Sunday, September 6, 2009

Two or Three

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Mt. 18:20, KJV)
This is an always mysterious quote, which has intrigued people, and most of the time it is being horribly misinterpreted, because in our western traditions in particular, there is little tradition of introspection to give us a clue. The overly literal interpretation came about for the same reason as the Pauline tradition in Christianity, which is the dominant one, has consistently maintained (although Paul did hesitate, and at times pondered the other possibility), their interpretation of the resurrection as an event on a bodily level, which clearly was not the point. And so his "church" became a building, not to mention a real estate empire (tax exempt, no less).
It also isn't about a table at Starbucks where we meet with friends, and somehow symbolically keep a seat free for Jesus, like the seat kep for Elijah at a Passover Seder. And going to church isn't the answer either. Sometimes you may have a lovely experience, but you realize in the end that it's not guaranteed by being there, regardless how many people are there, for who knows what mental state they (or you yourself) are in, and Jesus may not at all be front of mind.

Essentially the Course, and the teachings of Jesus as a whole, are about mind training, about learning to "follow him," namely as opposed to following our own counsel. To make room for Jesus or the Holy Spirit means in essence to suspend our own judgment. It is the advice of Logion 42, "Be passersby." And, of course, following him in that sense also means to follow him out of this world, to his Kingdom not of this world. Non-judgment is the first step on that road. So human adulthood here is not seen in the usual sense of "knowing how to judge for yourself." The practical meaning of that is merely -- to cite Jed McKenna -- to be frozen in the mentality of a twelve year old. It all revolves about judgments of what is or is not good for me. Growing up in the spiritual sense only begins when we realize that our judgments are at the cause of all the troubles we have, because they set up the experiences which we call our life. To have a different experience begins then with taking different advice. This is also why Jesus in the Course often addresses us like little children, who are just doing the first feeble steps on our spiritual journey.

J said, "I will give you what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, what no hand has touched, and what has not arisen in the human heart." (Pursah's Gospel of Thomas, Logion 17)
So again, he can give us his vision only if we defer our judgment, which is tough, because we are very addicted to it, and this again is why the Course calls itself a course in mind training. It definitely takes a lot of practice to learn new habits, but this is the essence of the "miracle," the change of mind (NT Greek: metanoia), of which Jesus speaks. The Course says it as follows:

  A miracle is a correction. It does not create, nor really change at all. It merely looks on devastation, and reminds the mind that what it sees is false. It undoes error, but does not attempt to go beyond perception, nor exceed the function of forgiveness. Thus it stays within time's limits. Yet it paves the way for the return of timelessness and love's awakening, for fear must slip away under the gentle remedy it brings.
  A miracle contains the gift of grace, for it is given and received as one. And thus it illustrates the law of truth the world does not obey, because it fails entirely to understand its ways. A miracle inverts perception which was upside down before, and thus it ends the strange distortions that were manifest. Now is perception open to the truth. Now is forgiveness seen as justified. (ACIM:W-pII.13.1-2) 

Our non-judgment clears the way for the miracle, for it is our judgments which are the obstacles to love's presence.

This is the time in which a new year will soon be born from the time of Christ. I have perfect faith in you to do all that you would accomplish. Nothing will be lacking, and you will make complete and not destroy. Say, then, to your brother:

I give you to the Holy Spirit as part of myself.
I know that you will be released, unless I want to use you to imprison myself.
In the name of my freedom I choose your release, because I recognize that we will be released together.

So will the year begin in joy and freedom. There is much to do, and we have been long delayed. Accept the holy instant as this year is born, and take your place, so long left unfulfilled, in the Great Awakening. Make this year different by making it all the same. And let all your relationships be made holy for you. This is our will. Amen. (ACIM:T-15.XI.10)
All our meetings with our brothers will be "the same" because we meet them as spirit and in spirit, so Jesus will be in our midst. We leave our judgment home for the occasion, and the more we do so, the happier we'll be, until we truly accept the atonement for ourselves, and our years will be "all the same," namely happy, because we are in the real world. It is often through chance meetings, where we are not burdened by our judgments that we learn in practice how much freer we feel meeting in an "open field" without any burdens of the past, which is really our judgments. That contrast can teach us that some day we could always live that way.

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