ACIM and UU - Chapter five, "The world of special relationships."

Chapter five

The world of special relationships

Special relationships

            As we have reflected on the thought systems of A Course in Miracles we have come to appreciate that it is based on a nondualistic metaphysics meaning that the ultimate source is the Oneness which we sometimes call “God.”

            Our human pain and suffering arises from our separation from the Oneness, what A Course in Miracles calls a “tiny mad idea,” and the concomitant guilt, fear, and grievance.  We don’t realize at first that what we call the world and what we think is our life is merely the shadows on the wall of the cave to use Plato’s metaphor. What we think of as the world is merely the illusions we have created as a result of our projections from the world of the ego.

            When we begin to awaken from the dream of this world, we realize that what we seek is the experience of Unconditional Love and not further socialization into a thought system which only perpetuates separation. At this point, we realize that we have the power to choose between the path of the ego, the way of the world, or the path of the Spirit, the Unconditional Love of the Oneness.

            As the drama plays out in our lives, we come to appreciate the tremendous role that what the Course calls “special relationships” play in our lives on the path of the ego. Special relationships take a multitude of forms and involve relationships with not only people but with things and ideas. Whatever form special relationships take, the content is always the same which is the belief that from these special relationships our happiness and salvation will be achieved. This belief always disappoints and fails us even though sometimes it takes a long time and much suffering before we realize it. In Alcoholic Anonymous, the dawning occurs when we hit bottom.

            It is written in A Course In Miracles, “Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit. Eventually everyone begins to recognize, however dimly, that there must be a better way. As this recognition becomes more firmly established, it becomes a turning point. This ultimately reawakens spiritual vision, simultaneously weakening investment in physical sight.” T-2.III.3:5-8

            As we experience this dawning, the search begins for Love, Truth, and Completion. This search first involves a recognition and acknowledgement of our wrong choices and mistaken beliefs. We can’t change what we don’t recognize. We can’t manage what we can’t name. Becoming consciously aware of the obstacles and blocks to our awareness of Love’s presence, our Natural Inheritance, is necessary for their removal. As the Course insists, it is our choice about giving up the path of the ego for the path of the Spirit, and this choice will never be forced on us. The Course tells us in the introduction that we don’t get to choose the curriculum, but we do get to choose when we want to take it.

            The recognition and acknowledgement of the obstacles and blocks to our awareness of Love’s presence is based on our appreciation and understanding of “special relationships” and the roles we have created for them in our lives.

            Unitarian Univeralism is a covenantal religion meaning that people join together to pursue a common goal which is the affirmation and promotion of seven principles. In the covenant, there is a recognition of the Unconditional Love of the Oneness which some call “God” and others call “Tao” or “Higher Power” or “Brahmin.”

            Unitarian Univeralism’s covenant, based on the affirmation and promotion of seven principles, sandwiches 5 of the principles between two that are seminal: the inherent worth and dignity of every person, the first principle, and respect for the interdependent web of all existence, the seventh principle. In these two, the awareness of Love’s presence, our Natural Inheritance, is explicitly stated.

            If the awareness of Love’s presence is our Natural Inheritance, and to experience this we must remove the obstacles and blocks to this awareness, we must recognize and acknowledge the role that special relationships play on the path of the ego to distract, dismiss, and disqualify our awareness of Love. We will turn to the topic of special relationships in more detail in our next chapter.

ACIM and UU - Chapter four, "Wrong mindedness or right mindedness?

God's will
Chapter four

Wrong mindedness or right mindedness? The choice is always ours to make.

If we understand that it is the experience of Love that is more important to spiritual development than knowledge, we come to appreciate the benefit of being right minded rather than wrong minded. What makes the difference between the two is our decision. Human beings have free will and they can decide which thought system they prefer to operate with.

            Wrong mindedness is the based on the ego and right mindedness is based on the Holy Spirit or our Higher Power however we understand it.

            The ego is based on conditional love with the dynamics of “give to get” and “one or the other.” The wrong mindedness of the ego gets enacted in what A Course In Miracles calls “special relationships” and distinguished from “holy relationships.” Society promotes and socializes people into “special relationships” which involve guilt, fear, and grievance. Choosing “holy relationships” brings peace, joy, and bliss.

            Wrong mindedness is based on the erroneous belief that we are the author of our own lives and that we can manage them alone. In Twelve Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, the first step is that our lives have become unmanageable. The second step is coming to believe that there is a Power greater than ourselves which can restore us to sanity, and the third step is to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand God.

            Right mindedness is the choice to follow God’s will for us rather than our own will. This choice is the stumbling block for most people and yet can make all the difference in our spiritual growth.

            Universalists have faith in the Unconditional Love of God. It is this faith which supports the choice to turn one’s will over to God’s will. When we bring our will into alignment with God’s will we have a power and strength that is beyond our own understanding.

            The covenant to affirm and promote seven principles is the basis of the Unitarian Universalist faith. The third principle is the “acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations.” This acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth goes, however, far beyond the boundaries of  our congregations and applies to all our brothers and sisters throughout the world.

            Jesus has told us that the way to the kingdom is “to love as I have loved.” The Universalists have taken Jesus’ suggestion seriously and say in their churches, “Love is the doctrine of this church. The quest for truth is its sacrament and service is its prayer.”

            At a metaphysical level, the key to spiritual growth lies in a simple choice: the live on the path of the ego or the path of the spirit; to operate from a thought system of wrong mindedness or right mindedness. The choice is always ours and if we choose wrongly at any given time and we do this on a regular basis we can always choose again.

ACIM and UU - Chapter three, "Experience, not knowledge, is the goal of spiritual development."

Chapter three

Experience, not knowledge, is the goal of spiritual development

Experience not knowledge


            People, in our contemporary age, like to say, “I’m spiritual but not religious.” What does this mean?

            Religions are organizations which exist to socialize and indoctrinate people into similar values, beliefs, and behavior. Religions are a form of social control and as such they are forces for constraint not liberation.

            Spirituality is a force for expanding consciousness, growth, and development of maturity which involves an awakening from the unconscious influences of society on human awareness.

            Spirituality moves us beyond the ego to cosmic consciousness, an appreciation of the Oneness from which we have separated ourselves. This movement is one of experience of transcendence and completion – that is becoming one with the All. It is a merging of consciousness with the totality of creation which is accompanied by an experience of peace and bliss.

            The arguing over doctrine, ethical rules, liturgies and rituals, organizational authority to control and direct is antithetical to spiritual growth. It is written in A Course In Miracles in the Introduction to the Clarification of Terms: “All terms are potentially controversial, and those who seek controversy will find it. Yet those who seek clarification will find it as well. They must, however, be willing to overlook controversy, recognizing that it is a defense against the truth in a form of a delaying maneuver. Theological considerations as such are necessarily controversial, since they depend on belief and can therefore be accepted or rejected. A universal theology is impossible, but a universal experience is not only possible but necessary.”

            Unitarian Universalism is a creedless religion. It has no theology which is considered orthodox. Instead it relies on the perennial psychology of at least six sources.

            Unitarian Universalism is a covenantal religion which asks people to join together with a common purpose of affirming and promoting seven principles one of which is the “free and responsible search for truth and meaning.”

            It is in this affirmation and promotion of its seven principles based on its covenantal agreement with others that Unitarian Univeralism provides and experience of hope, faith, peace, and Love.

            A favorite prayer of Unitarian Universalists is “Love is the doctrine of this church. The quest for truth is its sacrament, and service is its prayer.”

            In Unitarian Universalism the controversy generated by arguing over terms is dispensed with so that joining with others in a common cause of becoming aware of the holiness in the world can be engaged in.

            In this engagement, the Universal experience of Love is pursued and created.

ACIM and UU - Chapter Two, "The causes of human suffering."

Human suffering
Chapter two

Cause of human suffering

            The Buddha taught that the cause of human suffering was attachment to people and  things and the inevitable loss and rupture of those attachments.

            A Course In Miracles teaches that, at a metaphysical level, what causes suffering is the separation from the Oneness, “the tiny mad idea,” and the consequent guilt, and fear of punishment.

            The ego teaches us that our salvation lies in special relationships to people and things which is very similar to the Buddhist idea of attachment. When our special relationships fail us, we project our fear and anger onto others and accuse and blame them for not making us happy. This anger, resentment, and grievance is the basis for human suffering.

            Special relationships are based on the two dynamics of “give to get,” “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours,” and “one or the other,” “it’s not me, it’s you.”

            The antidote to human suffering is what the Course calls the “Atonement” which is the recognition we can change our minds about the causes of our suffering and come to understand that our suffering is not caused by the other, but by our expectations and thoughts about the other. The “miracle” is changing our mind, our decision making choice, about the causes of our suffering. No one and no thing can make me think and feel and behave any way that I don’t want to. My response to my perceptions is always up to me and the Holy Spirit.

            It is this recognition that I have a decision making mind which affords me the opportunity to forgive myself for my mistaken belief that my happiness, peace, and well being is to be found in blaming others and attempting to change them. Clearing away the obstacle created by this mistaken belief that the other is causing my unhappiness allows me to become aware of Love’s presence  within which is my natural inheritance.

            Unitarian Universalists intuit this reality when they enter into a covenant with each other to affirm and promote their seven principles. The Universalist faith is based on the idea that God loves everyone unconditionally and would send no one to hell. Hell is of our own making when we choose wrongly blaming others for our suffering.

            The first principle of Unitarian Univeralism is the affirmation and promotion of the inherent worth and dignity of every person. It is in this recognition and awareness that we become aware of our own holiness and that of others and in this consciousness the sanctification of the world is created. This awareness ends suffering as we experience what the Course calls the “Holy Instant” of Oneness.

ACIM and UU - Chapter one, "Original Sin."

Today a new feature is being introduced on UU A Way Of Life entitled, A Course In Miracles and Unitarian Univeralism. It will be replacing our Ask Alexa and Today's Lesson columns.
A Course In Miracles and Unitarian Universalism
Chapter One
Original Sin
In order to understand A Course In Miracles, the student must first comprehend its metaphysics. “Metaphysics” is the study of thought systems describing ultimate reality. ACIM is based on the idea of the Oneness of the Ultimate Reality. Human consciousness was born from what ACIM calls the “tiny mad idea” that human beings, God’s creations, could be separate from God.
            This “tiny mad idea” lead to the birth of the ego which believes that it, itself, is God, and this mistaken belief, leads to suffering.
            This egotistical belief that the self is God is manifested in many ways that are called sin, mistakes, illusions, delusions, wrong mindedness, and insanity.
            ACIM teaches that its purpose is not to teach the meaning of Love for that cannot be taught, but to make one aware of the blocks and obstacles to the awareness of Love’s presence, the beatific Oneness that we call heaven, the kingdom, Nirvana, bliss, peace, home.
            The primary vehicle which the ego uses to establish its kingdom is what ACIM calls “special relationships” which are based on guilt, fear, and wrong mindedness. This guilt, fear, and wrong-mindedness is manifested in “give to get” and “one or the other” dynamics of special relationships. This can simply be called “conditional love.” “I’ll love you if….” And “it’s all your fault, and “you made me do it.”
            Unitarian Univeralism does not believe in separation and exclusion. Unitarian Univeralism is what is called a “covenantal” religion because it is based on a covenant to affirm and promote seven principles. Unitarian Universalism is about joining with Unconditional Love rather than about separation based on differences that judge, punish, and exclude.
            The practices of Unitarian Universalism are counter-cultural. They are not based on individual ego, but on recognition, acknowledgment, and functioning based on interdependence.
            The original sin was the egotistical thought that the self was God. This thought system is alive and well in our secular and religious societies to this day. Unitarian Univeralism offers a different view and based on this a different way of life.