Broadly speaking, A Course of Love (ACOL) involves Jesus leading us personally into a deeper and deeper understanding of what we are not and at the same time what we truly are. This is the simultaneous unlearning and learning he often speaks of. Within this context he gives us a lot of guidance on the process of our spiritual growth as we go along. For instance, the unexpected things that suddenly seem to crop up or even break into our lives are contextualized as lessons drawn by our own spiritual sincerity, and as such are actually gifts of inestimable value to us.
Here is Jesus in the Third Treatise of ACOL:
“Now I will repeat to you a piece of good news you may have forgotten: You would not be other than who you are…What this means to the learning stage you are now at is that you but think you are discontent with much of your life. As you begin to dwell in the house of truth and see with the eyes of love, you will see far less about the life you lead that you would change than you would imagine.” (T3, 14.5)
This attitude can be very empowering to us if we really take it in and start trying to live it. On one level, of course, it is a huge call to self-responsibility, for it is saying that everything in our lives is happening the way it is because we set it up to happen that way! We might think this would not be the case with some of the very painful situations we have all been through, and may be going through now, even. But Jesus is telling us here that it is our point of view that is off, rather than the life situation itself. If we are coming from ego, we are living in the house of illusion, characterized by lots of fear and negativity, and perpetuated by all sorts of blaming of self and others–ouch!
But if we are living in the House of Truth, as the representation of our true divine Selves in this very world, we will be seeing the very same life situation completely differently! Love, opportunity, abundance and benevolence will be obvious all around us. Now that is a huge shift!
In our actual daily experience we are probably often living in the house of illusion, but having just enough break-through memories of the house of truth to keep us questioning our former unconsciousness and sincerely asking for Divine help to see things in a positive light. And it is right here that an affirmative attitude can really help us bridge the gap and get into the right house more readily!
So when that next unexpected “negative” thing comes down, if we can just remember ASAP to try to meet the unexpected with love, then we will be doing ourselves a big, big favor! We will be looking for the silver lining right from the get-go, which can really save us a lot of spinning our wheels in negative reactivity. We are then actively cultivating a beautiful “attitude of gratitude” in our life experience, which can really bring us a lot more happiness and contentment by all accounts. (The Work of Byron Katie being another good example of this.)
A wise friend of mine recently said that in a lot of ways it’s irrelevant whether we like the unexpected things suddenly showing up in our lives; we still have to accept them, as they are indeed actually now present! So we can let ourselves off the hook in a way here. I mean, no one is being asked to jump for joy if they suddenly have a painful accident or illness, for instance, but the sooner we can meet these new actualities with love the better it will be for us–and everyone around us, for that matter! Rejecting the new “input” will only add unnecessary friction and tension; accepting the new input will help us claim the gift inherent in the lesson ASAP.
Now I hasten to add here that in the real catastrophes in our lives there does seem to be a progression toward that loving response. It is not reasonable or expected by Jesus or God that we be there right away, like “Oh, I’ve got terminal cancer, I love it, how wonderful!” That would be nonsense, or silly, as Ken Wapnick, one of the great original Course of Miracles (ACIM) teachers would say. With the major unexpected blows in our lives, the first thing we need is self-care–even small self-care. In this example of ending our earthly life with any terminal disease (don’t think it’s not going to happen to you, unless you’ve signed on for the sudden exit!), the best we might be able to achieve is acceptance, and even that would be the last step, after denial and anger and depression, etc. had been worked through at their own rate. This would be the same for any big major loss. So the application of love with these big negative unexpected things would be to meet them with self-love. Here’s a quote from the last part of ACOL, The Dialogues, to help us develop love of ourselves, bolstered up by the great love of God for us:
“My Beloved…now it is time to return to love. Do you know, can you feel as yet, how much I love you? How full of love I am for you?..This is the meaning of the embrace–the possession, the ownership of belonging–of carrying or holding relationship and union with one’s own Self…(all) are held within the embrace of love and belonging. (D-38.1, 38.8)
In the embrace of Divine Love, if we really feel that and open up to it, we can become much more able to meet the unexpected with love. And remember to practice on the small things, as it is our daily ongoing practice of these great teachings that allows their direct application in our actual day to day lives.