The part cannot practically experience the whole, although it can conceive that a whole exists. Its conception of this whole, however, will always be fragmented because the part looks out from and through its brokenness. It is a bit like saying I am in pain and I don’t like it – there must be something else. Well, sure. But we postulate that “something else” in terms of a better (less painful) fragment, an improved fragment. We are escaping “this” for “that.” So we are still in the same framework – call it dualistic, call it addiction to becoming, call it confusion about past, present and future. So long as we accept separation as our condition – and we have and we continue to – then we cannot have a direct experience of the whole, what A Course in Miracles and other spiritual and religious traditions call God.
Yet some groping – or grasping perhaps – is not out of order. It might even be essential. Can we say it is natural? Certainly we have been at it for a long time. We have the Buddha and Jesus and Nanak and Gandhi. We have transcendental meditation and the Silva mind system. We have the internet. We are very sincere and very diligent even. And somehow the difficulty continues: we remain in conflict – social, psychological, spiritual. What gives? Why is peace so difficult?
I want to bring order to the grasping. That’s the first thing. I want to see clearly what is going on in all this seeking and exploring and yearning. If possible, I want to see where it is helpful and where it is not. I am going to try and redirect the energy so that it moves in helpful ways and slows to a trickle or stops altogether in those grooves where it is not.
In order for this ordering to be effective, I have to engage some faith: I have to believe – to at least consider as true – that the whole exists. That’s it. That is the ground of the ordering: that the whole is.
You see, if the whole is then the difficulty – the wrongness of the seeking and yearning for oneness, that particular energy which is the root of conflict – is ended. I only think it is real. Now, thinking and believing it is real is a big deal! I am not minimizing that. But imagine that you are being asked to scale a tremendous mountain – ten times the height of Mount Everest. You are going to hedge and plan and quiver and quake. Who wouldn’t? But if you know that the mountain will reduce to a mild hill as soon as you set your foot on it, then the whole thing becomes very simple.
Of course, the trick is in learning what the illusion is! That is what the part – the separated self, if you like – is not very good at.
So I take as my starting point a need for order and I ground that need on my faith that the whole is. What then?
Look, for a moment, at the final lessons of A Course in Miracles. They do not have the tenor of finality – rather, they are like a springboard. It is as if, having cleared some ground and refined our thinking a bit, we are now ready for the real work.
This course is a beginning, not an end. Your Friend goes with you. You are not alone . . . He knows the way to solve all problems, and resolve all doubts. . . You need but ask it of Him, and it will be given you (W-Ep.1:1-3, 7, 9 ).
You need but ask . . . What does that mean and what, if any, relationship does it have with order?
One of the qualities of a serious student – one bent on ending the separation, regardless of the what religious or spiritual tradition to which they adhere – is that she is attentive. She realizes that awareness can be curative. That it can have an energy and volition that is not necessarily one’s own. This is the attraction of prayer and meditation. But we don’t have to call it that. We simply have to pay attention – and in doing so, take note of who is paying attention. If you go deep enough – if you keep trying to make contact with that one, the ghost in the machine if you will – then you will soon see that it’s not there.
It is so funny – and terrifying too – but there is really no self. I think this realization can be quite natural – it is certainly possible. It is the fruit of sincere attention to what is.
When we make contact with the truth that “we” are not what or who we believed, then things begin to get interesting. It is like the part suddenly realizes it is not actually a part . . . but if that is the case, if that is what is happening, then what is having the realization?
Is it possible that we are One already, dreaming that we are a part? That is what A Course in Miracles suggests. Can we – through orderly attention – realize that? Experience it?
Yes, we can. But we have to ask. It’s not: hey, One. Help a poor part out. It’s just paying attention. Maybe you kneel and listen. Maybe you walk in the woods and hum. I don’t know what form the attention takes for you. But when you find it – when you practice it – you are naturally bringing order to your seeking. You are asking, from within the dream, that the dreamer wake up.
I know this all can sound very new age-y and faux spiritual and like a college freshman spouting philosophical nonsense from within a haze of illicit smoke . . . and maybe it is. But maybe there is something to it. I am just saying that if you pay attention to how your mind works – if you do this carefully and responsibly – then you will begin to experience the difficulty of separation in a new way. The cracks will show. It is a very personal thing – I got here through A Course in Miracles and David Bohm, not to mention a slew of writers and thinkers I’ve been studying for the past thirty years or so. Your path is different. But the end is the same. There is no self here. There is not even a “here” here.
So you take the first step – maybe another. You give it a try, that’s all.