Opportunities for Healing
by Beverly Hutchinson McNeff
“The trouble with the world is not that people know too little, but that they know so many things that ain’t so.” – Mark Twain
When I first read this quote by Mark Twain, I was struck by how true it was. With the number of talk shows and news programs on television and radio (not to mention the bevy of inaccurate information that floats all over the Internet) it is no longer surprising how much information is out there that just “ain’t so.” Whether it be bogus election and voting fraud claims or falsehoods about Covid vaccines and mask-wearing, there’s a lot of inaccurate information out there being touted as truth.
One current erroneous story stands out. Near the beginning of the Covid vaccinations, some on the internet seem to have decided that Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft and the man whose philanthropic work and money is focused on global health, emergency relief, education, and who had pumped around $1.75 billion into COVID-19 relief efforts, was putting microchips into the Covid vaccines to track people. The ramblings of those conspiracy theories had an effect. According to a survey by Yahoo News at the time, “a quarter of Americans believed that Gates was using the vaccine to implant microchips under people’s skin.” Gates had no idea why people would believe such ideas. He said he was just focused on writing checks so as to keep people and particularly children safe from this disease.
In the wake of the misinformation and conspiracy theories running amuck on the internet and social media, this controversy is just another example of Twain’s quote and makes it pertinent for us today. But it also proves to us the need to be aware of what kind of information we are ingesting.
We all have a deep desire to know. The problem is, in our desire to know, we have filled in the blank spaces with our own assumptions (or taken on others’ assumptions) and now these assumptions have become fact with the actual truth in a far second place.
The world we have built is one based on a lie: the thought that we could be separate from our Creator (God, Love) and thereby separate from each other. And even though this may be a lie, we have built a good case for it in the world of separation. We prove separation with differences we see in our bodies, our ideologies, our feelings of right and wrong, justice and injustice, and the list goes on. So, even though this world is built on a faulty premise, the justifications we see all around us seem to make sense and justify the lie. The lie has now become our truth, and, even if we wanted to change, it seems almost impossible to stop the insanity and make that change.
“The separation is merely a faulty formulation of reality, with no effect at all.” (T-13.VIII.3:5)
The Holy Spirit knows that we have accepted a faulty formulation of reality or “alternative facts,” which is the favorite catch phrase used today for a lie. His purpose, nevertheless, is to help us gently undo the mistake. He will not attack the mistake, for that would give it reality; rather, He merely shows us another way so we might make a better choice instead.
“Now you are being shown you can escape. All that is needed is you look upon the problem as it is, and not the way that you have set it up. How could there be another way to solve a problem that is very simple, but has been obscured by heavy clouds of complication, which were made to keep the problem unresolved? Without the clouds the problem will emerge in all its primitive simplicity. The choice will not be difficult, because the problem is absurd when clearly seen.” (T-27.VII.2)
“If you could recognize that your only problem is separation, no matter what form it takes, you could accept the answer because you would see its relevance. Perceiving the underlying constancy in all the problems that seem to confront you, you would understand that you have the means to solve them all. And you would use the means, because you recognize the problem.” (W-79.6:2)
A Course in Miracles tells us over and over again there is only one problem: the thought of separation. And, if we could identify this one problem within the many forms it takes in our lives, the problem would be solved. The only reason we don’t see this constancy is because we have devised such elaborate issues; therefore, to simply say the problem is the thought of separation between us and God seems naive. Yet that is exactly the ego’s plan. It wants us to believe in the complexity of the world, our lives, and our problems so we would never believe that a simple mind change (which, as we all know, isn’t necessarily a simple job) could make any difference at all. So, the ego sends us on a wild goose chase looking for our answers in the world: a better, more exciting job, a more caring relationship, anything new and intoxicating, more money, food, alcohol, sex, drugs, and the list goes on. At our journey’s end, however, we are left wanting more and feeling alone.
The ego is always quick with an answer when we get to this point, lest we turn within. The ego projects the problem onto others and eventually, God. “What did you expect?” is the ego’s question. The ego quickly answers for you by saying: God doesn’t care about you, or He doesn’t exist, has little time for you, or has abandoned you all together because of this or that. You’re alone and you only have the little happiness the ego gives you mixed with a lot of pain and suffering that you know you deserve. This message, or a message similar to this, plays in our minds and throughout our experiences in this world unless we stop all the misinformation and start relearning the truth.
The Answer Part 1: Who we really are.
We must remember Who created us. We are not self-created but created by One who has endowed us with everything: an abundant and loving spirit, a strength of holiness, and eternal life. Our Creator, God (or whatever name you give it), loves and cares for us more than we can imagine.
We will need to have faith in these basic premises, but once we are willing to allow these thoughts into our minds and hearts (whether or not they are fully believed), miracles begin to happen. The miracles, or shifts in our awareness from fear and loneliness to love and joining, are natural if we get our fear and stubbornness out of the way. No matter how justified we may feel in our opinions or views about a person or situation, we must be willing to stop and question whether those views allow us to be as we were created, and to be loving and caring to ourselves and others. Our goal is not to find more support for our opinions, but rather to heal. And we cannot heal when we are so locked into what we think is right or even the ways we should heal. We heal when we allow the Answer that God has given us, the Holy Spirit, to remind us of Who we are.
One of the services at the Center is our free, weekly livestream meeting on the Course. We are privileged to have viewers from around the world, and I often share the miracles that viewers have shared with me. Their miracles are simple, powerful, everyday experiences wherein they choose to: “Behold the Son of God, and look upon his purity and be still.” (T-13.X.11:10) The following experience came from a subscriber in New York. She wrote:
“First I wish to thank all of you for offering these livestream and archives — they help me stay motivated in keeping consistent with the Course. I wanted to share a miracle. I was grocery shopping and went to check out, the cashier was young and delinquent-looking. I also judged him as rude and indifferent, with several earrings throughout his ear. Lucky for me, I caught myself directing my self-righteous attitude at this young man and realized what I was doing: Making him bad and myself good. I looked at him after I acknowledged my judgment and, in my mind, I said, “You are a child of God.” I kept repeating it to myself.
Well, the whole dynamic changed. We joked around a little and both ended up smiling. The shift was a whole new perspective. It was a humbling experience to see how wrong I was. I realized that what I originally saw in this young man was not really there. I understood that I could, and we all could, have days filled with peace by simply remembering each encounter is with a holy child of God.
Thank you again for being a wonderful reminder to me that there is another way to be in this world and for reminding me of my true function: to bless and acknowledge the truth in each person I meet. Life is so much better when I can remember to do this. Thanks for being a light in a dark world.”
This transformative miracle helps us to see the simple truth that can be experienced when we silence the ego’s misinformation and concentrate on who we really are. We are angels with amnesia, and we need to re-remember who we are. The Holy Spirit is there to help us do just that – that’s His job.
The Answer Part 2: We need each other, because we are each other.
“Your brother is the mirror in which you see the image of yourself as long as perception lasts. And perception will last until the Sonship knows itself as whole.” (T-7.VII.3:9)
If we believe what A Course in Miracles is telling us, that separation is the basic problem from which all our pain and unhappiness stems, then it would make sense that the way to correct the problem would be to join with another. That may be easier said than done. This again is where the Course lends us a helping hand.
The Course tells us we merely need to look at the problems we have made (in all their complexity and justification for separation) and recognize that healing the thought of separation is the answer. That’s it. We are not asked to do the healing or tell God how the healing should be done. We are just asked to look at our pain and be willing to ask for help. We are not asked to do what lies beyond our abilities. Healing is the Holy Spirit’s job, not ours. When we try to do what only He can do, He merely waits for us to change our minds.
Many of you may remember the television ministry of Rev. Robert Schuller’s The Hour of Power. He was considered the pastor who started the contemporary televangelist movement in the 1970s. One story he told has always stood out in my mind. It was a time he and his wife were in Hawaii on vacation and they had stopped at a market for some groceries. His wife went inside while he stayed in the car enjoying the breeze with the windows rolled down. Wanting to enjoy the breeze even more, he opened his car door and accidentally bumped the car next to him. The man in the car (even though no damage was done to his car) leaned out of his window and yelled his disgust in some pretty rough language. Tempted to respond in anger, something reminded Schuller of what he said every Sunday to his television audience: “God loves you and so do I.” Well, he said that he didn’t feel like saying that, but he was willing to say to himself, “God loves you, and I’m trying.”
We must be willing to “try.” We must be willing to remember that no matter what another says to us, does to us, or tempts us to do, they are God’s holy child — not necessarily in deed and action, but in truth. And the more we hate them or hold them in the prison of our anger, the more we stay there with them, affirming ourselves as unworthy of love or help. We break free of our prisons of isolation as we are willing to let the Holy Spirit help us to see the perceptions of separation we hold against our brothers and allow Him to release us from them.
The Answer Part 3: “The ark of peace is entered two by two…” (T-20.IV.6:5)
I have heard some people say relationships are so painful it is best not to have them, and that truly spiritual people don’t need relationships. Well, that is just foolish thinking and more a form of denial than help. We cannot hide from relationships; they are all around us. Our relationships are the closest thing in this world to the awareness of God’s love and healing.
I was so moved to read the story of William Wilson (known now in AA circles as Bill W), founder of Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12-step program. Growing up in an alcoholic family, Wilson became a soldier and then a businessman and drank, both to alleviate his depression and to celebrate his successes on Wall Street.
He married in 1918 and by all appearances he and his wife looked like a prosperous, promising young couple. But by 1933 they were living on charity in his wife’s parent’s home in Brooklyn, New York. Wilson had become a drunk who disdained religion and panhandled for cash. Finally, he was inspired by a friend who had stopped drinking to attend some meetings of the Oxford Group, which was an evangelical society founded in Britain. He also underwent a hospital procedure, which was state-of-the-art in alcoholic treatment at the time called “purge and puke.”
While incarcerated for the fourth time at Town’s Hospital in Manhattan, Wilson attended group meetings and read Carl Jung’s writings as well as William James’ The Varieties of Religious Experiences. It was during that stay in 1934 that he had a “spiritual awakening.” He experienced a flash of white light, which he described as a liberating awareness of God. This would not only transform his life but the lives of countless millions around the world.
A few months later, still sober, Wilson went on a business trip to Akron, Ohio. There, one night, after a deal had fallen through, he was tempted to drink. Drawn to the sound of the bar in the hotel where he was staying, he suddenly became convinced that by helping another alcoholic he could save himself. Through a series of desperate telephone calls, he found Dr. Robert Smith. Smith was a skeptical drunk whose family persuaded him into talking with Wilson for at least 15 minutes. Their talk went on for hours. A month later Dr. Bob (as he is now known in AA circles) took his last drink. The date was June 10, 1935, which has become the official birth date of Alcoholic Anonymous (AA).
AA is based on the idea that only an alcoholic can help another alcoholic. As Bill W wrote, “Because of our kinship of suffering, our channels of contact have always been charged with the language of the heart.” Those are powerful words. If we are in this world, we all have a “kinship of suffering.” Our suffering, pain, or problems may look different than another person’s, but beneath the ego disguise is the same problem we all suffer from — the thought we are alone, apart from each other, and separated from God. But we are not alone and apart. We need each other to remember this and to heal “with the language of the heart.” The profound impact of AA on lives is a living testimony to this truth. Aldous Huxley called Bill W “the greatest social architect of the 20th century.”
The work of Bill W gives us a scaffolding to work from — we need each other. Those who walk this earth in pain (and this is all of us) can and must help each other. We can become beacons of light to each other, helping each of us to see that our acts of kindness to another helps us and the world. We journey together in this life and the road we take is so much more blessed if we remember we are together and not alone — one with each other and with God.
The following is a profound and beautiful passage found in the Course’s Workbook for Students in lesson 315 that I feel also gives us a scaffolding to work from:
“Each day a thousand treasures come to me with every passing moment. I am blessed with gifts throughout the day, in value far beyond all things of which I can conceive. A brother smiles upon another, and my heart is gladdened. Someone speaks a word of gratitude or mercy, and my mind receives this gift and takes it as its own. And everyone who finds the way to God becomes my savior, pointing out the way to me, and giving me his certainty that what he learned is surely mine as well.”
Let us not allow the misinformation of the world cause us to turn away from God or each other. A faulty premise, a lie, is nothing to build a life on. Let us look clearly at the ego’s lie of separation and not be distracted by its artificial web of complexities. And let us together allow the Holy Spirit to do His job by showing us the opportunities and way to join with our brothers. For together, we are the way out of pain. Let’s not miss another opportunity for healing.