Who is studying the Course? And to what end? Who hears the words? Who is stirred to hope for a new life? Who recognizes Love and surrenders, turning round then to confront their darkness? Who finds it too complicated or difficult?
My little, egoic self is a Seeker. The starting point for this little one is the deeply held belief that my unique and particular historically-derived collection of personal experiences is all that exists, all that can be known, and all that is meaningful in and of itself. This little one is the glue that holds this collection of past moment-trinkets together, and organizes them into a vector of personal purpose, an oft-changing mission, a rallying cry that continuously falters and regroups into new slogans and banners.
This collection of trinkets- thoughts, interpretations, meanings and experiences- is not assembled willy-nilly. Do not succumb to that folly. This little one has a vast system for organizing trinkets and half-moments into a neatly organized shell, as if a chainmail identity had been forged from painstakingly melding together the scraps and shards found in a discarded box of ancient, musty photos in the attic of an abandoned house. The memories of what those fragments of images once stood for have long been lost; those images are just empty swatches of color, and the chainmail is as soft as damp cardboard. This is a little one’s world. This little one is the glue and the thread, tucked away inside, gluing and sewing.
This little one knows very clearly that should the waters of Truth trickle into the cracks of that shell, in between the cracks of its quilt of ancient color swatches and half-meanings, that the glue and those musty papers may very well all just dissolve, and that those images would be given over to something Greater, to an alternate Interpretation, and this little one would simply be gone. All its work undone. This little self would be exposed, and all of its efforts to make a grandiose little self would be found meaningless.
“No fear is greater than the fear of meaninglessness… the quest for meaning is how you have described your purpose here. To have no meaning to attach to your life is the tragedy you see within it and attempt to keep hidden from yourself.” (CoL, 26.7)
Who can blame it for resisting? What could ever be wrong with the desire to have and to know a self? Not one to state the obvious, as in “Truth should be avoided at all costs because it will mercilessly flood my meaninglessness and destroy me”, this little one packages avoidance as approach, parses Finding into an unending series of steps it calls Seeking.
But… who is this little one appeasing? Who is its audience? Who is the beneficiary of its schemes? Who is willing to wait?
There is a Self I also know who is not a Seeker, for that One has already Found. That One is not distracted by needless appeasements. That One Knows, and in Knowing… Is. That One is not debating any of these points. That One is not reading these words. That One is not harboring any worries, or anger, or doubt. That One doesn’t make requests. That One is immune to scrapbook worlds and stitched together identities. That One was inoculated against this kind of idle talk because it was there at the Beginning. It Saw what Is.
Is there, then, someone in the middle? Is there someone in between the walking identity crisis and the One Who Knows? Who can suffer and yet in observing the suffering, suffer not? Who can seek, yearn, and long for the Truth, and yet know it not?
These are the conundrums of a conflicted mind.
These are the dilemmas of a mind that still wants its dreams and illusions to be on equal footing with Reality. We fear that to find and accept the Truth, will be to lose all that we have worked so hard to build. We fear that acceptance of our greatest gift, our Inheritance, is equal to suffering our greatest loss. It is a loss our little self fears it could not tolerate. Jesus says, “There is only one Mind, just as there is only one Will. This you are afraid of, as you believe this statement threatens your independence, something you consider a state of being to be highly prized.” (CoL, 31.1) “Each life is irreplaceable and no one argues this point, yet you allow yourself to resist the whole idea of God because you believe that what is one cannot also be many.” (CoL, 31.9)
And yet, despite this fear, we return to God for answers, for we know that is where they will be found. “Only in God can you find your Self. This is known to you, and is the reason for man’s quest for God throughout all time.” (CoL, 31.10)
Life in the middle is tenuous and unstable. It is painful. It is conflicted. It is filled with elation. It is doubt-stricken. It is a moment of release disintegrating into a moment of panic. One moment we believe freedom could really be ours. We sail above the world. In the next we are pulled over for speeding, or we burn the chicken, or discover we are still carrying the talismans of hatred around with us, inside of some pouch on a leather thread around our neck we momentarily forgot about. We watch the news and our hearts go up in flames. We put Truth on temporary hold for Game 7. We think Game 7 is something other than Truth. We think our hearts actually could go up in flames. This is life in the conflicted mind.
This is life inside of the question: what if I didn’t exist?
This is nothing at all.
“That which closes the gap, though it may be said to you in many forms, is the decision to give up seeking and acknowledge that you have found.” (Way of Mastery, 2011 ed., pg 382)
The conflicted mind cannot understand the simplicity of this decision. The conflicted mind cannot comprehend the safety of this decision. The conflicted mind cannot recognize the inevitability of this decision. The conflicted mind is desperate for this, yet thinks it cannot have it. The conflicted mind stands next to the open door, and decides the view is the answer, rather than stepping across the threshold. The conflicted mind will look to freedom, and beg for it, working itself to tears, and then turn on its favorite radio show at 8 PM. The conflicted mind knows everything there is to know about this decision… without making it.
The conflicted mind cannot make this decision… but you can. Maybe a little fact the conflicted mind cannot comprehend will help… Here’s a hint for you: the decision has already been made. The surgery is over. The prison door fell off the hinges. Jesus made this One Decision for all of us, and it is spreading through us Now like a great secret being revealed. It is like this: imagine you made this Decision and mailed it to yourself. It arrived in the mail, and you set it on your kitchen table- jammed it in the napkin holder. It has been there ever since. You need merely open the envelope. The decision to give up seeking and accept that you have found is no harder than that.
We don’t need reasons for this…
“If you do not think you are yet prepared, if you think you are not ready, cease to think.” (CoL, 32.5)
The conflicted mind wants to know who is walking across the room, picking up the envelope, and opening it… That is its conundrum. Here’s a hint: it doesn’t matter.
Give it a math problem, then dash into the kitchen tear open the envelope.