Happiness

1st May 2019

Lesson 66, “My Happiness and my Function are One”, is my favourite happiness lesson. This is because it clearly says: “We will not become hopelessly involved in defining happiness and determining the means for achieving it”.

This is so incredibly simple, but so far beyond the comprehension of the ego mind that it is nearly always missed. It is astonishing how much ACIM-based practice does indeed involve itself, quite hopelessly, in defining happiness and determining the means for achieving it - in other words, in claiming our divine right to all of life’s abundance. ACIM precepts are used, in the main, to transform negative beliefs into life-affirming beliefs. And guess what? They work like magic! After all, it’s all in the mind, and once we really get this foundational principal, we can all fulfil our wildest dreams and be, do and have anything we want.

But is this really happiness? Jesus doesn’t think so. In lesson 128 he tells us: “The world I see holds nothing that I want”. Over and over again, throughout the Course, he reminds us of the same thing; if it’s impermanent, it’s of the ego, it won’t bring you happiness. This includes the book deal, the lecture tour and the large Twitter following. It includes everything you can perceive with your five senses. This is Jesus’ recurrent theme. And the ego mind cannot and will not grasp it.

This is why the pot has to crack.

Jesus sees the true cause of suffering in our lives, which is the guilt in our minds. He wants us to undo this with His help. His will for us is perfect happiness. But we have to allow him to undo the guilt in our minds. We have to be willing. To be willing, he asks us to do one teeny, tiny thing; to choose his voice (or the voice of Holy Spirit) over the voice of ego. We do this, and he positively guarantees our happiness. He won’t positively guarantee what this happiness will look like in the world, as that would be making a guarantee to the ego. But he promises us happiness.

It sure sounds easy. But in practice this decision making can be experienced by the ego mind as sheer torture. The ego has to give up its grip. It has to crack wide open. And deep and intense suffering is sometimes the only way this can be achieved. Mother Teresa described suffering as a “Kiss from God”, and within the Catholic Church there is a concept of suffering as purgation of sin. In ACIM, Jesus corrects this belief and tells us suffering is completely unnecessary, in Truth, as there is no sin. But he also warns us about the death throws of the tired and worn-out ego, which will not give up.

The Manual for Teachers talks about that moment when the Teacher of God suddenly realises the ego has been running the spiritual path all along. “Stage 5”, in the stages of Development of Trust, is about as much fun as a sinus wash.

“The next stage is indeed “a period of unsettling”. “Now must the teacher of God understand that he did not really know what was valuable and what was valueless. All that he really learned so far was that he did not want the valueless, and that he did want the valuable. Yet his own sorting out was meaningless in teaching him the difference. The idea of sacrifice, so central to his own thought system, had made it impossible for him to judge. He thought he learned willingness, but now he sees that he does not know what the willingness is for. And now he must attain a state that may remain impossible to reach for a long, long time. He must learn to lay all judgment aside, and ask only what he really wants in every circumstance. Were not each step in this direction so heavily reinforced, it would be hard indeed!” (M-4.I.A.7)

Jesus, as usual, is being kind here. I think what he really means is, it is already hard indeed, and were each step in the direction not so heavily reinforced, it would be completely impossible! Talking from personal experience, it took me a very long period of deep despair before I was given a glimpse of the truth of this paragraph.

Several years ago, I fought and, eventually, won a residency battle with my ex-husband over my 3 children. His child protection ‘concern’ was that I had recently been “ordained into a new religion” (Pathways of Light), and heard voices in my head which I believed to be the Holy Spirit. To support his application, his wife broke into my home and stole my Pathways workbooks and took them to Child Services. I had to explain to a social worker then, later, the family court, all the written material from 2 years of deep process with Holy Spirit, including a lot of guided writing. The break-in was never considered an issue. This entire nightmare lasted 7 months, and I spent the majority of the time in churches and cathedrals, ‘doing’ Lesson 194 and walking the stages of the cross at a Catholic monastery near my house. One afternoon, I sat alone in the grotto to Our Lady and performed a ritual of surrender, placing 3 daisies on her altar, one for each of my children.

I was in terror, but I reckoned I was giving Holy Spirit that little bit of willingness he was asking for. And the day before the final hearing, I got a miracle when the barrister who was representing my ex-husband pulled out very suddenly. The only replacement that could be found at such short notice was an evangelical Christian with a bold proclamation on her website that she listened to the voice of Holy Spirit throughout her courtroom cross-examinations. Oh, how I love Jesus’ sense of humour! His jokes are not there for decoration but very much part of his architecture. I won the case, easily, and rhapsodied about the experience for a long time afterwards.

Fast forward 3 years, and would you believe it? The same thing happened again! My ex and his wife went for a second bite at the cherry. The pressure on me was redoubled and I was absolutely furious with Holy Spirit. “How could you do this to me again?” I demanded to know, “Didn’t I suffer enough for you last time around? Wasn’t my humiliation enough for you then?” And so, the whole process began again. Sitting in the car before the directions hearing, I was right back in the same old place I had been in years before. Stripped, shaved and prepared for punishment.

I Googled “ACIM facing fear”, and up came David Hoffmeister. His own personal fear was blood-tests, which I considered to be a trifling matter compared to my own. But he did make a point that I listened to intently. It wasn’t a new point, in fact it was ACIM 101: “You are never afraid for the reason you think”. But just for an instant, I understood something. This entire court hearing wasn’t about whether or not I won or lost. That was the trifling matter. The important thing was that I undid the guilt in my mind; that I purposed the situation to that end and thereby saw the truth beyond the illusion. Winning or losing the case was irrelevant.

This is the real meaning of listening to the voice of Holy Spirit, rather than the ego. This is the real meaning of choosing once again. Recognising, if just for an instant, that the world is meaningless and the only desirable outcome is undoing guilt in your mind. To a mother faced with losing custody of her children, this is an impossible ask to the ego mind. In the car, listening to David Hoffmeister, my fear was so intense that my ego cracked open. It was just for an instant, but that instant, that tiny tick of time, was enough to let the light in.

When I got out of the car and went to meet my barrister, I was fully back in my ego mind. I was terrified, angry, resentful and the last thing I was interested in was undoing unconscious guilt. All that stuff could wait till later. My only concern was, once again, winning the case. Then something very unexpected happened. My ex capitulated, withdrew his application, and went home before we got into the courtroom. Everyone was astonished - everyone except Jesus, that is, who was laughing.

“Thank you child,” he said, “For finally giving me that tiny tick of time, that little bit of willingness, you never gave me that last time”

“But I spent 7 months with my face on the floor,” I protested, “I gave you my children, those flowers to Mary I put on the altar”

“You were still choosing ego my child. You were still invested in form. You never once gave me that tiny bit of willingness. But you have now for the first time, and so I give you your miracle”.

Looking back, now, on Stage 5 of the Development of Trust, I notice something I haven’t seen before.

“The idea of sacrifice, so central to his own thought system, had made it impossible for him to judge”

For the entire 7 months I was going through my court case the first time around, I believed I was being purged of the sin of humanity. I thought of myself as a human sacrifice, a martyr, tortured for my practice of ACIM but certain to receive my reward in Heaven. My greatest dream had disappointed me in the cruellest way it possibly could, by coming true.

It was three years after my ordination as a Pathways of Light minister that I finally came to understand this, but let’s leave that vexed point aside. After all, Jesus does warn us it may take “a long, long time”. ACIM will come of age when we are taught these things as a matter of course.