Spirit and Nature, by Ivor Sowton

One question that often comes up for me and others I’ve talked to is how much to trust ourselves with knowing what is really ours to contribute in life. After all, many of us have been led by Jesus or some other Great Master into some pretty dramatic changes over the years, and before we “resigned as our own teachers” we generally had some pretty egotistical ideas about our contribution. Back then we might have figured that our contribution would be 1) what we were naturally good at already (so it would be easy), 2) would make us look really good to others, and 3) would make us wealthy, powerful and famous.

Now, Jesus in A Course in Miracles (ACIM), is the one who helped me see these egotistical motives in me, which were always there, apparently, but outside of my awareness. Now the often painful awareness is being accepted as a lesson and a gift, as Jesus says in A Course of Love (ACOL):

“Acceptance of what is, is acceptance that whatever is happening in the present moment is a lesson and a gift. What comes as a lesson may not seem like a gift, but all lessons are gifts…What you have struggled to learn in the past you have struggled with only because you did not realize the nature of the situation as a lesson or recognize that all lessons are gifts.” (3rd Treatise, 10.6)

So now I can see the ego motivation clearly I often seem to be trying to renounce it with a lot of my energy. Does this happen for you? For me at least it does indeed make sense that Jesus in both these great dispensations calls us to a lot of undoing of the old– of those old ego stances that never did work, after all.

But then how to also be positive while waiting for a more Divine replacement? In general terms I understand Jesus to be encouraging me to wait with a peaceful attitude as I become more wholehearted with his help. I am trying to receive rather than plan (ibid. 22.5), and I do sometimes feel hopeful, waiting with a kind of cautiously joyful anticipation.

Right at the end of the marvelous Third Treatise Jesus equates the recommended attitude of receptivity with observation of what is, or the Truth in us and in our surroundings–people, animals, plants–all of it! He says:

“Realize that what we have called “closed eyes” observation is really the observation of a Self beyond the personal self. To call forth observance is to call forth the sight of your true Self.” (22.17)

That is actually a wonderful promise, isn’t it? Worth waiting for, worth all that ongoing undoing of the old painful ways…

How I am looking at it now is that we should actually be curious about the things we already do well, have an aptitude for. Why shouldn’t this be part of our contribution? Like a gift we have to give, but this time with pure intention.

After all, when Jesus says we have (and actually are) a true self he is talking in the context of unity and relationship–one of the great overarching themes in ACOL. The True Self in us knows its intrinsically connected with everyone and everything “else,” so it is capable of acting for the greater good and is actively seeking to do that in each situation we find ourselves in.

So I’ll call that True Self the Spirit in us in relationship with the Nature part of us–our bodies, our unique gifts, our time-bound lives as individuals here.

There is a very beautiful Sanskrit hymn that roughly translates to “Spirit and Nature, dancing together! Victory to Spirit and Victory to Nature!” Each is fulfilled in the other, in Union and Relationship.

May it be so for you, and for all of us.

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