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A Course in Miracles ruined my life
And I love that!
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I used to make a pretty good living writing for a blog about the intersection between religion and politics. One of my fellow writers questioned if I was really human because I could spit out scathing opinion articles in the blink of an eye. I knew who the enemies were, where the bodies were buried, and how to cover you in so many amazing logical arguments it would leave you sputtering.
A Course in Miracles ruined all of that.
Now, I find it hard to form a cogent political and religious argument. It's not that I can't. Given the time and effort, I certainly could recapture my arguing glory days, but, now, I simply don't want to. What did all of my previous arguing do for me, other than earn some money to pay bills? I mean, that was great, but it's not like my breathless pixelated creations really changed anything. The snarky writing and praise from those who agreed with me felt good and all, but, really, was that truly who I am? After a while, it just became too painful to continue. It really wasn't me – not as the Course was describing the real me, anyway.
Lesson 121 in the daily workbook of the Course describes the false self – the ego – and how it perceives the world. The ego, this lesson says, is the "unforgiving mind" that sees only the sins of others. It is "full of fear, and offers love no room to be itself." It is sad, full of doubt, angry and chooses to live in misery.
"It looks upon the world with sightless eyes," the lesson says of our ego, "and shrieks as it beholds its own projections rising to attack its miserable parody of life. It wants to live, yet wishes it were dead. It wants forgiveness, yet it sees no hope. It wants escape, yet can conceive of none because it sees the sinful everywhere."
I made a fairly decent living taking part in that shrieking and attacking of this "miserable parody of life," but there came a point when I realized that forgiveness is what's more important. That shrieking only gets you so far until you realize, as Course teacher Marianne Williamson always said, "Even when you're right, you're wrong."
This lesson asks us to do what my past self would have found totally impossible – and unprofitable; spend time thinking about someone you hate, someone who drives you nuts, and see the light in them. Be careful, though. This lesson is not asking you to think of all the grievances you have against this person. It's not asking you to lay out the things you find unforgivable. It's simply asking you to picture them. See them in your mind's eye without judgment and keep looking at them there until you can see even the faintest glimmer of light emerge from them.
The whole purpose of the Course is to remind us of who we truly are: We are the embodiment of God on earth. We are the light of the world, and our only function here is to remember that. If innocence is the ultimate truth about our Self, then it's equally true for those you detest. They, too, are Holy light captured in bodies. Some of us bury that light deeper than others, but it's there, just waiting for us to recognize it, no longer fear it, and embrace it.
The person I picked is well known, of course. He used to be on the TV quite regularly making statements that made many of us either cringe, cry or seethe with rage on Facebook and Twitter. He bears the mark of divine light, no matter how much he may deny it or be completely oblivious to it. It's our duty to see it for him and remind him that it's there – and remind ourselves that it is there.
That doesn't mean we should stop working against the damage this particular person still seems to manage to inflict on the world. Instead, it's a call to forgive him for his thoughtless words and deeds, and from that place of forgiveness, find effective ways to counter his thoughtless and harmful words and deeds.
The next step is to take that glimmer of light you've seen in your "enemy" and transfer it to someone you love. Seeing your enemy's light reflected within a loved one reminds us of the whole truth: There's only one of us here.
This lesson reminds us that we can either add more rage to the world, or more forgiveness. The choice really is ours. We're all here as teachers and students. The question is, what are you teaching and what are you learning? I taught grievance for a long time and I learned that lesson well. I choose now to practice and teach forgiveness. I do not do it perfectly, but I'm getting better the more I am willing to make that my goal in this life.
As the Muslim mystic poet Hafiz wrote so many centuries ago, we're all here to recognize our divinity, and allow it to ruin our egoic lives. He writes:
Word spread about something her eyes whispered
and many gathered to receive her great gifts
when her gaze turned their way.
And it did, that gift they did receive.
For she looked upon all who came close to her
as if she were seeing God.
What the sun in the sky does for the earth
giving life as it does
so can the eye bestow to the heart
when it caresses a face out of recognition.
Who then does not know a moment of happiness
that they can share with another?
And more than that
because of gratitude.
Take 20 with Candace
If you don’t have time to watch the full replay of Jubilee! Circle’s weekly celebrations, you can cut to the chase and spend 20 minutes with me and enjoy my weekly message. This past week we explored The Wonder of Words …
Music for the Journey
“The Real Me,” by The Who
The Motley Mystic now has a podcast!
Tune in for the new Motley Mystic Meditation Moments Podcast
Sometimes our best ideas and deepest, most profound thoughts come after we've meditated or when we're out walking the dog and enjoying nature. I'll be sharing my extemporaneous thoughts and ideas on spirituality and transformational growth. I may be out of breath on the walk, but spirit is always breathing through us all.
There are already several episodes posted, including the latest one entitled “What world are you living in?” that explores all the different worlds we’ve inhabited in our lives including our parents world, the world of education and the world of work, and how we can choose to leave old worlds behind that don’t serve us anymore and create new worlds.
About the Motley Mystic:
The Motley Mystic is an online community for people who have realized that the truth speaks with many voices. There is no one religion, philosophy, institution or dogma that captures the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth. No one needs to swear allegiance to one line of thought or belief to discern Truth, because Love is the only thing that’s real. That’s what we explore at the Motley Mystic - all the tools and strategies we need to remove our barriers to Love and live fully as our true, Divine Self.
Candace Chellew is the founder of Motley Mystic as well Jubilee! Circle, an interfaith spiritual community in Columbia, S.C. She is also the author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians published in 2008 by Jossey-Bass. She is also a musician and avid beer drinker.