from Issue 008 — Sep 2002
In the Clarification of Terms, the Course speaks of the Holy Spirit as being our “Guide through a far country” (C-6.4: 6). At other times it pictures the Son of God as being a wanderer, exiled from his home because of his own erroneous decision:
And thus he wanders aimlessly about, in search of something that he cannot find, believing that he is what he is not. (T-29 V11. 2:5)
Workbook lesson 166 “I am entrusted with the gifts of God”, contains very powerful images of the condition of homelessness, wandering and futility we all experience as long as we persist in insisting our own definition of self is the truth. Jesus says:
Without the world he made is he an outcast; homeless and afraid. He does not realize that it is here he is afraid indeed, and homeless, too; an outcast wandering so far from home, so long away, he does not realize he has forgotten where he came from, where he goes, and even who he really is. (W-166. 4:3-4)
According to the Course, we are all lost in the far country of our false self-concepts, misperceptions and projections.
Even this part of our mind belongs to Spirit, simply because nothing is outside of Spirit. Workbook lesson 188 “The peace of God is shining in me now”, asks us to bring our wandering thoughts back to the thoughts we share with God so that they may be washed clean by the reflection of His Love and Light. Yet in our delusion, we “betray” our thoughts and order them outside to find what we seek. And if we start from the premise of being separate, what we unconsciously seek is proof of guilt in other people or outward circumstances. This is the ego’s way of seeking salvation from the tremendous guilt engendered by telling the first and only lie—I am independent and separate from God. In other words, having accepted the one and only false premise, we must project. It is a law of mind.
The images of a far country and of being lost, which wandering necessarily implies, are very potent. And as always with the Course, the connotations and implications of these images change and deepen with one’s continued practice of it’s teachings. In my own case, my understanding of these images was at first very much associated with experiencing a bleak and hostile world “out there”. It was as if an inward hand and finger pointed outward, declaring “There…out there…the problem exists out there!” There often was a feeling, barely conscious at times, that if the world were different, my own experience would be different too. In this frame of mind the world can easily become a hated thing; something to be blamed, railed against and finally to be escaped. At times it even seemed the Course was supporting this stance.
Yet, like many Course students, I have been compelled again and again to consider the profound implications of these deceptively simple words:
Therefore, seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world. (T21 Intro. 1:7)
My many years of practice with the Course could be summarised as a process of letting go the fixed determination to point outside, always with a fully developed argument for why things should be different out there. In this frame of mind, even if it were the case that I had something to learn in a situation, at the very least it was always the case somebody else needed to learn something too! On a humorous note, I am reminded of the character Dr. Strangelove, superbly portrayed by Peter Sellers in “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”, whose saluting arm well and truly had a life of it’s own. The finger of blame and judgement is the ego’s salute and it seems to have as much autonomy as does Strangelove’s arm.
And like many Course students I know, it has taken me quite some time to understand that hating myself for my lack of love and wretched inward condition is just another way of pointing the finger of condemnation:
…for as blame is withdrawn from without, there is a strong tendency to harbor it within. It is difficult at first to realize that this is exactly the same thing, for there is no distinction between within and without.
According to the Course, our most deeply held, darkest hatred or feeling of sin is still, “out there”. At this stage in the undoing of the belief in the power of Love’s opposite, separation and its attendant guilt, fear and hatred, we begin to realize that none of our thoughts, or their dismal consequences, has, in reality, had any effect. I, as Son of God, have never been limited, bound, diminished, implicated, involved or influenced by a single illusory thought in any time, place or dimension, high or low. The closed, entirely self-referential world of separation seems to suggest the exact opposite. But that is all it is: a seeming, a dream, a hallucination, an illusion. And the forms of the dream cannot deceive me unless I give them the power to do so.
That is the truth. Yet in the day to day machinations of thinking, feeling, sensing, intuiting, planning and doing, it seems that the pristine, uncompromising simplicity represented by the holy instant and the real world is instead the “far country”. This is especially the case in our times of deepest immersion in our stories and life dramas. It is extremely important, however, to return to the pivotal lesson that the world, including the world of our innermost, “private” thoughts, is never, in and of itself the problem. On the contrary, Jesus constantly reminds of the importance of our day to day experiences as the necessary vehicle to enable us to learn our lessons of forgiveness. The very fabric of our lives is our individualised curriculum. It is this recognition which allows the obstacles to peace to be transformed into opportunities to facilitate its coming; the prison houses of our limitations become the keys to our freedom. We can never awaken from the dream of the world while we are afraid of it and therefore hate it. That is why forgiveness is the heart of the Course process. “ No longer is the world our enemy, for we have chosen that we be its friend.” (W194.9: 6)
The “far country of our ego stories—our struggles and triumphs, our hopes and fears, our comings and goings, have as much color, depth and intensity as we give to them.
We stay in the far country as long as we believe in it and we believe in it as long as we want it. We are in a process of transition; we have entered a borderland.
Jesus says errors are illusions not recognised. As long as we want the illusion, we will be subject to error. In fact it could be said that wanting the illusion is the fundamental error. This is the continuing “sin” we all participate in while we listen to our own voice as our teacher.
Coming back from the far country necessitates our bringing back our wandering thoughts and placing them before the feet of truth, so that it may order them, purify them and judge them. The truth does not require our past learning, good sense, discernment, organising capacity, ability to triumph, strength and understanding to deal with errors. These images of us as the doer in the process of salvation indeed represents another block, another hindrance. What is required is our cooperation in handing back to Spirit what belongs to Spirit. Releasing back into Spirit all that I have presumed to be me and mine. Illusions to truth; darkness to light. That is all that is required.
The reason is very simple. My salvation comes from ME. Not the me of my little life on earth, whether I see it as this life only or all the lives I think I have had in any place, in any time and in any dimension. The Course teaches that the apparently split off aspect of the Sonship has been pretending to be the “doer” and creator of itself since time began. That pretence actually is time. The Atonement principle states that that pretence, the whole sum of it and all its parts (that is, your life and my life on earth) have done nothing, gone nowhere and achieved nothing. Literally, nothing has happened. There is not one smidgen or particle of significance or meaning in anything that has been thought, felt or sensed in any dimension, in any time. There can be no meaning apart from Meaning and no truth apart from Truth.
Trying to find content in the forms that we have made is the hook that binds us to the “country” of our own making. Our own inner landscape, so to speak. When we believe there is something of significance to be interpreted in our world and even more to the point, when we believe we are the only ones who can do that interpreting; the forms of our life are then flooded in technicolor. In that very moment of participation we are deceived and what we perceive is, for all intents and purposes our own world. The first law of chaos has prevailed and the truth is indeed different for everyone.
But from outside of time and space, perfectly one and coincident to all appearances, always completely available, there is one Voice, one Thought always calling. My salvation always comes from Me because no time, place, state or condition has ever affected Me. Truth cannot be touched by illusions because illusions are exactly that; thus they don’t exist. Truth simply is. It has never gone anywhere because there is nowhere else to go. In releasing our tightly held thoughts back into Spirit, the nightmarish grip of our inner landscapes also begins to dissolve. Where are we then? There are no words to describe it and the very impulse to describe it recedes. Peace and stillness have at last been given the space to come into their own.
This work, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.