Once when I was a boy I asked my father for a Rubik’s Cube. My wish was granted, and when I arrived home I took it out of the package and played around for a little while making small, easily recovered changes, frequently restoring the original hexi-color symmetry. I didn’t want to lose my way back to the original, “correct” state, so I made four or five moves to “scramble” the puzzle, then put it back.
Then, not in any words I could have used at the time, I felt like I was sand-bagging, so I threw caution to the wind and focused exclusively on the scrambling phase, paying little heed to what may be required in the recovery. I twisted, torqued and spun the cube as randomly as I could, putting my brain into eight year old autopilot as best I could so I wouldn’t remember the series of moves I made. I even closed my eyes. You see, every child- every one of us in fact- possesses the knowledge that he or she was created for something other than caution, for some greatness beyond description. That feeling took hold of me then with that Rubik’s Cube, and in short order my newfound toy took on a complexity I couldn’t fathom.
There is a distortion of our innate greatness, a distortion of that Already Perfected Seed of Being that God placed within us, and that distortion is called specialness by A Course In Miracles. As I threw caution to the wind in an attempt to express the power inherent within me, I was also kind of thinking and feeling that I was a rather unique young man- a child of destiny who undoubtedly possessed a very special, world-beating, puzzle-solving acumen that had been given to me and me alone. It was my secret with God. I wasn’t entirely sure it was in there, but I was pretty clear that if I willed it to be, it could be so.
Buttressed by this confidence in my chosen fate, I picked up the cube once again and tried to use my freshly minted super powers to set it right. I was soon spinning with gusto, and studying the problem with my mind, and spinning the cube around confident that the next step would be clear to me. Little seemed to be happening. Like colors came together in one area, only to undo a similar pattern somewhere else.
My confidence soon withered, and the nature of the task at hand utterly stumped me. I started to try and remember mentally the series of wrist twists and arm rolls I had executed to scramble up perfection so completely, but that was a hopeless task, and hopelessly compounded by the efforts at a solution I had already made, so I was clearly in a quagmire. I realized that every time I touched the cube, I couldn’t tell if I was actually making it worse, or making it better- if I was getting closer to the solution or father from it. I admitted to myself that I had no idea what I was doing at all.
I felt little and small and defeated, and realized I was just a simple boy without world-beating, puzzle-solving prowess, and that I probably would not end up in the Guinness Book of World Records after all. My joy in the Rubik’s Cube was thus gone a few hours after I received it. I realized I could have taken off the stickers, and in a few days I heard about ways to take the cube apart piece by piece and put it back together, and I even later learned there were a series of universal steps that could solve any motley configuration of the cube. But the magic of the moment was lost. I saw only defeat in that cube, and all the “real world” solutions felt mechanical and lifeless and mundane- nothing like the feeling of greatness I felt inside myself. Greatness surely could not be reduced to a recipe that just any odd person could learn, or to a bag of tricks.
I look back and am utterly amazed by this little memory and how much it stood to teach me. I look at how effortlessly, by following a simple desire to know and experience some inner feeling of brilliance that every child knows is alive within, an incredible teaching metaphor filled my world. Look how effortlessly every lesson I would ever need was offered me through the symbols and forms of this world! This is the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Holy Spirit is shaping the meaning of every moment with just this depth, providing an unending string of gentle opportunities to recognize the truth that lives within us, and to see where truth cannot be found.
This world is like my Rubik’s Cube. We think we can use the world to prove that greatness lies within us, but this can never be the case, for the greatness is the Presence of Christ within us, and no worldly events can make that Self real. When we seek to prove that the Life within us is real through the toys of unreality, we cannot but fail. When we seek in the ego’s world, we do not find. When we seek as separate individuals, and believe our greatness is a unique gift to us, a gift that sets us apart and beyond, this distortion gives rise to specialness. Thankfully, the stories all end like my Rubik’s Cube encounter: when we seek in an external world for what lies within we do not find. That is a blessing, folks!
What do we do when we encounter the pain of being “disproven”? What happens when the events of our lives seem to disprove the validity of greatness within us? Why couldn’t I have simply spun that cube back to its perfected state as a lesson in my perfection? Wouldn’t that be the miracle I am to believe is given me? What would have been so bad about that?
The answer is that it was never about the Rubik’s Cube. In seeking to make the reality of my inner perfection about that little puzzle, I was attempting to hitch my eternal, ever-Loving inheritance from God to a piece of plastic. It is a great blessing that this was not permitted.
In attempting to be a separate, towering hero of a puzzle solver in a way that would forever distinguish me from my brothers and sisters in Christ, and seal my fate as an autonomous, self-made being, I would have in one stroke undone the reality of God, which is the reality of relationship. It is a great blessing that this was not permitted.
When our dreams are shattered, and the magic is gone from this world, hanging onto the ego becomes something like clinging to a hollow trick. It is like clinging to a costume after the unreality of the character has been revealed. It leaves us feeling swindled, and empty. I could have taken the stickers off the Cube and put them back on, and technically restored the original integrity, but I would have known it was a lie. I wanted the experience of something wonderful flowing through me, something greater than me, not a cheap imitation.
And the ego is a cheap imitation. Every time we hitch our wagon to some ever-changing piece of matter or energy in this world in an effort to prove we are great, we are doomed to fail. It is only when we accept the Presence of Christ within us, and see His Presence equally strong in all of us, that we discover that we were correct in feeling that greatness lives within us. It does not live in separate, better-than selves, however; it is the greatness of our shared identity in Christ, of the Holy Relationship that links all things indissolubly with our Creator.
In this realization the world is no longer a tool for affirming a false belief; it becomes instead a blank canvas on which we are freed to paint the truth of all beings. We don’t need the world to prove anything, and so the Truth within us is freed to flow through our very lives and make itself Known.