Into the Light
"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."
Five years ago, about this time of year, I was feeling emotionally heavy. I was back to work at my full-time job after Christmas and I could not seem to access my heart. I was living in my "conditioned self" and was 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.
As I was about to start the 365 days of lessons, I received the insight that I could embody the lessons in a feminine and creative way, by writing about how I intuitively lived into them each day. Approached creatively, I realized that the writings were specifically about the creativity of perception and vision - something I knew a great deal about.
As I finished eating lunch in my car I contemplated sheer magnitude of writing a creative, more feminine, intuitive approach to the Course. 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 by a female writer and took that synchronicity as a sign to begin.
Embodying creative, intuitive vision in the midst of ordinary life, is no small feat. It had long struck me that Helen Schucman the psychologist, whom The Course channeled through, was unable to surrender her personal ego struggles and embody the teachings of The Course. My longing intensified as I have worked over the years to understand and embody each ACIM lesson creatively - in a way that the original channel of the work was unable 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 and I walked straight in and opened the first book I saw. When I opened the book, I read that Helen Schucman did not embody the teachings of A Course in Miracles.
At the time, I felt a justification to further dislike The Course and all "disembodied" teachings. As I have matured however, I have realized how challenging it can be, as most of us know, to embody profound spiritual truths. I felt a growing compassion for Helen as I worked through the lessons in her channeled Course, and I struggled to let go of my own powerfully entrenched ego struggles, as well as my familial and ancestral conditioned emotional patterning.
Most of us struggle with splits in our mind between 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. As Helen expressed about ACIM teachings, herself divided between psyche and soul, "I know the Course is true, but I don't believe it." She was well aware that she could not live the spiritual teachings of the Course in her daily life. Sadly, Helen Schucman became mentally ill at the end of her life, and she died of cancer.
The power of the battle between psyche and soul has been an ever-deepening revelation to me. Experiencing both of my parents struggle with cancer, and my brother taking his own life in the confusion of mental illness, further intensified my desire to embody my own spiritual understandings about how the ego obscures the truth of the soul - to the forefront of my own life.
Some interesting insights, openings, and epiphanies have come through my creative living of the Course. I was grateful to find Carol Howe's warm and honest biography about co-scribe of the Course Bill Thetford who was a close friend of hers. Many of the books I have been attracted to came from the people that gathered and taught around Bill near the end of his life. By all accounts he was able to move through is conditioned ego mire and embodied the principles of ACIM in his later years.
Integrating Spiritual Experiences
Living in the light has long called to me. When I was in my twenties, I experienced two spiritual heart openings that pointed me to a temporary embodied experience of light and love where my conditioned personality subsided completely for a time. The first opening happened prior to the death of my father to cancer. It was a brief but powerful opening of my heart that lasted about an hour.
The second opening happened during a tumultuous year of personal crisis, love, and intensification of life, 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 a visionary time for me where I could see and understand "whole pieces" of my conditioning and my fearful choices. I visioned how I could live a more "brightly lit" authentic life even though no one in my life was living in such a way. The second opening of my heart lasted about three months before my practical life and ego conditioning clamped down over my bright open freedom.
After my three month heart opening 17 years ago, I studied the deepest spiritual and psychological literature I could find to understand why the purity of light and love I had experienced for that brief time of luminous grace could not seem to continue on a daily and continuous basis. Even though I was raised with no religious or spiritual beliefs, I knew that A Course in Miracles best described the temporary dropping away of my ego during my two heart openings.
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. Most of us are immersed in our past negative conditioning and do not even realize it because it is the water we swim in. Our limitations feel "normal." Our ways of contracting away from the light are deeply ingrained from childhood. Overcoming habitual ways of shutting down our light requires a daily, determined counteractive 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. We can choose to bring light and inspiration though into our difficult life situations. As I made my way into adulthood with its traumas, losses and trials, I would often turn to this lesson for encouragement, and as a reminder that light comes into the world through people.
As children, we become afraid of our soul grandeur in a world where most people do not express their unique light. Children can plainly sense when adults are trapped in their ego mire. This presents a discouraging dilemma. As children did we tamp down our light to fit in, or did we dare to express light that was greater than the people in our life, 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 the adults could not seem to see. When the urge to live in more light and 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 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 faith in creative and spiritual inspiration. As children we understood how to have faith in what we knew but could not see.
Children, in their innocence, sense their spiritual place in the world with profound trust and faith. Holding onto the kinds of visionary 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. Even as doubt arises, our willingness to aspire to go beyond our ego conditioning can continue build an experience of a life without conditioned limitations.
Reaching for the highest aspiration as 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. The 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" due to be published on Daily Om on January 1, 2015.
"I am the light of the world."
Today, simply try to sense into the truth of you that is the loving 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 contrary feelings and memories from past experiences come up. When we ask for more light and love, we will often go through periods of becoming acutely aware of areas where we do not believe in love, and where we shut our light down in the past. When we become determined to live with more light, often old hurt comes up to be understood and healed.
As we illuminate our core inner conflict between the light that we were, and the ego that we became, we will quickly burn through whatever blocks us. As we lean into our personal struggles, with the light of our loving awareness, we will remember the purity and particularity of light that we expressed as children. We can sense into, and practice increasing this 'old familiar" feeling of spiritual light with dedicated practice. Remembering and embodying who we are as our unique spiritual light builds energy, vitality and joy. We can practice saying to ourselves, "I am the light of the world" and reflect on the exact ways that we are called to love and contribute to life.