“You cannot wake yourself. Yet you can let yourself be wakened. You can overlook your brother’s dreams. So perfectly can you forgive him his illusions he becomes your savior from your dreams. … Make way for love, which you did not create, but which you can extend. On earth this means forgive your brother, that the darkness may be lifted from your mind.” (A Course in Miracles, ch. 29, III)
Do you ever feel guilty? Maybe you know specifically something you did or didn’t do and feel guilt about it. But do you ever just feel guilty and not specially know why? You may just feel you are not doing enough; that’s a good one for our culture. I have read prayers of confession which highlight all our sins of “omission,” for not doing or working hard enough. Where does this all originate?
If it’s true, and as I have said, our essence is Spirit, Oneness with God the Father/Mother, then I think it’s fair to say in our essence, in our Right Mind or True Self, we are guiltless, right? Doesn’t that seem logical? Do you believe God spends a lot of time beating Himself up for not doing enough, or making mistakes over His creation? I don’t think so. Well if we do, and it is our forgetfulness in failure to remember our Christ mind. Why does this happen so often and why do some people just never realize it?
If you accept our presence today is a part of the evolutionary process, there had to have been some moment in ancient times when we developed self-consciousness. We began to ask ourselves questions such as, “Who am I? How did I get here? What is my purpose in being here? And what is my end?” Some writers call this the “shock of consciousness.” Perhaps you have experienced that at some point in your life; you find yourselves lying awake at night asking the same questions. Sometimes these questions are so overwhelming we must just push them out of our minds and just get on keeping busy with the life we are living.
Now if it is true that we are a part of the Eternal God who created us, and suddenly we find ourselves within this time/space based world, perhaps this is the origin of our guilt. Perhaps this whole world, the whole universe, is just a figment of our imaginations. It is an imagination or a dream that we could be independent from our Maker. And so in reality we are asleep in this dream thinking that we are independent and free, whereas in reality we are homeless. Could it be that making, or dreaming ourselves as a separate entity we have lost God? Could it be that we have tried to “kill God,” in order for us to experience freedom?
And so, God the maker is very angry at us! We have defied his sovereignty and oneness and tried to become “independent.” Now, in our guilt for leaving God, we must come up with some sacrifice in order to show our repentance and allow us to come back to our Home. Thus, the whole idea of sacrifice became a part of human history. If I offer sacrifices of my goods, of my health, and even of my family, I will be accepted into that place called Heaven. If I don’t make the proper sacrifices, I may well end up in that eternal place called Hell.
But what if we simply awaken to the understanding that we never left our Oneness, that we never left heaven? What if we realized that this is just a dream here and we never left God or heaven? It would be like a good parent awakening a child from having a bad dream and assuring the child that it was only a dream and that nothing happened. To me this was the essence of the teachings of Jesus that so often has been obscured. The Kingdom of Heaven is within you, it is the true you, the only you. There are no sacrifices needed to experience this accept the sacrifice of our pride, of our identification with the body self called the ego.
Thus we simply let our attachments to our body and this world, go. In remembering ourselves as one with Eternal Spirit, we become free. There is no death, and there is no sting of death, as the apostle Paul had written. It seems so simple and yet so difficult. But to me this is the essence of the good news, we are free and we are forgiven of our blindness and we must merely accept it by grace as a gift from God.
This is my understanding given in the original stories of the cross. Jesus died on the cross in his body, but in reality, nothing happened! However, the church later developed it into a story of the ultimate sacrifice. It was told as a story of God being offended and angered by our sin of sleep, our forgetfulness. It was made into a story of heavy guilt, that unless we accepted the sacrifice and lived with the same sense of sacrifice in our lives, we would never attain eternal life. What an awful interpretation of the great story of redemption by awakening!
And yet this story of sacrifice to win God’s favor became the centerpiece of the Christian religion. If we go to most churches to find freedom from our guilt, we will usually have our guilt increased with this story of offending and angering God. And even if we accept what is called the blood sacrifice of Jesus, we will ever remain in guilt that we were not sincere enough, and that is why we make so many mistakes.
On the other hand, if we go to most counselors or what are called psychotherapists, they will make our guilt more real by trying to explain it to us and giving us all the reasons in the history of our dysfunctional guilt. The truth is there is no explanation by going over and over the “sin,” and to the dysfunction of the world in which we live in and of the bodies which are our temporary homes. The world and our bodies ever remain and never will be solved. To blame the creation of this world and our bodies on the Great Spirit is an insult to the very definition of Perfection. I used to think if God made this creation called earth and universe, He made some terrible blunders and mistakes. “Oops! I just sent a tsunami and 250,000 people, were destroyed! Oops! I just created an earthquake which destroyed another 200,000 men, women and children burying them under homes and buildings!” It just doesn’t make any sense.
What is an answer? I forgive myself and others for believing and teaching that all this around me is Reality. No, it never really happened! I forgive myself for believing this is all real and that God was responsible. I accept responsibility for the dream as being mine and not God’s. I accept that in my essence, I am Eternal Spirit with my Father God. Nothing can destroy me. Yes, the body can be destroyed and the worlds vanished, as they all will someday, but I am eternal.
The “proof” of all this is to live it. I practice remembering and giving to others forgiveness and kindness. Realizing that I have Everything, I can freely give without expectation of any reward. When a person practices this kind of random kindness, he or she will feel the largeness within. It is a touch of one’s Divinity within. I have experienced it and seen it in others many times.
A man once called me saying how hurt he was by the actions of his son. Confessing they had always had somewhat of an estranged relationship, he discovered his son was getting married. The hurtful part was he was not inviting his father. He was terribly hurt and angry. When I met and talked with him, I tried to help him understand that he was looking at himself and his son as two distinct bodies. I tried to tell him to work at letting it go, forgiving himself and his son for their estranged ways. I told him to think about writing a letter to the son and simply telling him he heard he was getting married and that he wished him well. I even told him to be sure to send a nice gift! Later I heard from him again and he told me he had written and sent the letter after several attempts to write one without bitterness. I didn’t ask about the gift. But he did admit he was feeling so much better.
Several years ago in San Francisco there was an experiment done with about 250 hospital patients. Half of them were given by name to volunteers who promised to meet daily at a time to pray for their particular patient whom they did not even know. The patients did not even realize they were being prayed for each day. Amazingly, the 125 patients who had been remembered each day with thoughts of healing and love showed above average recovery rates! The experiment revealed that even by sending thoughts to another person, it has positive effects on both.
I also read of another true story in which an eight-year-old girl has a very serious blood disease. The doctors concluded it would help save her life if they transferred blood from her six-year-old brother into his eight-year-old sister. When they asked the six-year-old brother if he’d be willing to donate his blood, he said he needed a couple days to think about it. And after two days he allowed himself to be placed next to his sister’s bed and be hooked up with an IV transporting his blood into his sister’s body. As the little boy sat and watched his blood flowing to his sisters body, he asked the doctor, “Will I now die suddenly or slowly?” It is amazing how that by giving to another, even when it times it may risk our own lives, gives a deep sense of peace to one’s soul.
“How lovely is the world whose purpose is forgiveness of God’s son! How free from fear, how filled with blessing and with happiness! And what a joyous thing it is to dwell a little while in such a happy place! Nor can it be forgot, in such a world, it is a little while till timelessness comes quietly to take the place of time.” And so it is.
Reflections by Rev. David Persons, February 20, 2010, in the First Presbyterian Church of West Seneca, NY.