In the Clarification of Terms part of the Manual for Teachers, A Course in Miracles speaks about Jesus as one who helps God help us on our spiritual path. While allowing that Jesus is not God's only Helper, and that it is not necessary to accept Jesus as our personal Helper, the passage makes it clear that accepting the help of Jesus can be very beneficial:
Is he God's only Helper? No, indeed. For Christ takes many forms with different names until their oneness can be recognized. But Jesus is for you the bearer of Christ's single message of the Love of God. You need no other. It is possible to read his words and benefit from them without accepting him into your life. Yet he would help you yet a little more if you will share your pains and joys with him, and leave them both to find the peace of God (Manual, p. 84; C-5.6:1-7).
The above passage identifies Jesus as one of God's Helpers; not the only one, but certainly a primary one. Jesus is a particular form taken by Christ, with a particular name. There are other forms with different names. Perhaps we might include in that number names such as Buddha and Krishna. I am sure there are many "forms" of Christ with many names we would not recognize if we heard them.
"But," it says, "Jesus is for you the bearer of Christ's single message of the Love of God. You need no other." Why is that so? Why is Jesus our messenger? To the first readers of these words, Helen and Bill, the reason was quite obvious. Certainly, in dictating the Course, Jesus was the bearer of Christ's message to them. That was undebatable. For those of us now reading and studying the Course, Jesus' position as primary messenger still seems beyond real question, although perhaps less clear-cut. After all, we are spending a considerable amount of time reading and digesting 1250 pages of his words! In so doing, we are indirectly acknowledging him as our messenger, the one who brings Christ's message to us. Yet, in this passage, he grants us the possibility of reading his words and benefiting from them without accepting him into our lives.
There is a clear distinction between accepting Jesus' words, and accepting the presence of Jesus himself. And we are told that, if we will accept him into our lives, in addition to accepting his words, he will be able to help us "yet a little more." We can derive added benefits from accepting, not just the words of the Course, but the living presence of Jesus, working with us.
What does accepting him into our lives mean? And what are some of the benefits that come from doing so? Some of our readers may not be ready to hear the ideas presented here; some of them may not need to hear it. Yet those who have already begun to develop a relationship with Jesus as their teacher, those desiring such a relationship, and anyone seeking a healing in their relationship with Jesus, may, I hope, find these thoughts appealing and helpful. So let's consider some of the benefits from accepting Jesus into our lives.
Tell Him About It
If you noticed in the passage just quoted, what we are asked to do, if we want Jesus to help us "a little more," is to share our pains and joys with him. He simply wants us to share our life with him, both the pains and the joys; most especially the pains. It is remarkable how many times in the Course Jesus asks us for the "gift" of the negative things in our lives. This, I think, is one major aspect of accepting him into our lives: opening our lives up to him and allowing him access to every part of them, even the painful and shameful parts.
There is a rare kind of relationship in this world in which you can be completely honest, hiding nothing. If you have ever had the privilege of knowing a friend or family member in this way you will understand the benefit of knowing Jesus in the same way. The love between you and the other person goes so deep and is so firmly established that it is literally unshakable. You can tell them anything and everything, reveal your darkest thoughts, your worst moods, your most profound fears, your deeply hidden weaknesses, and all that comes back at you is love.
At times of deep self-despair, when exposing the dungeons of our minds to these partners of love, it seems as if they must know some wonderful secret about us that we do not know ourselves. "How could anyone love me, seeing the way I am?" And yet, they do. They love us. They see us as better than we see ourselves. Their acceptance, their warmth, and their encouragement can, and often does, lift us up from the pits of despair and set us back on our feet, able once again to find hope within our own being.
Jesus can be a friend like that, if we allow him to be. We can safely share all our pains and sorrows with him. He has undying faith in us. No matter what we tell him, his love for us and his belief in us is stedfast.
In the Course, he promises us just such a relationship, and he asks us for total honesty and openness: "Be very honest with yourself in this, for we must hide nothing from each other" (T-4.III.8:2).
Often, when someone comes to me with a desperate plea for help in their spiritual walk, they come telling me something like this:
"I really want to forgive my mother [or husband or wife], and when I am alone and praying about it, I think I have really let go of my anger. But then, when I get with her, I just lose it. I can't seem to stop myself. She just starts saying the same old things, she knows just what buttons to push, and the Course just goes right out of my head. Sometimes I really hate her! I find myself doubting that the Course can ever work for me."
Or, the complaint might be more directed against God or the Course:
"It just makes me mad that the Course makes it sound so damned easy! Why doesn't God just change my mind with a miracle? Why do I have to work so hard? Why does it seem so impossible for me to do what the Course says? My son was murdered! How can God expect me to forgive that? The Course tells me God's will is happiness, but being happy isn't an option. I hate this Course!"
Often, when people come to me with questions like this, my only answer is a simple question: "Have you tried talking to Jesus about it?" I suggest that the person try telling Jesus exactly how they feel. If they are mad at him, tell him so. If they want to curse at him or tell him to buzz off, then just do that. If they feel completely depressed then tell him all about the depression and all the reasons for it. He asks to share our pain and sorrows, so give him what he wants.
Jesus is shock-proof. Do you really think that someone who was able to love and to pray for the people who were driving nails into his hands will find it impossible to respond to you with love?
I have found, over and over again, that I can't scare Jesus off. I can ignore him, but I can't drive him away, I can't tell him anything that makes him say, "Okay, that's it! You've hit the limit. I give up on you, I wash my hands of you. Go to hell!" He just doesn't do that! He listens, he hears my call for love, he helps me sort through all my thoughts of self-loathing to uncover the shining truth, the Self in me that is the same as the Self in him.
Don't Hide Anything
Jesus tells us, "We must hide nothing from each other" (T-4.III.8:2). And that is really a key point. What we hide, he can't help us with. What we hold back, feeling ashamed, can't be touched by his healing hand. Holding back is really holding on. We are keeping it away from him because we don't want it healed.
The things we are most inclined to hide from Jesus are the things that seem to prove we are not Love. Our grievances. Our pettiness. Our unlovely thoughts. Our egos want to hold on to those thoughts because they are the ego. At the same time, part of our mind is afraid of what these things say about us. We are afraid that we are what they seem to witness to. Yet it is only by exposing them to Jesus (or the Holy Spirit), allowing him to shine his light upon them, that we can finally discover that these things are not the truth about ourselves. With his help we can see them as the calls for love that they are, pleas for help from a frightened and confused mind.
In the Text, Chapter 4, Jesus talks about the "thousands of little scraps of fear" that clutter our minds. And this is what he says:
It has never really entered your mind to give up every idea you ever had that opposes knowledge. You retain thousands of little scraps of fear that prevent the Holy One from entering. Light cannot penetrate through the walls you make to block it, and it is forever unwilling to destroy what you have made. No one can see through a wall, but I can step around it. Watch your mind for the scraps of fear, or you will be unable to ask me to do so. I can help you only as our Father created us. I will love you and honor you and maintain complete respect for what you have made, but I will not uphold it unless it is true. I will never forsake you any more than God will, but I must wait as long as you choose to forsake yourself. Because I wait in love and not in impatience, you will surely ask me truly. I will come in response to a single unequivocal call (T-4.III.7).
We are the ones holding on to these scraps of fear, blocking the Holy One from entering our minds. We build walls out of the scraps to block out the light. Ego walls. And God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus actually honor the walls we build! Jesus will respect the boundaries we set up, because we are God's creations, deserving of that respect, even when we are acting insanely. As long as we put up the barriers, we can block the light from our minds. That is what we are doing when we feel reluctant to bring some thought or some uncomfortable self-awareness to him. A little scrap of fear is preventing us.
How can Jesus, and a relationship with him, be of help in this situation? The way of release is in these words:
No one can see through a wall, but I can step around it. Watch your mind for the scraps of fear, or you will be unable to ask me to do so.
Jesus says, "I can step around those walls. I can bypass your ego—but you need to ask me to do so." And if we don't acknowledge that the wall is there, if we refuse to look at the scraps of fear, we will not be able to ask him to step around them. So the key thought here, the thing on which everything else depends, is this: Watch your mind for the scraps of fear. Probably the most important thing I ever say to Jesus is, "I'm afraid. I'm afraid of you." Becoming aware of that scrap of fear that is holding me back from reaching out to him is crucial. He can "step around" my walls of fear, but I need to realize the fear is there, and then ask him to step around it. I need to invite him into my life's situations. I need to invite him into my mind. I'm afraid of doing that, but he knows how to bypass that fear, if I will admit it is there. A "single unequivocal call" is all it takes to obtain his help.
His ability to step around the wall implies that he is able to show us what is on the other side of the wall, what the wall is hiding from our sight. On the other side is Love. On the other side is our true Self. This principle is stated more clearly in later chapters:
If you raise what fear conceals to clear-cut unequivocal predominance, fear becomes meaningless. You have denied its power to conceal love, which was its only purpose. The veil that you have drawn across the face of love has disappeared (T-12.I.9:9-11). The search for truth is but the honest searching our of everything that interferes with truth. … Under each cornerstone of fear on which you have erected your insane system of belief, the truth lies hidden. Yet you cannot know this, for by hiding truth in fear, you see no reason to believe that the more you look at fear the less you see it, and the clearer what it conceals becomes (T-14.VII.2:1,7-8).
Jesus wants to look with us at our fears. He wants to look at them closely, because he knows that the more we look at fear the less we see it. The more we look, the more transparent the fear becomes, and the Love which has been hidden behind the fear is raised to "unequivocal predominance."
That is what talking to Jesus about your problems can do for you. Jesus can show you a vision of yourself that is so beautiful you will weep for joy at the sight of it. Everything you have thought of as sin, consciously or unconsciously, he sees in an entirely different light, the light of perfect forgiveness. He meets your guilt with his perfect knowledge that there is nothing to forgive, and that guilt has no cause. He is never scandalized by anything you tell him. His only desire is to help you, in any way he can.
Jesus has travelled the spiritual path to the end. He has wholly identified with the mind of Christ; he has no ego left. In this regard, he is vastly superior to any human counsellor. Nothing you say to him can hurt him. You can "dump" on him without the slightest fear of hurting his feelings. He knows who you really are; your ego will not frighten him or deceive him at all. You can tell him absolutely everything.
So tell him about it. Tell him all your fears. Take off all your masks. Let your hair down. Lay aside all your inhibitions. Don't try to be nice. Don't hold anything back. Let it all hang out. Scream, yell, cry, plead, whine, whimper, curse; tell him all about it. Hide nothing.
Jesus will take it all in. His love, like an enormous, infinite sponge, will just soak it all up and embrace it all, and you along with it. Then, if you are able to listen for a little while, perhaps you will hear him tell you something to help you. If you are able to let down your barriers, you will feel his love for you, despite everything you have told him. You will realize, perhaps only for a moment, how utterly unconditional his love for you is. His love for you will tell you that there is something in you worthy of that love, although you may not be able to see it at the moment. This is one way Jesus can help us.
Sharing Our Joy with Him
I can't overlook the other side, although I think the deepest help in my experience has been sharing my darkness with him. But he asks us to share our "pains and joys." Joys as well as pains. That, too, can be a rich experience, and often a far more pleasant one. I confess I remember this aspect of his request far too seldom. We can come to him with our joys, too. We can share our happiness with him. We can thank him when things go right. Maybe we can say, once in a while, "You know, I think I'm beginning to understand this Course a little bit! Thank you!"
For some of us, we may find great joy in sharing our love with him. A major turning point for me in my work with the Course was one day when I happened to pick up an old Christian songbook and began to sing this old hymn, translated from words written by a medieval monk, Bernard of Clairvaux:
Jesus, thou joy of loving hearts!
Thou fount of life, thou light of men!
From the best bliss that earth imparts,
I turn unfilled to thee again.
Thy truth unchanged hath ever stood:
Thou savest those that on thee call.
To them who seek thee, thou art good.
To them who find thee, all in all.
I wept that day. A long-standing anger I had at Jesus for "letting me down" in the context of Christianity was healed. I realized what a wonderful friend he was, what a marvelous teacher, how incredibly patient he was with me. I opened myself once again, as I had years before, to accept him into my life and to allow him to help me "yet a little more."
I turned the pages of that old songbook to find another old hymn, "My Jesus, I love thee." I sang that one as well. I realized that I really did love him. Not as a god, not any longer, but as a dear friend, a companion, a highly respected and dearly loved elder brother. My teacher. My Master. And so I told him about it. Opening my heart to love him was a transformative experience. I told him of my gratitude for his Course, and for the many teachers he had sent my way even when I thought I was snubbing him. And for a little while, I felt as though I were seated with him on a bench in a beautiful garden, my head on his shoulder and his arm around me.
Why Jesus Is Able to Help Us
Jesus is uniquely qualified to be our Helper. He has travelled the same path we are travelling, and reached the end. He knows the way. He knows the pitfalls. He perfectly understands what we are going through:
I take the journey with you. For I share your doubts and fears a little while, that you may come to me who recognize the road by which all fears and doubts are overcome. We walk together. I must understand uncertainty and pain, although I know they have no meaning. Yet a savior must remain with those he teaches, seeing what they see, but still retaining in his mind the way that led him out, and now will lead you out with him (W-RV.In.6:1-5).
Jesus says that he takes our journey with us, and "shares" our doubts and fears, sees what we see, understands our uncertainty and pain, and yet knows these things have no real meaning. He is able to look on these things with us, and to teach us the way out, and lead us out with himself. He walks with us. He remains with those he teaches, even though he could be entirely free from all awareness of uncertainty and pain. He chooses to be with us in order to teach us to come to him, where he is, past all doubts and fears. The way out is in his mind, and he can lead us out with him.
How could any teacher be more qualified than this? I recall one teacher I had in college, a French teacher. She was French by birth and so spoke the language as a native. But she had also come to the United States and lived and taught for five years in an American university, carefully studying all the specific problems with French grammar and pronunciation that were particular to American students. She knew the specific pitfalls that Americans were likely to fall into while learning French. She knew exactly what mistakes we were prone to make, and she knew exactly how to counteract those mistakes. She was a truly wonderful teacher, and I believe that it was because of her that I learned to speak French so fluently.
The superiority of Jesus as a spiritual teacher derives, in part, from that same kind of thorough understanding of the goal and our specific problems in attaining it. He has not only studied our problems and pitfalls, he has experienced them himself, and learned how to overcome them. We can see evidence of that all through the Course in the way he often seems to anticipate exactly what we are thinking about, and the way he so profoundly knows the inner workings of our minds. He, too, is a native speaker, having remembered his true Source. No one is better qualified to help us along our way.
Will You Not Answer the Call of Love?
Jesus offers each of us a personal, close relationship with himself. This is not simply some figure of speech; it is real. He has come to us to lead us home to God. Here is how he describes it:
My brother, you are part of God and part of me. When you have at last looked at the ego's foundation without shrinking you will also have looked upon ours. I come to you from our Father to offer you everything again. Do not refuse it in order to keep a dark cornerstone hidden, for its protection will not save you. I give you the lamp and I will go with you. You will not take this journey alone. I will lead you to your true Father, Who hath need of you, as I have. Will you not answer the call of love with joy? (T-11.In.4)
"You will not take this journey alone." Jesus is willing to take this journey with you, if you will accept his presence. This is a journey that seems to be through fear to love. For myself, I know that it isn't a road I care to walk by myself, in the dark without a lamp. So when Jesus tells me that he will give me a lamp and go with me…I know that I'm going to say, "Yes."
In thinking about this subject, I've written the following song in the spirit of this article, which I would like to share with you—Allen
Who Walks With Me
A song by Allen Watson
Can be sung to the tune of The Cruel War (Peter, Paul and Mary) or the hymn tune of My Jesus, I Love Thee
1. When starting my journey
The way seems so long!
And dark seems the pathway,
And barriers strong.
Must I travel lonely
As onward I go?
Alone face these dangers?
"No, my child, no."
2. "I'm here to go with you
Each step of the way.
I bring the light with me
I hear when you pray.
Though through fear to love
The journey seems to be,
You will travel lightly
If you walk with me."
3. I know who walks with me.
With Jesus by my side
No fear can assail me
For he is my guide.
He calls me to join him,
He promises success,
And gladly I answer,
"Yes, my Lord, yes!"
4. O brother! O savior!
I see your loving hand.
I reach out to take it.
I trust in your plan.
I bring you my darkness,
As you bring your light,
And with you beside me
I fear not the night.
5. My model, my teacher,
My helper on the trail,
With you, great companion,
I know I won't fail.
My loved elder brother,
Who knows the way I go,
Will you ever forsake me?
"No, my love, no!"