There is a scripture passage in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 17:20) wherein Jesus tells the people (that would be us) that moving mountains, by simply telling them to move, is entirely possible if we but had the faith of the mustard seed. And while A Course in Miracles is quite remote from being a how-to text on exercising various powers, such as mentally sculpting the Earth’s contours or levitating above really large bodies of water filled with kraken, this thread is not lost…
“It is hard to recognize that thought and belief combine into a power surge that can literally move mountains.” (T.2,VI.9:8)
“The power of faith is never recognized if it is placed in sin. But it is always recognized if it is placed in love. Why is it strange to you that faith can move mountains? This is indeed a little feat for such a power.” (T.21, III.2:6-III.3:2)
Jesus takes this one step farther in the Way of Mastery, wherein he suggests one day we will even birth new solar systems with the power of our faith. This is heady stuff for someone who can’t even keep from catching a cold most years…
* * * * *
So-called gedanken experiments, or thought experiments, have been used by some of the greatest minds in history to make breakthroughs in our understanding of the natural world. Without them we probably would not have satellites in orbit, x-rays or MRI’s, photocopiers, electric power, biodegradable plastics, or be on the verge of quantum computing- to name a few of the amenities some people on Earth currently enjoy. Let’s try a gedanken now. Picture yourself walking outdoors to a safe location, and commanding a mountain to set up shop elsewhere. Why not give it a whirl?
If you’re like me there is a sick feeling in your stomach that comes up even imagining this type of ‘test of faith’. I don’t know about you, but I’m not convinced I could command an anthill to relocate. Also, if you’re like me, you would not consider your faith in Jesus, or in God, or in a benevolent Creator, or in an Intelligent Source of the Universe, as being the missing ingredient. My faith is like the air I breath. I can sense it with me all day. Either I simply lack talent, and may have to resort to some faith-enhancing drugs, or there is something else at work here. That something else I think is an inner conflict.
I have faith, but I also have beliefs in things like the laws of motion, and the conservation of energy and momentum, and would feel a little uneasy if I thought the gravity that held my feet firmly affixed to the planet I live on could be shut on and off at whim… that it might change its mind. These beliefs are pretty entrenched. You see, sometimes our faith and our beliefs are in conflict. This is pretty common I would guess, and perfectly okay. It just may not be the specific combination of ingredients necessary to get into that mountain-moving frame of being, or to enable the transformation of our own lives that we may be seeking.
Back to my own gedanken: I stop before I even get started. The clouds start rolling in even before the blanket and basket have been unpacked by the river. This picnic isn’t even getting started. Beyond beliefs about the nature of the world, there are beliefs about myself. They come out like a torrent of rhetorical questions. They don’t wait for an answer, for the answers are always self-evident. There are none. Why am I moving that mountain? Maybe it’s right where it’s supposed to be? Maybe it’s right where God wants it? Who am I to say? I’m not good enough yet. What right do I have to tell those ants where they should be living? Why am I acting like an idiot? Thank God it’s only a gedanken and nobody is looking…
All of this is conflict. The mind in conflict can hardly generate a decent thought, never mind connect with the world in a profound and moving way. And while changing our beliefs could help, there is but one belief that needs to change, and that is the belief that we are alone. Separation is our great undoing. We think our ability to move mountains depends in some way on our little, isolated selves- upon what we have made of ourselves. While we believe in our separateness, we actually think there is something we can do, or need to do, or ought to be doing, that will make mountain-moving possible and make ourselves worthy. This is the belief that stands like a towering, colossal wall between us and the transformation we desire, between ourselves and peace, between ourselves and possibility, between ourselves and connection.
It is a false belief. There is nothing we need to do, and nothing we can do in point of fact.
So much of what we see and experience through the perspectives we have while we view ourselves as independent, isolated beings is false. Yet it is our experience, and we believe it, and so our faith in what is real is in conflict with our beliefs in what is not.
* * * * *
There is an answer here, and I think it is described beautifully in the Dialogues of A Course of Love. There Jesus says, “There are many stories in many cultures that celebrate and bear witness to happenings that reveal that the laws of spirit and the laws of man coexist. Yes, there are natural laws, but these ‘natural’ laws are not the set of facts you have defined them to be. They are rather a staggering series of relationships, relationships without end, relationships that exist in harmony and cooperation. This is a harmony and cooperation that might one day extend to the sun and a demonstration that the sun need not rise- or perhaps need not set- and the earth would still be safely spinning in its orbit.” (Dialogues, Chapter 6, pg 44)
On the Course of Love website, in material that was offered after completion of Dialogues, Jesus says in a description of the state of union, that “the laws of what you call reality bend, and the impossible becomes possible: Jesus speaks, miracles happen, healing occurs, a new reality exists…”
I love the way Jesus describes the ‘staggering series of relationships’ that underpin the universe. Mountain moving is a return to unity. It is having faith in all of those relationships- not in ourselves and the power of the puny thoughts we are able to muster when we try and work in isolation from Creation. It is having faith in the presence of Christ in everyone we meet, in every grain of sand and in every epoch of time. It is releasing the belief that we are separate, and our God is ‘out there’ somewhere, and that His will and ours are different. It is releasing the belief that our own will, and the will of our Brothers and Sisters, could ever be in conflict. When we cease our attempts at being stand-alone gods (egos), separate from the very power of Creation, and immerse ourselves once again in the wholeness of Creation, finding our Selves in our relationships with all things, then our hearts touch every last thing that is, and we come into that mountain-moving place of being.
We are in all things, and all things are in us, and in unity, we cannot help but decide to move together. The mountain is not ‘out there’ waiting to be commanded to move. The mountain is an expression of Creation, which is a ‘staggering’ web of relationships. It is an expression of ‘us’. When the mountain finally moves, it will be because we have accepted our place in Creation once again, returned to unity with all that is, and rediscovered that our will and God’s will are one. The mountain has always been the expression of our single, shared, will. It could never have been out of place, and yet, if its proper place is to be somewhere else, so it will be.
We do not wield wands like sorcerers, and command anything outside of ourselves to respond to our will. There is nothing outside of us to command. There is, in Truth, nothing truly separate from us. That is not a statement for the intellect. Its power is only in its Reality. Our faith must be in the unity of all that is, in a Self that is a staggering web of relationship, in Creation, in God, in one another. Our faith must be in a love so great that our desire to move the mountain and the mountain’s desire to move are the simultaneous and natural expression of the Love that unifies all things. Our faith must be in the belief that what is, is good, that what God put in us and into everyone and everything, was actually okay. It doesn’t need and cannot be improved upon.
That “getting the ball rolling” bit is behind us…
You see, we can flip this coin around and then it really gets interesting: if we think that some day in the future we’ll be worthy, or Creation will be fixed and functioning properly once more, or we’ll have access to something we don’t have access to right now, then our faith is in the imperfection of what is… Reality thinks it is doing quite well, mind you. It never ceased in its Perfect expression of God’s Perfect Will. We, in our infinite wisdom, still beg to differ.
When we return to unity, everything that unfolds, whether mountain moving or grocery buying, is experienced as the beautiful movement of one, single, whole Creation. This is a faith not in Jesus alone, or in the power of our minds alone, or in a righteousness that comes from knowing or doing the right things, but in all that is. It is a faith without qualification or condition, a faith in what is, a faith so simple and pure we cannot help but see it all around us. It is the faith that empowers and enlivens every mustard seed that ever was. It is the most natural faith in the world to possess, and we will… when we cease from attempting to use the world to prove how good we are, or how faithful we are, or how willing we are. The mustard seed has a faith in what it is and where it has been placed and in all that is around it, and it is enough.