What do I do in solitude? Listen to my thoughts, work out, eat, read and sleep. I practice having only light in my mind. I remember God.
This morning, I read the following in the ACIM (A Course in Miracles) text (14.VIII): “The Atonement does not make holy. You were created holy. It merely brings unholiness to holiness; or what you made to what you are. Bringing illusion to truth, or the ego to God, is the Holy Spirit’s only function…. Bringing the ego to God is but to bring error to truth, where it stands corrected because it is the opposite of what it meets…. The holy meeting place of the un-separated Father and His Son lies in the Holy Spirit and in you. All interference in the communication that God Himself wills with His Son is quite impossible here. Unbroken and uninterrupted love flows constantly between the Father and the Son, as both would have it be. And so it is….Let your mind wander not through darkened corridors, away from light’s center. You and your brother may choose to lead yourselves astray, but you can be brought together only by the Guide appointed for you.”
Some pieces fell into place for me today.
All the time I think about my journey through the monastery. I know I wouldn’t have been happy there, but I continue to ponder its meaning. Why God did we go there and do that? What does it mean for my spiritual learning now?
First let me share that within 3 minutes of driving away from the monastery, just over the first hill, I had my first post-monastic realization: my ego desperately wanted to gain the title OSB (Order of St Benedict) in order to feel validated. I had my life riding on that one achievement. I had nearly four years of life with the sisters, being taught that professed monks were holier and closer to Jesus than the non-vowed non-ordained ordinary lay person. The result of my 3 year participation in a religious formation program was to totally believe that after monastic profession, I would be holy.
I have continued to chew on the holiness idea in the 7 years since leaving the monastery. Being kicked out of the monastery, I felt they didn’t have the right to deprive me of my shot at holiness. As you can see from the above ACIM quotation, holiness is part of the learning objectives of The Course. Last night, lying on my bed, I asked myself, “Can holiness cover my nakedness (ie hide me from God)? Can holiness make me better or validate me?” Then I was finally able to say to Jesus, “I don’t accept the equal holiness put forth in ACIM because holiness in this world is an ego concept,”
Last night, I walked on the tread mill and rode the ex-bike. I was doing nothing and being nothing and living in timelessness.
During my morning meditation, thoughts about holiness continued to surface. We use holiness against each other. We use holiness as a status symbol. We use holiness to differentiate people. We teach that holiness can be gained behaviorally and by completing certain institutional processes. We use holiness as a discipline enforcer to keep people in line. We don’t teach holiness as an inherent quality in everyone. We don’t freely give it. Holiness was meant to be freedom, not prison. Holiness and love and human dignity are synonymous, and the opposite of ego.
God is. Holiness is. Holiness is eternal, unchanging, and independent of all human and egotistical thought.
Now, it is 8 am and I begin my walking on the tread mill. Walking and listening to NPR, I am again entered into the nothingness and egolessness of the reclusive athlete. Suddenly, another realization hits me. Since the moment I drove away from the monastery, the hallmark of my life has been ego renunciation. All the jobs I’ve had have taught me to let go of the ego. The shifting of my spirituality away from religion and denominational Christianity has caused me to renounce the ego world. If Jesus said one thing that matters most to me, it was, “…lose your life to keep it…” The life I lose is the ego life in the ego world. Everything in this world, religion and position in society, is ego fabricated and ego feeding.
But one by one, I’ve been laying aside my ego toys and ego joys. Each bit of littleness and grandiosity and ego satisfaction is renounced on a daily basis.
The purpose has been my desire for God consciousness. The one thing I really want is to know God. I do it mainly by laying aside the things the ego has placed between me and Him.
After an hour on the machines, I went to the park and jogged 13.5 miles. I jogged at my go-forever-without-injury pace of a little over 11 minute miles. It was somewhat rainy so the park was pretty empty. I had on my new rain jacket and put my stamp of approval on it: Eddie Bauer. I lost myself in the slow jogging. I was happy. I was free. I was holy.