Yesterday, while mowing the lawn, I fell into a funk. I remembered a lie that I told many years ago. It was a big lie to somebody who is a relatively important and consistent part of my life. I’ve never been called out on it and now and then I remember it and wonder if I will be. It marks a low point in that particular relationship and I always feel bad when I think about it.
This is a post about solving problems with A Course in Miracles. Feeling terrible is not mandatory, suffering does not build character, and it’s okay to be happy.
I decided to look closely at the lie. I remembered the circumstances of it: the fear I felt in the moment, the anger. The person to whom I lied has not always been nice to me and has sometimes been affirmatively mean. There were people in the room who were supposed to have my back who did not. It was understandable that from a frightened and injured place, I made a mistake. It was defensive and really, who could blame me?
That is how the ego “solves” problems: it breaks them into little pieces. You think you’ve got a problem? You’ve really got fifty problems. And each of those problems? Yep. Fifty more in each of them. Looking closely at the lie only complicated my feelings. Maybe I felt justified in the lie but now I was mad at the people who were supposed to support me and didn’t. So I had to look closely at those relationships. You know what I mean?
It is a web from which we can never quite untangle ourselves. And the ego assures us that our “struggles” are sincere efforts to fix the problem. And so on and on it goes.
A Course in Miracles would end that. It teaches us that we only have one problem – our perceived separation from God – and that that problem has already been solved.
Everyone in the world seems to have his own special problems. Yet they are all the same, and must be recognized as one if the solution that solves them all is to be accepted. Who can see that a problem has been solved if he thinks the problem is something else (W-pI.79.2:1-3)?
No matter what the problem seems to be, it is always the same problem: we believe that we are separated from God and thus must suffer the consequences. When I told the lie, it was because in that moment I did not accept that God and I were wholly one but rather apart.
But – and I think this is really the point I wanted to make – the lie is not the problem either. The problem was that while mowing the lawn, I felt separated from God. So I pulled a story from the past – one of my better ones for “proving” that me and God are on opposite terms – and used that to feel crappy.
Is that clear? I am trying to say that no matter what we are thinking – what movie from the past we’re playing (I told this crazy lie) or what fear of the future we’re indulging (I wonder when I’ll get caught lying and what kind of shame and humiliation I’ll feel) – the only issue is that in the present moment we have denied our fundamental essential unity with God. Period. There is nothing else to solve ever. Nothing else ever happened.
The temptation to regard problems as many is the temptation to keep the problem of separation unsolved (W-pI.79.4:1).
How do we solve the problem of separation? Well, it is helpful to remember that in course terms it has already been solved (see ACIM lesson 80). To experience the problem as solved . . . I bring my attention to the moment – me, the lawn, the mower, the neighbor’s kids, the chickadees, whatever. God is there – I don’t have to do anything. I just have to be willing to realize the truth. If that level of awareness doesn’t work, then I pray. I ask for help. Sometimes I literally fall to my knees and say, “help me for Christ’s sake!”
It takes some time, yes. And we all slip back into egoic modes of thought. But it’s okay. Keep trying. Pray and meditate. Study the course or whatever text or tradition appeals to you. One of these days, we’re not going to feel guilty anymore!