Or else we will see that taking sides is happening all the time. Just walking down the street through a crowd – this person is beautiful, this person is wearing pricey clothes, this person is old, this person looks unhappy so don’t meet their eyes, this person is a little scary so give them a wide berth . . .

We might also notice how we are conditioned to respond to various cultural signals – like if someone wears a MAGA hat or a pin that says “Eat the Rich” or drives a Corvette or uses a walker. We react differently and the reaction is there before we notice.

There is a reason you are married to who you are married to, are divorced from whom you are divorced from, are friends with whom you are friends with, are estranged from whom you are estranged from, fantasize about whom you fantasize about. You think it’s choice or decision but there is no choice anywhere in the system.

So Tara Singh’s suggestion is, resign from all that and from whatever rationalizations seem to justify it. See the programming and conditioning that underlie the rationalizing and become intentional about no longer submitting to it. See what is happening and then don’t get involved. Observe.

That’s easy enough to say, of course. How does it play out in practice?

When I see I am doing it – preferring, investing, attaching in relationship – when I see how deep it runs – and when I become willing to consider that Tara Singh is on to something and maybe I want to follow his suggestion – then I realize just how hard it is to actually stop. I realize that judgment, evaluation and preference run of their own accord; it has nothing to do with me. In truth I can’t stop it, any more than I can stop my hair from growing, or turn a birch tree into a maple tree, or discuss Emily Dickinson poems with a great white shark.

So really, it becomes a question of what am I doing with attention. To what is attention being given? We don’t have to change the programming and the conditioning and the thinking – we have to relate to it differently. To what are you giving attention? If you are giving attention to the forces that bring about conflict, then you will know conflict. You might call it peace or nonviolence or oneness or whatever, but the words you use don’t change the thing. You can call a great white shark a fleck of lint but it’s still a great white shark.

A Course in Miracles comes along and says, there is another way of relating – and it begins with not giving attention to the forces that drive conflict.

We must open all doors and let the light come streaming through. There are no hidden chambers in God’s temple. Its gates are open wide to greet his Children (T-14.VI.8:5-7).

When we hold a preference in relationship, we are giving attention to the forces of conflict because we are accepting division. We are embracing division. We are opening the doors for some people and not for others and thus denying the reality of God’s temple, which is our shared being. This person is beautiful and kind, this other person not so much, so I’m going to enter into relationship with the first one. The Course says, there is another way.

Most of us say, okay, well I won’t do that anymore then. I’ll give attention to other forces. The forces of love or Christ or the angels in Heaven. I’ll read the Course, I’ll go to church, I’ll only sleep with vegetarians and yogis. But it’s the same problem, right? It’s just another preference. Going from one side to another is still taking sides!

Holiness does not decide, because holiness perceives what love knows – there is no distinction or difference anywhere in the system. There is nothing to decide. You couldn’t choose if you wanted to.

Love is incapable of any exceptions. Only if there is fear does the idea of exceptions seems to be meaningful (T-7.V.5:7-8).

And yet we keep slipping back into the belief of, I can solve this problem, I can make the right choice, I can arrange all this in a way that works, et cetera.

That’s the separation. That is fear running the show. That’s you and me buying the lies that ego endlessly peddles. That’s the lullabye that rocks us deep into the sleep of forgetfulness.

When Tara Singh is inviting us to resign from relationship, it is really simply an invitation to give attention in a new way.

If we can recognize how separation-induced thinking happens without our noticing, appearing to us as if it were the way, the truth and the life – if we can see how we get pulled into it, like wading in to a river and being sucked into the currents and dragged away – then we can begin to heal. We are not host to the ego but rather fellow travelers with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Seeing clearly is healing.

. . . when the recognition dawns clearly, you will not be deceived by any form the ego takes to protect itself from your sight. Each form will be recognized as but a cover for the one idea that hides beind them all – that love demands sacrifice, and is therefore inseparable from attack and fear. And that guilt is the price of love, which must be paid by fear (T-15.X.6:6-8).

On this view, healing is realizing that we are trapped. We are stuck. We can say with integrity, I don’t know how to give attention. I don’t know what it means to not be focused on this or that. I don’t how to stop judging. I don’t know how to live in holiness rather than specialness.

We can say with integrity: I don’t know how to resign from relationship. I’m not sure I want to.

It’s hard to say that because nobody likes admitting they don’t know, nobody likes hitting the wall or reaching a dead end, but in another sense, it’s very liberating to realize the futility of our so-called knowing. It opens up a space in which something new can be born. You can remember your own self. You can begin to sense the power of God’s Love. You can begin to remember your place in Creation.

Tara Singh makes a good point – we don’t have to forgive, say, deer or whales or falling leaves, but we do have to forgive people.

Deer don’t mess with our peace by arguing with us; whales don’t confuse us by behaving dysfunctionally. We don’t get angry at the falling leaves while walking in the forest. But other people . . . Certain politicians, historical figures, artists, influencers, whatever. Neighbors, family members, co-workers. They’re doing something wrong or right, they’re symbolic of a good or a bad system, they’re saints or sinners. They need therapy, they need the Course, they need meds.

It’s not a crime to think this way; thinking that way just happens. The question is, is there another way?

Bill Thetford cried out for another way, Helen Schucman agreed to help him find it, and A Course in Miracles was born. What happens when you cry out? Who is with you when you make the cry?

In Love Holds No Grievances, Tara Singh talks about order, but it’s a cosmic order. You can see the way the Cosmos is ordered and lawful. You might not like the laws, you might not be able to understand their mathematical proofs, but still. The laws there. Life works. There are these big forces at play and they are not personal, they don’t play favorites. They are utterly neutral but they are lawful. The First Law of Thermodynamics doesn’t apply some of the time or to some situations. You can’t opt out of it. You cannot deny its existence any more than you can deny your own.

The suggestion is to find out what happens when you bring your life into harmony with that order. How would you do that? What happens when you do that? Don’t make it metaphysical – are the laws real and true? Just notice that you don’t argue with a blade of grass but you do argue with your neighbor and ask: which relationship do I prefer? And be honest in your answer and then be guided by your honesty.

Unless God is your first love, nothing will work . . . Bring some kind order in your own life . . . Take responsibility to do whatever you can do. Whether your like others or dislike them, it should not concern you. You act from a totally impersonal way because you have understood relationship (Singh 54-5).

I feel very tender when I think this way. I feel very gentle. Towards myself and towards you. I know how hard it is to do this. To give attention to this lawfulness, this utter neutrality – e.g., gravity does not recognize good and evil – is to make contact with an order that transcends our sensual and cognitive limits. I don’t care what you call it, but its utter neutrality is a form of love because it doesn’t do personal.

Yes, yes. That is still an illusion. Fine! But see it, okay? And then, upon seeing it, understand that you – whatever else you are – are related to it.

For me, one begins to reach the limits of language here. Attention merges with awareness and there isn’t much to say. I mean, talk all you want but . . . there isn’t much to say. We know this Love in the way that the body knows how to draw a next breath, or a sunflower knows how to turn to face the passing sun, or how we know that a blade of grass is not a threat . . .

And when the body goes – when the sunflower goes – the law does not. The love does not. In the coming and going that does not itself come and go we begin to see what we are in truth, and in that remembering we are made happy together.

Thought is Not the Problem: More Notes on Tara Singh’s “Love Holds No Grievances”

In “Healing Relationship” in Love Holds No Grievances, Tara Singh talks about forgiveness as a process of becoming responsible for what is going on internally. The problem is never “out there,” but inside.

Relationship is the site of learning how to forgive in this way.

Relationship has no opposite to it . . . Relationship is not subject to duality. Neither is truth subject to duality. In relationship there is no conflict (Love Holds No Grievances 58).

It is a new way of being. If we so much as perceive an other, then we are not in relationship, because we are confused and are still seeing only separation. We are taking the body’s perception of division and difference literally, and letting that mistake drive our thinking (which in turn drives our actions). “Where there is another, there is not relationship” (Love Holds No Grievances 59).

Sometimes we say, the problem is thought. If I could only think differently . . . But thought is not the problem either. Thought happens. Brains produce thinking, often very finely-grained thinking. Emily Dickinson poems are beautiful, prisms are beautiful and thought produced them both.

No, the problem is our relationship to thought. It is the way we take thought literally, the way we think there is some all-knowing direction or infallible intelligence behind it. And we imagine that direction, that intelligence, is in our head, guiding our actions.

We have to go beyond thought. We have to stop being obsessed with it. The law by which the brain produces thought is the same law that makes your toe nails grow. Do you want to ask them about the nature of reality?

There is direction and intelligence behind the brain, yes. That direction and intelligence reflects a lawful order. But thinking itself is disordered, riddled with bias, and generally unreliable. It takes skill to know how to think clearly and not to just follow one’s thoughts wherever they lead. Prisms aren’t accidents and neither are Emily Dickinson poems.

And to realize the thoughts we think with God – which is to realize the only reationship that is – is of another level altogether. Even Emily Dickinson poems pale before the light of God’s love for us in Creation.

. . . when you do not think like God, you are not really thinking at all. Delusional ideas are not real thoughts, although you can believe in them. But you are wrong. The function of thought comes from God and is in God. As part of His Thought, you cannot think apart from Him (T-5.V.6:12-16).

To have the intention to think with God is to come to an order of stillness and creativity, of freedom, that is natural and inherent but from which we have become painfully alienated. And because we are alienated, we cannot be in relationship. Every decision and every action is run through the ego’s filters and translated according to its interpretation which is always grounded in scarcity, survival and competition.

Tara Singh is so clear and lucid! If you perceive the other as separate from you – separate interests, separate objectives, separate needs, separate everything – then you will not know the other. You are stuck at the level of ego – its opinions, its judgments, its deceptions and distractions. It’s masks and halls of mirrors all the way down.

And there is – thank Christ there is – another way.

. . . everything is one and within the one there is relationship. If we understood that, then we would probably know what love is. Love would know what relationship is, for they are both the same (Love Holds No Grievances 60).

Therefore, the work of healing is to become responsible for our own self – our interior state, which is our relationship with the ego or the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit teaches us how to see beyond the appearance of differences and the illusion of choice in order to reach a state beyond judgment and evaluation. That state is compassionate and intelligent; that state is cooperative and communicative. That state knows the relationship between tide and moon, between sunlight and maples trees, and black bears and forests.

To come to that state means to become honest about what is not working within us. It is to notice that we are being deceptive and dishonest – with ourselves. We always evaluate the other person or situation for what we can get from it, what needs to be protected or defended, what’s a good deal, who has the advantage, et cetera. We are experts at not holding ourselves accountable and choosing relationships that support our denial.

You may believe that you are responsible for what you do, but not for what you think. The truth is that you are responsible for what you think, because it is only at this level that you can exercise choice. What you do comes from what you think (T-2.VI.2:5-7).

That’s all on us. It has nothing to do with the other. That is the invitation Jesus made long ago – to leave that way of being and instead relate to one another and to life differently, as children of a loving God. And they crucified him. But we still know his name. And he is still here in all these different ways, including the way of A Course in Miracles, trying to teach us to see beyond the appearance of differences, find the one love, the one truth, the one life. The message doesn’t change.

There is no separation in life, only relationship. It’s easy to say but the work – the reason we study the Course – is to bring it into application, to live it. And that is hard. It is hard because it is a correction. The way is given but we have taught ourselves for thousands of years to resist the way. We think resistance is love, we think hate is love, we think fear is love. There is another way but it takes willingness to see it, and it takes courage to follow where it leads – away from the past and into the present.

In the present moment you are related to the planet, to the earth, to Heaven. You are related to everything and to every living creature in the world. It’s a different state. It doesn’t know division. It is not distorted; it is not fragmented. You are whole. And in that wholeness you look through the eyes of holiness and love (Love Holds No Grievances 67).

Correction is hard and nobody can do it but us. We have to dedicate ourselves to the correction. We have to heal the mind that believes in separation; forgiveness is the healing of the mind that believes the perception of separation is real. It takes time and discipline, and the effects of our learning and practice aren’t our concern. What changes or doesn’t change outside of us – a new love, a healthier body, a bigger house, a more responsive sangha, whatever. That may happen and it may not. It doesn’t matter.

The point is that we could see peace instead of this (W-pI.34.h), and that is about how we related to both perception and thought. The work is to make the internal correction, to shift from taking thought and perception literally and instead offering them to God as a means of teaching us what relationship is.

And then – when we see through the eyes of holiness and love, when we see through the eyes of peace – we can be in relationship with the other because we are no longer relating at the level of the body. We are no longer playing the old game of separation. We have seen the truth, and the truth has set us free, together.

Joining with You: Notes on Tara Singh’s “Love Holds No Grievances”

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.

ACIM: Heralds of Eternity

A Course in Miracles says that we come closest to our true self in holy relationships (T-20.V.1:1), which are holy because they are premised on what we can give, rather than what we can get.

No one can give if he is concerned with the results of giving. That is a limitation on the giving itself, and neither the giver nor the receiver would have the gift (M-6.3:4-5).

Do you have a relationship like that? Where all that matters is what you can offer? And it doesn’t matter at all what happens after you give the gift?

Most of us, if we are honest, have to say no. Maybe once in a while one or two of our relationships are like that. But basically, no.

Most of us, if we are honest, would like to be on the receiving end of a relationship like that.

And it’s okay. It’s more than okay.

If “no” is the truth, then that is what we have to say. Honesty is liberating. When we know we are broken, then both the need and the means of healing clarify. It is a blessing to say to a trusted brother or sister – and through them to the Holy Spirit we share – “I’m scared of love” or “I don’t know how to love” or “I worry all my love is hate.”

When I began to be comfortable not faking my spiritual progress, what appeared was not “spiritual progress” but friendship. My isolation crumbled; I took a seat at the table with you. I met my brothers and sisters, and entered in relationship with them.

I know sometimes the way I write makes things seem poetic or whatever. But I am not talking about anything we don’t all understand. I am talking about the ordinary beauty and grind of just making friends. We are nervous and awkward; we stumble a little finding our way. Sometimes our feelings get hurt.

But once in a while you realize you are in the presence of Christ, and then all that you want to do is serve them.

Judge not what is invisible to you or you will never see it, but wait in patience for its coming . . . Your brother’s worth has been established by his Father . . . What is in him will shine so brightly in your grateful vision that you will merely love him and be glad (T-20.V.3:5, 4:3 – 4).

In that moment, that relationship testifies to eternity. It is a herald restoring to our awareness God’s certainty – we remember ourselves as God knows us because we have glimpsed – however briefly – Christ in our brother or sister and learned – and will not lightly forget – that together we are Christ.

And we do nothing to make this happen other than recognize that there is nothing we can do, even if we wanted.

Your brother or sister is the gift, and they they know it not. No more do you. And yet, have faith that He Who sees the gift in you and your brother will offer and receive it for you both (T-20.V.7:7-9).

Is it clear? We aren’t here to become spiritual masters or experts. There is nothing to learn. We don’t need a monastery or a school. We just have to agree to join with one another in whatever confused and frightened way we can manage.

That is the gift God asks that we give Him: to risk, over and over, a holy relationship. To listen for the herald and, hearing the call, to answer.

Another Way – an ACIM Way – to Look at Reality

Dear L___________,

Another way to think about reality is that it’s this – this this. You can be confused about it, sure. You can deny it. You can even be cognitively or otherwise incapable of recognizing it.

But you can’t not be in it. You can’t not be included.

So a good question to ask is: since right now I am in reality – since right now I myself am real – what is happening that makes me believe otherwise?

Generally, you will find that it has to with your thinking – your interpretation.

Understand you do not respond to anything directly, but your interpretation of it. Your interpretation thus becomes the justification for the response (T-12.I.1:4-5).

Eugene Gendlin was very good on this point. In his book Focusing, he wrote:

What is true is already so. Owning up to it doesn’t make it worse. Not being open about it doesn’t make it go away. And because it’s true, it is what is there to be interacted with. Anything untrue isn’t there to be lived. People can stand what is true, for they are already enduring it (162).

So in this sense, A Course in Miracles might be understood as a somewhat idiosyncratic means of understanding – of bringing into application – Gendlin’s point.

Right now you are interacting with reality, with the truth, because there is nothing else to interact with. Only truth is true (T-14.II.2:1). “. . . Truth is real in its own right, and to believe in truth you do not have to do anything” (T-12.I.1:3).

Yet you are dissatisfied. Why?

The invitation here is to be specific. If you already have and are all of what is real and true, then what about that doesn’t work? Are you upset about world hunger? Would you rather not be an addict? Have cancer?

Most of the time, our answer eventually grounds out in, I want to feel more special. That’s what all our projection of different circumstances is – wanting to be special. And awakening – the end of the sleep of forgetfulness – is more like losing any sense of specialness.

It’s hard to stop projecting a different future – an improved future, a healthier future, a richer future, whatever.

And yet that is the path to the peace that surpasses understanding.

The death of specialness is not your death, but your awakening into life eternal. You but emerge from an illusion of what you are to the acceptance of yourself as God created you (T-24.II.14:4-5).

We have to give attention in a sincere and devoted way to our “specialness,” to what makes us feel unique, better, different, other. It means being focused and open-minded. I’m not just noticing what I like, but also what I don’t like. I’m not flinching away from what scares or upsets me. I’m not denying the gaps in my knowledge.

A Course in Miracles wants us to become responsible for our guilt and fear, which are the words it uses to denote the underlying condition that obstructs our awareness of reality, which is given, totally present, and all there is.

This is work, like when you enter therapy determined to actually change this time. It’s like bottoming out in the twelve steps. Ramana Maharshi said of giving up the self in order to know truth that “[e]agerness to do it must be equal to that of a man kept under water trying to rise up to the surface for his life.”

It is not a crime against God or nature to not have this eagerness, but it’s also helpful to ask, why you don’t. Are you happy enough? Do you not need to awaken? What do you want? Why are you doing this?

If the answer is no, I don’t need to awaken, everything’s fine, I’m just going to chin up or whatever, then okay. Truly!

But if the answer is, I want to know truth and reality, I want to see the Face of God and live, then let’s do that. Now. With all our heart and mind.

Since reality is all there is, and since you cannot be other than in reality all the way, it does not need to you to believe in it or know it at all in order for it to be what it is and to do its thing.

Reality is. You, too.


P.S. Whenever somebody says they want to see the Face of God and live, the answer is always: you already have seen it and you didn’t know it.

Which is another way of saying – gently, patiently – *look.

Called Home to the Holy Instant

Often I am outside before dawn. Light changes; the world wakes up. Chickens and horses, neighbors walking dogs, the traffic on Route Nine going east. When we are still and quiet, the world wakes up inside us. Thought slows and the mind extends far beyond the body, discovering it is already one with the horses, the hills, and the slowly brightening sky.

Over and over the Holy Spirit guides me back to what A Course in Miracles calls the “holy instant,” and which other traditions call the present, Brahman, Now, et cetera. In the holy instant, I realize again my fundamental unity with all Life. Division and conflict are illusions. There is only Love – impersonal and impartial, perfectly neutral, perfectly just.

This realization cannot be forgotten. It can be ignored and defied but it can never be forgotten. It lives in all of us, a faint spark with a divine mandate of conflagration. We cannot make Truth untrue.

I knew God all the time as a child. God was everywhere in all things – the rough tongues of calves, buttercups in the meadow, sunlight on quartz after it rained. The world was not separate from me and I was not separate from life. It was holy in a way that required no defense or explanation. Like a creation of God that knows it cannot leave the Mind of its Creator, I lived without guilt or fear. My innocence was perfect freedom.

This is a projection, of course! Yet like all projections it contains a kernel of truth which must not be disowned. I did know God, and this knowing began to erode around the time my “I” began to distinguish itself. Two? Three? I know it accelerated a lot around age four. Suddenly I was a body, suddenly there was a world in which that body – and other bodies that it loved – was not always safe. Life was divided and set against itself. There was nothing to be done. And the Newsweek covers, which my father read religiously, made clear that it was only going to get worse.

This happens to all of us. It is a human story, echoing in all the other stories we tell and sing. The long journey home, the snake in the garden, the help we are condemned to mistake and crucify. But “I” is not a crime against God or Nature. It’s not even unnnatural, in and of itself.

Rather, our belief in it – which is our acceptance of it as our identity (what ACIM calls “a tiny mad idea”) – is an error that can be corrected. For me, the desire that it be corrected was eclipsed by a fear of what would happen if I so much as tried to correct it.

Coming to terms with that took years. Years. It took facing down fear – of you, your body, your God, and my inability to control any of it. It took facing down the nihilism of seeing there was way no way out on the ego’s terms. I had to learn it good enough to teach it. It was not easy. It still isn’t.

I mentioned being outdoors. Dawn can become too easy so sometimes I go out at night. We live in a New England village but it’s not hard to reach the forest. Ten minutes, a couple of benign trespasses and I disappear from the world of people and their seemingly endless problems. I become one with the moon and stars, with owls and bats, and one with late fall wind keening in the pines.

The practice is to give attention to the Holy Spirit. To consent to be guided by the Holy Spirit to the holy instant, where self dissolves, taking with it our strange religion of having problems.

For most of us, awakening is not a lightning bolt but something gentler and more sustainable. You know how you wade into the sea, then lean forward diving into it? Like that. “Waking up” in the softest, sweetest – in the easiest – sense of the word.

We dream that reality is a dream. But reality is not a dream. It’s this: this this.

If you say this little essay is just words, I agree! It is just words. But words aren’t useless. I can’t eat the word “food” but I can use it find something I can eat. We cannot undo thought with more thought. But thought can learn to look at itself, inquire into itself, ask how it is generated and how it sustains itself.

Thought can ask – and live the answer to – the question: who or what is behind all this? Beyond the contents of thought, beyond the movement generating that content is . . . what?

The answer to this question is not another thought but an experience: like (while not at all like) how dawn slowly reveals a world that had been hidden in shadows and darkness. It’s not supernatural and it’s not special. In it, an owl is a bird, not a messenger sent by God to tell us a secret.

The secret – such as it is – is that this is okay. It really is. When we stop insisting on specialness, holiness is revealed.

It took a long time to become lost, and yet it takes no time at all to be found. The Holy Spirit endlessly reminds us what we are in Truth by asking us to offer to the world only what we want to receive. Hence the suggestion “give attention.” Rest in the body in the world. Fight nothing; resist nothing.

Whether dawn or midnight, I always hear the river. I live a few stone’s throws from the middle branch of the Westfield River. During the day the world is too loud to hear it, but at dawn and at midnight, you hear its continual murmur, hymn-like and clear. You understand what Heraclitus meant when he said nobody steps in the same river twice because it’s never the same river and never the same person.

And yet.

Beyond the ever-shifting nature of reality is that which does not change for it is that to which the river appears, and without which the river cannot be said to exist. You are that. You were always that. Its name is your name, its essence is your essence, and its truth your truth. I invite you to remember this: to discover it for yourself; I remind you that you are allowed to be happy, to know peace, and to be one with Creation.

Indeed, I remind you that you cannot be other than unified in and with Creation, and that this unity is happiness and peace. Together we make it so.