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.

Our Potential

1 – Day 24

“The form you occupy contains all of your potential manifestations as the form of the caterpillar contains all of its potential manifestations. (Dialogues of a Course of Love, Day 24)”

2 – Present Moment

This quotation alludes to what is said elsewhere in this paragraph about the butterfly and the cocoon. We are all of this potential, in ourselves, in the present moment. We don’t have to wait, as does the caterpillar, to realize our potential (although the realization may take time in the working out). We can step into our potential now, no questions asked, for all time is simultaneous.

3 – No Time

“Potential” seems to exist in the future, but there is no future time, really. All is simultaneous, and so if we determine, with God, that now is our day to awaken, then it will be achieved for ourselves. Hold yourself in readiness. None know ahead of time, for sure, what the day will hold.

4 – Struggle

“To struggle against your nature is what you have spent a lifetime doing. Stop. If you allow your potential to be released, your true nature in all its wholeness will be revealed. (Dialogues of a Course of Love, Day 24)”

5 – Fear / Anxiety

We have been struggling, oh, how we have been struggling. We have been fearful, and this fear often manifested itself in anxiety. We tried to make progress spiritually, but the fault is in the “trying” when it is of ourselves alone. Ask God for help. Ask your Self for help. Ask the Other Side for help. Ask Jesus for help. There is no end to the help that will come to us when we just stop and ask.

6 – Trying

We are trying, so hard, to be whole. But we have not known how to do this, and so we have really been struggling against ourselves for our whole lives. Our nature is to be whole, and this wholeness equals union—union with our Self, union with God, union with our brothers and sisters in this world. Only in union will we know that we are already whole.

7 – Relax in God’s Arms

Give up the “trying,” just as we sought to give up the ego. Just relax in God’s Arms, and know that all is well. Once we make a personal determination for wholeness, for union, then the moment of our Awakening is all in God’s hands. We have to make this determination, but then we don’t have to do anything further—except wait, patiently if possible. We cannot be demanding; God does not respond to demands. He responds when we are ready, and that comes with a reverent and heartfelt plea for Him to come to us. And He will.

8 – The Body

“Yet the body is not left behind. The caterpillar, the cocoon, and the butterfly have always been one and remain one. Each form is but a different stage in the becoming of the spirit. (Dialogues of a Course of Love, Day 24)”

9 – Elevated Self of Form

This quotation alludes to the elevated Self of form, when we are in union with God, when we are awakened, in Christ-consciousness—but still occupying a body in this world. We will know our spirit, first (maybe) in glimpses, and then for a sustaining of the spirit in this world. We will live in wholehearted fashion, just as the original part of A Course of Love instructed us. We combine the mind and heart to be wholehearted. We leave out nothing but the ego. We just let it wither away, as if it were an appendage to ourselves no longer needed or wanted.

10 – Trigger

“When it was said that A Course of Love was a trigger, it was meant that the course is both a trigger of choice and a trigger of nature. It was meant to convey the action of a catalyst. Now it is up to you whether you allow your true nature to be revealed. (A Course of Love: Dialogues, p. 192)”

11 – Stop

We have spent a lifetime struggling against our true nature. Day Twenty Four asks us to just “stop.” This chapter says that we are the caterpillar, the cocoon, and the butterfly, and that all are part of our nature. We have the potential to turn into butterflies by the power of our will. We are bade to do just this.

12 – True Nature

Our true nature is more the aspect of the butterfly than the caterpillar or the cocoon. We are meant to awaken, and to become all that we can be.

13 – Spirit

It is the nature of spirit to become. This is why we are always stretching to our limits. Now we ought to do what we can to realize our potential, the butterfly. The Self remains all of our various facets, but the butterfly is the epitome. Our will is the greatest of all triggers to effect this transformation.

14 – Will

“You carry your potential to the place of its birth through an activated will, a will that is also carried within you. This merging of will and potential is the birth of your power and the birth of the new. (Dialogues of a Course of Love, Day 24)”

15 – Free Will

We do make a determination to let God have His way with us. This is a function of our will, something that has not been stressed heretofore in A Course of Love. Our will is free, and God will not intrude when we do not just turn over that will to Him. Our will is imprisoned, A Course in Miracles tells us, when we are caught in an egoic frame of mind. But now that we have left the ego behind, we truly know that the Will of God and our real will are identical. Just as the Holy Spirit chose for us what we really wanted, now that we are in the time of Christ, our Self will do the choosing.

16 – Choose God

We have to choose for God. We have to bend our will to truly want to relinquish everything that stands in the way of our reaching Christ-consciousness.

17 – Eastern Story

There is an old Eastern story about a teacher holding his student’s head under water, until the student struggled mightily for air. The teacher released him, and he said, “When you want enlightenment just as much as you wanted air, then it will be given you.”

18 – Christ-consciousness

Let us want Christ-consciousness (enlightenment) today with all of our will. Let us activate the will to fall in line with this, this which is God’s wish for us. He will not intrude if we are hesitant. But as we wait patiently for His timing for Awakening, we will know that all is well in our little world.


Dear Father/Mother,

You know that the image of the butterfly has called to me since I was 23 and on a trip to Italy. I didn’t know then all that this image could mean, but now I see more clearly. Many have used the image of the butterfly to imagine rebirth, and now You see it as Awakening.

Thank You for this chapter. I am reassured that my own nature can shine through, regardless of what might happen on any given day. May I become all that it is in my nature to become. And thank You for helping.

Be with me today. May I say the right things in this blog, today, to speak to the hearts of those who read my words. I ask that ego not intrude. I asked before writing for You to take over and write through me. I am not sure that that happened, but I hope that it did. Be with me today for a good day. And be with my brothers and sisters, those I have met and those I haven’t. May we be there for each other as we walk together toward Awakening.