While I was at my Unity church recently, I noticed a line prominently written on a whiteboard by an unknown hand. It said this: "Nothing is more important than to flow my energy and feel good." This prompted in me a long series of thoughts on the question: What is the most important thing in our lives? This is a crucial question, because our answer makes a huge difference when it comes to how we live on a daily basis. I want to suggest that the line I saw on the whiteboard, while well intentioned, is probably not the best answer we can come up with.
I have to admit, my first reaction to that line was less than charitable. We at the Circle have written about the phenomenon of "boomeritis," Ken Wilber's term for the tendency in today's culture to make everything all about me me me. The line on the board struck me as the ultimate boomeritis motto: Nothing is more important than to flow my energy and for me to feel good. Those other people out there, apparently, are secondary. The measure of all things, including those other people out there, is how good they make me feel. In short: Nothing is more important than me. Is this not the very definition of ego?
But when I got beyond my initial reaction, I realized that I was almost certainly being unfair to whomever wrote those words. Because the fact is, this church is full of good, kind, caring people. They are sincerely devoted to service to others; indeed, service to others is one of the values expressed in their vision statement, and I see that service in action every time I go there. If I were to bring my concerns to the anonymous writer, I'm sure he or she would say something like, "If I get my energy flowing and feel good, I am much better able to help others." Or perhaps, "Helping others is one of the things that gets my energy flowing and makes me feel good." Why, then, am I (Greg) making an issue of this?
I do think there is a legitimate issue here, and it centers on that phrase "nothing is more important." Because in my mind, even if it's true that feeling good (in a genuine, spirit-based way) helps us to serve others and serving others makes us feel good—and I do think these things are true— the thing we regard as most important matters greatly. As we're going out into the world each day, we will be making countless decisions about what to think, say, and do, and these decisions are going to be based on our priorities, what we regard as most important. If we constantly tell ourselves that nothing is more important than my energy and good feeling, I think in the long run this is going to lead to more ego-based decisions, however much we sincerely want to live lives of service. Despite our best intentions, our lives will tend to be all about me.
This got me to thinking about what A Course in Miracles regards as most important. Now, the Course really wants us to feel good in the truest sense—after all, God's Will for us is perfect happiness. And while it doesn't use the language of "flow my energy," it certainly wants us to be open channels for the right kind of energy, energy that flows from God. But if we want to know what the Course regards as most important, I think the answer is right there in its title: It is a course in miracles. Miracles are what the Course is training us to do. Even forgiveness, crucially important to the Course, is really meant to be the content of our miracles. And since miracles in the Course are primarily the extension of healed perception to our brothers in thought, word, and deed, I think the Course's own statement of importance would be something like this: "Nothing is more important than to extend miracles to my brothers."
I think this idea is confirmed by early statements in the Course about how we should spend our day. Very early on, Jesus gives Helen and Bill this prayer: "Help me to perform whatever miracles you want of me today." Not long after, Jesus tells them that "Each day should be devoted to miracles" (T-1.I.15:1), and that this is the very purpose for time. Many pages later, as the Workbook nears its end and prepares us for post-Workbook life, it too places a major emphasis on our assuming our role as miracle workers. This emphasis is exemplified in lessons like Lesson 353: "My eyes, my tongue, my hands, my feet today have but one purpose; to be given Christ to use to bless the world with miracles."
Placing prime importance on blessing the world with miracles, it seems to me, is a much more sound basis for the decisions we make as we go through our day. As we constantly tell ourselves that nothing is more important than to extend miracles to our brothers, we will constantly redirect our minds to a goal that is the complete antithesis of the ego. Though the ego can no doubt twist even this to suit its own agenda if we are not duly vigilant, I think in the long run placing prime importance on serving others through extending miracles is going to lead to more spirit-based decisions. With the idea that nothing is more important than this held firmly in mind, our lives will slowly but surely be transformed into lives that are all about selflessly loving everyone we encounter.
So, I would like to gently suggest that we set aside the words I saw on the whiteboard. Instead of elevating our own energy and good feelings to the position of primary value, let's give that exalted position to the sublime goal of working miracles to bless the entire world. In the Course's view, this is the way we save the world, and find our own happiness as well. Could anything but this be the most important thing?