We are on “a journey without distance to a goal that has never changed.” We are, in other words, on a journey of inner transformation. There is nowhere for us to go, because in Truth we have never left our Home in God, but our experience tells us otherwise. Our experiences of our separated state- moments marked by or laden with fear in any of its forms- are painful, and contrasted with the deeply buried Memory we carry of our oneness with our Creator, that pain gives rise to the feeling that there is definitely somewhere else we’d rather be. When little discomforts ramify into despair, anger, depression or anxiety, all we know is that we want out. We want something different.
And like any journey we undertake, we’d like to know along the way how we’re doing. How much farther do we have to go? Are we doing well? Are we on the right track?
We’d also like to know what we should expect. Will we take a right at the third traffic light? Will mountains give way to meadows? What type of weather could we have up in the pass?
Initially these all seem like pretty reasonable questions, but they are all asked without taking into consideration the fact that the entire thought system from which they arise is in need of comprehensive revision. They assume, or take for granted, a starting point that is not true- the belief that we might one day reach a place or a point in which we are something more than we are right now, something fuller and happier, something clear and confident and complete.
We seek signs of progress towards this goal where they are not, because we believe in a world (a thought system) that isn’t real. We think that progress will be marked by transformation in the circumstances of the world around us, by greater ability to control the stories of our lives, by a noticeable improvement in our ability to manifest the accouterments we associate with our own particular versions of a happy and full life on Planet Earth. And so long as we maintain the starting point belief that we are in any way incomplete or lacking, we will never find evidence to the contrary in the world around us.
Jesus encourages us to avoid this pitfall. In the Course he says, “Ask to be taught, and do not use your experiences to confirm what you have learned.” (T-14, XI, 6:5) Speaking to Tom Carpenter in the book Dialogue on Awakening, Jesus says, “You are expecting to see a reflection of the natural Self within this quiltwork of illusion. You will not find it here…. When I say you will not experience it here, I mean you will not experience it within the framework of the thinking you are currently utilizing.” (DoA, 1996 ed., pg 16)
Our desire to assess our progress is a continuation of our reliance upon judgment, that most hallowed tool of the separated mind. We desire and value the ability to track our progress. We, who scarcely comprehend the gifts we have been given, who have squandered an inheritance on countless occasions, who have misplaced the awareness of our Perfection, still want to be the ones to decide when progress has been made. Progress, however, is meaningless on a journey without distance. Progress is a useless metric, and judgment is a useless tool.
Consider this: if we were to ask Jesus right now if we were complete, whole, and perfect extensions of the Mind of God in this very moment, he would say yes. If we were to ask him if it is possible for us to experience the Truth of who we are, a peace that surpasseth all understanding- right now- he would say yes.
As an aside, my guess is that if we could look him in the eye when he said yes, and experience the depth of his love for us, and the clarity of his Knowledge of who we are, our own doubts would be over. You may believe this with me and even rue the fact that he is not simply appearing in your living room to hit that particular buzzer beater and end this thing! Yet the simple truth is that it wouldn’t work. Jesus has told us the truth of who we are in the Course on countless occasions… We still think we might “get it” one day. We are called to accept our Selves for who we are, and no one can do that accepting for us.
Thankfully and wondrously, we have countless opportunities every day, just as good as Jesus appearing in our living rooms. We have six billion pairs of eyes to look into any time we wish, in which we are welcome to discover the Truth that will set us free. Do we think they’re not the right eyes? If that is our belief, then we misperceive. We believe in illusions.
To the earlier questions about ourselves, about our present completion and perfection, Jesus would say, “Yes,” but the simple fact is that we do not believe him- not in our hearts. We think the evidence speaks to the contrary, that our experiences pale in comparison to those had by the truly spiritual beings on this planet, that our vision is too limited, our kundalini quagmired in the wrong chakra, our wisdom too shallow, our dreams not clear enough, our powers too lame, our responses too guilt ridden, our confidence too waivering, the health of our bodies too fragile. We mustn’t be there yet if these things are true. We look at the evidence in the world outside of us, and conclude we must not have made it Home. But these judgments are simply wrong. They bar the gates to our experience of lasting Peace.
Were we to let go of all of the images and concepts we have come to associate with the End of this Journey, all those fantasies we must live up to in order to prove that the job has been done, we would be unable to find any evidence supporting the notion that we were not at Home in God. Jesus spoke a beautiful line to Tom later in the same Chapter I quoted above (pg 18) when he said, “Once you have made a commitment to do only those things which bring you peace, you will find peace in whatever you do. You see, the lack of peace has nothing to do with the activity. It has only to do with the confusion in your mind about the many things that are taking place in your life.”
Jesus offers similar wisdom in The Way of Mastery, when he says, “Peace, the very state of Love, is a state in which no experience is obstructed within you.” (WoM, Lesson 32, page 369)
If we judge nothing as evidence that we are incomplete, complete will we be. As we let go of the need to progress, we are enabled to become receptive to the fact that each and every experience we have is the unfolding of the Love that we are. As events take place around us, each time we interpret them in a way that produces anger, or guilt, or that leads us to experience a twinge (or massive dose) of fear, it is tempting for us to believe that we are being “found out”. This is not so. That is no time to listen to the “I told you this wouldn’t work” voice in our heads and retreat to the belief that salvation can be earned in the future…
We are, in those moments, being given the opportunity to ‘unlearn’ a belief we carry that something has gone wrong, or that we are unworthy or lacking. These are encounters with all the bits of evidence we previously amassed to make our case that we’re not, in fact, at Home in God. Jesus says that “It takes great learning to understand that all things, events, encounters and circumstances are helpful,” (M-4.I.A.4:5), but I think this is the essence of the journey without distance- to accept all that is, and judge it not, that all concepts are left to whither, and Love may arise in their place, without distinction or obstruction.