Later this month I’m taking part in the Miracle Network’s first Community Day. Everyone has been asked to bring along a favourite paragraph from A Course in Miracles to share. But which do I pick, when there are so many inspired verses I might choose?
I’ve settled on paragraph 7 of Lesson 158 of the Workbook. This, for me, encapsulates what it means in Quaker language to “answer that of God in everyone”…
“Christ’s vision has one law. It does not look upon a body, and mistake it for the Son whom God created. It beholds a light beyond the body; an idea beyond what can be touched, a purity undimmed by errors, pitiful mistakes, and fearful thoughts of guilt from dreams of sin. It sees no separation. And it looks on everyone, on every circumstance, all happenings and all events, without the slightest fading of the light it sees.”
For those unfamiliar with A Course in Miracles, some of the language here might be off-putting, or require explanation. The reference to “Christ” is not a reference to Jesus of Nazareth - although Jesus was certainly one who saw with the vision being spoken of. “Christ’s vision” is available to all of us. It means that vision which sees the eternal Truth beyond surface appearances, the divine Essence that is veiled by transient forms.
Christ’s vision is not the sight of the body’s eyes. The body’s eyes show us differences between people and testify to separation, not to Oneness. But how reliable a witness are they? As the Bible puts it, we see “but a poor reflection as in a mirror” (1 Corinthians 13:12). Our perceptions are based on pre-judgements. The way to see truly is to rein in our impulse to judge and allow Spirit to shine its Light: “As you step back, the light in you steps forward and encompasses the world” (A Course in Miracles Lesson 156).
To see with Christ’s vision is to look upon the world with Love. The Divine Essence - call it Light, or Spirit, or “that of God” - remains in everyone (every aspect of the One-ness). This passage calls on us to hold steadfastly to Its Reality, regardless of people’s apparent errors (which are merely the result of their forgetfulness of Who they Are); regardless of “all happenings and all events”.
Note that there are no exceptions. The Love of God within us is all-embracing. Christ’s vision encompasses everyone, including those who our ego-self would have us judge the most harshly. If we see sin rather than Light in even one person, we remain in the dark.
Whoever we look at, the same Light is there to behold. And we must behold it, to find our way home.
Paragraph 8 of the same Lesson reinforces the message: “See no one as a body. Greet him as the Son of God he is, acknowledging that he is one with you in holiness.” It underlines how central is the practice of seeing the truth in one and all: “…the world cannot give anything that faintly can compare with this in value; nor set up a goal that does not merely disappear when this has been perceived.”
Lesson 158 is a timely reminder that nothing I might achieve on an outward level - promotion at work, finding the right relationship, facilitating a workshop or writing this blog - counts for anything when compared to looking on my neighbour with Love, with compassion, and recognising him or her as my Self. There is no separation between Christ’s vision, the Self which sees, and the Self which is seen.
Peter Parr: Quaker, writer and former member of the British minigolf team. (Actually those are all just roles I play. Words can't describe who any of us really are.)