How is meditation a collaborative venture?

Q. I am a bit puzzled by that line in the Urtext, “Meditation is a collaborative venture with God.” How do we collaborate with God through our meditations? What’s the relationship between that and being in relationship with others?

A. Meditation is a collaborate venture with God in the same way that kissing is a collaborative venture with your partner. In meditation, you and God are attempting to join. You are coming toward each other and trying to meet in the middle, so to speak. A good statement of this basic idea is in Lesson 168: “Father, I come to You. And You will come to me who ask” (W-pI.168.6:7-8).

To get the full sense of the passage, let’s look at the whole paragraph, which is about Bill’s original insistence that he and Helen join in “another way.” Here is how it appears in Helen’s notebooks:

Your giant step forward was to insist on a collaborative venture. This does not go against the true spirit of meditation at all. It is inherent in it. Meditation is a collaborative venture with God. It cannot be undertaken successfully by those who disengage themselves from the Sonship, because they are disengaging themselves from me. God will come to you only as you will give Him to your brothers.

The paragraph is really about the apparent tension between joining with others and joining with God. It seems that meditation is a solo affair—just between me and God. It can easily seem that joining with others gets in the way of this, that interpersonal joining goes “against the true spirit of meditation.”

The whole point of the paragraph is that this is not true. After all, collaboration is at the heart of meditation—it’s a collaboration between you and God. Therefore, collaboration with others embodies the same core principle that meditation does. Both are acts of joining. Therefore, each one implies the other. If you join over here but not over there, you are ambivalent about the principle of joining itself. As a result, you are not able to fully join anywhere.

And that is the point of this paragraph. If you are unwilling to join with your brothers, then you have an issue with joining itself, and as such, you are not able to successfully join with God. Maybe you can for a time, but your issue with joining will inevitably pull you away again, back into your separateness.

The last two sentences of the paragraph expand on this point. If you disengage yourself from others—from the Sonship—then you are disengaging from Jesus, who is part of the Sonship. And yet Jesus is also part of God, and an inner helper in meditation. Thus, by disengaging from Jesus, you are also disengaging from God.

The final sentence says that if you really want God to come to you—which is the goal of meditation—then give God to your brothers. As the Course teaches repeatedly, as you give so shall you receive. By giving God you will receive God.

In this brief paragraph, then, Jesus links joining with God (through meditation) with interpersonal joining in at least three ways:

1. Both share the same core principle: joining. Therefore, you cannot really separate them out.

2. Disengaging from others means disengaging from Jesus, which means disengaging from God (in meditation).

3. By giving God to others you will receive God (in meditation).

For me, the big point is that an inward life of meditation is not incompatible with an outward life of giving and service. Instead, the second is the way to truly succeed at the first.

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