This week I have felt particularly troubled, and perhaps some elements of my experience are worth sharing in at least a general sense. Maybe in the sharing others can benefit. Maybe in the sharing I will better understand what has taken place.
Unlearning can at times be deeply challenging, as if you are pitted in a wrestling match for your own soul. In A Course in Miracles Jesus describes the way in which the ego crafts absolutely perfect problems- not the kind with obvious solutions, but the kind that have no solutions at all at the level at which they occur. These problems are like tiny bridges of land that stretch forever into the distance, with an abyss on either side, and a strong cross wind continuously blowing. They do, obviously, have a solution, and that is to desire an Answer, but at the time this can be astoundingly difficult to do. It can feel as though the slightest reach towards the Answer will throw off your balance and plunge you into an abyss.
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In A Course of Love Jesus talks about emotions as barnacles on the heart. He asks if we really think some of the things we feel emotionally could abide in the same container as the Love that will abide in our heart forever. These emotions can cover the gate to the heart, and make it difficult to access. I have felt as though the information most needed, that which was present in my heart, was a million miles away, and that the entrance was behind a deep field of flying wraiths. If you’ve seen Harry Potter, and you recall the dementors, we’re on the same page.
I cannot describe the scale or shape of the emotional knot that I am passing. It simply hurts. It grinds. It catches me up short. And in efforts to cleave a path through these wraiths, I have acted in ways I am ashamed of to boot. I feel as though I have broken things that once were good. I feel as though I have betrayed a promise that was given me to hold safe. I feel there is no way to recover. This is, in the eyes of the ego, a really beautiful outcome, a compelling ramification of unreality. The ensuing desire to be annihilated- not really, but to simply slink away and crawl under a rock, defeated, and to accept that such a fate is what I deserve, is the ego’s trump card. I have watched as my pained, reckless wandering has spilled into those around me, and seen how I have had a role in passing this shadow around.
This is a heartwrenching feeling.
I have even wondered if the outcome would be the loss of more than I ever considered to be at play. In the end, I have to accept the abyss and the cross wind and the possibility of coming utterly undone. There at last, at the bottom, the wraiths can take nothing further from me, and I am willing to consider an Answer.
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Specialness is a theme of both the Course in Miracles and the Course of Love. Specialness, according to Jesus in A Course of Love, is a problem like no other. In efforts to preserve specialness, I’ll remain loyal to certain features of unreality, and thus unwittingly bar the gates to Love. In efforts to be special, I’ll trade in half-secrets and white lies. In efforts to be special, I’ll behave like one of those movie characters careening towards a tragic ending. In efforts to be special, I’ll seek to juggle too many things, and when it becomes apparent that one must be set down, my ego will be there to begin the debilitating contemplation of how to deconstruct the various articles of my specialness.
In the desire to retain specialness, I’ll start the churning on how to set down none of it… As things begin to fall, however, I’ll at last look for a genuine Answer…
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I also want to talk about this Answer, about what comes when this sensation that there is no way to recover and that irreversible harm has been done, lifts. The ego has a perspective on the events that have taken place and what they mean that simply isn’t true. Jesus does not share in that perspective at all. He recognizes that processes of unlearning are perfectly orchestrated- nothing out of place, nothing off the rails- to bring us through the field of wraiths and home to our hearts. We can only see harm when we view the world through the perception of separation, through the eyes of gain and loss, through the lens of guilt and shame. Jesus sees only unity, a view he seeks to share.
When we stop the juggling of specialness and set down all the flying objects- not just one of them but when we walk away from juggling altogether- then at last there is room to be shown that we have misperceived everything we have been juggling. Our focus shifts to Reality, which is a backdrop far greater and more comprehensive than any of the little flying objects to which we’ve been paying attention. As Jesus shares true vision, the vision of Christ, we recognize that life has somehow, someway, brought us face to face with precisely the situation necessary to bring our lingering attachments to specialness, or littleness, or grandiosity, or guilt and shame- to the fore. And shown them to be nothing at all.
The Atonement, when we accept it, is the greatest relief we can imagine.
In that discovery, I am finally grateful- hunched over and breathing hard, yes- but cleaned out and stable. I am blown away by the grace continually at work behind the scenes. Something that I was has fallen apart. Something that I am has been given the space to emerge. The realization dawns upon me that our lives are indeed our curriculum, and that it was never possible for genuine harm to befall us in this journey of unlearning.
Jesus does not hold our unlearning against us. He does not hold anything we have done against us. He asks us to give ourselves the same benefit of Reality’s Offer. I am trying, struggling at times, falling down and getting back up, to receive His Answer once. And for All.