If you are on a spiritual path- a path to awakening, a path to acceptance of the Christ within you and within everyone else and within all that is, eventually you will have a high noon showdown with the following paradox. To be awake is to know that the ever-changing expressions of Love that collectively are Creation do not simply ‘happen to’ us. They are not foisted upon us by a wrathful Creator. Nor are they the products of fate, chance or happenstance. We are taught that nothing happens to us that is ultimately against our will. And yet, sometimes, things absolutely suck.
At some point in this process of realizing the Truth about ourselves and the world, the intellectual knowledge that we are at Cause in choosing our experiences can feel like the key to a new world- until we encounter difficulty of the non-trivial magnitude: a chronic illness, the loss of a loved one, financial ruin, the capsizing of a marriage or a career, or a debilitating addiction. You get the picture. We soar for a moment, then realize there are still limits in our lives. Conditions have changed in ways that are not exactly recoverable- Humpty Dumpty is not congealing into a whole again at the snap of our spiritual fingers. The laws of physics are the laws of physics. Only a fool would say anything is possible when the reality of the situation is so damned obvious.
This is the paradox of self-damnation, a paradox that is utterly brutal if we be honest with ourselves. We are told we are at Cause, and yet we find ourselves pinned by seemingly intractable circumstances. We do not feel ourselves soaring or loving- we feel ourselves longing, aching, crying out from the desert, angered, bitter, ashamed, found out, unmasked, trapped, and isolated. This can result in that key to a new world we were once so high upon, transforming itself into a steel cage. If we are responsible for creating our reality, and if we struggle so mightily at times to think positively, or to actually transform circumstances, then we must be abject failures. Not only are we in the midst of suffering, we’re in the midst of suffering that is our own fault, and let’s face it- we don’t necessarily know how to be anyone other than who we are. We’ve tried everything we knew to try, to no avail.
We’re prepared to concede the point: Love doesn’t work for us.
We’re afraid of acceptance, because if we are creators of our own realities, and we accept what is, we must surely be resigning ourselves to it. Acceptance of what is must surely by the final nail in the coffin. If we’re not even making the effort to will a new set of circumstances into being, we’re basically consenting to fail, no? Conspiring in the perpetuation of our demise, right?
The acceptance that is spoken of in A Course of Love, and in the Way of Mastery, and in other spiritual texts is not a concession to suffer. Nor is it a fight against what is. Nor is it the intellectual statement that what we’re experiencing isn’t real, and is just an illusion.
Why do we always say just in front of this phrase? It’s like saying, this hurts like hell, but that’s okay: it doesn’t count. What hurts, hurts. To deny the very experience we are having is to exacerbate the state of conflict in our minds, which is, if we’re honest, tormenting. To be in pain, and tell yourself it doesn’t count, is damn near hypocrasy.
The key that A Course in Miracles introduced, and which A Course of Love so beautifully extends, is the declaration that whatever we do, if it be done from the state of separation, is powerless. The positive thinking of an isolated mind, of a mind insisting on creating of its own devices, of a mind seeking to remain separate from Creation yet as powerful as a Creator, is doomed to fail. It is no reflection on the thinker. It is no reflection on you. It is no reflection on God. It is like trying to solve math problems while denying that numbers have any bearing on the process, or by insisting that you can solve simultaneous equations without allowing yourself recourse to the rules of algebra. It is like strapping a lead life preserver to your back, and insisting that a human of average build and physical prowess ought to be able to swim the Channel.
Our personal tragedies are some of the most profound tools of isolation going. Nothing divides us from those around us like the lepresy of failure. But our so-called failures are the inevitable outcome of a retained belief in separation. Separation, until it is undone, is like a slimy film that covers our lives. It is like an unpleasant aftertaste lingering around every experience.
If we’re not careful, our next move will be to beat ourselves up for not having overcome separation, for not having climbed up that ten meter ladder to the high dive and thrown caution to the wind, and dove into the pool of unity. Here is the rub: a return to unity is not a choice the separate self gets to make. It is not an act of an isolated will. It is not a play we get to call in the huddle. We don’t need to orchestrate the fourth quarter drive to save ourselves. The return to union is an acceptance of an underlying Reality. It is an acceptance of who we are, and have always been, regardless of any circumstances or difficulties in which we find ourselves.
Union may be accepted, but we did not make it and we are not in position to make it. We cannot earn it. We cannot and need not prove ourselves worthy of it. Nor can any self-made interpretation of the composition of our lives render us unworthy of it. That is the only illusion that stands in our way: that we are blameworthy, that our lives are evidence of our blameworthinesss, that we are not deserving, that one day in the future (but not today) we will be whole, that if we were truly good and true and beautiful, then things would be different. And conversely, that if we could just will ourselves to change the lives we have, we might prove that we are worthy of the blessed return we seek. When the artifacts of separation weigh us down, then eventually, as our inability to transform situations of our own, isolated volition becomes apparent, we may ask: is there another way?
A Course in Miracles was the answer to this very question. (Yes!)
Failure is an interpretation, the assignment of a meaning to circumstances that isn’t contained in them. Acceptance of what is, is an acceptance of the underlying Reality of union, and it contains the relinquishment of the interpretation we have made about present circumstances- the meaning we have assigned them- that simply isn’t true.
The acceptance we are called to is a radical one. It is not an acceptance that this is as good as it gets- an acceptance that leads to hopelessness; it is an acceptance of who we truly are, in union, free of conflict. It is not a specific acceptance of circumstances or conditions, but a comprehensive acceptance of the Self we are and always will be, the choice to accept that the Creator and the Universe are conspiring even now in our perfect happiness, the choice to accept that conditions and circumstances are no measure of the Love that we are, or the Love we are given in each moment.
It is a choice for peace.
This can be a difficult choice in the midst of suffering, but acceptance opens the doorway for Love to enter our hearts once again, and to flow into every corner of our lives. In that flow of Love is the power to transform all suffering. It is a flow of Love that unites us with all of Creation, with one another, and with all of Creation’s Power. When we identify ourselves principally with circumstances or conditions, we isolate ourselves, and when we resist those conditions and clamor against them, clear in our minds that something horrible has happened or is happening, something for which there could be no justification in a loving universe, then we wall ourselves off from Love in a solitary confinement of our own making. We declare that a loving universe is but a fiction, an we make of the reality of our experience something foreign and scary.
Acceptance undoes this trap. Forgiveness undoes this trap. They are the universal keys that will fit into every lock of this type, and spring it open.
The paradox presented above- the conflict between the conditions of our lives and the notion that if we were true and good we would be someplace else- is dissolved in the radical acceptance of unity and Love. The acceptance of unity is the restoration of our true Identity in Christ, a return to the Self that we each are, and in this return the false meanings about the lives we have and the persons we thought we were within them are forever undone. In acceptance lies the release we seek.
Acceptance does not imply there will be no change or movement in our lives. Quite the opposite- it guarantees that the flow and movement of Creation will return to them. The change and movement that occur in union inevitably become an ongoing revelation and expression of the Love that we are.