Sunday, May 13, 2007

An Essay Commemorating the 80th Anniversary of Lindbergh's Flight to Paris, May 20, 1927

Charles Lindbergh’s heroic solo transatlantic flight provides a prototypical example of utilizing the power of purpose to reach a destination. The first part of this essay demonstrates how the power of purpose enabled Lindbergh to reach his destination, defined as a place to which one is journeying. The second part elucidates how the power of single purpose enables you to realize your destiny, defined as your journey to God, awakening to the truth of what you are, the Holy Son of God.

Part 1. Reaching Your Destination

On May 20, 1927, at 7:30 am, Lindbergh, twenty-five years old, settled into the cockpit of his plane, The Spirit of St. Louis, to begin his preparations to takeoff down the runway of Roosevelt Field, New York, attempting to be the first man to make a solo transatlantic flight, ending in Paris.

His plane, made of fabric and wood, was small, fragile, and delicate, but heavy, weighing two and a half tons, carrying extra fuel in oversized tanks, its little tires bulging on the wet, clay runway.

His description of his cockpit captures the smallness of his plane as he faces the prospect of flying 3600 miles in 36 hours, alone. This is from his Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Spirit of St. Louis.

I relax in my cockpit—this little box with fabric walls, in which I’m to ride across the ocean. Now, if all goes well, I won’t move from it for a day and a half, until I step out on French sod at the airport of Le Bourget. It’s a compact place to live, designed to fit around me so snugly that no ounce of weight or resistance is wasted. I can press both sides of the fuselage with partly outstretched elbows. The instrument board is an easy reach forward for my hand, and a thin rib on the roof is hollowed slightly to leave clearance for my helmet. There’s room enough, no more, no less; my cockpit has been tailored to me like a suit of clothes. The Spirit of St. Louis, 1953, p. 191

But there is no guarantee that the plane will even make it off the ground. These are the early days of aviation. After all, the Wright brothers’ first flight occurred as recently as December 17, 1903. Lindbergh had started flying only five years earlier, barnstorming in Texas, parachuting, wing walking, landing in fields, sleeping under a wing, making his own repairs.

At 7:45, he begins his journey down the runway, men pushing on the struts, as he gains speed one by one the men fall away.

The halfway mark streaks past---seconds now to decide—close the throttle, or will I get off? The wrong decision means a crash—probably in flames---I pull the stick back firmly, and---The wheels leave the ground. Then I’ll get off! The wheels touch again. I ease the stick forward—almost flying speed, and nearly 2000 feet of field ahead---A shallow pool on the runway---water spews up from the tires---A wing drops---lifts as I shove aileron against it—the entire plane trembles from the shock---Off again—I let the wheels touch once more. Spirit, p. 186

The Spirit of St. Louis takes herself off the next time—full flying speed—the controls taut, alive, straining—and still a thousand feet to the web of telephone wires. Now, I have to make it—there’s no alternative. It’ll be close, but the margin has shifted to my side. I keep the nose down, climbing slowly, each second gaining speed. If the engine can hold out for one more minute---five feet---twenty---forty—wires flash by underneath---twenty feet to spare! Spirit, p. 187

In his cramped quarters his survival depends on strict concentration and vigilance every second for thirty-six hours.

But The Spirit of St. Louis refuses to be left unattended for five seconds. As soon as I look down at the charts the plane starts cutting up like a spoiled child piqued at a moment’s neglect. Spirit, p. 345

I reach for the canteen. No, just reaching throws the plane off balance. I don’t need water. It’s more important to keep the needles centered, every time I use an extra muscle they go jumping off. Spirit, p. 380

What sustains Lindbergh for the next 3600 miles is an intangible quality, single purpose. Above all else, he is determined to reach Paris. Single purpose includes more than determination, dedication, and resolution. It requires a goal and the heading that enables you to reach your destination. Keeping track of the play between heading and destination is the function of the chart.

What endless hours I worked over this chart in California, measuring, drawing, rechecking each 100-mile segment of its great-circle route, each theoretical hour of my flight. But only now, do I realize its full significance. A few lines and figures on a strip of paper, a few ounces of weight, this strip is my key to Europe. With it, I can fly the ocean. With it, that black dot at the other end marked “Paris” will turn into a famous French city with an aerodrome where I can land. But without this chart, all my years of training, all that went into preparing for the flight, no matter how perfectly the engine runs or how long the fuel lasts, all would be as directionless as those columns of smoke in the New England valleys behind me. Without this strip, it would be as useless to look for Paris as to hunt for buried treasure without a pirate’s chart. Spirit, p. 196

From New York, the compass course points to 63 degrees east, Paris. But the calculation involved the initial heading of 60 degrees east, taking into consideration the curvature of the earth, wind, weather, power, and load.

Allow for whatever wind is blowing, and in another hour you will be approaching the shore of Nova Scotia. With one more change of course, you will strike land near the mouth of St. Mary Bay—provided the instructions have been interpreted correctly and followed accurately. After the thirty-seventh instruction has been carried out, you will see the city of Paris lying ten miles ahead. Circle a tall tower near the center of the city, take up a course to the northeast, and within ten minutes you will find a great aerodrome called Le Bourget! Spirit, p. 196

Lindbergh encounters storms, fog, icing, heavy winds, and thunderheads. He overcomes these obstacles by sheer determination, constantly calibrating the distance between heading and destination.

But his greatest obstacle is sleep deprivation. He had been awake for twenty-three hours before even settling into his cockpit. By the time he falls asleep in Paris, he had been awake for 63 hours. During his Eighteenth Hour of flight, he reports:

I’ve lost command of my eyelids. When they start to close, I can’t restrain them. They shut, and I shake myself, and lift them with my fingers. I stare at the instruments, wrinkle forehead muscles tense. Lids close again regardless, stick tight as though with glue. My body has revolted from the rule of its mind. Like salt in wounds, the light of day brings back my pains. Every cell of my being is on strike, sulking in protest, claiming that nothing, nothing in the world, could be worth such effort; that man’s tissue was never made for such abuse. My back is stiff; my shoulders ache; my face burns; my eyes smart. It seems impossible to go on longer. All I want in life is to throw myself down flat, stretch out—and sleep. Spirit, p. 354

I must keep my mind from wandering. I’ll take it in hand at once, and watch it each instant from now on. It must be kept on its proper heading as accurately as the compass. Spirit, p. 236

Finally, he enters a stage where he cannot trust his senses. He is determined to trust only his instruments.

My plane is getting out of control! The realization is like an electric shock running through my body. It brings instant mental keenness. In a matter of seconds I have The Spirit of St. Louis back in hand. But even after the needles are in place, the plane seems to be flying on its side. I know what’s happening. It’s the illusion you sometimes get while flying blind, the illusion that your plane is no longer in level flight, that it’s spiraling, stalling, turning, that the instruments are wrong. There’s only one thing to do—shut off feeling from the mind as much as your ability permits. Let a wing stay low as far as bodily senses are concerned. Let the plane seem to maneuver as it will, dive, climb, sideslip, or bank; but keep the needles where they belong. Spirit, p. 374

Then, an extraordinary thing happens during his Twenty-Second Hour.

While I’m staring at the instruments, during an unearthly age of time, both conscious and asleep, the fuselage behind me becomes filled with ghostly presences—vaguely outlined forms, transparent, moving riding weightless with me in the plane. I feel no surprise at their coming. There’s no suddenness to their appearance. Without turning my head, I see them as clearly as though in my normal field of vision. There’s no limit to my sight—my skull is one great eye, seeming everywhere at once. Spirit, p. 389

At another time I’d be startled by these visions; but on this fantastic flight, I’m so far separated from the earthly life I know that I accept whatever circumstance may come. In fact, these emissaries from a spirit world are quite in keeping with the night and day. They’re neither intruders nor strangers. It’ more like a gathering of family and friends after years of separation, as though I’ve known all of them before in some past incarnation. Spirit, p. 390

There it is. Sustained by single purpose, he accepts whatever circumstance may come. This is a miraculous acceptance. When he completely surrenders his reliance on physical cues, he is sustained only by ghostly presences from another realm. He is well sustained, indeed. When he crosses the tip of Ireland during the Twenty-eighth Hour, he is only three miles off course!

And, nearing Paris during his Thirty-third Hour, he sees the airport, Le Bourget, three hours ahead of schedule.

That line of beacons is converging with my course. Where the two lines meet—the beacons and my course—less than a hundred miles ahead—lies Paris. Spirit, p. 485

Lindbergh, staying the course, lands 33 hours, 30 minutes, and 30 seconds after leaving New York, having flown 3614 miles.

Part 2. Realizing Your Destiny

Now that you have firmly in mind, Gentle Reader, the enormous power of purpose in achieving a goal in this world, this essay takes a dramatic turn by asking a “What if” question. What if Lindbergh were to utilize the incredible power of single purpose to achieve, not a destination in worldly terms, but to realize his destiny? Destiny is derived from a Latin word stare, meaning "to stand." We are predetermined to stand firm in our journey to God. Our primary obstacle to our journey is our fixed belief that the body is real.

Even Lindbergh, having had the extraordinary experience of being sustained by the reality of the ghostly presences, falls into the human trap of believing that his body is real, and that the presences from another realm are unreal. To express his sense of bodily reality, he uses the analogy of a stage play.

It’s as though a curtain has fallen behind me, shutting off the stagelike unreality of this transatlantic flight. It’s been like a theater where the play carries you along in time and place until you forget you’re only a spectator. You grow unaware of the walls around you, of the program clasped in your hand, even of your body, its breath, pulse, and being. You live with the actors and the setting in a different age and place.

It’s not until the curtain drops that consciousness and body reunite. Then, you turn your back on the stage, step out into the cool night, under the lights of streets, between the displays of store windows. You feel life surging in the crowd around you, life as it was when you entered the theater, hours before. Life is real. It always was real. The stage, of course, was the dream. All that transpired there is now a memory, shut off by the curtain, by the doors of the theater, by the passing minutes of time. Spirit, p. 465

Although he directly experienced a reality beyond his body, its breath, pulse, and being, he still convinces himself, as perhaps you are convinced, that only the body is real. Life is real. It always was real. But he is whistling in the dark. He now knows that there is something more real, another realm, beyond physical reality. His lack of sureness is signaled by his weak of course in the next sentence: The stage, of course, was the dream.

Just as Lindbergh constantly turned to his chart to stay the course, we can turn to our Chart, Jesus’ Course in Miracles, to maintain our journey to God. Jesus’ unworldly masterpiece, available since 1975, consists of a Text of 31 chapters, a Workbook of 365 lessons, and a Manual for Teachers.

Just as Lindbergh knew that it would be futile to hunt for buried treasure without a pirate’s chart, we know that it is useless to look for the treasure that we are beyond the physical body without following with single purpose Jesus’ Course. Here is Jesus’ Introduction to His Course in Miracles.

This is a course in miracles. It is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary. Free will does not mean that you can establish the curriculum. It means only that you can elect what you want to take at a given time. The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love's presence, which is your natural inheritance. The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite. This course can therefore be summed up very simply in this way:

Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.

Herein lies the peace of God.

Our primary block to the awareness of love's presence is our rigid, habitual, instinctive belief that we are only bodies, and that what we see, hear, taste, smell and touch is real. Look, again, at how Lindbergh tries to convince himself of his bodily reality.

Striking Ireland was like leaving the doors of a theater—phantoms for actors; cloud islands and temples for settings; the ocean behind me, an empty stage. The flight across is already like a dream. I’m over villages and fields, back to land and wakefulness and a type of flying that I know. I’m myself again, in earthly skies and over earthly ground. My hands and feet and eyelids move, and I can think as I desire. My mind is able to command, and my body follows out its orders with precision. Spirit, p. 466

He stubbornly finds reality only in the body and mind, My mind is able to command, and my body follows out its orders with precision, even though he just experienced being forced to let go of relying on his eyes, ears, and touch, and accept, instead, help from unworldly presences, more real that his body, letting go of the known, trusting the unknown.

By studying Jesus’ chart, we learn a fundamental lesson:

I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.
Review V1:Intro.3:3-5

Although it is almost impossible to express in words, it is necessary to attempt to express what it means to declare,

For I am still as God created me.

To begin with, just look at that sentence, again: Still, meaning both, “I continue to be,” and “I am the stillness.” What God created is formless—Truth, Light, Tranquility, Peace, Love, Eternal Joy, Wholeness, Perfection, Purity, Infinity, Stillness.

Now, when you ask, “What am I, if I am not a body?” this can be your answer:

I am God's Son, complete and healed and whole,
shining in the reflection of His Love.
In me is His creation sanctified
and guaranteed eternal life. In me
is love perfected, fear impossible,
and joy established without opposite.
I am the holy home of God Himself.
I am the Heaven where His Love resides.
I am His holy Sinlessness Itself,
for in my purity abides His Own.
W-p11.14, What am I? 1

Since this expresses what I am as formless, what is it that I am not?

I am not a body. I am free.

It appears that I am form, a body, existing in time and space, seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting, verifying my objective existence, my body tailored to me like a suit of clothes. The ego directs the body, making up an illusory world.

My hands and feet and eyelids move, and I can think as I desire. My mind is able to command, and my body follows out its orders with precision.

It only seems that the body is real. When you realize that there is a Reality beyond the body, it is called healing, and then you are free in this realization. When you come into this experience of freedom, the body is no longer your primary frame of reference, and you are healed.

Now is the body healed, because the source
of sickness has been opened to relief.
And you will recognize you practiced well
by this: The body should not feel at all.
If you have been successful, there will be
no sense of feeling ill or feeling well,
of pain or pleasure. No response at all
is in the mind to what the body does.
its usefulness remains and nothing more.

If you are of single purpose, you will be healed journeying to God.

The journey to God is merely the reawakening of the knowledge of where you are always, and what you are forever. It is a journey without distance to a goal that has never changed. Truth can only be experienced. It cannot be described and it cannot be explained. T-8.V1.9:6-9

We are predetermined to stand firm in our journey to God because it is a journey without distance, simply being a realization that we are still as God created us.

What God has willed for you is yours. He has given His Will to His treasure, whose treasure it is. Your heart lies where your treasure is, as His does. You who are beloved of God are wholly blessed. T-8.V1.10:1-4

Although Lindbergh did not realize it at the time, when he totally gave up and accepted whatever circumstance may come, he was commending his spirit into the Hands of his Father.

Nothing can prevail against a Son of God who commends his spirit into the Hands of his Father. By doing this the mind awakens from its sleep and remembers its Creator. All sense of separation disappears. This single purpose creates perfect integration and establishes the peace of God. T-3.11.5

In spite of his stubbornness to hold onto his body as real, Lindbergh betrays to us his intuition regarding reality by an analogy.

And there’s something else, which seems to become stronger instead of weaker with fatigue, an element of spirit, a directive force that has stepped out from the background and taken control over both mind and body. It seems to guard them as a wise father guards his children; letting them venture to the point of danger, then calling them back, guiding with a firm but tolerant hand. Spirit, p. 361

Listen to the story of the prodigal son, and learn what God's treasure is and yours: This son of a loving father left his home and thought he had squandered everything for nothing of any value, although he had not understood its worthlessness at the time. He was ashamed to return to his father, because he thought he had hurt him. Yet when he came home the father welcomed him with joy, because the son himself was his father's treasure. He wanted nothing else. God wants only His Son because His Son is His only treasure.

Fortunately for us, Jesus has charted a course to enable us to overcome our primary obstacle, the belief in the reality of the physical body and of the world. Obviously, Jesus must begin His Lessons by confronting this belief. Look at His very first lesson of 365 lessons:

(1) Nothing I see means anything.
The reason this is so is that I see nothing, and nothing has no meaning. It is necessary that I recognize this, that I may learn to see. What I think I see now is taking the place of vision. I must let it go by realizing it has no meaning, so that vision may take its place.

Are you beginning to see how it works? You are sitting here, reading these words, and you are being confronted with the proposition that nothing you see means anything! You are, seemingly, being asked to give up everything you learned to trust. Now, perhaps for the first time, you may see the value of single purpose. You are asked to be constantly counter instinctive. You are being asked to trust in something you cannot verify with your senses. Fear not, your instinctive reliance on your senses will be replaced by vision, if you are determined that this be so.

These phantoms speak with human voices—friendly, vapor-like shapes, without substance, able to vanish or appear at will, to pass in and out through the walls of the fuselage as though no walls were there. Now, many are crowded behind me. Now, only a few remain. First one and then another presses forward to my shoulder to speak above the engine’s noise, and then draws back among the group behind. At times, voices come out of the air itself, clear yet far away, traveling through distances that can’t be measured by the scale of human miles; familiar voices, conversing and advising on my flight, discussing problems, of my navigation, treasuring me, giving me messages of importance unattainable in ordinary life. Spirit, p. 389

. . .ordinary life is the life of bodily senses.

That is only Lesson 1, look at Lesson 2.

(2) I have given what I see all the meaning it has for me. I have judged everything I look upon, and it is this and only this I see. This is not vision. It is merely an illusion of reality, because my judgments have been made quite apart from reality. I am willing to recognize the lack of validity in my judgments, because I want to see. My judgments have hurt me, and I do not want to see according to them. W-51.2

First you see something out there, and then you judge it. You see these words, and you are in constant judgment of them. But it is you who gave them all the meaning they have for you. You are caught in an illusion. You are not seeing with vision.

Just look at the titles of the next 5 Lessons:

(3) I do not understand anything I see.

(4) These thoughts do not mean anything.

(5) I am never upset for the reason I think.

(6) I am upset because I see what is not there.

(7) I see only the past.

If you think Lindbergh was of single purpose, look at how you must hold the course by being forced to be counter instinctive to everything you have ever known. Fortunately, the chart is superbly laid out for you to follow. You need do nothing but hold to the single purpose of coming into the experience of the peace of God. You are not sustained by your senses.

Practice the lessons with single purpose, and in 50 days you come to this lesson:

(50) I am sustained by the Love of God.
As I listen to God's Voice, I am sustained by His Love. As I open my eyes, His Love lights up the world for me to see. As I forgive, His Love reminds me that His Son is sinless. And as I look upon the world with the vision He has given me, I remember that I am His Son.

My goodness, the first 50 Lessons of Jesus’ Course are all you need to come into the realization that you are the Holy Son of God as He created you, His treasure.

And yes, you have help, help abides with you always. The Holy Spirit, the Holy Ghost, as real as Lindbergh’s ghostly presences, guides you always.

The Holy Spirit mediates between
illusions and the truth. Since He must bridge
the gap between reality and dreams,
perception leads to knowledge through the grace
that God has given Him, to be His gift to
everyone who turns to Him for truth.
Across the bridge that He provides are dreams
all carried to the truth, to be dispelled
before the light of knowledge. There are sights
and sounds forever laid aside. And where
they were perceived before, forgiveness has
made possible perception's tranquil end.
W-p11.7. What is the Holy Spirit?

Lindbergh followed his course with dogged determinatiion, crossing the tip of Ireland only three miles off course, arriving in Paris three hours earlier than charted. Your safe passage home is guaranteed, if you follow Jesus’ Course with single purpose.

You are as certain of arriving home
as is the pathway of the sun laid down
before it rises, after it has set,
and in the half-lit hours in between.
Indeed, your pathway is more certain still.
For it can not be possible to change
the course of those whom God has called to Him.
Therefore obey your will, and follow Him
Whom you accepted as your voice, to speak
of what you really want and really need.
His is the Voice for God and also yours.
And thus He speaks of freedom and of truth.