The Miracle of Dialogue
By Michael Mark
In A Course of Love we are told that “Creation is a dialogue.” This dialogue is ongoing and all around us, but to participate in it fully, and thus transform ourselves and the world which is our extension, we must be willing to participate as who we truly are—without pretense or image, without agenda, and without knowing just where the moment will take us. At times it’s not easy. Sometimes we enter the creative exchange of life still clinging to something, or seeking for something, or hoping for a particular outcome. And then we struggle.
As an engineer I care about the physical theories that enable us to construct systems that not only perform their intended function, but do so safely. I rely on ideas about the world that are proven, over and over, in practical experience. These ideas, of course, have their foundation in the natural sciences.
But as a divinely human being I also care about the terrain of my heart, and without recourse to the inspiration and virtue that reside therein, life would be an almost meaningless occupation. So I love science, and I love spirituality, and it pains me when proponents of these two basic pillars of human thought and expression fail to communicate.
I have a blog which has evolved into everything from poetry to book reviews to the odd article about science, but which began as an effort to express my experiences as a student of A Course in Miracles. Sometimes I comment on other blogs—one of the more enjoyable pastimes for a blogger—and recently I had a series of exchanges with a scientist in which I hoped to note that there was sufficient open territory between hard science and hard religion where open-minded persons could meet. We ought to be able, at least, to respect that the territory was open. I felt that was the intellectually honest interpretation, so to speak.
In an effort to present myself as reasonable, and as one willing to concede that in some realms of thought there was no inherent monopoly on logically right supposition, I eventually bent myself into a pretzel. And when I emerged, uncomfortable and sore in mental muscle groups I didn’t know I had, I realized I’d gone too far in attempting to build a bridge by demonstrating my reasonableness.
I’d gone to the point of coming from my head almost entirely. I was not being who I know myself to be in some way. It’s like watching yourself when you’ve had a drink or two and you’re just coming under the influence, observing that what you’re doing is strangely inconsistent, and a little unexpected. Sometimes we do this when we’re falling in love. We morph a bit to accentuate the spaces we can share. And when it goes too far it’s called dissembling.
I knew I was dissembling when I was finding myself attracted to conversations where I was bending in two to create a bridge, but conceding territory I knew in my heart was true—at least for me. When we start to trade on what makes us who we are, we get lost in the shuffle. In some settings this is okay, for in order for anyone to awaken spiritually they must, in a sense, lose who they thought they were. But losing the space of the heart as a gesture of reconciliation with another worldview is a problem.
Nothing my fellow blogger did or suggested required this dissembling on my part. I did it. We do this sometimes because we care. Because what matters to us matters. But also because when we are hurting in any way—meaning that when any aspect of our being is in conflict with any other—we instinctively try to find the moments we can grab hold of to set things straight. We reach for that thing in the world we see as broken, and we try and wrench it into shape. In doing so, we end up in argument with the world over ourselves. It’s never the other that’s the problem. The other is, in fact, the perfect mirror to a need within ourselves we haven’t perceived as met.
It’s actually quite fascinating to witness this unfold, but this is not creating. It’s not being part of the dialogue that Creation, in fact, is. It is conforming to a norm in order to be seen. It is a hunger for love that cannot come from without.
It became obvious to me as I reflected on this experience that what matters more than anything else and in the deepest way possible, is the fullness of being who we are. We’re not only more content when we meet life in this way, we’re more powerful. When I trust my heart I’m more confident, and also more vulnerable. I’m free to express without effort or contrivance. What emerges under these conditions is the truth of who we are.
I love A Course of Love. I don’t have to justify this to anyone. I love it because after reading it at least three or four times, over several years now, it still feels fresh when I pick it back up. If I put it down for a few months, when I return to it I’m someone a little different, and it meets me there. I read a three word sentence today I don’t remember reading before, at least not nearly with the same vibrant connection to it, and it made me laugh. It said, “Wholeness is actual.”
Now try and explain this to someone who doesn’t see it! It’s almost impossible. To try and explain what this sentence means to an objective review board, I’m afraid I’d end up telling you the entire history of my life to try and put it in context for you, but it still may not compute. And yet in my heart it resonates profoundly. The way some things hit us depends on who we are when they hit, and this is the Dialogue of Creation, I think. This is at least part of it. It’s not enough to know the meaning of the words. It’s the experience of the words as they enter us, and what moves in us as we receive them, and the response that arises between these two that is real.
The word “real” is often used as follows: either there’s a monster under the bed or there’s not, just look and see. If you don’t find it, then it’s probably not real, or (and the odds are strongly against this being true) it snuck out for coffee. But I’m not trying to be flip. We agree that a baseball is real. A pitcher, a catcher. The grandstands. The word “actual” is interesting because we often say it when we wish to clarify a perception. We say, “Actually, what happened is…” or “What I actually meant was…” To say wholeness is actual is to not only state that wholeness is real, but to state that it hasn’t been previously perceived as such. It’s been overlooked somehow.
Dialogue is a perfect vehicle for understanding the actuality of wholeness, because a dialogue is not a conversation, a debate, or an argument. It’s more like sex in the sense that good dialogue enfolds its participants in a particular sort of communion, and produces new life. The context is holiness. It is predicated on vulnerability and intimacy, on respect and trust, on giving and receiving. In its most powerful form a dialogue reveals new understanding neither participant quite possessed on their own. A fullness transforms them both, bringing into being a new awareness, and what is actual is the wholeness of it. A Course of Love says, quite simply, that dialogue “reveals Who You Are.” (A.40)
What is actual is not Speaker A, nor Speaker B, nor an idea that might stand on its own afterwards. What is actual is not a particular outcome or agreement, but the dialogue itself—the whole thing at once, the relationship that yields transformation. That is real. You feel it seep into your awareness. You sense that you are becoming more of what you already were. There is a quickening to your insight you might not have achieved on your own—an almost rapture of enfolding presence that subsumes all of the participants in the field. That is wholeness and it is actual.
Creation is a dialogue because creation is the transformation of what is, and while we’re seeking to be whole we cannot participate in transformation. That’s because without the ability to let ourselves go, we cannot be transformed. While we define ourselves by ideology, status, position, history, gender, color, training badges, years of experience, or any of the myriad other parameters the ego would paint on the sign on the office door, we cannot truly be creative. We cannot fully participate. When we stand on those grands we are lashed to their limitations.
To truly become creators, we must be true to ourselves even as the particulars of time and place and perception dissolve and reform. In the whirlwind of transformation there is an anchor, a changeless kernel of being that our heart never forgets, and that is the ground on which we stand.
The miracle is that dialogue can also be healing. Perfection is not required to enter the dialogue, but the acceptance of what is actual is. Acceptance of what is allows us to be transformed without fear of being lost. We discover that the opposite occurs: we become ever more profound embodiments of who we actually are. We take what has been, and we create anew. Nothing is lost or cast aside. What has been—all the material and energetic content of creation—is enfolded and reborn. And this is creation.
But you can’t explain this. You can’t will it into being, or break it down into steps. There’s no protocol for letting yourself go. There’s owning your truth, and letting the forces array around that. The forces are simply stimuli, the response to your stance. They are never the problem per se.
If there is suffering in your stance, then adjust your footing. Let your heart lead the way. Creation is the realization that every force was necessary, or it wouldn’t have been. Creation is accepting that everything is just right, for you to choose again…
Michael is a utility systems engineer and a writer who recently published his first collection of spiritually-themed poems entitled A Cannon, a Heart, and Now This. He maintains a blog featuring his poetry, sporadic experiments with fiction and occasional Course related pieces at www.embracingforever.com.
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I Thought I Was Awake and Wise
By Elliott Robertson
I thought I was awake and wise–
and it is true, I had been growing–
yet I was somehow lost in words.
I could recite a song about
my heart’s longing for God.
But did I really feel my heart’s
tender pining for the One?
I thought I had been blind
and then brought into true sight,
yet there was still more room
for me to grow.
O shake me, God, O shake me
from the ropes that bind me.
O shake me from the tiny prison
O shake me, gently shake me
so I won’t be stuck in self-deception.
Unglue me from my tendency
to keep you far away, by singing
about grandeur and yet not sensing
my connection of the glory of your love.
Remove from me the God who is
one size fits all
and let me have the One who expresses
through the cosmos
in an infinity of ways, each one the Life,
the Truth, the Way.
I want only to drown in holiness,
to lose myself in the relationship
of Father, Holy Spirit, blessed Son.
Elliott Robertson was introduced to Hafiz, ACOL, and ACIM about 10 years ago and takes joy in each. He is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia. You can contact him via DivineRelationshipCoach.com.
Thank you, Michael , for putting this into words. Love, Marian