The powerful theme of following your calling is explored brilliantly by Jesus throughout the Treatise on the Nature of Unity and its Recognition in A Course of Love (ACOL).
In Chapter 5 of this Treatise Jesus outlines three types of calling from our true Self within. The first type of true calling is very broad–all-inclusive even. “This is an all-encompassing call and is not about specifics.” (5.3) “This type of calling comes as a light shone into the darkness and is revelatory in nature.” (5.1)
This first over-arching calling is our mission in life, I think. Many of you may have heard John Astin’s beautiful song “Love Serve and Remember” (Remembrance, Golden Dawn Productions, 1991). The song opens “Why Have We Come? Why Have We Come? –To Love, Serve and Remember.” That is, our main mission–one might even say our only real mission–is to love in a divine way, To serve the Divine in others, and through that service to remember our unity with all in God.
Here’s Jesus himself with one of the many places in both ACIM and ACOL where the mighty inspiration of the message is matched by the beauty of the language he uses:
“You who have been given the Peace of God, go in Peace. Spread peace throughout the land. Go out in peace and love and service to all. For in this going out you come home and bring with you all the brothers and sisters you have brought to peace. Go in peace to love and serve with all your heart. Thus we are one heart, one mind, one unity. Thus we are one in a relationship of love and peace that is our eternal home.” (1st Treatise, 10.15).
Now of course that sounds like a HUGE calling! It can bring up some trepidation!
I imagine a Saint Francis or a Mother Teresa being able to fulfill a mission like that, but for the rest of us this might be a very high bar! So I think the challenge implicit here is to start where we actually are (or believe ourselves to be!), and then try to be generally uplifted by this and the many other beautiful exhortations Jesus gives us in all of his authentic channelings, if I can use that term. This general sense of uplifting would tend to bless and sanctify every area of our lives: our relationships, our work, our hobbies, our health–everything.
As a therapist I was trained to look out for megalomania, delusions of grandeur, etc.–you know, that type of obviously insane self-assessment that has a grossly dysfunctional person believing that they are the actual historical Jesus Christ, for example. As a transpersonal therapist, (that branch that recognizes Divinity as a potential in humanity) I am trained to look for and foster ways in which ordinary humans like all of us are can develop more and more capacity to respond to big spiritual callings in healthy, sustainable ways.
And so Jesus also talks about two other, more specific types of calling that can act as interim steps in the application or manifestation of that big general calling he begins with.
The second type of calling would be like a specific recommendation for a needed change. For example, when we are praying for guidance around career direction and suddenly feel guided from deep within. Kind of a “do this!” announcement from a place within much deeper and much more trustworthy than our “normal” ego state. Jesus also likens this type of calling to a road sign directing us to a specific desired location, like “go this way toward that place!”
This is so important for us, isn’t it? I mean, each of us in our heart of hearts is yearning for divine love–at least that’s my opinion. We need to feel unconditionally loved just as we are, and we also feel so much better when we are extending that same unconditional love to others. But how to actually work with stuck places in our lives that seem so far away from that kind of ideal love at present! So we need specific, guided, directional steps we can take to bring more of that great love into our awareness as we grow.
That willingness to be guided seems so key here. Thus all the great spiritual teachings I am aware of counsel sincere prayer for guidance coupled with a teacher or a teaching tradition that can give us checks and balances on our progress, so to speak. So, for instance, if I pray desperately for guidance on some crisis in my life, I might never get mentally and emotionally quiet enough inside to hear “the still, small Voice within.” Instead I might go off half-cocked, as the saying goes, latching on to some hair-brained scheme straight from my ego, only to find myself worse off than ever! So here is where the true teachings could give us a reality check, buying us time to settle down more, to “offer it up” more, to empty out more of the attachment and aversion of specialness. Then comes that true calling, that signpost from the True Self within, which has finally been given a chance to “get through.”
Which leads us to the third calling that Jesus discusses in chapter five of the Second Treatise: “the demand.” This kind of calling is very specific, like “I really need to change my attitude toward this person!” Jesus says here that this type of calling is associated with the final breaking of old ego patterns so that our Tue Self can finally take charge.
This type of calling is like boot camp spirituality–where the rubber meets the road in our spiritual growth. In St. Theresa of Liseau’s “little way” of approaching God she talks about what we in ACIM lingo would call grievances; how overcoming our affinity for finding fault will bring us closer and closer to God. She writes of being stuck behind an elderly nun in daily chapel at her convent who was constantly shifting her chair, scape, squeak, scape, all service long, day after day, distracting Theresa to no end. Forgiving and ultimately blessing this grievance ended up bringing Theresa such a divine sense of peace and joy! So her initial awareness that she was being judgmental was her calling of demand to work on her attitude–the little way.
Now of course numerous commentators have noted that that “little way”of St. Theresa”s is actually not little at all! Instead it feels more like heavy-lifting–spiritual boot camp.
So as always Jesus is gentle and encouraging to us here in dealing with this type of calling also. He says we might be “called to account” by others for some attitude or behavior of ours, and also that we might also be directed to call others to account for theirs. In both cases the goal is that final unlearning of old ego patterns of special love and special hate so that they can fall away for good, leaving us in that glorious Christ consciousness that is our natural and eternal home. Looked at in that light, how can we call any such demand anything but a blessing–at least in the long run! And in the meantime, as that simultaneous unlearning of the old and holy learning of the New takes place, we are counseled to be as kind and loving toward ourselves and everyone else as possible.
In summary, here is Jesus speaking to us personally in the last chapter of the Second Treatise of ACOL, The Final Call:
Call upon your relationship with me to aid you, as I call upon you to assist me in calling all of our brothers and sisters to their return to Unity.
Listen for my voice as I guide you to your purpose here
and linger with you in this time to end all time.