The paradox of how the Course sees us (October 24, 2011)

One of the paradoxes in the Course that is hard for us to wrap our heads around is how the Course wants us to see ourselves. It wants us to see ourselves as divine, at one with and even equal to God, and it wants us to see ourselves as human in the most fallible sense, to the point of being insane, confused, wrong-headed, sick-minded, and deluded. It can be very difficult to encompass both of these sides at once!

Let me expand on this. On the human side, it is crucial to realize that we are profoundly junior to God, in several ways. First, despite our firm assumption that the way we see things is the way they are, we need to admit that our perceptions are deeply distorted and flawed, and instead give way to the Holy Spirit’s perception of things. Second, despite our rock-solid conviction that fulfilling our desires means happiness, we need to appreciate how self-destructive our desires tend to be, and realize the Holy Spirit knows what we really want better than we do. Third, despite our attachment to the idea that we need to be in control of our choices and decisions, we need to give that role to the Holy Spirit, realizing how short-sighted, biased, unwise, and backfiring our decisions tend to be. Fourth, despite our experience that we have the power to mold and shape our identity, we need to realize that we were created by God, and that He is the only One with the power to affect who we are; which means that our actions are powerless to either elevate or debase our identity.

I find that on a personal level, that kind of “junior-ness” (juniority?) is very hard to take on board. It challenges something very fundamental in me that says that I am the center of the universe, I am the measure of all things, and what I perceive, what I want, and what I decide should take center stage, should be assumed to be true, and should thus be revised only partially and grudgingly, in the face of overwhelming evidence. This thing in me says that I am the captain of my ship and the captain of my soul—my identity is putty in my powerful and capable hands. To think that Someone is senior to me in every way, including very specific ways, frankly sticks in my craw.

And then, on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, I’m also asked to take on board the idea that “My true Identity is so secure, so lofty, sinless, glorious and great, wholly beneficent and free from guilt, that Heaven looks to It to give it light” (W-pII.224.1:1). And even this:

I am God’s Son, complete and healed and whole, shining in the reflection of His Love. In me is His creation sanctified and guaranteed eternal life. In me is love perfected, fear impossible, and joy established without opposite. I am the holy home of God Himself. I am the Heaven where His Love resides. I am His holy Sinlessness Itself, for in my purity abides His Own. (W-pII.14.1)

(I’m not going to describe this side of the picture in detail because you are probably already familiar with it. Indeed, I think it tends to get most of the attention.)

Obviously, in the face of such extremes, the very easiest thing is to swing mostly to one side or the other, to challenge ourselves to encompass one side, and leave the other one more or less out of the picture. Of course, another option is to merely give lip service to both, without ever trying to really take either one on board. You might want to take a moment and ask yourself where are you in relation to these two sides. How much have you emphasized one over the other?

Yet of course, if we are going to really be students of the Course, we need to stretch ourselves to incorporate both. And the nice thing is that they really do go together. For it is only when we really admit that we are junior to God that we can accept that He is right about us and we are wrong, that we can accept, in other words, that despite how it looks to us, we really are His perfect, unblemished, and infinite Son. Both sides, then, are an acknowledgment of one and the same fact: that God is God.

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