The process of shifting identity from the false perceptions of the ego to the valid identity we all share in Christ appears, at least for me, to involve passage through states that closely resemble one or more of the following: a flock of large metal plates approaching both the speed of sound and the US Naval Artillery Rail Gun Test Range; a repeating dream in which you hike up the side of a mountain to audition for your dream job, don’t get the part, but meet a lot of astoundingly outgoing people who do; a series of days spent in slow motion wandering the desert in continuously degenerating circumstances without ever quite dying, and a thriller filmed by Alfred Hitchcock based on your life as it would be presented on Wikipedia.
These are transitory states that yield in due course of time– with no small amount of patient allowing of what is– to states of joy, peace and contentment, as well as a heightened awareness of what authenticity means, but while they’re in full bloom it feels a lot like playing chicken with your own destruction. On the one hand, there’s the thought that these states are transitory and that their accompanying feelings are nothing but the unreliable residue of misperception, but if that’s incorrect, and their voices carry weight, then you’re actually careening on a constant vector of decreasing distance towards an inelastic collision with a poorly lit and imminently solid object.
If you’re crossing a stream by jumping from rock to rock, that moment of being suspended in mid-air probably feels a little awkward to at least some of the cells in the body who may have been ignorant of the game plan. Likewise, I think our minds can get more than a little disoriented when we give our hearts enough freedom to set the course. Our hearts know exactly where to go, and that’s what they do. Our minds have no idea such a place exists, so they think they can’t come along. Our minds are like dogs wearing the shock collars of our pasts. In A Course of Love, Jesus suggests that healing this gap between the heart and mind is priority numero uno.
But how to have the experience we don’t know how to have?
The old approach was to put it on layaway– make this life either the last or perhaps one in a series of payments on that particular miracle, and treat death as the moment when the magician yanks away the curtain. An aspect of A Course of Love I really enjoyed was the notion that we do not need to wait for death to experience unity. In fact, it wouldn’t entirely be in keeping with the current druthers of Creation to do so. In other words, experiencing life from the condition of unity rather than the condition of separation is not only an experience that is available to us, it is one that heals and transforms the world. There is a certain desire rippling through Creation itself to get on with the next chapter of the story.
This is where my heart cheers. Yes!!! And my mind says, okay, so… what do we do? Or on a bad day, arms crossed, prove it. These transitory states of consolidating every residual ounce of fear and uncertainty into a brewing cesspool of emotion seem to be moments of complete failure, as if the test results are in and the Christ indicator dye came back negative. But afterwards, when these storms have passed, they always feel as though they were incredibly tame– no more than the arising of the realization I’ve been chewing the same stick of gum for twenty-five hours straight and it’s time to chuck it. There’s relief in getting that old flavor out of our mouths.
It takes me a while, but it’s becoming more obvious that this acceptance and expression of the true Self in this realm has very little to do with what my mind thinks it is doing, or should be doing, or thought it did, or any of that. How we spend our time is not unimportant, but neither is it the means of unifying the heart and mind. I’m sure there has been and will be fruit that arises from this holy union of heart and mind, but using time in an effort to produce fruit in evidence of the accomplishment will only yield a false positive. And trying to earn what we’ve already been given is an idea on par with running the furnace and the air conditioner at the same time. We can’t devise a plan, a regimen, to bridge that gap between the heart and the mind. We have to desire it, and let it swallow us whole.
So my mind and I, we’re becoming increasingly accepting of the fact that we have no idea what we’re doing. We’re imagining beauty before retiring in the evening, inventing mantras on the ride to work, writing poems when we feel inspired, sharing what grace we can find as best we can, and sinking a little deeper each day into the sensation of living in the absence of lack. When the evidence of lack arises, we just back away slowly, feeling backwards through time to the last place we were when we knew our heart was fully present with us. Then pick up from there again.
These impasses with non-existence are not failures, just a little coughing and sputtering as the engine is dusted off and ancient cylinders catch fire. The condition of separation, which is akin to the condition of “learning”, is like setting the choke. Once the engine catches, the choke is no longer needed and becomes an unnecessary and excessive restriction. Learning brings us to the brink of discovering who we are, but cannot carry us across the line. As the engine rumbles to life, at some point we have to accept… we’ve ignited… and release the choke… and let some power flood through us…