I had a lesson with the Lord today. It’s getting easier for me to commune with Him – to ask questions and be taught. These experiences are not dramatic or visionary, they’re just nice, and real…very real. As soon as I recognized myself connected to Him, some questions popped into my mind, but I quickly dismissed them. “Who am I”? “What is my purpose”? I knew as quickly as they formed that I wasn’t really ready to receive the answers, and that to even ask them would be lustful because I wasn’t ready to act on them. (I love the word “lustful” in this context. It’s like seeking after something for inorganic reasons; to seek to artificially elevate myself for my own purposes, not out of love for Christ or for others.)
I did settle upon a question that I could ask for help with… “How can I learn to elevate my spirit such that it rules the ego, rather than the other way around? How can I recognize the spirit in me, as well as the ego in me? Will you please continue to help me do this, so that I CAN be prepared to receive answers to these other questions?” Of course, the answer was not really instructional, but more like, “Yes – I will continue to help you, as long as you apply yourself”. Well, I have been and will continue to apply myself to this effort. It’s really something that’s very intriguing to me, and it’s something I can work at; that, for some reason, I’m not afraid of. I know, also, that somehow this is a process that will prepare me to receive more…to do more.
At this point, before I share the things I learned this morning, I need to provide a bit of context. I have been reading (more like absorbing) a book called, “A Course in Miracles”. I have no intention of reviewing it, or going into depth about it, (This post is not about the book) but I do need to share some concepts that I have learned from my reading so far – concepts which are part of my learning process, and thus important for this post. The book, which is written in the words of Christ – in the first person – refers to the fall as “the separation”. Christ Himself refers to the fall as the separation. He even says, “…separation, otherwise known as the fall” or something along those lines. There is no doubt that the two words are synonymous. It is also made very clear that the ego is the instrument with which we maintain the separation. The ego is a self-created illusion, and works in opposition to our spirit, which is the source of truth. (The natural man is an enemy to God). We personally created our ego. It is a defense mechanism, and its very purpose is to separate ourselves from others. This ego is very good at its job, in that it separates us not only from each other, but also from God. Thus, the fall, or the “separation” is not only a separation from God, it is also a separation from each other.
As I was praying this morning concerning the ego and the spirit, I also asked, in that context, “How can I learn to overcome this separation?” It was at that point that the understanding came.
The best example I personally have experienced of being one (of overcoming separation) is in the relationship that my wife, Diana, and I have. We haven’t perfected the concept, but we’re at least at a state where I can see the goal, which is that the we own the decisions that we both make – we own them together. If one of us makes a mistake, it is our mistake. If one of us makes a decision, it is our decision, and we don’t indulge a lot of “I told you so”.
This past week we were at a store in Sandpoint, Idaho called “The Hippie Store”, or “The Love Works Tie Dye Store”. It’s full of clothing and other merchandise that hearkens back to the 60’s and early70’s. Our grandson, Gunnar, loves tie-dye, so we bought him a hoodie that was on sale. We discussed the size needed, considering how much he had grown, and we disagreed. I thought we needed a larger size, but gave in to Diana’s judgment. Well, we arrived in Salt Lake City yesterday, only to find out that he DID need a larger size. I good-naturedly poked Diana in the shoulder and said, “See?”, but I didn’t say, “I told you so”. Seriously, though, we both owned the decision, even though I was right and she was wrong. Again – just kidding. We both own the decision on the smaller size, and we will both take steps to remedy it.
Back to the point – imagine owning, together, not only your own choices and the choices of your spouse, but the choices of all the world. Imagine having this type of relationship where you were so intimate and committed with everyone in the world; loving everyone in the world so much that you owned the decisions that they made just as you own your own decisions. Imagine owning every single fear-driven decision that results in the destruction of human lives, born and unborn. Imagine owning the decision to rain fear and misery on innocent populations in an unceasing quest for power and control. Imagine owning the decision to stick a needle in an arm in a desperate attempt to relieve some ghostly pain that has built up as the result of years of disappointment, neglect, or abuse.
Of course, this co-ownership relationship takes two, and this, I think, describes the atonement and the relationship that Christ desires to have with us…that we might be one. Christ is willing to own all of these choices with us, but He can only do so if we are willing to enter into that “oneness” with Him. The offer is extended, but we have to accept it. We have to be willing to surrender our ego, that which perpetuates the separation between not only us and Christ, but between us and others. We have to jettison jealousy and fear and allow our spirit to rise into the position where it controls our choices instead of the ego.
Now, let’s take this one logical (as if any of this is logical) step further. When we enter into this relationship, this oneness, with Christ, then we, too, must become willing to take upon ourselves the ownership of all these decisions. We, too, become one with Him and all those who are willing to enter into that covenant relationship with Him. Let’s remember, these with whom we share this relationship are still just as imperfect as we are. They still make wrong decisions – bad decisions – decisions that we might think are stupid and that we would never make, or decisions that we know are going to be painful and destructive. Yet, we agree to own them, together…together with Christ, with our fellow humans, with ourselves. This, then, is the meaning of being of one heart and one mind. This is the type of relationship that would rule in Zion. There is no blame, there is no “I told you so”. There is only love, compassion, understanding, and, in most cases, sacrifice. It’s like entering into a marriage covenant that includes Christ, yourself, and everyone else in the world who is willing to enter into that covenant. We would need to be willing to forgive just as much as Christ is willing to forgive. Perhaps this is even what it means to be in the “Fellowship of the Suffering of Christ”, and it gives additional clarification to so much that Joseph Smith taught, including the concept of the prototype of the saved man.
It is amazing to me how the Lord teaches. I just started asking some questions – questions that I felt like perhaps I was prepared to receive answers for. The next thing I know, all of these different pieces of information, information concerning the fall (separation), the natural man (ego), the spiritual man (truth), requirements for salvation (prototype of the saved man), redemption (returning to the covenant relationship) have been distilled into knowledge and understanding that I, personally, can comprehend, but which is nevertheless a higher, more refined knowledge that will undoubtedly enable me to tolerate or receive ever greater understanding, compassion, forgiveness…oneness. Perhaps, just perhaps, such understanding will open just a little bit wider that door through which I can receive the Pure Love of Christ – and then turn around and give the same charity to another.