I. Love and Fear
A Course in Miracles says something interesting: it says that Love is beyond what can be taught (T-in.1:6). This means that we already know all that we need to know about Love. It means we already know all that one can know about Love.
It also means that the usual means we have of teaching one another – words, ideas, logic, repetition, assessment, positive reinforcement, et cetera – cannot be applied to Love.
Love is beyond all of that – time, memory, learning, bodies.
This is not as confusing as we might think. A seed doesn’t go to school to be taught how to grow into a violet or a rutabaga. The moon does not need a guru in order to shine. Nobody has to remind gravity hey, don’t forget to work this morning.
What we are in truth is like that.
What Love is is like that.
So the Course is not about reconstructing love or rediscovering love or recovering or rescuing or resuscitating Love. Love is given and in its givenness it has perfect integrity and wholeness.
There is no fear in perfect love . . . perfection is, and cannot be denied (T-12.II.8:1, 6).
However, A Course in Miracles is about undoing fear, which obstructs our awareness of Love, which is our inheritance as children of God (T-in.1:7-8). For that, we are responsible.
II. Desperation and Gratitude
My study and practice of A Course in Miracles owns both the energy of desperation and the energy of gratitude.
It owns the energy of desperation because there is no other choice. My own efforts and ideas, my patchwork spirituality, my work-it-when-you-feel-like-working-it ethic did not . . . work. They brought forth suffering, in me and in others, and when I saw this – specifically, when I saw that I was the one doing it – I was defeated. It was not wisdom or grace. I didn’t surrender because surrender implies choice. I was beaten; there were no options.
But also, my study and practice of A Course in Miracles owns the energy of gratitude because when eventually I realized that there was an alternative to suffering – that one could atone for their errors and be forgiven, and in this way be restored to Love in, through and as Christ – then I took a vow, joyfully, to do just that. That and only that.
When you take that vow – when you say yes, finally – then no matter how you word it, no matter how often you seem to fall short, calm and creativity abide in you. Panic ends because the inevitability of conflict ends. The flight from yourself – from Truth, Reality, Creation, God, Love – reverses direction.
It is a practice that infuses our whole life, by teaching us in every moment how to undo fear. As fear is undone, Love appears – first in memory, as an idea, then in our living, as a practice, a method, and then at last to claim us entirely as Its own, without any need for distinction or separation whatsoever.
Of course I am grateful.
For me, application of A Course in Miracles sugars out in relationship – with Chrisoula and the kids, with my co-workers, neighbors and friends, with you and others with whom my ACIM practice takes form in 1:1 dialogue, study groups, email threads, formal and informal teaching and so forth.
In relationship, we hear either the ego or the Holy Spirit. One or the other is teaching us what we are all the time.
The ego is about what we want and how we can get it. The ego does not discern between bodily appetite and spiritual longing but happily conflates them. It does not discern between the purity and bliss of mindful creation and the corrosiveness of projection. We get confused when we listen to ego. We are never truly satisfied when we listen to ego. Something always hurts somewhere, when we listen to ego.
In contrast, the Holy Spirit is only interested in sharing and in making sharing easier. It doesn’t talk about Love at all (because Love cannot be taught) but it does point out and then show us how to undo blocks to our awareness of Love. The Holy Spirit knows that cooperation is as close to Love as bodies can get, and it knows that that they cooperate best – they communicate and coordinate best – when they are inspired by belief systems premised on sharing and living coherently together in dialogue. We are community-minded beings; we are optimists and dreamers; we see the Face of God everywhere because we see the other everywhere. There is always hope.
Love is our inheritance because of what we are. Knowing this, the Holy Spirit makes us happy – deeply, naturally and sustainably – even, perhaps, religiously – happy.
The light that belongs to you is the light of joy. Radiance is not associated with sorrow. Joy calls for an integrated willingness to share it, and promotes the mind’s natural impulse to respond as one (T-5.in.1:4-6).
Nor is happiness and joy other than Love.
. . . the only possible whole state is that of love. There is no difference between love and joy. Therefore, the only possible state is to be wholly joyous. To heal or to make joyous is therefore the same as to integrate and to make one (T-5.in.2:2-5).
Therefore, dialogue is at the heart of my spiritual practice. I cannot conceive of A Course in Miracles without it. Dialogue has to do with language, but also with the space – the silence and the stillness – in which language naturally occurs, within which – upon which and as which – it arises. We talk, we become silent, we talk some more. We think things over apart and then together begin again. It’s not about us but what comes forth through us when all that matters is undoing fear in order to remember Love.
The Holy Spirit teaches us to see the relationship as a site of remembering our self, remembering reality, remembering God, and remembering Love. Ego teaches us to see the relationship as tenuous and untrustworthy, an imperfect means to temporarily meeting this or that specific need.
Ego forever skirmishes; the Holy Spirit is forever bending spears into pruning hooks.
Ultimately, dialogue points back at – helps us return to – the origin of cooperation and communication which naturally reflects our perfect equality, which is oneness. It restores us to silence and stillness and restores to us the pure creativity that is our essence, our nature.
Dialogue is a form of Love effectively teaching itself to itself.
I do not say it is that way constantly. Only inevitably.
Forget not once this journey is begun the end is certain. Doubt along the way will come and go and go to come again. Yet is the ending sure. No one can fail to do what God appointed him to do (C-ep.1:1-4).
It is easy to love Love, once you know what you are in truth. It is easy to extend Love, once you know you cannot be apart from Love.
IV. The End of Seeking
I am no longer a seeker. I am not saying I am awakened or enlightened! I am not saying that at all. I am saying something like what Abhishiktananda was getting at when he said that we can only become ourself by becoming Christ and that we never become more intimately and truly our self then when we lose our self in Christ.
In other words, either there is nothing left to look for or there is no one left to do the looking. Either way, the search is over.
You do not go into solitude. You go into the desert because there is nothing else but God, and God makes himself solitary . . . God is not in the desert. The desert is the very mystery of God which has no limits, and nothing either to measure him or to locate him, and nothing to measure myself, and locate myself in him, in relation to him (Ascent to the Depth of the Heart 277).
When you know the path, and that to which it leads, and when you know you cannot be removed from the path nor stopped on it, then the journey is over. When you reach what never ends, then seeking ends. God is all is all; Love holds everything.
When one no longer seeks, one no longer pretends that Love can be taught. There is no place Love is not, there is no body in which Love is not; there is no sign that does not both point to Love and come undone in Love. Remembrance of this – recognition of this – is a gift; it is not an accomplishment. We do not earn it. It is a gift – a gift already given and a gift already received.
Dialogue in and through A Course in Miracles reminds us what the gift is and that it is already given. It prepares us to remember this by – from time to time, very reliably – actually being the gift.
Which is why I can never – and will never – stop thanking God for you.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. They lead me to the following:
How does it follow that we already know what love is? Of course, this calls for clarity about what it means ‘to know.’ I think the Course makes clear that such knowing awareness is cut off to our minds’ awareness, primarily because we choose to remain identified with the ego-idea. Indeed, it also makes clear that the whole ‘path’ that we must travel is one in which we learn to let go of that illusory idea, particularly in that there is a temptation to think that because we are already knowing in this much deeper way, we then think of ourselves as already having completed the path of Atonement.
However, the Course also makes quite clear that as long as we hold the slightest illusion in our minds, that is a clear indication that there is still some element of attachment to the ego. Some ‘gurus’ seem to claim that everyone is already fully enlightened, which they then use as the basis for either deluding themselves or deluding others into thinking they’ve already come to the completion of Atonement. That is, there is, in my view, a serious danger that we misunderstand what the Course actually teaches.
Related to this, there is a possible confusion that one could succumb to, which is that one can pretend he is already fully completed as one with the Christ Mind, although he still feels any element of ego-influence, the most significant of which is the presence of fear in any way, even in the slightest degree. Indeed, if one were fully complete in realization of Atonement, there would be no time or any other sort of limit in awareness. So, it seems to me, that we need to be fully mindful of what we think and say about this. That is, as long as one’s mind is in the state in which it has ANY perception, either of time, or space, or any limited form or idea, it is still in the process or moving on the path. Also, as long as one finds in his awareness any trace of fear that he thinks needs to be undone, this is a clear indication that he still has not completed the process or come to the path’s end.
Indeed, other teachers, such as Dudjom Lingpa, have pointed out many ways that a seeker can be deluded into thinking he has completed the process, but is only stuck in one of the many ‘high’ states in which he remains till finally he comes to the realization that it is delusory. DL refers to such states as ‘heavens’ in which the mind is stuck in another sort of limited perceptual ‘structure’ that it thinks is ‘real,’ but is only another ‘box’ or ‘super-prison.’ He also warns that one can remain in this deluded state for aeons. But when he comes to this realization, he can get back to the path to full awakening from the dream, after which there is not the slightest presence of any sort of limited form.
Have you or others in this dialogue any insights into this? Meanwhile, Peace and Light to everyone.
Thank you, Theodore.
It follows that we know Love because of what we are in truth.
The Holy Spirit teaches us how to undo the blocks to awareness of Love. As those blocks are undone, awareness (eg remembrance, knowledge) of Love is restored. It was always there, only obscured.
This is a thing that actually and reliably happens when one practices A Course in Miracles.
In terms of judging the spiritual progress or insight or accomplishments of others – this person is confused about atonement, that person is bypassing, whatever . . . I mean, only an unhealed mind judges that way, right?
I only project the other as lacking when I am scared of my own perception of lack. Fear is a thing I make; it is a defense. So the work is to notice the projection but not indulge it; we can’t undo fear by accepting the premise of its main defense, projection.
There are folks whose tone is too new age-y for me. Or whose claims seem outlandish or whose grift obvious. I shake the dust off my sandals and move on. Who has the time? The work is not to fix the minds of others but to fix my mind.
A Course in Miracles really is a very specific kind of practice.