Jesus tells us, "Today we make the largest single step this course requests in your advance towards its established goal." (W.127.6.5) This kind of statement should certainly get our attention. Why would this be such an important Lesson? This is fairly self-evident because the Lesson points us to the absolute truth. He emphasizes today, ". . . there can never be a difference in what you really are and what love is." (W.127.4.1) To know love is to know our Self. In getting even the ". . . faintest glimmering of what love means today, you have advanced in distance without measure and in time beyond the count of years." (W.127.7.1) This motivates me to pay attention to the message of this Lesson. We can make great advances in the practice of this Lesson when we no longer leave ourselves outside our own love.
It is very sobering to read these first lines and recognize in them that we don't know what love is. Certainly, the word is used a lot in the world and is the theme of most music, movies, and books. We can be in love and then we fall out of love. We have "special" love for certain people whom we favor. We think we love our children differently than our parents, or our friends. We speak of loving a good meal, a beautiful sunset, a nice event, a dog or cat, our children, God, our spouse, a good book, and even an idea or concept. Yet it appears we really don't know what we are talking about in the true sense of the word---love, as described in the Lesson.
It seems to us there are different kinds of love, but this implies a hierarchy of illusions, where we judge some kinds of love as being better, or of higher quality, and more intense than others. We are so confused about love, and so we try to elevate some ways of loving and describe certain kinds of love as 'unconditional.' In other words, this implies there are other kinds of love on which we place conditions. The fact is, all love in this world is conditional, but Jesus teaches that love is one and has only one Source. It has no separate parts, kinds, levels or distinctions and does not change nor alter as a result of circumstances outside ourselves, but in the illusion, we do think different kinds of love are possible. "Perhaps you think there is a kind of love for this, a kind for that; a way of loving one, another way of loving still another. Love is one." (W.127.1.2-3)
The Source of love is the same, and it is unchanging and unchangeable. The love that is a reflection of God's Love is not affected by what the beloved does or does not do. It has no conditions. It also means no one is excluded from that love. When we love some people sometimes, and exclude others entirely from our love, it is coming from the special love and special hate expressed by the ego mind. In fact, most love in this world is about specialness, where we love sometimes and hate sometimes. Thus, there are gaps in our love. Now love can turn to hate. The nature of love in the illusion is variable. We make exceptions and exclude those we feel don't deserve our love. It is not helpful to feel guilty about this, for guilt will only continue to perpetuate the problem.
We made the world to hide from God and His abiding love for us. Thus, everything in the world obscures His love. "No law the world obeys can help you grasp love's meaning. What the world believes was made to hide love's meaning, and to keep it dark and secret. There is not one principle the world upholds but violates the truth of what love is, and what you are as well." (W.127.5.1-3) When we become aware of the exceptions we are making to how we love, how we exclude some from our love, and the beliefs we hold that obscure love and hide its meaning, we will become motivated to seek for love where it is. It is not in the world. Jesus tells us, "Love is not found in darkness and death." (W.127.6.2) Yet even here, we can experience a glimmering of what love means, and thus we can make significant advances in remembering the love we are.
What we define as love, which is variable and inconsistent, originated with the separation from God's love and from Oneness, when we chose our specialness and individuality instead. Now we experience different forms of special love because we hold different definitions of what love is. This reflects the first law of chaos, which says truth is different for everyone, meaning ". . . each is separate and has a different set of thoughts that set him off from others." (T.23.II.2.2)(ACIM OE T.23.III.20) "This principle evolves from the belief there is a hierarchy of illusions; some more valuable and therefore true." (T.23.II.2.3)(ACIM OE T.23.III.20) This is the basis for the attacks we make and justifications we give for not loving some, or loving sometimes and attacking at other times. We justify our attacks based on the belief our values differ and therefore we are not the same. Thus, a brother we once thought we loved can readily become our enemy.
I can remember my first awareness of this many years ago when my husband left me for a time at one point in our marriage. I was totally bewildered and distraught and felt betrayed by him. I turned to the Course, asked for help, opened it at random and incredibly read the following passage: "Love's meaning is obscure to anyone who thinks that love can change. He does not see that changing love must be impossible." (W.127.2.1-2) Then I was led to continue to read the chapters devoted to the special relationship starting in Chapter 13, where Jesus says simply, "Love is not special"(T.13.X.11.2)(ACIM OE T.13.IV.30) To me, the love I felt for my husband did feel very special. Then I came to an even more startling statement. "The special love relationship is not perceived as a value in itself, but as a place of safety from which hatred is split off and kept apart." (T.16.IV.3.4)
(ACIM OE T.16.V.32)
I was in love with a man for whom I now felt hatred because of all the pain I felt. At that time, I believed he was the reason for all my pain. I did not understand that I had used the relationship to keep the pain that was in me at bay.
Jesus is telling us that love cannot turn to hate. Was it possible, I wondered, if the love I experienced in my relationship was not love at all? I refused to believe there was not love in our relationship. Jesus assured me, as the goal of specialness in this relationship was shifted to healing and holiness, initially there would be a lot of conflict. I trusted in the process and started my forgiveness process with willingness to be taught. I was up against the wall and this seemed to be the only viable alternative. I was determined to accept the situation and keep bringing my pain and my judgments to the inner altar to be healed. I kept turning to the Holy Spirit and asking for help to release my judgments about him and about the situation. I brought my feelings of betrayal and the desire for revenge to the light and did my best to take responsibility for my part in all of this. I refused to listen to the advice of well-meaning friends. I increasingly recognized his actions were not about me. He had his journey and he did what he needed to do for himself. I chose to continue to ask for help to release my anger and attack thoughts and to forgive myself and him. I took responsibility for my thoughts, recognizing they were not about him at all, but aspects of my own unhealed mind. I started to accept that I really did not know how to love. Increasingly, I was able to admit the hatred was in my mind and had nothing to do with him. He was merely a mirror for me, reflecting what was unhealed in my own mind.
My healing depended on bringing awareness to my attack thoughts in my own mind. This is essential to do in any relationship, if we are to know ourselves as the love we are. Giving meaning to our own interpretations of any situation keeps us from the awareness of the love within us. Our interpretation of the situation creates the pain. I certainly required help from the Holy Spirit daily and leaned heavily on the words of Jesus in the Course to bring me comfort. It was a powerful learning time and resulted in countless. Our loving reconnection endured until the death of his body in form, and gave me some of the "faintest glimmerings," as he speaks about in this Lesson, of what love means. I would never have come to this place without the help of the Holy Spirit. I am eternally grateful for this. The miracle is always available to us in any situation. It takes us from judgments and attacks to forgiveness. When our perceptions are shifted, we experience the miracle. The miracle is always in the mind.
We are reminded in the introduction to the Course, "The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love's presence, which is your natural inheritance." (T.IN.1.6-7)(ACIM OE T.IN.2) This Lesson helps us to recognize that we do not know the real love Jesus is talking about. Again, we are reminded, we will have advanced significantly "If you achieve the faintest glimmering of what love means today. . ." (W.127.7.1)
Until all the blocks to love are removed, and we see everyone with Christ's vision, we cannot know ourselves as love. Furthermore, Jesus tells us, "Love is not found in darkness and in death." (W.127.6.2) In fact, it is never outside our own minds. It is not in the things of this world, nor in bodies. When we look for it there, we are looking for light in darkness, where it can't be found. Actually, the world and bodies were made to keep God's love out of our awareness. The ". . . faintest glimmering of what love means . . ." (W.127.7.1) comes to our awareness with each block removed from our minds through forgiveness.
When we hold judgments, we are actually defending ourselves against the love within us. As we release the rules we hold of what things should look like and expectations of what others need to do to earn our love, we make more space for God's love to shine through us. "Withdraw all value you have placed upon its [the world's] meager offerings and senseless gifts, and let the gift of God replace them all." (W.127.8.4) It seems we have settled for the meager offerings of special love. Special love turns to hate when our needs are not met. Jesus describes all of these kinds of relationships as bargains we make with each other based on our hidden agendas.
"Love cannot judge." (W.127.3.1) When we judge, we compare. We speak about being in love and then about falling out of love. Love can't change. By its very nature, it is constant. We can't love some and not others if we are to know ourselves as love. We exclude some from our love, and we chastise ourselves in our efforts to be more spiritual, but the ego will never know anything about real love. Instead of trying to be more loving, we need to bring to awareness our judgments, which stand in the way of who we are as love. When we don't experience this unchanging love, it means we don't know our reality. ". . . there can never be a difference in what you really are and what love is." (W.127.4.1)
Instead of believing we need a soul-mate in our lives to experience a holy relationship, if we truly want to heal our minds, our better choice would be to have a partner who offers us many opportunities for healing. Thus, a holy relationship can be very difficult and very challenging, but when we are committed to healing, it can be very fulfilling. It only takes one of us. What we see in any relationship is simply what is not healed in our own minds. With willingness, all that is unhealed can be brought to the light, so the love we are, can shine forth. Now the world seems more bright as we see through loving eyes.
The whole world is made to hide love's meaning. The world and all its laws obscure the truth about ourselves. Getting this, "Today we take the largest single step this course requests in your advance towards its established goal." (W.127.6.5) We learn about withdrawing the value we place on the world and its laws. When we release our attachment to this world and its stuff and no longer "hold it dear," no longer go after its offerings for our happiness, no longer look for the 'one and only' who will make us happy ". . . and let the gift of God replace them all," (W.127.8.4) then we can escape from the prison of our own misguided thoughts. This requires we look at everything we currently believe, every value we hold, all of our beliefs, our guilt, fears, and expectations of others. All of it must be questioned and brought to the light.
"There is not one principle the world upholds but violates the truth of what love is, and what you are as well." (W.127.5.3) Everything we have learned in this world about love actually hides the meaning of love. The reason is that the world has taught us love is limited and changing. None of the laws, rules or viewpoints of the world will tell us what love is. Loving as God loves is foreign to the thinking of the world. Until we love by looking ". . . on all as one," (W.127.3.2) love will elude us. Until we see all as one, rather than fickle and changing, we cannot know it. To love is to love everyone with all of Itself. It is total, whole, and complete with everyone and everything included in that love without exception. There is no difference in what you are and what love is. Love is the very nature of what we are. It is the way God loves. Special love is where all our relationships start in this world. The important thing is not to feel guilty about our special relationships, but to recognize they can be well used by the Holy Spirit for healing and thus become fertile ground to experience our wholeness.
The false beliefs and self-concepts we hold keep us from knowing ourselves as Love. We need to release them if we are to hear His Voice teaching us the true meaning of love. It can only be taught to a clear and open mind, and thus we need to recognize where our minds are not open and not clear. This means we need to get very honest about our judgments, our beliefs and attachments, and release them by bringing attention to them. We need to stay vigilant of our judgments, expectations and attack thoughts. We need to bring our awareness to them, so they can be released to the healing light of the Holy Spirit. We can no longer hide the dark corners of our mind if we want to know our Christ Self. We can no longer be content with our stories and our lies about ourselves. Truth cannot heal what we are choosing to keep from His healing light. We need not wait. We need not live in the past. We are born again today!
What amazing progress we could make today if we do the work! "Today we take the largest single step this course requests in your advance towards its established goal." (W.127.6.5) Let us be glad to give the time to God who asks for fifteen minutes from us, twice today, for no other reason than for our own release! Allow Him to abide with you today in loving gentleness.
Stay aware today on how you exclude certain people from your love, not just in obvious ways, but in subtle ways. Be willing to notice and ask for help in releasing these blocks to love. With anyone who comes to mind today, three times an hour, offer him the blessing, "I bless you, brother, with the Love of God, which I would share with you. For I would learn the joyous lesson that there is no love but God's and yours and mine and everyone's." (W.127.12.4-5) This is someone whom you are tempted to see as special, someone on whom you are dependent, or even someone with whom you are experiencing difficulties. Anyone who comes to your mind is a suitable subject.
As our minds are healed, the blessing of this healing goes out to everyone. It cannot be otherwise, for our minds are One. We are all the same. To see the sameness is to have a glimpse of our Oneness.