David Wilson came to offer this expression after visiting the “Giving” page of this website. It invites not only monetary gifts, but gifts “of art or expression.” I love having gotten a response to this offer to give in this way; to have received of David’s gift, a gift of his own heart and soul and story. I am enriched by it, and trust that you will be too.
Terra Incognita, by David Wilson
For me, this painting continues to be an instance of God’s miraculous consideration of my earthly sojourn:
About 30 years ago I painted this picture. It was months before it was completed and months again before I was given an unexpected invitation to show some art in a Vancouver, B.C. exposition: an International Schizophrenia Conference. I didn’t mind that it was largely a place where drugs were espoused to be solutions for schizophrenia. It offered a showplace for the art of ‘schizophrenics’ and this meant me! I had been diagnosed, so I qualified. Here, in this ACOL context, I can say that my ‘problems’ were due to a lack of education about the real God…and my use and abuse of drugs!
A few days into the exposition I was contacted by someone who told me that a potential buyer, a psychologist, was interested and that she would like to pay through monthly installments. Not only did I accept her proposition but I also reduced the price by $600 out of delighted gratitude. The price of the painting, $1600, was my highest ever and I did notexpect it to sell.
Months later, I met this person, as it happens, for the second time! The first time had been 14 years earlier in Montreal, thousands of miles to the east. On this second occasion I was having tea in her, Tonnar’s, kitchen where she would alter details on the cheque (check) of her final payment. For God knows (literally) what reason, I had been relating an experience I had in Montreal in which a lady saved me from sheer humiliation and despair. She had retrieved four bags from her bank so I might retain hundreds of papers of my writings and drawings. My cardboard box had been falling apart! I had no other possessions to my name. While we spoke over tea so many years later, my hostess and patron blurted out, “That was me! I thought you looked familiar!” The painting had brought us together again, 14 years and 2500 miles away!
I do not believe a ‘coincidence’ of this proportion was incidental. I recall Tonnar’s words that, even as she entered the Schizophrenia Conference arena, she had a ‘feeling’ that, there, she would encounter something of special significance to her. When she first saw the picture, she thought “I know what this means!” I believe God (and/or some of ‘His’ agents), are concerned with my/our creative efforts, even presently. We also discovered that we knew certain people in common and that I was then living in the same duplex where one of these had provided Baha’i meetings that I’d attended! Perhaps paradoxically, the image in the lower right of the painting is of Leonard Cohen, whom I had met under no less ‘unlikely’ circumstances 7 years earlier. He had purchased my first publicly presented painting which happened to have him as the subject. That too was miraculous, given the unlikelihood of our meeting. Had I not seen him briefly outside the store where I worked, looking in, that sale and meeting would never have taken place.
Years later, I was in search of Brent Haskell online when I found Kathy Scott Perry. Inspired by a wonderful channeled work, I sent to her “Jesus My Autobiography” and she encouraged me to check out her friend, Mari Perron. And here I am! Who knows what may happen next? Maybe I’ll get to have that coffee with Bob Dylan!
Michael Mark and I began to share written “dialogues” in March, 2013. He wrote me first to thank me for my part in bringing A Course of Love into being, and to join the Registry of readers that was on the ACOL website “that was” before the new publication. Right away we began to do so much more than exchange emails…as we exchanged emails! In 2015 he and his wife Debbie came to meet me while I was in New York for the that year’s ACIM Conference. (The photo is from that visit.) They also attended last year’s conference and the first ACOL Gathering in Las Vegas. Now, almost four years since we first “met,” we’re still in dialogue. Michael introduces his essay and my part in this contribution to the Expressions Page below.
Introduction written by Michael Mark
What follows is a short piece that I wrote about Christ Consciousness in response to a request from Mari that I write something for this Expressions Page. I wrote this in a single sitting, and though I did some tinkering with the language and minor editing, I basically wrote it top-to-bottom and sent it off as a draft to see what Mari thought of it. In her response, she questioned some of my language, and what I had really meant when I wrote it, which led to a back-and-forth that was—I think—quite enjoyable and illuminating for us both. After our brief series of exchanges we each had the thought that the article with the dialogue that followed was worth sharing as one whole piece.
So the article that follows remains in its original form, and even though I talk about editing it in the subsequent discussion with Mari, this was never done. The subsequent dialogue we’ve attached more than takes care, I think, of the shortcomings of the original piece.
On Embodiment of Christ Consciousness by Michael Mark
If you’re reading this you’ve probably had the sensation at least once, at the core of your being, of what is called Christ consciousness. It is joyous. It is complete. It is inseparable from your breath, your awareness, your touch. It isn’t out there somewhere, and yet it is plain to see in everything you behold, as if the whole world is somehow singing with the very same awareness that you are. You feel as though you know each flower and blade of grass in the field by name, though names don’t really matter so much, since the intimacy of this awareness is deeper than any symbol. What is most obvious is the way each and every aspect of Creation is the fullest possible expression of precisely what it is. The stalk of grass is different than the raven, but when you are experiencing Christ consciousness those differences reveal what is ultimately the same, albeit in ways that illuminate, surprise and gladden. This paradox makes sense. It computes. It feels like home.
Then the phone rings and you remember you owe the hospital money and you haven’t made the payment this month. You thought the enthusiasm you felt at the very core of your being two years ago was directing you to open a small business, that now is folding up. Your brother has cancer, and you’re nowhere closer to knowing what to do about it than you ever would have been before. Never mind the children who are suffering in the Siege of Aleppo, in refugee boats and encampments, or who are being bullied in the elementary school three blocks away. Never mind your own child is still caught in the stifling noose of drug abuse, or is investing in their own demise in some other, less direct way. On the face of it, you are back where you started.
I think this back-and-forth is the essence of what Jesus describes as “becoming” in ACOL. We flicker between the certainty and safety we seek, and the suffering we see that keeps us from surrendering completely. The difficulty we encounter at this fork in the road can be summarized in our individual reactions to this statement from very early on in ACOL, “There is not a soul that walks this earth that does not weep at what it sees. Yet the Christ in you does not weep, for the Christ in you sees with eyes of love. The difference is the eyes of love see not the misery or despair.” (C:2.10)
I know I balk sometimes at this one. It has the look and feel of suggesting we need not–perhaps ought not–feel as we do. It seems to suggest the problems of the world are figments of our imagination, a strange precipitate reduced from our misperceptions. Maybe I should just steel myself from being touched by all the pain and suffering. Maybe it’s okay to just look away.
But I don’t think Jesus is suggesting we look away at all. Of course he is not. Nor is he suggesting we put the suffering of the world on our back, and toil beneath its weight. He is not asking for martyrs or guilt-assuaging feats of cathartic service, where we offer but a pittance of hope against a tide of doubt and annihilation. I’ve had to think about this one a lot as I flicker back-and-forth, wondering what response I should be offering to this world, wondering if I’m being enough, giving enough, doing it right, making a difference.
I’ve slowly come to the conclusion that what we fear is always an exaggerated distortion of what is. Fear brings out this tendency in us to extrapolate a paper cut to this entire home movie of an infectious disease, grinding on us day and night, wearing us down to a painful passage into non-existence. As excessive as that example is, I think the point is relevant. It is the ability of Christ consciousness to remain centered upon what is–to retain its balance, its wholeness, its clarity–that allows it to extend love to any circumstance. The reality is that nothing is quite as big, bad or ugly as it seems, but when we take the bait, we find ourselves whisked into a world of illusion where difficulty is magnified to insurmountable proportions. We are crushed by it. We don’t know how we could possibly make a difference. Our math is all upside down.
The challenge is that to see sustainably with the eyes of Christ, we have to let go of so much we once held dear, because if we retain the value structures we’ve held in the past we’ll be unable to see beyond the sensation of loss. And when we see the loss, we’ve taken the bait, and we’re trapped again. Try as we may, we’ll have nothing to offer. The real challenge here is that many of us have sought to develop the ability to empathize with those around us. Though it is a beautiful and necessary skill, it can leave us vulnerable to being pulled into another’s misperception. We put ourselves in their shoes and we see and sense their loss, tangibly even, and we recognize the way that it hurts and confounds. We feel that visceral, tugging disconnect between what is desired, and what seems to be. We feel the brokenness, the aloneness, the despair. We’re right there with them, but we’ve stepped out of Christ consciousness. We’re right there with them, but we’ve nothing to offer.
In A Course of Love Jesus describes Christ consciousness as seeing what is–not what has been or what will be. The miracle we require is this discovery of what is, for in our fear and misperception we have lost touch with the holiness alive in every instant. We have lost touch with unity.
What happens when we look into the face of seeming tragedy and we are able, through the grace of a miracle, to retain the awareness of Christ? What do we see? I think we see that what seems like a dead end has already been redeemed. We see that the only thing at stake is the timing of Love’s return. We see the Love that already is, held safely in Christ’s arms, beyond the ruin of all that a feeble misperception once surrounded itself with, in its mistaken efforts to conjure its own validity, its own power, its own reality. And when we see this we don’t see the loss, the entrapment–the reasons for despair. But we still see our brother or sister. In fact we see them more fully than ever.
We may not, in that moment, witness the curing of every disease, the lifting of every eye, the calming of every heart–but at least we will be free of our fears, and able to know, maybe for the very first time, what it is like to truly offer our response. For it is only when we are unafraid, when are at peace, when we are neither striving, nor performing, nor hoping, that what is truly alive within us is free to express without interference. I suspect the power of this authenticity transcends our ability to imagine it, and that its scope is universal even if it seems quite small in the moment. As we sustain this practice, it will change the world.
For those of us who yet wobble between worlds, our task in this time is to know that this is so. Our task is to greet the difficulties we see with new life, to hold them in a new way, to recognize we are in precisely the moments in which our willingness to see with the vision of Christ is most needed. I think we have to trust that each extension of our heart leads gently to the next, and that these are the bricks we lay down in the creation of the new. If we are patient, and willing, what arises will surprise us.
As always, Michael, you offer a beautifully written and deeply felt piece. I loved the beginning with the “back and forth.” I will certainly put it up just as it is but I want to ask you some questions, more on a personal level than due to the article. Because I feel a little differently – which is perfectly okay. We don’t have to agree. And I’m not even certain I “disagree” so much as that…well…I wonder.
It’s because you make the ability to empathize sound like something to be left behind and suggest that when we “are right there with them” we’ve stepped out of Christ-consciousness and have nothing to offer. If we step into their fear maybe this is so, but I don’t see empathy as working that way. I see empathy as being all about love and connection and relationship and I’ve lived it quite a few times to deeply felt and miraculous ends.
When, for instance, someone is sick, I want to be the person to whom she or he can reveal all of their fears (does anyone really not have them?), the person who she can cry to or swear about it with, the person with whom he can wrestle with those questions—like Why me, that invariably are going to arise. I want to see the whole, the human and hurting, and hold the knowing that being sick is one aspect of wholeness…you know?
My experience with my friends from The Grace Trilogy days also showed me something. —Mary had lost her baby. She was full of love and longing and grief, and it opened the very doors that I’m certain made me ready for ACOL. To share in that—in union and relationship—with great empathy, was not to focus on the details of what was happening—but was an opportunity to share our fears and our griefs and to support each other in healing. I mean—we saw love. It was all an exploration of human love and loss and at the same time human love and divine connection. Is it “looking on misery and despair” to “be there in compassion”? Is it compassionate not to see misery and despair in a time of grief—which is really all about love?
Of course, now I sound like I’m trying to convince you of my point of view, which I am not, as I have loved those who have stayed steady in a storm too. But there’s different ways of staying steady, and I am wondering if you mean to suggest there is one way that is a “right” way to be steady and loving.
Ha! Maybe I took it that way because of my experience!
I’m just saying that you may want to look at this again and then send me whatever you like. I’ll always honor your way of seeing and expressing ACOL.
I think that the empathy part should be clarified a little, because I don’t really see empathy as problematic, except in a particular way which I don’t think is plain enough to see in what I wrote. What I see as problematic is when it results in our stepping fully into the other person’s darkness, without bringing the light with us so to speak. It is hard to describe this nuance, but I think the key is the misery and despair. I mean, some people can be in a really difficult situation, and not be in despair. Despair to me means a sense of hopelessness, like being suicidal perhaps, trudging through meaninglessness and bearing its weight. It’s the worst. It’s when you’re locked into some form of slavery, when your dignity has been robbed, when your will has been crushed, when you’re in chronically disheartening circumstances and can see no way to influence them or bring about transformation. This is what I interpret misery and despair to mean… It’s coming face to face with precisely what ACIM and ACOL and every other teaching in the world has been given to help us transform.
So, when a person is in this place, and empathy results in our being pulled into it in such a way that we perceive it as valid, then that interpretation for suffering AND Christ’s interpretation cannot both be true. This particular type of empathy that I’m suggesting isn’t helpful. It is a bit like jumping off the boat to save someone who can’t swim, when you can’t swim yourself, and in doing so you’ve left behind the life vests to boot. Maybe it’s just projecting your own fears onto the other person, which I could see as a big part of it. If I am afraid of something, and the other person seems to be embodying that fearful situation, empathy can lead down a strange road.
I would say there’s an “idea” of Christ Consciousness that can be pretty brittle, and that’s the one where you deny experiences around you because of what I just described–for some intellectual reason basically–and in doing so you remove your heart from the situation and become almost robotic. I’d say that’s partly why ACOL was given in the first place, because a particular way of practicing ACIM led to this sort of robotic denial–a sort of anti-empathy– between persons. And I’m not in favor of that at all.
I think what you are describing is companionship, actually, and not necessarily pure empathy. When I said empathy I really meant wholly sharing a state with another–becoming as they are, down to taking on their fears, their doubts, their littleness–and I think the companionship you offer in Christ Consciousness is a little different. You don’t get “lost” in the other person’s doubts and fears.
But there’s still another scenario to envision, and perhaps it is a spiritual fantasy on my part, but it is this question about what it looks like–what it feels like–to be truly wholehearted in the presence of those who are suffering. And by this I don’t just mean sharing one’s heart with another–which is quite profound–I mean resonating with whatever that knowing, or truth, or presence is, that brings healing to the moment. I imagine for instance, Jesus telling a blind man to smear mud over his eyes. I don’t think you say that to someone because you “hope” it might bring healing, or you want to “leave the door open” that healing may occur. I think the only way to participate in a moment in that way is to embody the knowing that what another is experiencing need not be. To know that it need not be, and to be open to working with the moment in such a way that allows that power to express.
Is this a spiritual fantasy? It could be, but I wonder about it, and in wondering about it I can’t reconcile my sensation that if we see/witness as Christ does, then doors can and do open, as you described. But if I get too “lost” in another’s difficulty, then the doors do not appear.
What do you think, Mari? The core realization for me in writing that piece was that fear gives the moment trappings it need not possess, and that if we can approach it without fear, then we can be wholehearted, and then the options (the miracles) may arise.
Thanks for this, Michael. I was a little concerned you’d be mad. I don’t always say things in the best way.
And I know what you mean too. I’ve been caught in empathy gone bad more than a few times, especially in my family. Yet when a person knows that I am open to hearing how she or he feels (and maybe doesn’t want to admit), it appears that it gives them the ability to get what is inside out–to release that fear or worry or anger. It’s not to share so that it’s taken on, but so that it can be acknowledged, released and let go. The “sharing” almost always works!
I truly feel your article will convey a lot more with whatever clarification of empathy you add. Thank you so much for being willing to talk about it and to do that.
You know, as time goes on, I feel we all do “miracles” in our own way. There are people out there who are doing “healing” miracles. That’s amazing. But there are other “miracles” so to speak. Yours and mine may come to be through writing and expressing things so that another “sees” newly and becomes new. You know? We may be miracles in people’s lives by being who we are and not have any idea!
You’ve been that for me from time to time~
I like to explore these ideas Mari, so please never worry about me getting mad. It is, I think, one of the functions of dialogue to explore these ideas together, rather than just alone, and I feel we learn something from it. I pulled Deb into a discussion of this tonight and talked my way into what I thought was an interesting revelation for me…
If you’re good at something and you know it, and you experience a moment of difficulty in that field, in all likelihood you will proceed unfazed and in trust that the way will appear. Take something simple, that you’re good at, like writing. If you’re writing along and you can’t figure out how to proceed, you don’t shrivel up and wish you could crawl under a rock, or think you’re not worthy or good. You just work the problem, trusting that your feeling is correct–there is some bit of energy not quite right–and in time you naturally find the way through or around it. No big deal. It may feel great, nevertheless, and probably does. And it may have been difficult in the moment, and you may have struggled quite a bit, but if it is something you love and you’ve had the experience of being good at it, of being talented in that arena, you have developed the ability to go with the flow until the opening appears.
So that’s a very long paragraph, but the idea we hit upon in our conversation is that Jesus wants us to remember that we’re good at the miraculous. We’re good at healing, at saving the planet, at transformation. But we’re not acting like that, and we’re not experiencing that, and we’re caught in these patterns that begin with the idea we’re not good at it. So we don’t behave like we’re good at it! At the first sign of uncertainty or ambiguity or difficulty, we bail. We dive out of the way. We go, “Of course, I knew I wasn’t ready for this anyway! What was I thinking!?” I feel that if we KNEW we were good at the miraculous, if we KNEW we could count on the good, the true and the beautiful, we’d ride out a lot more punches, and hang in there with a totally different attitude, until the opening emerged. And then it would just be so. Like the writing. We’d just know if we hung in there and let things squirm and wiggle and fret and yell and scream, the opening would appear.
I know you’re right about the miracles as you described them, and agree we all have these areas where we touch people. But I also really do think there is an experience within me, not fully birthed, of being a channel for even more goodness in some moments. Not that I have to declare what I’m doing. It’s such a subtle thing, isn’t it? I mean, imagine you go to an experienced writer and you’ve never published and you’re stuck and you’re overwhelmed, and they just look at you and see this tremendous potential. They KNOW you are going to write something, even though you don’t. They see that it already exists! And that KNOWing rubs off on you. So you get renewed somehow by it, and you get back to work.
I think Christ consciousness is a bit like being able to sustain that KNOWing without being pulled into another person’s fear and doubt. It is the fear and doubt that I think produce the misery and the suffering. But if we’re confident, and we have this knowing, and we ride things out a bit, what might emerge?
Honestly, this has been a bit of a revelation for me so I’m glad we got into all this! It doesn’t mean, for me, that tomorrow I go around healing people, or realizing how to end poverty, or snapping my fingers and fixing the healthcare system, but it does mean I can see that with this KNOWing I could sit with someone in a rough spot and roll with the punches for longer than before. I’m not honestly so great at that, unless I know a person and feel safe with the mutual vulnerability it requires. But if all you need to know is that… you’re good at this… maybe we can impart a little of that knowing from one to the next… and then I just have to believe it opens doors…
I’ll get to revising the article later this week or this weekend, Mari. Bear with me! I was at work for about 12 hrs today so rolling with the punches!
I felt a feeling of such joy when I began to read your response to me, Michael. This feeling of sumptuousness, as if I’d been getting tidbits and now was getting a meal. It was the feeling of dialogue that came over me, that we were “together” investigating something, and Deb too. How wonderful, and how fantastic that you felt it. The whole “not having to be in agreement” thing, leading to ways of seeing more fully.
I love it that we both understand your writing example. I’m reading a book on writing right now and it is so wonderful! It has all these quotes from writers and not as much from the author speaking of her experience as I’d hoped, but just the sense of understanding that’s come from these…people who are like me! I’m soothed and energized by it at the same time.
On the healing/miracles thing…I had an experience like you describe while in Sedona. I can’t remember if I told you more than that people were raving about my voice–not like you would for a singer or orator, but really telling me my voice “did” something to them. And then there was this one woman with something wrong with her throat and she said she felt heat in it as she listened to me and I can’t remember now if she asked me to touch it or if I just did, but when I did she said she felt the heat again. And so, I do not rule out miracles but neither do I want to consciously attempt them. I love having a way of prayer that’s more a way of being, and it may be said about miracles too, and you’re right about it being a sort of “knowing” — but for me not of anything in particular. It feels like if I’m “being me” being my full Self out in the world, miracles may flow in all kinds of ways I don’t know and don’t need to know.
So sort of a knowing/unknowing thing!
You’re awfully good when you’re rolling with the punches after a 12-hour work day. As I was reading this I had a novel idea of sharing “our dialogue” along with your article…perhaps! Ha! I’m actually falling in love with the idea…if not for this…for some future sharing. I mean…I’ve always been in love with the written dialogues we’ve had. So something to consider.
Just a very quick note in the middle of the work day here to let you know I thought last night while writing this it might be best shared as our dialogue, or with our dialogue. Then I wasn’t sure if you would worry that people thought “your” way was the right/only way to see things and didn’t know if that made sense or not. But then I forgot to ask you, and here you have come to the same conclusion! So that’s what we should do…
I’ll give this a go again following another twelve hour day! Ha!
I really resonated strongly with your point about not wanting to consciously attempt miracles. In fact, I couldn’t agree more, and if it seems to the contrary perhaps there is something of a paradox at work here. The writing example we share I think is a good way for us to reveal very subtle things to one another. So to keep with that, the desire to have the experience of grace through writing–which I would describe as that experience when ideas or particular phrases, or even a certain word–are simply given; when we just dissolve into it and our “efforting” fades and our judgment of it wanes and we realize only after the fact we’ve just been “creating”… that is quite a beautiful experience. And I think really miracles occur in that same way.
When our writing is laborious–when I judge myself going in as needing to produce something to make me worthy, when I have an agenda, an expectation, etc. then I’m not really in the miracle-minded state. But paradoxically, I’m drawn to “try” hard… to labor with difficulty… to try through my own efforts to turn it around. And I think we agree there’s no place for that in miracles really. But we desire miracles. We KNOW, just like we remember what it was like to write that one time… that this is available to and IN us. And so there’s this question of how to get back to that grace-filled state. That is THE question is it not?
So I don’t think it’s by trying to consciously control miracles, but–just as we might in writing–allowing ourselves to dissolve into a certain goodness that whatever is needed that we can offer can come forth. It’s almost as if we have to forget we’re even doing anything at all. We have to forget the idea of miracles, of “doing” something, of being the one from whom they arise, and get lost in relating. Then I think it happens of its own accord.
But there is this paradox I think…I’ll call it the memory of heaven. I think we have access to the memory of heaven and part of what Jesus is asking us to do is bring that memory into the present. This is another way, I think, of describing that sensation of “knowing we’re good at miracles” that I described last night. Knowing our memory of heaven is valid. But it doesn’t compute with the old way of seeing so well. So, to have that memory in the present, we have to forget a lot of stuff–a lot of judgments, a lot of ideas about what heaven should look like, and all kinds of stuff. Focusing on the memory of heaven is not the same as trying to consciously produce miracles, somehow. Because it’s really… just this feeling. Like looking back at our writing and realizing we disappeared for a little while–got lost in a place of beauty and knowing. Can we focus on this? I think perhaps. I think maybe this decision is part of what Jesus calls witnessing?
And maybe as we give ourselves to it, new things open up just as you described. But the instant we try and control it, it’s gone. Because what need of control is there in heaven? I mean, really…! There’s zero need for it. It is completely irrational!
Completely irrational! I like that!
Not writing “for” something is what I’ve had little time for of late, and am only beginning to get back to it. I need it so. When I’m writing “for” something it is very hard to lose myself in that way you describe, and there is an intent standing behind what I’m doing. I’m back now to my unstructured mornings in the cabin and even so, after being in a more productive phase for a while, it is often as if the freedom to just “be there” stands a footstep away. It is a grace, and it’s a grace that I’ve been through this enough times now to know that this simple sitting and seeing what comes is exactly what I need to truly express what is in me, waiting to get out, and that it always comes…eventually.
Thank you for sharing what is in you.
(A post script I have to add as I re-read Michael’s eloquent and thoughtful passages and my own short and casual ones, a little giggle in me that says, “Who would think” (as he questions briefly) that “my” way is the “right” way, as if I’m some authority? This is the beauty of the role of companionship and dialogue. There is no “authority” but only what is revealed . . . in relationship, to our own waiting hearts.)
Expressions with Paula Payne Hardin and Joanna Jaya
I am overjoyed to offer the two reflections on the heart that are shared here: one through poetry and one through art. Joanna Jaya is the artist. Paula Payne Hardin is the poet. Their joining together expands my heart! ~ Mari
PAULA PAYNE HARDIN
A few years ago, I felt the urge to write poems honoring some of what I have experienced during this human/Divine journey. I am in my 83rd year and have been living with A Course Of Love since October 2014. This Course has been one of the greatest gifts of my life.
Paula Payne Hardin
This painting was inspired by a walk along the beach at sunrise on New Year’s day. Everything was so so still, even the waves were quiet as the sun rose above the mist. It was one of those numinous moments where the veils between worlds seems to part for a moment.
And now we begin to see with the eyes of our heart.
We are no longer looking out but looking in. All landscapes and horizons form within the embrace. C:20.8
Is not the embrace itself holy? Is not the sunrise and the
sunset? Is not the least of the birds of the air as holy as
the mighty eagle? The blade of grass, the fleck of sand, the
the wind and air, the ocean and her surf, all live by the
universal heartbeat and exist within the embrace. C:20.21
SOME ANGEL STRETCHED MY RIB CAGE!
The following verses are chosen around the theme of Love (to partner with Jaya’s compelling heart painting) and excerpted from longer poems.
August 14, 2013
There were times I felt as though some great
Angel took tongs
And stretched my rib cage to the cracking
point to make room for—
The necessary enlargement of my heart.
March 9, 2014
I muse while writing this poem and am reassured
Immature though they often were
My attempts to love over the years are not lost
And my worried heart is consoled
Love can never be erased.
September 22, 2o14
Learning to love well is my soul’s deep desire
Inflated fear doesn’t serve that desire
But constricts my heart until
Fight or flight takes over.
It isn’t easy to turn our lives into a celebration
Gathering the wisdom hiding in our fears
But the harvest is a heart
Freed up to love.
June 7, 2013
I want all creation to know it is marvelous
Saturated in every cell and molecule
With imprisoned Splendor
I want every creature and tree and cloud to feel valued
Then and only then
When my name is called and death is near
Could my heart bear to leave this bizarre and spectacular planet.
June 12, 2013
So I offer my heart and hold out my hands
Because bottom line
Love is all there is
And the rest of the time I play
And blow kisses.
August 24, 2013
And I did it, I kept on keeping on
That is the one piece of advice I’d pass along to anyone seeking
Keep on keeping on.
And something miraculous
Which you slowly recognize, keeps you company
You don’t need to understand
No one needs to explain it more than this
But everything, everything, everything is sacred
Now we can recognize love, be love, and give love
And when grace helps us see some pollution in our loving
Love propels us to become more aware
And liberating clarity emerges.
What a journey
What a magnificent journey
I join with Nobel Prize winner Dag Hammarskjold
“To all that has been, thank you.
To all that will be, yes.”
This last poem “appeared” on my computer screen one morning in 2000. I do not remember writing it. Mystery. Gift. I had life threatening cancer at the time and the message I kept receiving was: “All there is is love.” Today I appreciate the message and the poem more than I could then.
…And beyond to the stars
And outer galaxies
The smallest grasshopper
Was not left out
Nor were my own flaws and failures.
Redemption rolled over all
Like some cosmic ocean
And everything sang love’s song
There was no you nor me There was only the greatest WE
About our contributors
PAULA PAYNE HARDIN: A brief bio
Paula authored the book “What Are You Doing With the Rest of Your Life? Choices in Midlife” (1992). This opened the door for her to be on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Her next book was: “Love After Love: Stages of Loving” (1996). She mentored many children in her blended and extended family and has traveled extensively, hiking and trekking around the world. These commitments, she says, prodded her heart to expand— a necessary expansion.
JOANNA JAYA introduces herself
A Course of Love came to me when I desperately needed it. Its kindly voice and sweet message of love soothed my grieving heart and troubled mind. My beloved husband had recently died and I was in a state of deep grief and did not know where to turn for solace. I had been revisiting A Course in Miracles via the internet when I stumbled upon a link to A Course of Love. At once I was blown away by the direct and beautiful message of love speaking directly to my heart. Mari Perron on YouTube talked about how she came to receive the words of Christ and I felt an instant connection to her beautiful presence and voice.
My spiritual journey has been a long and rocky road to travel at times. As a child I was always the outcast and found solace in my books and imaginary worlds. As a teen during the late 60’s I started my search for answers through the drugs that offered the possibility of easy enlightenment. This led on to discovering yoga and TM meditation and reading books like Be Here Now. In my search for an alternative way of being I joined the Hare Krishna movement attracted by their philosophy of simple living in community with others and the promise of a direct connection with God through the Yoga of devotion. I raised my two daughters in the community and dedicated my life to serving God.
After immersing myself in that life for over 10 years I realised that it was not working for me and that God felt far away from me still.
Many know me by the name Jaya; it is a name for the divine feminine and means victory. It is the name I was given during my Krishna days; I mostly go by the name Joanna nowadays.
In the following years I tried to make sense of everything and to find a way to life outside the spiritual bubble of community. My children left home, my first marriage ended and I had two bouts with cancer. I moved away to Cornwall on the rugged Atlantic coast to try to heal my soul and find my true spiritual home. After a couple of years I moved across the country to be closer to my daughters and went to college to study art and design. This was a good time, but I was still restless and searching for deep spiritual connection. I went to live in Glastonbury, a place that calls many spiritual seekers. There I met a dear man who was a true soulmate who had shared some of my past experiences. We quickly became a couple and we shared many happy loving times together until his time came to leave his body behind three years ago.
Now I live alone in a pleasant house close to the sea in a small town in Suffolk England. I spend my days quietly, sometimes meeting my daughters and helping out with my grandchildren. I love to tend the garden, to paint and sew and play with clay. My great solace is my daily reading of ACOL. I am now on my sixth reading and each time is freshly new and wonderful. I feel a close connection and a deeply loving connection to everyone in our Facebook group and love to join with them often. I continue to be inspired by the beautiful imagery and poetic words in ACOL and am willing and hopeful that I will be able to express that through painting. I am looking forward to joining with Paula and sharing our art and poetry.
I’ve just returned from my first visits with ACOL groups. These were along the California coast and this subject was among those I spoke of. I thought I’d share it here. ~ Mari
It is the very essence of love to be able to hold all the paradoxes that the mind would like to reject. When we know love, we know the personal and the universal are not in conflict. When we know love, we know that our humanity and our divinity are not in conflict. When we know love we even know that our minds and hearts have no need to be in conflict. This is the beauty of the way of love. Love has the power to unite us—within ourselves—and with each other. Love has the power to bring us to wholeness.
But all of that waits on our acceptance of the ego’s end.
T3:3.10 The Self that I recognize as You, is not other than who you are, but who you are. All that was ever other than who you are was the ego. The ego is gone. The ego was simply your idea of who you were. This idea was a complex set of judgments, of good and bad, right and wrong, worthy and unworthy, a list as endless as it was worthless. Realize now the worthlessness of this idea and let it go.
The movement from ego to true Self is the movement of ACOL. We’re told at the very beginning that this is where we’re heading, but the ego is still addressed throughout. In the first book, the Course—it is as if it’s still there—but just not being taught to. Then increasingly—as what we’re leaving behind. And finally as what we have left behind. I’ve had people say to me that you can’t say the ego is gone just because you’ve read the book, and I imagine that might be true if all you did was read. Jesus says you may do that and change the world, but you won’t be who you are or create a new world. There’s something different than simple reading that Jesus invites us to. Do you feel that?
These are changes of enormous proportions: the end of the ego—which coincides with the discovery of the true Self, and—the end of learning—which coincides with the beginning of sharing in union and relationship as well as creation of the new.
The end of the EGO
Now, what I had a hard time with, what a major stumbling block of mine was, and that I see others having the hardest time with, is very simple. We want to, and maybe even do accept that the ego is gone, but then wonder, when we still have things about ourselves that we think of as being from the ego, what’s going on?
What I’ve seen is that when I ask myself, How can I be ego free when I still feel like this?…it is about the feelings I have when I go against my nature. Really, the next time you have the thought come to you that your ego is acting up, see if this isn’t true. I’d be willing to bet these thoughts or feelings are not about trying to build up your false self, but come from your desire to acknowledge your true Self.
I believe this question of what seems to be of the ego, is about what we haven’t yet discovered about what it means to live honestly…to live true to ourselves. To be our true Selves. To liberate our true Selves. And I feel this is important to share with you.
This isn’t about the little stuff. This is about the big stuff. If we’re going to see ourselves as humanly divine, we’ve got to love ourselves first. Accept who we are first. Jesus says, “You wouldn’t be other than who you are. Herein lie your peace and your perfection.” (C:20.42) And I feel that one of the things we realize with our heart’s knowing, is that this is true. When it comes right down to it, we really wouldn’t rather be other than who we are. We don’t want anyone else’s life, not really. We just want to live our own truly.
Here’s a great quote from Day 8 on radical acceptance:
8.8 All power to effect change comes from acceptance—not acceptance of the way things are, but acceptance of who you are in the present. Not through acceptance of the way you want to be but of the way you are now. There will be many things within your life that will take some time to change, but many others that can change instantly through this radical acceptance.
What a big shift this is—what freedom. Days—8-9-and 10 of The Dialogues are so incredible that way. So liberating. “Oh. I don’t have to accept whatever comes along. I have to accept me and how I feel. Wow.” And you know why we can do that? Because the ego is gone. Jesus isn’t seeking to have us become ego maniacs! No. He wants us to be true to ourselves.
We will keep what will serve the new and let the rest go. I know I’m still doing that. I don’t know about you, but I know that’s true of me. I also know I’ve come farther in the last few years than I did in the ten before that. Still, it’s all valuable somehow—because this takes a lot of courage and, as we stumble and rise again, if we’re honest about that, we face the truth of who we are in that moment and go on. We companion others as they go on. And all the while we are in union and relationship.
Here’s a good example. I had a hard time getting the time to myself that I craved. I started going out to my cabin at sunrise because it was the only hour no one would bother me. I couldn’t find my voice to state what I needed—and this has been an issue of mine—finding my voice. Using my voice. Being true to myself. I’m doing that now, and also benefiting greatly from the gift that this early morning pattern of greeting the day has become!
We may not look like enlightened ones, but we’re doing this incredible work of merging the human and divine in the ordinary lives we live. We don’t need the one percent to lead the way anymore. Jesus says this course goes out to humble and ordinary people like us so that IN OUR MULTITUDE we will change the world. We can’t all drop out to go on pilgrimages. Yet we can all be pilgrims and pioneers of the new, and do so according to who we are, and where we are, and with the gifts we’ve been given.
And you know why we need to do that? Mainly because the world needs us in it as who we are, but also because if we’re intolerant of ourselves, we’ll be intolerant of others. If we love ourselves…this is so simple…we love all.
This is the big switcheroo here, being true to ourselves. It’s at the heart of what Jesus calls radical acceptance—accepting how we feel—not what’s “out there.” Accepting everything . . . but the ego.
When Bill Heller shared his Holy Week exploration with me, I knew right away I wanted to add his expression to this page. Below is his story of finding A Course of Love, followed by Holy Week 2016. It’s theme of resurrection is always current.
Finding A Course of Love
My journey with A Course of Love began with a note from my friend and fellow Course in Miracles student, Bill Marchand. The trigger occurred a few days later, when I heard about it again from Rev. Tony Ponticello, in an announcement for the “A Present Love” conference in New York City. Hearing twice so quickly, I knew this must be waiting for me.
The book arrived by mail, and I jumped in that night. I recall reading the note on receiving the material, the forward, and the introduction. I closed my eyes and tilted my head back, saying, “Is this you Jesus?” Instantly, I saw an image of his face in front of me, smiling and beginning to laugh. I felt the joy and energy of this connection, and broke out in a laugh from my gut! “So we’re at it again,” I thought. For me, there was never any question as to the source. I haven’t needed to look back!
Reading this validated the journey I’ve been on to this point. I recalled asking a year earlier, “What’s next?” as if there was something further beyond ACIM. Gratefully, this has been the answer. That “shift in perception” commencing with ACIM served me well in jumping in with both feet, observing, opening my heart, and trusting the expression of Jesus being offered. Curiously, I noticed a distinction in the writing between Helen Schucman and Mari Perron, while also finding the common wisdom of Jesus imbedded in the beautiful sentences. I felt the individual expressions of Helen and Mari were ideal for the material each were offering; also, they could not have delivered what the other had.
In a year now, I have been through the book twice, and am clear my commitment to awakening is picking up steam. I couldn’t be more grateful, excited, and confident. “We’re going home!”
HOLY WEEK 2016
You might recall from the line in ACIM wherein Jesus stated “The journey to the cross should be the last “useless journey.” (Text, 4, Introduction, 3.1) Sounded sweet and profound to me at the time, though not much more.
Later, I recall reading “The Message of the Crucifixion” as section 1 in chapter 6. Reading this section brought me to the point of clearly accepting ACIM was given us by Jesus, and eliminated any of my doubts. I recall from paragraph 9:
“I elected, for your sake and mine, to demonstrate that the most outrageous assault, as judged by the ego, does not matter. As the world judges these things, but not as God knows them, I was betrayed, abandoned, beaten, torn, and finally killed.”
“The crucifixion cannot be shared because it is the symbol of projection, but the resurrection is the symbol of sharing because the reawakening of every Son of God is necessary to enable the Sonship to know its Wholeness. Only this is knowledge:
Teach only love, for that is what you are.
If you interpret the crucifixion in any other way, you are using it as a weapon for assault rather than the call for peace for which it was intended.”
And now, I find this even more relevant to our journey today, as found in A Course of Love. The material that follows is found in the section entitled “Original Purpose.” (emphasis is my addition.)
T3:5.4 You have tried to live in a house built on a faulty foundation, attempting to make do with what you have. All your time was spent in making repairs through the cracked and peeling walls that you built. That you would eventually call to yourself a fire that would burn these walls to ash or a flood that would wash them away, was as much a part of the survival mechanism of your real Self as was the rush to rebuild a part of the survival mechanism of the ego-self.
T3:5.5 All this you have already tried to do. These lessons you have already tried to learn. This Course has come so that these many things that you have tried need not be repeated, just as the crucifixion came to end the need to learn through suffering and death.
T3:5.6. The story that I lived was appropriate for the time in which I lived it, and has an appropriateness that continues even now. I walked the earth in order to reveal A God of Love. The question of the time, a question still much in evidence, was how mighty could God’s love be if it were given to a people who suffered. The answer was so mighty that he would even allow the death of his only son to redeem the world. (Historical perspective)
T3:5.7. The death of an only son, then as now, would be seen as a sacrifice of enormous proportions; the greatest sacrifice of all. The point of the story, however was not one of sacrifice but one of gift giving. The greatest gift of all was given, the gift of redemption. The gift of redemption was the gift of an end to the pain and suffering and a beginning of resurrection and new life. It was a gift meant to empty the world of the ego-self and to allow the personal self to live on as the one true Self, the one true son of God. The gift of redemption was given once and for all. It is the gift of restoration to original purpose. Without there having been an original purpose worthy of God’s son, the crucifixion would have ended life in form and returned the sons of man to the formless. Instead, the sons of man were freed to pursue their original purpose.
T3:5.8 This story has been repeated endlessly in time, in time extending both forward and back. Each father’s son will die. This means not what you have taken it to mean, an endless series of generations passing. What this means is that in each the ego will die and the Self be reborn to life eternal. Without rebirth of the Self, the original purpose goes unfulfilled. Since God is original purpose, original cause, the origin of self and of relationship, the original purpose cannot go unfulfilled. What this means is that the illusion will be no more and the truth will reign. Such is the reign of God.”
And so, our purpose here from the beginning, is once again stated, perhaps more clearly or simply that before. Also, closer to being fully realized than we could imagine.
The material that follows is found in the First Treatise: A Treatise on The Art of Thought, Chapter 8, Incarnation and Resurrection.
“…What I was in life was the manifestation of form, of the Will of God. Thus too have you been. …But with my resurrection, which was accomplished for all, the meaning of life, the reality of life changed, though we know this not. The great experiment in separation ended with the resurrection, though you have known this not. For the resurrection and life are now one and the same.” (T1:8.2)
“That they are the same has not meant the automatic realization of this change of enormous proportions….the understanding of the truth of an historical event changes over time and it may take a hundred or a thousand or even two thousand years for the real truth to be realized. Even though many versions of the truth have been accepted previously, there is only one truth. There was only one truth at the time the event or change took place, and there is only one truth in time or eternity regardless of the variety of the interpretations of the truth.” (T1:8.3)
“I’ve come now to reveal the one truth that has existed for the past 2000 years without your comprehension of it. The nature of life changed with the resurrection. I am the resurrection and the life. So are you.” (T1:8.4)
“As I no longer suffer separation, you need no longer suffer the separation. Even though the resurrection returned not life to the form I once occupied, it returned me to you in the form of the resurrected Christ who exists in all of you, bringing resurrection even unto your forms [bodily idea of life]. I became the Word incarnate upon my resurrection rather than upon my birth. ….my resurrection brought about the Word [Christ, I Am] made flesh in each of you. You who have come after me are not as I was but as I Am. …You are the resurrected and the life.” (T1:8.5)
“… you have been reborn as god-man, as God and man united. The resurrection is the cause and effect of the union of the human and divine. This is accomplished. This is in effect the way the man Jesus became the Christ [the Christ consciousness in all].” (8.6)
“The heart and mind joined in union accomplished the reunion of the separated self with God. The resurrection was the evidence of this accomplishment. It laid aside death’s claim and with it the claim of all that is temporary.” (T1:8.8)
The link between resurrection and incarnation.
“Illusion is the death you need but arise from. Arise to your resurrected self! There is no longer a god-head to follow into paradise. [ignore all others and] know instead the example of Mary, Mother of God.” (T1:8.9)
“What is a mother but she who incarnates, makes spirit flesh through her own flesh, makes spirit flesh through union. That you have in your version of creation, made it necessary for woman to join with man in order for new life to come forth, is but another example of how your memory of creation was made to serve what you would have come to be. The separated self could not exist in separation and so created a way in which other separated forms could come into existence and live with you in separation. That you recognized union as a prerequisite to creation is proof of your memory’s tenacity and the failure of illusion to completely rid you of what you know.” (T1:8.10)
Time to reflect on this. “… in your version of creation” speaks to the dream we’ve made that calls for intercourse to create life. This perpetuates the dream of the physical being real. It also perpetuates separation. The last sentence then provides two valuable points. First, the “memory’s tenacity” to selectively forget our reality, and secondly, regardless how we hold onto this dream, our true reality (as God’s extension) is not completely forgotten.
“The virgin birth was thus a necessary step in the reclaiming of the real act of creation, the bringing forth of the new through union with the divine Self….. This is a call to embrace the truth.” (T1:8.11)
Mary is called upon now as the myth to end all myths for in this example life alone is the key to the riddle provided. (T1:8.12)
“You are each called to return to your virgin state, to a state unaltered by the separation, a state in which what is begotten is begotten through union with God. It is from this unaltered state that you are free to resurrect, as I resurrected. It is through the Blessed Virgin Mary’s resurrection in form that the new pattern of life is revealed.” (8.13)
“The new pattern of life is the ability to resurrect in form. The ability to resurrect in life. The ability to resurrect now.” (8.14)
“Thus is the glory that is yours returned to you in life rather than in death.” (8.15)
Here is the bottom line on the gift to me, and to you: We are not to resurrect as Jesus did, through the form of death! We are to resurrect as the Mother Mary did, during her lifetime while in form!
“The male [Jesus] provided the manifestation or the effect of the cause created by the female in the virgin birth. My mother, Mary, was responsible for the incarnation of Christ in me as I am responsible for the incarnation of Christ in you. This union of the male and female is but union of the parts of yourself expressed in form and story, expressed, in other words, in a visual pattern that aides your understanding of the invisible. It is one more demonstration of the union that returns you to your natural state. It is one more demonstration of cause and effect being one in truth. It is one more demonstration of what needs to occur now, in this time, in order for the truth of the resurrection to be revealed and lived.” (T1:8.16)
Later in the book, this is reiterated in The Dialogues, Day 18:
“Resurrection lays aside death’s claim and with it the claim of all that is temporary…. Your separated state was a sickness, an unwanted state, and thus a temporary manifestation. The joining of mind and heart provided reunion of the human and divine and thus accomplished the resurrection of the eternal in form. Your virgin state, the state unaltered by the separation, has been returned.” (D:Day18.5.6)
Jesus, you hear my asking, and desire to understand this message you’ve given us. I long for this answer, this direction, this full awakening. Thank you!
Expressions with Mary Deeny: Humanity, the world, and the ego
I came to know ACOL via the UPS guy! Being a book lover, my best friend is hands down Amazon. I can’t seem to help myself. If I don’t have a few books on hand that I haven’t read yet I seem to get the shakes.
Excitedly opening that distinctive box with the smiley face and seeing “A Course of Love” in it I said, “Awe shit! I ordered the wrong book!” I’ve never returned a book, so I gave it a glance over. As I started to read, I was amazed that it seemed “up my alley.” Being an ACIM’er I was super skeptical. I didn’t even know ACOL existed. I remember saying, “How come I’ve never heard of this before?” The further I read the more skeptical and drawn I was. I never expected another book like ACIM. It was different and yet the same. It was with great trepidation that I continued reading. Somewhere within the first book I was struck deeply. “I know this voice.” And just like that my brother came to me personally to continue the job he started.
Meg Wheatly, in her book on conversations,* suggests that, as we work together to restore hope to the future, “We need to include a new and strange ally—our willingness to be disturbed.” This quote came to mind as I read Mary Deeny’s expression. Mary is bold enough to be disturbed and brave enough to be disturbing.
There is a change taking place. As we move from the ego to the true Self with ACOL, (or through other ways) it suddenly becomes rather difficult to give any credence to the ego. We want to lock that closed door, because there’s no value in the ego that we have closed the door upon. But it’s hard to change, and it’s hard to challenge what others see as truth, or even as illusion.
Why, you might ask, would anyone bother? I think of it a bit like the old notions of sin that many of us grew up with. When you outgrow the idea of sin, hearing about it in a context that suggests it is real is awful, hearing it suggested that it is inescapable is just as bad, and eventually, hearing of it at all grows old and wearying. You begin to want to abide in a new environment, where that old idea is no longer a topic of conversation at all. And, you can become exasperated when old ideas sneak in where new ideas are taking root.
Why bother? In at least some churches, and definitely in some wonderful priests, rabbis, nuns and monks, that old idea of sin is given no space in which to abide. It is dropped from the vocabulary of love. This can have an amazing effect. Hard edges soften, the language of love returns, and new ways restore the promise of our true nature. Then, the reason for the emphasis on sin that once seemed so needed, vanishes. In this same way, many in the ACOL community are finding this can happen with the ego and the ego’s illusion. I welcome Mary’s voice to this Expressions page.
*(Turning to one another: simple conversations to restore hope to the future, Margaret K Wheatley.)
Humanity, The World and… the ego, by Mary Deeny
We are not the body but we ARE Being Human. I’m observing others around me lately still feeling as though being human is somehow shitty. They’re all tangled up with form. They feel that the body equates to being human and since the body is form it’s just a projection and therefore needs to be dispelled. They think that when they reach “enlightenment” they won’t see a body or any bodies or the world. That humanity is a dream in and of itself. Are we making this assumption that since we’re told we’re not the body it somehow means the body is bad . . . something that we aren’t because what we “really” are is better (invisible spirit), more benevolent? That what we are is better than who we are being? Are we comparing the invisible us to who we are being in form and judging the being part of us unworthy to be called part of creation? And are we defining form as not being a “true” or “real” part of creation?
Why is form so misunderstood? Don’t we realize this entire Course is about reconciling who we are, and that part of who we are is being human? We’re being told all about the creation of form and yet some still hold to an idea of form being just an illusion, and therefore something to overcome so we can get back to being only the stillness within God.
“. . . Being is. As love is. You have attached being to being human. In your quest to identify yourself, you have simply narrowed yourself to the visible and describable.” C:27.1
Now that we know there is an invisible part of us, have we gone to the opposite side of this spectrum and now limit ourselves to only the invisible and indescribable?
Being human is not the same thing as being a body, yet I feel that’s what some of us believe. Believing that being human means being a body disregards the absolute incredible creation the body is and denies an actual real aspect of ourselves which is “being in relationship.” Seriously…the body…what a freaking incredible thing! What a tool we have! We can’t come to know who we are through denying who we are being.
Humanity has gotten as much of a bad rap as God has. Aren’t we told we have no idea what a feat of creation humanity was and is?
“If you can imagine for a moment yourself as a being whose every thought became manifest, as perhaps you can envision from remembering your dreams in which anything can happen without a need for you to “do” anything and then becoming a form where expressing yourself depended upon what you could “do” with the human body, you can imagine the learning process that ensued. If your reality had been like unto the reality you experienced in dreams, can you not see that you would have to learn to breathe, to speak, to walk, much like a baby learns to do these things, and that these things were loving acts within a loving universe, a love filled learning process. A learning process that was as known to you and chosen by yourself as it was by God, because you and God are one.” T4:8.7
“God always knew what your mind chose to rebel against: that creation is perfect. Your mind, being of God, was constrained by the learning limits of the body and chose to rebel against the learning that was needed in order to come into the time of fullness of a being able to express itself in form, never realizing that this just delayed the learning that had to occur to release you from the limits you struggled against.” T4:8.9
Nowhere does Jesus say that not being human is the goal. What he says is that we are to pass through a learning and an unlearning process while being human in order to come into a time of fullness of being able to express ourselves in form. And that this learning/unlearning is an act of loving creation coming to completion.
“You who have come after me are not as I was but as I Am. Does this not make sense, even in your human terms of evolution? You are the resurrection and the life. How does this relate to your thinking? You have been reborn as god-man, as God and man united. The resurrection is the cause and effect of the union of the human and divine. This is the accomplished. This is in effect the way in which the man Jesus became the Christ. This is in effect the way.” T1:8.5-6
This describes the process of creation to me. The process by which fulfillment is made complete through the realization of who we are AND who we are being so that we can express the truth of who we are in form.
“[Y]ou must see that your Self is what is in need of identification and acknowledgment. This identification and acknowledgment was the stated goal of A Course of Love. It does not negate your existence as a human being nor does it deny your existence as being a gift of the Creator.” T1:4.4
Here’s what I’ve come to know:
Humanity is already divine by its very nature of being a creation. The merging of the human and divine isn’t two separate beings merging (even though it might feel like this). We can’t NOT be divine just as we can’t be separate from God. The marriage is accepting that being human is being divine. Through this idea being born and accepted the truth is made real. “A representation of the truth not only reveals the truth but becomes the truth. A representation of what is not the truth reveals only illusion and becomes illusion. Thus, as your personal self becomes a representation of the truth it will become who you are in truth.” T3:1.4
And what about the world—environments where we can feel, express, expand, experience and discover through form. Why aren’t we embracing our humanity? Why aren’t we saying, “Holy shit, how freaking incredible are we!” Hoorah! Don’t we see how extraordinary the world and humanity is? There’s a deep abiding love for humanity and the world. God himself tells us how he loves the very shape of our head and every hair that’s upon it! Look at how we’ve decorated the world. How can we not see the beauty of love being made manifest in form for our very own delight? Sights, sounds, smells. . .. The senses we get to partake in through the use of the body in cooperation with the world are incredible and quite frankly magnificent! Talk about abundance. It’s all right there before us and yet we struggle. Why? Because we think being human is ungodly.
“The world does not exist apart from you, and so you must realize your compassionate connection. The world is not a collection of cement buildings and paved streets nor of cold, heartless people who would as soon do you harm as good. It is but the place of your interaction with all that lives within you, sharing the one heartbeat.” C:20.17
I hear people say, “The world is just an illusion, it isn’t real.” (Personally, I’d like to see the words “illusion,” “ego” and “perception” get lumped into a bag with “shoulda’, woulda’, coulda’ and get tossed out of language altogether…never to be heard of again). Well, what does “real” mean anyway? Are we getting hung up on an absolute definition of a word instead of being open to the possibilities of what a word can infer?
The whole illusion, real, dream thing…is what we THOUGHT. Who we thought we were is the illusion, and along with it all the systems we put into place because of it—thought systems that seemed to limit our very nature. Illusion because our nature can never be limited. Isn‘t denying the truth of who we are what the ego is? A false sense of beliefs as they pertain to us being a body? An “if this, then that” way of thought. The ego isn’t something that requires endless work to defeat and years of intense study to “overcome.” Although some of us do just that.
We’re told that once we know truth of who we are, the ego is no more, in fact never was because it was never the truth. Do we define knowing the truth as living perfectly? Or having healed our bodies? Do we attribute knowing the truth with a list of accomplishments that must be met before we accept the truth of us? Do we notice a thought and still call it the ego and therefore decide it’s still there and hasn’t left? Hell, even calling the ego “ego” and or referring to it as an “it” makes it something it isn’t. We’ve turned an untrue belief into a monster that haunts us. So we hunt it, are on the lookout for it, create all these ways of dealing with it, and hide from it like a child afraid of the dark. We’re told illusion isn’t real. Well the ego is an illusion and isn’t real.
Doesn’t Jesus tell us a thousand times (ok, I’m exaggerating) that all we need is willingness. He even says a “little” willingness, not even a boat load. Willingness to do what exactly? Well, for me it’s all about acceptance. Willingness to accept the truth and then willingness to be the truth. Jesus even gives us an instruction to interrupt these thoughts. All we need do is say “I dedicate all thought to union.” Simply saying that interrupts the pattern of old thought. This reminds me of the “Golden Key.” Isn’t this the same thing? You want to interrupt a negative thought pattern, think about God instead. Jesus doesn’t say obsess over it, dissect it, judge it, argue with it and talk endlessly about it. Nope he doesn’t. What he says is don’t hold onto it. Allow it pass through. Don’t be afraid. It’s just a shadow. I say kiss the ego goodbye like an old lover. Thank it and bless it for everything it brought you and send it on its way. Doesn’t Jesus say this is the only real use for denial?
Isn’t it possible that desiring to express ourselves in physical form is a wonderful piece of creation? That being human is creation expressing? That we are in the evolution of creation coming to its fulfillment in providing us with our desire?
We’re told in A Note on Being:
What will there be to strive for? What quest will replace this quest for being? The quest for love’s expression – the quest to see, experience, and share, as many of love’s expressions as the word needs to be returned, along with you, to its own Self.
Does this seem like a long harrowing road? An endless quest? An endless quest for love’s expression is eternity itself.
Be happy that there is no end in sight to this road you travel now. It is simply the road of what is endlessly creating like unto itself.
You know how to respond to love, for you are love being. So be it. E.27-30
I am so pleased to welcome Ben Andriessen to the Expressions page. Ben first contacted me nearly four years ago. He told me the story he shares with you (below) of “finding” A Course of Love, and also shared this response to his first reading: “I have not been able to stop reading/studying it ever since. Some of it is rather challenging, almost goading my ego, while other sections are as clear as light and profoundly helpful, revelatory almost. Thank you Jesus!” We have been communicating ever since and have witnessed the depth of our understanding growing as we’ve shared. This witnessing of our changed state is one of the many ways in which we support each other in discovering all of who we are. Ben’s poetic visage of ACOL is an enriching example of a new way of seeing, and one of the many reasons for this page dedicated to the sharing of our unique expressions of A Course of Love. Welcome~
One of my favourite holiday activities is browsing in second-hand bookshops in search of surprises. It was in June 2012 when I found myself visiting the largest second-hand bookstore in Wigtown, Galloway, also known as Scotland’s book town. Prosaically called “The Bookshop,” it boasts having over one mile of shelving, supporting over 65,000 books. I made my way to the “spirituality” section which, disappointingly, was comprised of less than fifty volumes, one of which immediately caught my attention.
“A Course of Love” it said on its spine. What … !?
Having been a teacher/student of A Course in Miracles for 30 years, my instant reaction was: “How dare they!… a new Course?” As I read the Table of Contents and leafed through the book, I got an immediate flavour of the power and authority of the words, very similar to my first encounter with A Course in Miracles, way back in 1983. Puzzled and curious, I bought it, having stayed only 5 minutes in that bookshop.
I wondered how a book, channeled from Jesus, became part of a second-hand bookshop’s inventory. Who would possibly discard it or sell it and why? Ah, the ways of Providence are mysterious indeed: A Course of Love (ACOL) became available in the UK in 2002 and took ten years to find me during a chance visit to a small town in Scotland. What a blessing it turned out to be!
One of the statements that grabbed me was that, with the ego gone, the time for learning was over, meaning I had graduated from ACIM and was now ready for a Post-Graduate Course, ACOL, that required no study or following lessons. Says C32.4: “Think not. This Course requires no thought and no effort.” This becomes possible when mind and heart join in relationship and are experienced as part of the Identity of Divine Self.
One of the remarkable discoveries I made is that many of the sections (or “verses”) can be printed and read as poetry, in “open verse,” to allow the deeper meaning of the words to become apparent. I give you two examples, and encourage anyone to find their own “poems.”
As with the poetry of Rumi and Hafiz, one allows oneself to “enter” the poem to explore, from within, the Spacious Self that we are:
Your being here is not
futile or without purpose.
Your being here is itself
all purpose, all honor, all glory.
There is no being apart from being.
There is no being alive and being dead,
being human or being divine.
There is only being.
is in relationship
Thus your purpose here,
rather than being one of finding meaning,
is coming to know through relationship.
It is in coming to know through relationship
that you come to know
There is, of course, no space here to explore the many concepts presented in this self-contained “poem.” My favorite is one from the third volume of ACOL, Day 39 of The Dialogues, verse 46, called The Bridge. A fellow member of the ACOL Facebook Group, Anne Solveig Elmberg from Sweden, designed the marvelous background to this. Thank you so much, Anne.
A few months ago I was listening to the Commons debate on Syria (2nd Dec ’15), and I was acutely aware of this line: “You will also be the bridge between war and peace.” Will the depth of that statement ever be grasped? I feel that it is not the yes/no of doing that matters, rather the awareness of . . . the bridge between.
May your journey with A Course of Love be blessed.