It was that kind of day in the dream. I awoke to NPR interviewing a few believers in the rapture (apparently scheduled to arrive May 21, 2011) awaiting the descent of Jesus from the heavens to gather them up into the loving fold while the rest of us… Well, let’s just put it this way as one pastor did (although I am paraphrasing): “If I’m still here on May 22, I’m in deep dog you know what.” (And since I have to hang around for the graduation party we’re throwing for my daughter that day I guess I know where that leaves me.:))
This illuminating discussion sandwiched in between the latest on genocide in Libya and the ongoing debate about the significance of the body of Osama Bin Laden was soon followed by a forwarded email filled with dazzling photographs of resort areas in South Africa, Egypt, and other irrelevant tourist destinations imploring readers to consider the provocative question in regard to the continent of Africa: why aren’t their rich helping their poor, instead of us!
Perhaps inspired by sudden-onset spring weather—a harbinger of impending outdoor family celebrations–people were flipping each other off en masse in the parking lot at Costco as if responding to an invisible choreographer as we ventured in to order a graduation cake. Clinging to our over-sized, bumper car-like cart as we navigated the crowded warehouse aisles, my daughter burst into tears over a classmate’s apparent texted attempt to deliberately exclude her. Again.
On the way home, the anti-abortion protestors were out in full force at the intersection in our university neighborhood waving their graphic dismembered fetus signs at passing infidels—Praise the Lord! Am I the luckiest A Course in Miracles student on the planet or what, I thought. Because it was going to be one of those days in the classroom where I could learn I need do nothing but forgive, a process that in truth has nothing to do with the me I think I am, or the me I think they are, or with actually “doing” anything at all on the level of form.
Allow me to review. According to the creation myth A Course in Miracles uses to explain the hateful ego dynamics that drive all human interaction here in this dream of exile from perfect Love, in the beginning we (the individual physical/psychological bodies we independently identify with) were one with our source (still are, actually). Seamlessly, eternally, peacefully fused to our creator in a manner that defies understanding in the condition we mistakenly believe we now find ourselves in. At some point–for reasons that also defy the oxymoron of the term “ego understanding”—we wondered if there could be something more than perfect wholeness and desired to experience it. Although our belief in this “tiny mad idea” didn’t in reality alter anything, believing we had pulled it off we now experienced ourselves plunged into metaphorical darkness, blinded to our own infinitely shared light.
Our guilt over believing we had destroyed eternal life/God and deserved to be punished for it was so crushing that the one mind appeared to split into the ego–the part of the mind that believed in the “sin” of separation and continued to reinforce that belief–and the Holy (Whole) Spirit, the part of the one mind that could only gently smile at the impossibility of fragmenting perfect oneness.
Like the nut cases we secretly think we are, instead of siding with the Holy Spirit, the one Son of God (now referred to as the decision maker) chose in his fear and morbid curiosity to side with the ego’s delusion. It then projected its guilt over this unfortunate move into an entire universe of independent forms projecting their “individual” guilt onto each other in an effort to prove their greater innocence to a vengeful God created in the ego’s guilty image. We then figuratively fell asleep and forgot we even had a mind that can always choose again to smile gently with an inner teacher completely confident we remain one, awake in God, merely dreaming of exile.
A Course in Miracles teaches us we are not these separate selves by learning to recognize in our ongoing impulse to blame others for the excruciating, unconscious guilt in our mind every time we are tempted to blame (or credit) someone else for our emotional state. Or to exclude ourselves from the hatred of the human “condition” playing out in our dream. Rather than aggressively charging back into the dream to attack or defend other dream figures, we learn to join with the part of our mind that knows we’re only dreaming because it makes us feel a whole (pun intended) lot better.
Through this process of changing our mind about all we experience, our dream becomes a classroom in which we learn to forgive ourselves for our terrifying projections of the original guilt in the mind. We begin to understand that we all share the same shameful, conniving, selfish, terrorized, and terrorizing ego and the same memory of uninterrupted, all-inclusive, eternal wholeness. We learn to recognize our desire to judge others imprisons us in a hell of our own making, but we can experience heaven in any moment by choosing a different inner teacher. Truth can only come from a part of our mind we deliberately pushed away but now deliberately turn to for a second opinion that always starts with a reminder that this is my mind on ego I’m watching in all these clever disguises that have no effect whatsoever on the one Love we share.
As A Course in Miracles chapter 18, VII. I Need Do Nothing, reminds us: “…One instant spent together with your brother restores the universe to both of you. You are prepared. Now you need but to remember you need do nothing. It would be far more profitable now merely to concentrate on this than to consider what you should do. When peace comes at last to those who wrestle with temptation and fight against the giving in to sin; when the light comes at last into the mind given to contemplation; or when the goal is finally achieved by anyone, it always comes with just one happy realization; “I need do nothing.”
Even though there is (in reality) no individual “I,” A Course in Miracles meets us where we think we are in the condition we think we’re in. So this is a path in healing our mind about our seeming relationships—the ones on the radio and TV, the ones in our emails, the ones in our parking lots, the ones in our living rooms, the ones on our street corners, and the one we see when we look in the mirror. Every day I have numerous chances to remember I am the dreamer of this dream, not the dream figure. The hatred I perceive around me is just a mistaken belief in the “sin” of separation and the desire to get rid of it by picturing it in another dream figure. Presenting my illusions to the part of my mind that can see them as the imagined defenses against the truth they really are returns me to the quiet center in the one mind wherein the split mind we share begins to heal. I need do nothing but recognize in my impulse to blame or credit you for how I feel my own desire to get rid of concealed guilt over believing I exist at God’s expense and ask the part of my mind that knows better what’s really going on. The final step–the release of my victimized or victimizing thoughts–is done for me.
“Yet there will always be this place of rest to which you can return. And you will be more aware of this quiet center of the storm than all its raging activity. This quiet center, in which you do nothing, will remain with you, giving you rest in the midst of every busy doing on which you are sent.”
On this particular Saturday in response to the seeming antics of my fellow dream figures and the strong pull of my rush to judgment, the choice to do nothing but accept the inner teacher of peace’s assurance that all was well for once seemed a no brainer and I found myself flooded with gratitude for the practical, transformative power of this path home. Deeply grateful to each of these dream figures for helping me remember there is really no me or you to forgive, thereby undoing a little more of the unconscious guilt that must all (eventually) go to awaken from this dream. Until my secret fear came boomeranging back the next morning in the form of tree pollen on steroids partnered with a mighty wind intent on interfering with my plan for the perfect Mothers’ Day hike and I again forgot I need do nothing but forgive.
My amazing daughter, Kara, graduates from high school Friday, May 20. I am so proud of you! Thank you for being such a great teacher for me and thank you to all the children and parents we have been so blessed to experience through you. I am taking time to honor and enjoy this passage with friends and visiting family and will post again in two weeks.
You’ll find several reviews of my new book on the Book Reviews page.
I have just posted some new Q & A’s on my Questions & Answers page; please feel free to submit ACIM-related questions.
I have also added a Media page where you can now find a couple of recent radio interviews.
(I will soon be adding audio and video recordings about ACIM’s forgiveness here.)
I have started offering individual ACIM Mentoring sessions by phone.