Tuesday, January 19, 2021

ACIM: On Wolff and "procreating the stock"

 The ACIM urtext includes this curious parenthetical afterthought:

The sex impulse IS a miracle impulse when it is in proper focus. One individual sees in another the right partner for "procreating the stock" (Wolff was not too far off here), and also for their joint establishment of a creative home (21-22).

Who was Wolff? And what does this mean?

Christian Wolff was an eighteenth century Christian philosopher, whose writing and teaching was both controversial and popular in Europe. 

Wolff was - for his time - deeply progressive with respect to human sexuality, arguing that sex “works better if both the man and the woman enjoy it.” 

Basically, he was teaching men to think about women's sexual pleasure and well-being. 

Thus, Helen Schucman's Jesus is endorsing Wolff's insight that in our sexual relationships, honesty, mutuality and communication are close to the Truth. Sex is not a replacement for pure communication with God, but when our focus is on our partner, we come very close to that level of peace and understanding. 

It's interesting to note that this understanding of Wolff is a fairly recent development. It's hard to imagine (though not impossible) Schucman knowing this. 

Monday, January 18, 2021

Ego in ACIM

The ego is the image of a thinker: a self observing the world, thinking thoughts about it, and then deciding what to do based on this intersection of perception and thought. For the most part, the ego runs on automatic: we don't question it because it seems so natural. It seems to be just the way it is. This naturalness is a consequence of centuries of conditioning: this is how thought evolved, to include the image of a thinker, a discrete self in the world.

Ultimately, there is no self doing the thinking. There is only thinking. There is no thinker, there is only thought. The ego is simply the habit of thinking there is a thinker, and it is deeply resistant to being undone or seen through. This is not because the ego is a real discrete entity with agency but because it's a well-entrenched pattern of thought. Being aware of this pattern is what dissolves it in time. Sustaining awareness of it is difficult.

The ego and the separation go hand-in-hand. They are really the same process, but we are using different words and images to explore it. The ego is the idea of a discrete self that acts based on observation and information. The separation is the experience that naturally flows from the application of this idea. Our belief in a separate self is divisive in the sense that we apply it universally: we divide the world into pieces when really it is one flow, one movement. 

All we are doing as students of A Course in Miracles is giving attention to this ego, this habit of thinking, and its effects. This attention always opens an internal space in which the willingness to see things differently - to find another way - emerges.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Thoughts on ACIM separation

There is a pervasive sense that we are separate beings forging our way through a world that is indifferent at best and hostile at worst. We make common cause with other beings if we think they can help us get what we want, and we oppose the interests and actions of other beings if we think they are adverse to getting what we want. 

This is a dominant mode of thinking that strikes most of us as reasonable and rational. If there is one slice of pie on the table and two of us, we can't both eat the entire slice. If there is only one jacket, we can't both wear it when it rains. And so forth. 

This mode of perception is what A Course in Miracles calls separation. Most of us don't experience it literally; it is a foundational thought system that is buried quite deep and whose operation is mostly unobserved. To the extent we perceive it all, it shows up in symptomatic ways - we are unhappy because this or that event didn't turn out the way we wanted, we are resentful of this or that individual, and so forth. But those symptoms are always external: they are always caused by what is happening outside of us. That is what separation-based thinking is: the idea that how we feel is a consequence of what happens outside of us. We are only responding to what is actually happening and any reasonable person would do the same. To suggest otherwise is insane.

A Course in Miracles is clear that our whole problem - the only problem we really have - is the belief that we are separate from life, from God, and from one another. Its goal is not to heal the various symptoms of that separation - which are legion - but rather to expose the underlying framework from which they all necessarily arise and undo it there. When we cease to believe in separation - when we cease to make decisions based on separation - then the so-called problems that seem to plague our lives will disappear.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Waking Up in A Course in Miracles

The work of A Course in Miracles is the work of attention. In a gentle, sustained and nonjudgmental way, we give attention to experience, knowing that to do so is to submit to the Holy Spirit - the healed self, the uncompromised interior grace - and by its light and patient insights be restored to that which precedes the ego: the thoughts that we think with God, the no-thing and no-where of Heaven, the Christ without opposite, the boundless and nameless Love. 

It is true that for certain rare people, awakening is sudden and complete. For most of us, it is more in the nature of sunrise: hints of light in the darkness that we do not trust are there, then a sure but steady stream of luminosity that slowly overtakes the whole sky. There is no rush. There is only our attention to the horizon where the light first appears, and then attention to the world revealed in its slow-spreading rays, and at last a full recognition of all that the light is and what it reveals.

A Course in Miracles turns us to the horizon. It opens our eyes. It waits patiently as we wait - patiently or otherwise - for the light. And at last the light arrives. The course does not do this; it prepares us for this. No more but no less. For those of us who are ready, it is enough.

Friday, January 15, 2021

ACIM Holy Spirit

A Course in Miracles calls our teacher "the Holy Spirit." We can understand this to simply mean that part of our mind which remains healed, which still remembers its origins in grace, and its forever home in Heaven. The Holy Spirit is not separate from us, but is rather our undivided and uncompromised attention, ever drawing us into awareness, which is our whole being and our whole truth.

Please understand the utter absence of drama in this! We are not talking about a ghost or a separate being. We are not talking about a mystical interior voice or some arcane or special knowledge. There are neither secrets nor mysteries in A Course in Miracles.

We are simply talking about our natural capacity to be attentive, and our common sense and intelligence. When these gifts are experienced without the interference of the ego, they are experienced as eternal and infinite and sufficient unto the peace that surpasses understanding.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Applying ACIM

A Course in Miracles is a course. If we want to benefit from it, then we need to approach the way we would any other course. Read and study the text, do the lessons faithfully. There is no substitute for this! This is all that it means to be a student - to follow the curriculum that is given to the best of our ability. If the teacher is sound and the material coherent, then learning will follow naturally and surely. We don't teach ourselves; we become students of one who can teach us. 

The course asks for at least a year of our lives. We are urged only to avoid doing more than one lesson a day. Beyond that, there are few guidelines. We are urged to study and bring A Course in Miracles into application according to the terms and conditions that arise in our experience of study and application. This means that each student's practice will be different - sometimes slightly, sometimes profoundly - from other students. It is not necessary to worry about this or fix it or otherwise give attention to it. The only feet we are responsible for are our own; the path responds to us as individuals. Be grateful for those who walk beside you, and bless those who walk elsewhere or otherwise. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

ACIM Driftwood

A Course in Miracles does make demands of us. It asks us to be students: to study the text, do the lessons, review the material as necessary, and work with teachers if and as appropriate. I think of it not as the island beckoning in the distance on which one longs to live, but rather the means by which they will remain afloat on choppy seas until they reach the island. 

I'd like to briefly sustain that metaphor, if I might. When we reach land, we no longer need the piece of wood that carried us there. We can set it aside. In this sense, when we become aware of our true nature, we no longer need A Course in Miracles (or any other spiritual path or practice). However, I opted to take my driftwood and carve it into a walking stick that I might carry with me while I explore the island. I lean on the course and find it helpful from time to time. 

ACIM: On Wolff and "procreating the stock"

 The ACIM urtext includes this curious parenthetical afterthought: The sex impulse IS a miracle impulse when it is in proper focus. One indi...