"Never be afraid to reveal who you really are, regardless of what anyone thinks. As a magnificent force of light your purest Self is needed in a world shadowed with illusion."
Over six years ago, I was back to work at my full-time job after the Christmas holidays, and I could not seem to access my heart. I was living in my "conditioned self" - caught up in the practical task of fitting into the working world. I felt as uninspired as I could possibly be.
I was about to start my yearly attempt to embody the 365 lessons in A Course in Miracles. The text and the 365 Workbook lessons in ACIM had always posed a challenge for me.
The style of writing in the text and workbook frustrated my creative understanding. And after years of studying the Course, I still found the lessons dense and difficult to understand.
Feminine Spiritual Embodiment
As I was about to start the 365 days of lessons, I received the insight that I could embody the lessons in a feminine way by writing about how I intuitively lived into them each day. Approached creatively, I realized that the writings were specifically about the difference between conditioned perception and spiritual/creative vision - something I contemplated a great deal.
As I finished eating lunch in my car I contemplated the sheer magnitude of writing a feminine/intuitive interpretation of ACIM. Still musing, I went into a second hand store to look around for the rest of my lunch hour. I walked directly towards a simple creative, poetic book of prose excerpted from A Course In Miracles and took that synchronicity as a sign to begin.
Embodying intuitive vision in the midst of ordinary life is no small feat. It had long struck me that Helen Schucman, the psychologist through whom the Course was channeled, was unable to surrender her personal ego struggles and embody the teachings of ACIM.
Struggling at the time with my own ego denseness, and observing the ego "stuckness" in those whom I loved, my longing intensified. Over the past many years of writing, I aimed to embody each ACIM lesson creatively - in a way that the original channel of the work struggled to do.
Twenty years ago when I was a gallery artist working in my downtown studio, I had the inner call to go on an "intuitive walk." Whenever I was blocked creatively, I would often wander through the city, sometimes for hours at a time, allowing myself to be creatively led until I discovered something new.
On this particular day, I wandered to an unfamiliar part of the city and felt the inner direction to climb up a steep steel staircase. At the top of the stairs was a spiritual bookstore.
I walked straight in and opened the first book I saw. I opened the book to a passage that explained that the "scribe" of ACIM, Helen Schucman, was not able to embody the teachings of the Course.
At the time, I felt a justification to further my dislike of A Course in Miracles, and all "disembodied" teachings. As I have matured however, I felt a growing compassion for Helen as I worked through the lessons, and struggled to let go of my own powerfully-entrenched emotional pain.
The Split Between Psyche and Soul
Most of us struggle with the split between our psyche and soul, and it is no easy task to work through the layers of conditioned psychological material that we carry from childhood, society and our cultural and religious backgrounds.
About the ACIM teachings, Helen felt divided between her psyche and soul: "I know the Course is true, but I don't believe it." She was certain that she could not live the spiritual teachings of the Course in her daily life. Helen Schucman became mentally ill at the end of her life, and died of cancer.
The power of the battle between psyche and soul has been an ever-deepening journey of discovery for me. Experiencing both of my parents struggle with cancer, and my brother struggle with mental illness to the point of taking his life, further intensified my desire to deepen my own spiritual understanding about how the disconnection from our souls creates mental illness.
Integrating Spiritual Experiences
Living in the light has long called out to me. When I was in my twenties, I experienced two spiritual heart openings that pointed me to a temporary embodied experience of spiritual light and love: my emotionally heavy and fearful personality subsided completely for a time. The first heart opening happened prior to the death of my father to cancer - a brief, but powerful opening that lasted about an hour.
The second heart opening happened during a tumultuous year of personal crisis and intensification of life. It happened when my marriage to my daughter's father ended, five close members of my family died, and I "re-met" my soul mate. It was during that visionary time that I could see and understand the falsity of my ego conditioning and all of my fearful choices.
I had a vision of how I could live a more "brightly lit" authentic life. This second opening of my heart lasted about three months before my heavy ego conditioning clamped down my consciousness once again.
After my heart opening many years ago, I studied the deepest spiritual and psychological literature I could find to understand why the light and love I had experienced for that brief period could not seem to continue on a continuous basis. I was raised with no spiritual beliefs, yet I sensed that A Course in Miracles best described the temporary dropping away of my ego during my spiritual experiences.
Aspiring to the Light
Raising ourselves out of the mire of the common consensus consciousness is no easy task but if we do not live in the strength of our light, the world misses out on our gifts. Many of us are so immersed in our past negative conditioning, we think it is who we are.
Our fears and limitations feel "normal." It is the water we swim in. Our ways of contracting away from our spiritual light are deeply ingrained from childhood. Overcoming our habitual contractions requires a daily, determined intention to focus on our highest aspirations.
My favorite ACIM lesson, "I am the light of the world" has always had the power to restore my enthusiasm for life. As a child I understood that beauty, light and creativity were trying to come into this world.
Children can plainly sense when the adults that they love are trapped in their ego mire. This presents a discouraging dilemma. As children, we become afraid of our soul's grandeur in a world where most people do not express their soul's light. As children we tamp down our light to fit in.
Most of us do not dare to express light that was greater than the elders in our lives, possibly alienating ourselves away from love and care. Most of us choose the way of the ego, and try to fit in by playing small.
If you delve into your psyche deeply enough, you will be able to pinpoint the particular time when as a child you decided to shut down your light. We can forget that as children we held a certitude about the spiritual world that adults could no longer see. When the urge to live into a fuller magnitude arises again in our adult life, we will feel called to look at where we shut our power down in the past and re-choose the light.
The Natural Light of Children
As children we understood how to have faith in a spiritual reality that we felt but could not see. The intensity of aspiration inherent in the lesson, "I am the light of the world" is key to cutting through the ego mire of limitation that weighs down the world.
This level of aspiration can seem grandiose, or even naive to the conditioned personality, but it is really the highest form of inspiration.
Children, in their innocence, sense their spiritual place in the world with profound trust. Holding onto the kinds of visionary spiritual aspirations that we naturally understood as children, and sustaining them when we become adults, translates into a level of creative confidence that is not common in this world.
Maintaining this artistry of confidence in our spiritual light as adults can be practiced with joyful determination. Reaching for the highest aspirations possible can feel strange at first, but over time it builds a warm and abiding inner sense of illumination - much the same as we felt as children.
My favorite ACIM lesson, "I am the light of the world" speaks to the unique "grandeur" of soul light that we are, regardless of the heavy overlay of psychological and emotional struggles that we carry on top of our soul.
Repeating "I am the light of the world" returns us to the sweetness of aspiration that casts out the belief in conditioned fear and limitation.
The following is a creative meditation on the ACIM lesson "I am the light of world." The entire 365 day course is available for purchase HERE.
Excerpt from Emotional Healing with ACIM
by Shelley Klammer
"I am the light of the world."
The purpose of this lesson is to embrace your real purpose and truth here on earth.
Meditation: As many times as possible, every hour for 1 or 2 minutes, tell yourself, "I am the light of the world. That is my only function. That is why I am here." Then, let related thoughts come.
Contemplate the truth that you are the light of the world. How does it feel in your body? How does this larger thought inspire you to speak, listen and take action in your life today? Where inside of yourself do you embrace this light, and where do you resist it?
Today, simply sense into the truth that you are the light of the world. Even if your light feels like a dim little spark, your attention and affirmation will invite it to grow stronger. Loving with all of our light is not meant to be a chore, but it can feel that way when negative emotions from the past overwhelm our psychology.
When we ask to be filled with more light and love, we will go through periods of emotional cleansing. We will become acutely aware of the areas where we do not believe in love. We may also remember situations in the past where we decided to dim our light to fit in.
As we illuminate the inner conflict between the light that we were born with, and the ego that we have become, we can quickly burn through whatever blocks light from entering our body. As we call in more light we will start to remember the purity and particularity of light that we expressed when were younger.
As we practice increasing this familiar feeling of spiritual light we rebuild our energy, vitality and joy. We can practice saying to ourselves, "I am the light of the world," and reflect upon how we are called to bring spiritual light to the world.
Warmly and simply explained, using non-religious language, this interpretation of the 365 lessons in A Course in Miracles offers daily spiritual contemplations and practices to support you to move through emotional pain, and into an integrative state of peace and joy.