by Beverly Hutchinson McNeff
A reporter had been invited to India to interview the Dalai Lama, and he was pleasantly surprised to be invited to pray with the monks before his meeting.
As the reporter sat in his peaceful pose and closed his eyes, his stomach began growling. He had forgotten to eat because of the time change and the excitement of meditating with the monks. Now, his stomach was uncontrollably “talking!” He felt embarrassed and tried to refocus his attention on his breath, his inner eye, and whatever he could think of to focus on to stop the distraction, but his stomach had a mind of its own.
He suddenly felt a nudge on his arm in what seemed an instantaneous response to his stomach’s moans. He opened his eyes to see a basket of bread being passed by the monks, and each monk had taken out a piece for himself. He did the same. He had no idea what he was supposed to do with the bread, and not wanting to offend, he again closed his eyes, only to open them when he was nudged again. To his surprise, a jar of peanut butter and a knife were now being passed. He saw that each monk before him had spread it on their bread and was silently eating the delightful manna. The reporter did the same. He noted that after each had finished eating, they closed their eyes and again focused on their inner work.
The reporter later wrote that in that experience, he had learned the essence of the Dalai Lama’s message: Higher consciousness with utter practicality.
I absolutely love this story and the reporter’s insight, as it also encompasses the essence of A Course in Miracles. The Course always points us to our truth beyond this world but also meets us right where we find ourselves to lift us to the truth.
The reporter was not shunned for his worldly needs; instead, his needs were met so he could move past them to the truth. This is precisely how the Course addresses the things of the world that we still have investments in. In this world, we will always have needs, and to resist them only makes them an idol or a block to the awareness of love’s presence. For example, if we think we should force ourselves to sacrifice because it is time to meditate, we have made an idol out of meditation. Thus, something that can be a doorway to release becomes a block.
Many have done a similar thing with the Course’s workbook lessons. We have difficulty remembering or doing the lessons, so we beat ourselves up and feel guilty for our inability to do the lessons. Now the lessons that are intended to be a way out of guilt have become instruments to reinforce guilt. The reporter was not admonished for his hunger; rather, his hunger was gently acknowledged, dealt with, and moved past.
We will inevitably awaken to the truth of who we are and our power and glory, but the time this happens is up to us. It may seem frustrating, but would we really be prepared to leave the “comfort” of this illusion behind? Some doubt still lingers, and that is okay. This Course is not a course to take us to Heaven; its goal is to move us from cherishing the nightmare of guilt and suffering to the happy dream of listening to our Internal Teacher who will direct us to the choices for peace and healing that we are entitled to now. God will take the final step and raise us to Him; we simply need to have nothing in our hands to which we cling, and that is the process now.
“Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality. Time is kind, and if you use it on behalf of reality, it will keep gentle pace with you in your transition. The urgency is only in dislodging your mind from its fixed position here. This will not leave you homeless and without a frame of reference. The period of disorientation, which precedes the actual transition, is far shorter than the time it took to fix your mind so firmly on illusions. Delay will hurt you now more than before, only because you realize it is delay, and that escape from pain is really possible. Find hope and comfort, rather than despair, in this…” (T-16.VI.8)
So, be comforted. Let us not be upset or frustrated by the needs of this world that still seem to cling to us, nor be worried that we are doing anything wrong. Nothing will be taken from you that you still value. But also let us not delay. Now is the time to re-evaluate the things that we cherish. Bring them to the gentle evaluation of the Holy Spirit and let Him sort through what is healing and what is an obstacle to the truth.
“We said before that the Holy Spirit is evaluative, and must be. He sorts out the true from the false in your mind, and teaches you to judge every thought you allow to enter it in the light of what God put there. Whatever is in accord with this light He retains, to strengthen the Kingdom in you. What is partly in accord with it He accepts and purifies. But what is out of accord entirely He rejects by judging against. This is how He keeps the Kingdom perfectly consistent and perfectly unified.” (T-6.V-C.1)
We have the help we need to awaken lovingly. It is not the way of sacrifice and suffering. The Course tells us in many places in the text and workbook that no sacrifice of any kind is ever asked of anyone. This is not a course in sacrifice and suffering but of abundance and healing. Help is given us, and our needs are met, as we are told,
“All the help you can accept will be provided, and not one need you have will not be met. Let us not, then, be too concerned with goals for which you are not ready. God takes you where you are and welcomes you. What more could you desire, when this is all you need?” (M-26.4)
So rest in God’s infinite Love and Help for you. And if you need a little bread and peanut butter on the path, go ahead and enjoy it!