Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Problem and the Solution

The Course always takes you deeper and deeper at every successive turn, on that longest of all journeys, the proverbial journey from the head to the heart, from conceptual to experiential truth. This time around lessons 79 and 80 seemed to touch me deeper than ever, with their message of how all the seeming problems and decisions on the level of the world (level two in Course terminology) are mere ego ploys to divert our attention from the one decision we need to make, the choice of the right teacher, Jesus or the ego.

Most importantly, in the end the choice is not even a choice, for as we let our new discernment do its work, by looking at the ego with Jesus, and forgiving its silly diversions one after the other, the choice for the ego turns out to be not an option in the end. Who wants a bad copy if you already own the original - love is our natural inheritance as the Course reminds us again and again. The problem is not finding it, the problem is to stop blocking it.

At that point it turns out that all this time that 'longest of all journeys' was really a 'journey without distance to a goal that has never changed,' (ACIM:T-8:VI,9:7) and 'Enlightenment is but a recognition, not even a change at all.' (ACIM:W-188.1:4)

In the New Testament tradition the same issues are addressed in many different ways. I am particularly fond of the image from the Gospel of John of the Samaritan woman with Jesus at Jacob's Well, making the choice between the ego's water that makes you thirst, the projections of thought which merely move the deckchairs on the Titanic, and Jesus' water of the spirit, which will not make you thirst again. She then realizes that all of her special relationships were mere empty shells, and could not hold a candle to the Holy Relationship Jesus holds out to her, which again is the only real choice, and in the end not even a choice at all, because it is the only thing that is.

Another variant is the parable of Jesus' healing of the paralytic in Mark Chapter 2, here in the KJV:
Mark 2
1 And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house. 2 And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them. 3 And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. 4And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. 6 But there was certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, 7 Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? 8 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? 9 Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? 10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) 11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. 12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.
Borrowing liberally from the exegesis of J. W. Kaiser, in his book 'Experiencing the Gospel' (not available in English), we might note that Capernaum etymologically is the place of consolation through forgiveness. What comes to him there is one who is wrapped up to the point of total spiritual paralysis in the matters of the world, of physical life. That one is us, it is me, the reader who reads this (for that is the meaning of being taught in parables), and we cannot even get to Jesus but by asking for help, and being lifted up into his presence. We need to get above the battleground with Jesus, before we can see that the problem was not what we made it out to be. In that process we are letting go of our concepts, our definitions of what the problem is, so we can come to look at it anew with his eyes.
Letting go of every attempt to do it ourselves, allows us to be lifted into his presence over all the seeming obstacles of the world. By truly abandoning our definition of the problem, we come to Jesus with the little willingness to suspect that our ego might have it all wrong, then we can truly accept his forgiveness. In the recognition that is born from that, we can arise from the paralysis (NB, the Course points out that the choice for the ego is the choice for the crucifixion, the choice for the Holy Spirit is the choice for the resurrection), knowing once and for all that it is spirit over matter, so that we no longer let the world determine who we are, which led to the paralysis, but follow the spirit first, so that the forms we seem to experience in the world serve us on our way home, instead of the other way around, us serving the world, in slavery to the ego, and ultimately in the deadly paralysis of the ego's choice for the crucifixion. Instead, we can now make the choice for the Holy Spirit, for the resurrection, by heeding Jesus' command: Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.

Copyright, © 2012 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.