Finding the Cause of Peace and Joy
Or, looking for love in the only place love can be found
A Course in Miracles suggests that everything is okay but that we don't see this. We see everything as variable and fluctuating - sometimes okay, sometimes not. And in that flux, it is up to us to figure things out.
This is not a recipe for peace and happiness but for stress. When every day is a struggle, when every moment represents either failure or success, we cannot help but feel anxious and depressed. It is a self-perpetuating crisis living just below conscious awareness,
This crisis leads to a host of problematic beliefs which in turn lead to a host of problematic behaviors. We believe we are victims of circumstance. We believe we are doomed by genetics or family and cultural conditioning. We believe we are powerless in the face of existential threats like nuclear war or climate change.
And so we become addicts. Or passive-aggressives. We eat emotionally. We're mean to those who want to help us and helpful to those who can only hurt us. We're lonely and scared. We drift from this healing practice to the next without committing to any of them. We disengage, get into meaningless arguments, obsess over the past, et cetera.
A Course in Miracles comes along and says there's another way.
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built up against it. It is not necessary to seek for what is true, but it is necessary to seek for what is false (T-16.IV.6:1-2).
In my life, I tend to notice people who don't like me. If you put me in a room with one hundred people and ninety-nine say I'm a nice guy and one says "meh," I'll only hear the "meh."
I might get angry about it. Might try to figure out why that person doesn't think I'm great. I might isolate and feel sorry for myself.
A Course in Miracles teaches me that a way to look at this situation is not as a problem in and of itself but rather as a barrier to love. What does this mean?
Say that we are driving and there's a barrier in the road. A boulder, a bucket, a barricade. What do we do?
We move it, if we can, and if we can't, we go around it, and if we can't go around it then we take another route. What else are we doing to do? Argue with an inanimate object? Pretend it's an illusion and bash the car against it? Ask Jesus to supernaturally dissolve the barrier?
The barriers to love are psychological. They are inside of us. They are ways of perceiving and thinking that are counter to reality, and so they lead to conflict and grief. When we try to solve our problems by focusing on externals - the one person that doesn't like us, say, or at the other extreme, the one person who will complete us - we just double down on the original error.
If you seek love outside yourself you can be certain that you perceive hatred within, and are afraid of it. Yet peace will never come from the illusion of love, but only from its reality (T-16.IV.6:5-6).
So what I want to notice is the existence of the barrier, and I want to remember that its existence means I am seeking love outside of and apart from myself. That is it! I don't have to do anything else. Freedom from fear lies in noticing what scares us (T-16.IV.1:1). Giving attention is healing because what looks and what is looked at are in truth one, and giving attention is how we remember this.
Forgive us our illusions, Father, and help us to accept our true relationship with You, in which there are no illusions, and where none can ever enter. Our holiness is Yours (T-16.VII.12:1-2).
Thank you, as always, for helping me remember the cause for peace and joy.