In a deep way – a psychological way – we believe we are victims of the world we see, the ones who populate it, and the God who made it all. We are wracked by fear and guilt and thus driven by hate. I know how unpleasant that sounds, but A Course in Miracles will not make any sense – and cannot really be helpful – until we accept this.
Even when we are happy – because it is sweet to listen to leaves falling in Autumn or because we just baked a lovely pie or because our grandkids are over and the sound of their laughter is just this side of Heaven – we are in our hearts truly miserable.
This unhappiness – which is fear-based – is the profound fact of our lives in the world and it is sustained by our desire – our insistence, really – that it not be healed or undone. We want to be unhappy. And that means we are invested in death because whoever hears only the ego hears only the promise of death. Dress it up however you like – we are talking about being followers not of Christ but of a rotting and horrifying corpse.
No one but must regard the body as himself, without which he would die, and yet within which is his death equally inevitable. It is not given to the ego’s disciples to realize that they have dedicated themselves to death (T-19.IV.B.i.16:5, 17:1).
This idea was very stressful to me for a long time, because I believed in an ideal of spiritual wellness and spiritually healthy people did not walk around confessing to hatred and anguish, guilt and fear. They did not believe in death; death was an illusion because the body wasn’t real. You know the ACIM drill.
I could talk the walk just fine but I was not actually walking it. And it is the walk that heals us.
Thus, we reach a point in our ACIM practice where we see that it is not working. We may be a bit more balanced, a bit more patient, a bit less judgmental but we are not really experiencing the unalterable joy of knowing God as our Creator and our identity as Creation Itself. And that – that joy, that peace – is what we really want. Before that gift, a so-called better life on the world’s terms is not a gift but a curse.
This is an ACIM crossroads of sorts. A lot of students remain here. They are moderately happy. Life is better than it was before the they studied A Course in Miracles. And it’s understandable! When you scrape yourself off the floor, life on your knees looks pretty good. Settling makes a certain kind of sense.
But we are called to something brighter and finer than the ego’s compromises. And sooner or later we are going to get around to trying to find it. First we blame the course. Then we blame our fellow students. Then we blame the teachers teaching us the course.
And then we get around to looking at ourselves.
In the ACIM text, Jesus gently observes that when we pronounce A Course in Miracles confusing and impossible to apply, we would do well to consider the possibility that we have not yet done all that it asks (T-11.VIII.5:2). The Holy Spirit can only take us so far as we are willing to go.
The Holy Spirit offers you release from every problem that you think you have . . . You who believe it is safe to give but some mistakes to be corrected while you keep the others to yourself, remember this: Justice is total (T-26.II.2:1, 5:1).
Our unwillingness to be broken – to cherish some aspects of brokenness – precludes healing. Thus, what we keep to ourselves remains unhealed. And healing is not partial – it is total or it does not occur at all.
It is when we accept this – the unconditional nature of love – that healing begins in earnest. We begin to see down into the depths of us – we reach those places where language will not go, the material that does not yield to form but is instead the seething mass from which forms of hate and lovelessness arise. This is truly horrifying! This is the ego’s last gasp and best argument. And yet only by looking at it, can we be liberated from it. And indeed, it is when we are willing to look at it that we learn at last that A) we are not alone and B) what we are looking at is not such a big deal.
We begin to learn that we are not separated from God, and that the only problem we have is our willingness to believe in problems.
You made the problem God has answered. Ask yourself, therefore, but one simple question:
Do I want the problem or do I want the answer?
Decide for the answer and you will have it, for you will see it as it is, and it is yours already (T-11.VIII.4:4-7).
Dwelling in the ego’s gruesome bedrock is not necessary. We aren’t asked to wallow in guilt or to set up camp in that ontological horror show. We are simply asked to give some attention with the Holy Spirit to what happens when we turn within and consider the fear, guilt and hate that is encountered there.
So long as you are confident that Holy Spirit is looking with you, keep looking. Go deeper. When you start to feel shaky, stop. It’s okay.
That is the work: the refusal to be a victim of what is external but, as importantly, to refuse to be a victim of what is internal. We escape from both together (W-pI.31.2:5). We are going to peer into every last corner in which the ego hides and works its dark magic. The Holy Spirit is our lantern. And I promise you: no shadow can stand against it.