The learning that occurs during the time of tenderness is learning from love. No lessons learned without love touch your heart. No lessons that do not touch your heart will accomplish anything. The purpose of the final lessons are both unlearning and moving through unlearning to new learning. These lessons must be accomplished in life and require an engagement with life. This engagement is a promise, a commitment. It requires participation, involvement, attention, being present. C:24.4
In conversation with my friend Mary the other day, I found myself saying that what I have been drawn to explore more than anything else is my own experience. I do not yearn to look up passages of ACOL and delve into them in the same way that I care to delve into what has happened to me. What has occurred within me. Things I feel. Those ideas that truly capture my attention and won’t leave me alone. Those sensations that reach out and grab me and won’t let go. And so, as I talked with Mary, I saw that I was again exploring an experience. It wasn’t a conscious exploration until that moment when I realized that it was what I was doing, and then it grew to encompass all the experiences that have led me on my various explorations since the coming of ACOL.
Some foreknowledge of this showed up a year ago in my description of the Facebook group that was then just forming. I wrote: A Course of Love’s Facebook Group is offered as a place to Explore Your Experience of A Course of Love. Each of us can do so by being true to our hearts (our Selves), expressing what we feel, and sharing what has moved us, and moved within us, from our encounter with A Course of Love (ACOL). Did I realize then the potency of the word “experience?”
At this time last year, the Facebook group had 19 members and I wrote in my journal. . . “Suddenly I . . . care.” (It now has over 400 members!) Before those first 19 members had joined, being on Facebook was not something I wanted to do. But with the joining I had some people willing to “explore their experience” along with me. Still, I had written the description and asked that my new companions share in this with me, not fully realizing what I realized the other day: that this exploration has been the source of my greatest passion and insights.
You can maybe understand the desire to explore an experience as unusual as receiving A Course of Love. It occupied much of the dozen years after its completion. I read Journey Without Distance, I read William James’ Varieties of Religious Experience, I read The Politics of Experience. I actively sought for any and all (mainly written) material that might relate. I craved affirmation of the value of “the experience,” of what happens within: before, during, and after any life-changing experiences. There were many continuing experiences that inspired this same need of exploration.
I see now that ACOL, or my encounter with Jesus, opened this experiential way of knowing that confused the heck out of me. “What” was it I had experienced? What was it saying to me? What did it say to me about the nature of the universe, of God, of myself?
I’ve just returned from a self-granted time of contemplation. Part of what I contemplated was the upcoming experience I will have at the 2016 ACIM Conference, speaking there for the first time about A Course of Love. Although I had my topic come to me many months ago in an “experiential” way . . . ha!, I wondered how I would present and fill-out this idea of speaking of “Being ALL of who we are.”
And what I’ve been marvelously drawn to see during this contemplative time is the link between exploration and creativity. Rollo May, in his book, The Courage to Create, says there are pseudo forms of creativity, but that in its authentic form, creativity is “the process of bringing something new into being.” He describes true artists as “those who give birth to some new reality,” as those who “express being itself.” They “enlarge human consciousness” in the “act of actualizing themselves.”
The essential idea that he proposes is not a matter of effort, but the “degree of absorption . . . the degree of intensity . . . a specific quality of engagement.”
The word “engagement” has been speaking to me of late. It was there in my last post, and there in the last of the audio chapters I posted to the Face Book site: Chapter 24, The Time of Tenderness. This short chapter, at the end of The Course, (book 1), speaks of “final lessons” and says that “each learning experience will be a learning experience because it will touch your heart.”
Jesus’ language changes as we proceed. Soon we are no longer learning. But perhaps this is the beginning of the shift. “Each learning experience will be a learning experience because it will touch your heart.” This is the new way of knowing of A Course of Love: being engaged with the experience of the heart.
See http://www.acourseoflove.com for more info on the ACIM events (there will be an additional ACOL gathering at the end of the conference!)