The Simplicity of Awakening
By Regina Dawn Akers
[as it appeared in the October 2009 Newsletter]
|A Course in Miracles can seem to be a difficult book. When I first started reading it, I didn’t understand it at all. I saw English words on the page, but they didn’t seem to say anything. Course groups, for many years, have discussed and debated the meaning of the words in A Course in Miracles. We even have discussions about which version of the book is best. But all of this is a cloud, a mental cloud, which covers the simplicity of the Course’s teachings.|
A Course in Miracles, and many other spiritual books and spiritual masters, have come to teach us one thing. They have come to teach us…or more correctly, re-point us in the direction of who (or what) we are.
We have literally forgotten what we are. In chapter three of A Course in Miracles, Jesus tells us that man continually asks himself what he is, but this fundamental question “cannot properly be directed to himself at all.”(1) Jesus knows we identify with a false self, and because we believe our false identity our questioning is directed in the wrong direction. Instead of asking our true Self and realizing remembrance, we ask the false self we have identified with, and the answer it gives continues the making and reinforcing of a false self.
While we identify with a false self, it can all seem very complicated and convoluted. That is why A Course in Miracles seems to be an intellectual and sometimes complicated book. But it has come to teach a very simple lesson. We are not the false self we think we are, and what we are is easily recognizable when we look to it, because what we are is love and we know love as our truth.
A Course in Miracles talks about two voices or two interpreters in our mind. One is referred to as the ego or the wrong-mind. The other is called the right-mind or the Holy Spirit. Sometimes when students read the term “Holy Spirit”, they see this right-Voice as a Voice that is separate from them or different from them, but the Holy Spirit is representative of our true Self … of who we are in truth. And this is what A Course in Miracles has come to remind us of.
We can find evidence of this simplicity in A Course in Miracles. For example, workbook lesson 55 says: “How could I recognize my own best interests when I do not know who I am? What I think are my best interests would merely bind me closer to the world of illusions. I am willing to follow the Guide God has given me to find out what my own best interests are, recognizing that I cannot perceive them by myself.”
This early workbook lesson is designed to turn our attention from the guidance of the false self, which we think is “me”, to the guidance of the true Self, which we usually think of as an “Other” since it isn’t the “me” we identify with. But because we have disassociated from our true Self, we also fear it as something opposed to what we are, and therefore as something that will ask of us what we do not want to give. It takes time for A Course in Miracles to help us turn our thinking around…which is literally turning our attention to our true identity.
“How can this be reversed? For you it is impossible, but you are not alone in this. Your efforts, however little they may be, have strong support. Did you but realize how great this strength, your doubts would vanish. Today we will devote ourselves to the attempt to let you feel this strength. When you have felt the strength in you which makes all miracles within your easy reach, you will not doubt. The miracles your sense of weakness hides will leap into awareness as you feel the strength in you.” (Workbook for Students, lesson 91, paragraph 4)
Notice how workbook lesson 91 refers to the strength in you. A Course in Miracles is turning our attention from a false identification and gradually helping us remember our true Self.
Workbook lesson 139 begins by saying:
|“I will accept the Atonement for myself. Here is the end of choice. For here we come to a decision to accept ourselves as God created us. And what is choice except uncertainty of what we are? There is no doubt that is not rooted here. There is no question but reflects this one. There is no conflict that does not entail the single simple question, ‘What am I?’ Yet who could ask this question except one who has refused to recognize himself?”|
A Course in Miracles, and many other books and teachers, have come to help us remember what we are. This is the simplicity of the Course. It is also the simplicity of awakening. When we realize the only problem is that we have identified with a false identity…an idea that is not what we are…, we can also decide not to listen to that false identity anymore. Once we make this decision, awakening becomes simpler because there is no longer a question about what we are to do. Our role is not to listen to the ego…which we might still think of as our own thoughts…, but to listen instead to our true Self…which we might call the Holy Spirit, Jesus or by some other name.
How do we stop listening to ego and begin listening to our true Self?
The first step, of course, is recognition that the ego is not who we are and therefore, it does not speak for us. As workbook lesson 55 points out, it does not speak for our own best interests because it is not the voice of our Self.
The second step is to say, “I choose not to listen to this voice which is not me. Instead I choose to still my thoughts and ask within, ‘What would You have me do? Where would You have me go? What would You have me say, and to whom?” (based on Workbook for Students, lesson 71)
Some people call this surrender, and they struggle against the idea of surrender because they fear they are letting go of who they are and surrendering to one who is opposed to them. But as lesson 139 points out, we have forgotten who we are and this is the root of all conflict. Peace comes from re-acceptance of our truth. Choosing to listen to the Voice of our truth is the first step in re-accepting what we are. This is the way of peace. This is the process of shifting our identity back to our true Self. Surrender is a step in the awakening process.
Father Thomas Keating said, “The beginning of the spiritual journey is the realization…not just the information, but a real interior conviction that there is a Higher Power, or God. Or to make it as easy as possible for everybody, that there is an Other, capital O. Second step: To try to become the Other, still a capital O. And finally the realization that there is no Other. You and the Other are one. Always have been, always will be. You just think that you aren’t.” (from One, The Movie)
When we first begin to listen to our true Self as the Holy Spirit or Jesus or by some other name, we do feel as if we are putting our self aside and surrendering to an Other. But as we choose to listen to that Voice and follow it in our living and being, we come to recognize it as our Self. This is how awakening becomes simple. Awakening is nothing more than realizing our Self and therefore, naturally, listening to it and being it.
|Workbook for Students, lesson 229: “I seek my own identity and find it in these words, ‘Love, Which created me, is what I am.’ Now need I seek no more. Love has prevailed. So still it waited for my coming home that I will turn away no longer from the holy face of Christ. And what I look upon attests the truth of the identity I sought to lose, but which my Father has kept safe for me.”|
(1) A Course in Miracles, Original Edition Text, Chapter 3, paragraph 53