Faced with a world in which something has gone wrong, it is virtually impossible to encounter the madness and not attempt to envision a solution. I’m not saying solutions shouldn’t be envisioned, but I think that in A Course of Love Jesus is saying, “Hey, look, if you were a fish on dry land, and your gills were burning, and you were undergoing a total metabolic catastrophe, and you were given the choice between letting Love pick you up and set you back in the water, or (you’re a very clever and handy fish, by the way) continuing with your personal and very special plan to construct an apparatus suitable for the liquefaction of water vapor from the air, for its subsequent oxygenation, and for pouring the stuff over your gills, what would you choose?”
(Before you make up your mind, please note the ingeniousness of this device, which can not only pull water from the air, but simultaneously shade you from the hot sun as well.)
My answer, of course, is obvious. The liquefaction. The physics of such a technology are well understood, and, although the hurdles to cost-effectively constructing the device are not insignificant, the rate of technological progress suggests that a mass-produced unit will be well within the reach of over 90% of fish within the next decade. This is truly splendid progress. The proposed alternative, Love, has no mechanism, cannot be understood, controlled (or trusted), and in case you haven’t been watching, no one has exactly seen Love pick up a fish and throw it back in the water now, have they?
In A Course of Love, right at the beginning, Jesus describes the encounter(s) we have made, and will make again, at the threshold to Love’s perpetual embrace. We will stand upon this razor thin line, the one that divides time from eternity, separation from unity, suffering from joy, and, as we have done so many times in the past, we will turn back to the world we have known. True, we will be committed to making it better- to doing good things within it, to helping the other people we find there, to being a voice for transformation, but this turning back to the world we have known will not undo it. In A Course of Love, I think Jesus suggests that incremental nudges to a world suffused with suffering and the absence of all that Love offers us is not the outcome we really seek or desire, for ourselves or for others. We truly, underneath it all, seek freedom for everyone, but we don’t know how to effectively accomplish that feat.
Jesus says, “In your acceptance of doing good works and being a good person, you are accepting ministry to those in hell rather than choosing heaven. You accept what you view as possible and reject what you perceive as impossible.”
There are a few things I have thought about lately. For starters, why not just build up some courage and fling oneself over the line? Feel the fear and do it anyway. Get a running head start and wait a split second too long to think about the consequences. The answer is that it simply won’t work. We can’t cross the line with any fear in us. We can “man up” all we want, but it’s like trying to build a new type of flashlight that you carry around on sunny days that shines a diffuse cone of darkness wherever you point it. We can jump off the high dive with fear alive in every cell of our bodies, but we can’t swap a reality rooted in fear for a reality rooted in love, and bring fear with us. The math is pretty simple when you get right down to it. One does not equal zero. The relinquishing of every last trace of fear appears to be a little more beguiling than the math. That’s why we pick the liquefaction device almost every time. At least we understand it. Sort of.
This business of getting rid of every last fear is overwhelming, and that’s the understatement of the millennium. It’s like trying to eat all the meals you’ll consume in your entire life… in one sitting. We can’t even begin to fathom how to take our seat at the table with that task etched in our minds, nevermind actually do the deed. It’s not even worth trying. Put me down for two liquefaction units, a pack of Kool’s, and a time share in the Caribbean.
I’m beginning to think, however, that our disbelief in the potential of Love’s recognition to overhaul Everything we experience and see, distorts our perception of this choice we face. Maybe the vantage point of separation cleaves something exceedingly simple, like a razor thin line, into a flock of vast and seething conundrums. It’s as if something tiny and whole got unpacked, and sprung open, and now the DNA that was nicely coiled inside our cells is now strung in a decorative arc from here to the sun and back, and back again. How to get that back in there again? How to reassemble Humpty Dumpty? Was that the Big Bang? Unity, uncoiled?
I get the feeling that if we could ever see the Whole Thing, as the Whole Thing, just once, then it would be done. We would no longer be deceived by facets or attributes or particulars.
Were we devote ourselves to Love, at the expense of being in position- at least temporarily- to offer any intelligent opinions on what is happening to ourselves or to one another or to or on this planet, we’d (generally speaking) feel like fools or losers or lazy bums or uncaring blowhards or whatever. How hard is it to say, “I have no idea,” while also saying, “but I care a great deal.” Seriously, imagine when someone asks your opinion on how to shape this world up, and you say, “I haven’t a clue of what to do or say or be about it, but I trust in Love,” or “I have no idea and I cannot even come up with an opinion on that particular issue that is affecting millions of people, but right now, I feel completely full and I am so glad to be sharing this moment with you.”
Is Love enough? What else could it be, really?