Thursday, July 15, 2010

Being With Mighty Companions is a Tricky Endeavor

In His Course in Miracles, Jesus notes that as we walk the earth, we go with mighty companions beside us. (M-4.1.A.6:11) And this phrase is just right because we are joined with our brothers on this incredible mission of waking from the dream and coming into the experience of being in the world and not of the world.

Waking up from the dream means knowing there is no world and that we are as God created us, realizing that we habitually make up a world with our body’s eyes and brain and stubbornly persist in thinking that seeing is believing. Just yesterday, I came across a children’s book that explains how easily we are duped into believing that what our eyes see is the truth, describing how the eye sees.

Your eyes work by taking pictures of the world and sending them to your brain. Light from an object passes through the lens in the middle of your eye. The lens focuses the light onto the retina at the back of the eye. The retina changes light patterns into signals that it sends to the brain. The brain changes the signals into a picture to tell you what your eyes are seeing.
(Louise Spilsbury, Knowledge: How? Why? Where? When? London: Tall Tree Limited, 2007, p. 106.)

Such simp
licity. The brain, an organ that has no source in reality, is constantly telling you what your eyes are seeing. Hmmm. Nothing I see means anything. (Lesson 1)

Here is one way that Jesus expresses it in His Course.

The brain interprets to the body, of which it is a part. But what it says you cannot understand. Yet you have listened to it. And long and hard you tried to understand its messages. T-22.I.2:9-12

Through the Course, we come to learn that physical sight is not so because, in truth, we can see only with vision, seeing through the eyes of Christ, experiencing the reflection of our True Identity as the holy Son of God.

Only your vision can convey to you what you can see. It reaches you directly, without a need to be interpreted to you. What needs interpretation must be alien. T-22.I.6:4-6

This is where our mighty companions come in. We join in this vision; we look at each other and say with our eyes, “Namaste,” the Christ in me greets the Christ in you, experiencing a warm-honey feeling in our stomachs.

And our mighty companions fulfill another function, just as important. My brother does or says something that totally upsets me. This can be seen as a great opportunity, if I use it right. If I can realize quickly enough that s/he is triggering an emotion based on my particular imprinting, I can utilize it. If I can see this behavior as a message triggering my experiences at an early age, then I can dismiss my brother as the messenger, and learn more about myself, looking at the message, feeling the emotion, and asking for help to let it go, coming into the realization that there is nothing outside of myself that can cause me pain or pleasure. It's always only my thoughts.

Here is an example, perhaps crude but real. When I was seven or eight years old, my dad took me to a shop, where a man, Bob Harsh, made bows and arrows. I was so excited to walk out of his shop with a custom-made bow and six arrows. My dad set up for me in our backyard a bail of straw with a paper target, and every day I spent hours learning to shoot my bow.

I would often lose arrows in the deep grass in the backyard, and one day, my neighbor, my “buddy,” Dick, said, smiling, “Here’s an arrow I found,” and I happily grabbed it by the end, only to find that he had smeared it in dog shit that was encrusting my palm, as he laughed heartily.

I felt humiliation and anger and scorn. To this day, I don’t like tricks to be played on me, and I tend not to play tricks on other people.

Some time ago, my wife, Christine, truly my mighty companion, pulled an elaborate trick on me. On my birthday the idea was to go out for dinner and then go to a play. After dinner, she looked into her purse and said, “I forgot the tickets.” We hurried home, went inside, and walking down the hallway, we heard a sound from the basement, glass breaking. My adrenaline hit, and I slowly walked down the stairs, assuming a karate posture, right hand in a fist, drawn back, left hand in front of my stomach to ward off an attack, my knees bent.

When I was half-way down the stairs, a group of family and friends who had assembled while we were at dinner yelled, “Happy Birthday!” And I yelled, “Fuck you!” The ancient imprinting of being tricked was triggered, and I felt humiliation and anger and scorn, especially since I was walking down the stairs as if I were a Kung Fu fighter.

This is just one example of a myriad of things that I must have experienced early on that imprinted deeply in my mind and trigger emotions in me today. I continued, unconsciously, to allow external events to trigger emotions, not realizing that I was the cause, preventing me from experiencing peace of mind. The key is to learn to take full responsibility for my reactions, and dismiss the messengers as quickly as possible, my mighty companions.

And so in each moment, I am seeing my brother, either through the body’s eyes, as the brain interprets based on the past, or through the vision of Christ; I crucify myself, or I resurrect; I ma miserable, or at peace; it is always my choice. I am totally responsible; I am not a victim of the world I see. (Lesson 31)

This is the only thing that you need do for vision, happiness, release from pain and the complete escape from sin, all to be given you. Say only this, but mean it with no reservations, for here the power of salvation lies:

I am responsible for what I see.
I choose the feelings I experience,

and I decide upon the goal I would achieve.

And everything that seems to happen to me I ask for,

and receive as I have asked.

Deceive yourself no longer that you are helpless in the face of what is done to you. Acknowledge but that you have been mistaken, and all effects of your mistakes will disappear.

To make a mistake means, literally, "to take an error as true," and error comes from the Latin, errorem, meaning “to wander, go astray.” I am totally responsible for wandering from vision to physical sight based on past shit, and I can always ask for help to get back on the mark.

And this brings me back to my bow and arrow. On the mark is an archery term that comes from Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke. When an archer fired at a target and missed the bull's eye, the scorekeeper yelled "khata," sin, meaning that the archer was off the mark. He is simply giving him information, giving him helpful feedback.

When the scorekeeper pulled out the arrow, he yelled "bisha," evil, simply indicating exactly where the arrow landed in reference to the bull's eye, telling the archer how far he was off the mark, helpful information enabling him to make a correction, to correct his error, so that he can be on the mark with his next shot.

Sin and evil took on quite different meanings over time, while the original meaning is simply helpful information that enables me to make a slight correction from seeing with the body's eyes to seeing with vision.

Sin is a block, set like a heavy gate, locked and without a key, across the road to peace. No one who looks on it without the help of reason would try to pass it. The body's eyes behold it as solid granite, so thick it would be madness to attempt to pass it. Yet reason sees through it easily, because it is an error. (T-22.III.2-5) Everything the body's eyes can see is a mistake, an error in perception, a distorted fragment of the whole without the meaning that the whole would give. And yet mistakes, regardless of their form, can be corrected. Sin is but error in a special form the ego venerates. It would preserve all errors and make them sins. (T-22.III.4:3-6)

And here is the function of the Holy Spirit, the great Corrector.

My present happiness is all I see.

Unless I look upon what is not there,
my present happiness is all I see.
Eyes that begin to open see at last.
And I would have Christ's vision come to me
this very day. What I perceive without
God's Own Correction for the sight I made
is frightening and painful to behold.
Yet I would not allow my mind to be
deceived by the belief the dream I made
is real an instant longer. This the day
I seek my present happiness, and look
on nothing else except the thing I seek.

With this resolve I come to You, and ask
Your strength to hold me up today, while I
but seek to do Your Will. You cannot fail
to hear me, Father. What I ask have You
already given me. And I am sure
that I will see my happiness today.


This makes it pretty simple because I have already been given what I ask for.

Finally, to keep it real holy, holding a grievance against a brother is like focusing on the spot of bird shit on the windshield, rather than taking in the magnificent view.