Well, we’re more than half-way through this “Fast for Charity”. What have I learned so far? The things I’ve learned coincide heavily with my reading in “A Course in Miracles”. It turns out that there are many who have read this book – especially outside of LDS circles. No matter. Its significance is in what we do with it. I spoke with a person yesterday, a very fine mid-wife with, by my limited observations, a high degree of integrity and love in her life. She said she had read it and gone through some lessons, even that there was a group in Bonners Ferry who studied it together. I asked her if it changed her life. She had to stop and think, and eventually stopped short of saying it had changed her life, but she admitted that it had impacted or influenced her life for the better. We discussed how the principles and concepts in the book were very difficult to implement in our daily lives. She asked how it was impacting my life, and how I felt about it – would I implement its truths in my life (the implication being that, in her mind, not everything in it is true)? I said (heavily paraphrased and sprinkled with my thoughts in addition to my words), “Well, I don’t know. It’s so difficult, yet that IS my life – learning to know Christ and follow His path. It is my hope, my reason for being. So – yes, I’m certainly going to try, but it’s not going to be easy, and I can’t say yet how successful I will be”. Still, this process of implementing truth in our life, and choosing to make decisions based upon that truth, is that not the process of receiving the gift of charity; of learning to understand and pass on the gift of charity, the pure love of Christ; of setting aside our selfishness and trusting in Him; of getting all this crap in our lives out of the way so we can truly be charitable? So, back on point – what have I learned?
As I have suggested already in more than one place, I believe Charity is a gift to be bestowed on us (Moroni 7:48), and one which we must receive. In order to receive it, we must clear the way. We must overcome the natural man, who is an enemy to God (Mosiah 3:19). We must rid ourselves of jealousies and fears (D&C 67:10). We must surrender any and all desires to control or compromise the agency of others (D&C 121: 41-42), no matter how stealthily we have learned to do just that. This gift – the pure love of Christ – is available to all, not only to receive, but then to, in turn, re-gift. Without the re-gifting, though, we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1).
I have learned a little more than this over the past weeks, though. Some of it represents these same principles presented in different words:
- We, as fallen humans, consist of a spirit and an ego.
- The spirit seeks truth and recognizes only truth. It is one with God. There is no conflict in the spirit – no contention, no selfishness – only oneness with the mind of God and with each other.
- The ego is itself a lie, an illusion, created by us for the purpose of perpetuating separation (the fall) from God and from other humans. (I haven’t yet figured out the mechanics of how this ego was created by us. As a matter of fact, I have very few insights.) Its very existence depends upon this separation, for without it, only oneness would exist – oneness with God and with each other. The ego is our unique identity, and because it naturally battles against oneness, it is an enemy to God. The ego validates itself – its “raison d’etan”, if you will – through fear. The ego represents the natural man.
- Knowledge is of the spirit. Knowledge has only one purpose – to be shared. If we have knowledge but do not share it freely, it is lustful, and will condemn us.
- We are all teachers. We teach what we believe, and what believe is what we are. If we teach love – by our every action and word – then we are love. We are charity.
New concepts – most stunning to me, and most difficult to process: the opposing concepts of abundance and scarcity.
- Abundance is truth. It is love. It is perfection, trust, faith. It is believing in the “lilies of the field”.
- Scarcity is an illusion, a lie, created by the ego to justify its existence.
- If scarcity (of anything and everything) is real, then we must continually strive to make sure we have our own. In contrast,
- Charity is made possible when we accept God’s promise of abundance; when we gain the knowledge that all of our needs have been, are, and always will be met, therefore we have enough and to spare, temporally, emotionally, and spiritually, so that we can freely give to others? Note – this does not just apply to “stuff” – it applies to all aspects of our existence.
As I said, this is most difficult to conceptualize, but for some reason I perceive that it is true. Yes, this dichotomy of abundance vs. scarcity, and the fact that it is perhaps the basic tension in our existence; both a result and an effect of the fall; just makes sense to me, and if I am able to isolate the ego in myself, and learn to cast it aside in favor of the spirit of truth that is my true being, I believe I will be able to pass from this telestial existence to a terrestrial state, even as I continue to walk the earth.
Tying this all together, what have I learned? I have learned that charity is the complete, perfect, selfless alignment with the universe – with God and with the laws which He created, and which are, themselves, love – the pure love of Christ. As I said in an earlier blog post, charity is Christ. It cannot be received, or passed on, as long as we maintain the idea of our separation from God and from others. Charity cannot be given or taught as long as we keep striving, by our own strength and resources, to gather “our own” in order to meet our needs. Charity is indeed a gift – a gift that has been bestowed upon each of us. It is our spiritual nature – it is who we are underneath the facade of the ego – but the ego is smothering, and as long as we continue to allow the ego, the natural man, to smother our charity in lies and illusion (the illusions of separation and scarcity) we will never be able to pass it on; we will never be able to teach it. It will have stopped with us. I can only imagine the impact of such a condition on you, on me; on all of God’s children.
I have said many times, in different writings and postings across social media and the “blogosphere”, that no matter how intimidating things might seem, I cannot give up. Discovering these things about charity, about all that I must change about myself, is indeed intimidating, but I have to keep walking down this path. I have to keep reaching out for that which Christ made possible through His atonement, and I have to keep relying upon His tender mercies to lift and strengthen me as I struggle. If I were to quit…well, I would be empty. My point is that, in presenting these principles and concepts, I do not claim in any way that I have mastered them and/or risen to some plateau of spirituality. No, all I am doing is standing at the bottom of the mesa and wondering how in the world I’m ever going to get to the top, while realizing that I won’t be able to live with myself if I stop trying. I sure hope Christ is pleased with my efforts, because if He is not, then it is probably all in vain.