I attend sessions of A Course in Miracles on an irregular basis beginning some time following the start of the new millennium when my friend Swallow encouraged me to attend with him. What I found were a lot of different interpretations of the messages within the text as well as a number of people whom I counted as friends. Way back then we would have 20-30 students of the Course meet every Saturday, including some of the original founders of the study group from the early 1980’s.
During my on and off years with the study group I was also associated with Unity as a YOU Sponsor (YOU = Youth of Unity). In that capacity I taught, among many other things, the 5 Basic Unity Principles of which the third is: I create my experiences by what I choose to think and what I feel and believe.
That seems pretty straight forward and is essentially a declaration that an individual’s attitude has a lot to do with how much joy s/he can get out of life. Now in the Course there is a somewhat similar idea that has been expressed differently by its students and in its extreme it seems to be that expression is: Life is an illusion and nothing matters because we are eternal spiritual beings.
The extremity of this idea hit me hard yesterday when the plight of the Syrian refugees in Europe was mentioned by one of the students. Now, that is one of a few news stories I have been following because it tears at my heartstrings. (The other two stories are the horrendous wildfires that have been plaguing California and the national carnival we call a presidential campaign.) I am afraid I became angry soon after the subject was broached and it was suggested that those lazy Syrians, who were looking to Europe and the rest of the world for handouts, should be turned right back around or simply left to starve to death.
Lazy Syrians? I was appalled that intelligent adults did not even acknowledge that a massive Civil War has been waging in Syria since 2011 and estimates have well over 300,000 dead, that nearly eight million have had their homes, towns, and villages destroyed, and that more than five million have fled the country. In a country whose total population was approximately eighteen million these compute into obscenely high statistics: over 40% displaced and more than 27% have fled their country. It is nothing less than a disgrace to all of humankind. To put things in perspective the population of Southern California, where I live, far exceeds the population of Syria.
I am not a religious man but I am a spiritual one who has many questions and far too few answers, which leads me back to the: Life is and illusion concept. I have fully embraced that portion of the concept in that being human we are subjected to our limited perceptions and cannot fully appreciate the All. However, what we do perceive in our own limited means is still a reality that is a far cry from Plato’s cave and the idea that nothing matters because we are eternal spiritual beings grates at me when the response to it is utter apathy, which my dictionary defines as: “lack of interest or concern : indifference.”
I believe it is true that no one is able to prove the existence of an eternal soul or spirit and I certainly can respect a person’s right to their faith that one does exist. However, I don’t believe that people who call themselves Christians can ignore the basic teachings of Jesus of the Nazarene and turn a blind eye to those who go where but fortune do they. Just saying.