Which do you choose
My regular readers know I reference “A Course in Miracles” quite a bit just as “the course”. There is a line in the course that says “your job isn’t to make your brother (or sister) wrong, but rather your job is to show them where he or she is getting it right”.
This is a big one for all of us to get right now on so many levels because when you hold to a belief that you are right and they are wrong, what are you doing at a fundamental level? You are building a wall, a separation. Whether you are discussing political issues or negotiating how your kid should be raised or any other issue, they all have the same fundamental risk of believing in a right and a wrong.
When you stand with conviction about how right you are, no matter how right you may be, you are not winning anyone over. Only in your wildest dreams will that person drop their own stance and say wow, you are so right! Think about how you feel when someone is trying to convince you of their point only by showing you how wrong you are. What’s your natural instinct? Unless you are feeling particularly enlightened in that moment, you are probably going to get defensive. Especially if you believe you are right. In fact, you probably won’t be interested in even listening to their side of things since you probably believe they are already convinced you are an idiot.
So the question you have to ask yourself is, would you rather be right or would you rather be free? I brought up the example of parenting because I struggled for years with my ex about how our daughter should be raised. And we never agreed. I had a huge list in my head at any moment about how I was right and he was wrong but it never got me anywhere. He just kept on doing it his way no matter how many times I explained my stance. Oh my word, if i could go back to the beginning of all that madness and insert this wisdom…. For years it was like beating my head up against a brick wall. No movement. I would complain to friends and they would agree with me, but did anything change just because I had a team of people on my side affirming me? Didn’t change a thing! Not a thing! Feeling sorry for myself didn’t work either. Talking louder and more intensely didn’t work. Deep breathing and speaking slower trying to reason with him didn’t work. Nothing worked. Why? Because all my approaches were based on making him wrong and my job the whole time was to make him right. My job was to build a bridge, not a wall.
I use this intense example to demonstrate how challenging managing your beliefs about right and wrong can be. Yet the more challenging a situation is for us, the more important it is for us. Now you may be sitting there with a story that is an exception to this rule. I assure you my friend, there are no exceptions. Because ultimately, in a situation like I shared, or more intense experiences where you feel you have been intimately wronged, or when a person in power has done unfathomable things to your mind, all of these boil down to one question, “Would you rather be right or would you rather be free?” Do you see it? Think about how you feel inside when you make another person wrong. Really tune in. It doesn’t feel good. On a fundamental level, it shuts you down, walls you off. And who do you think is running the show then? Fear or Love? Because you are always being guided by one or the other.
My daughter’s father is probably my biggest teacher of compassion and acceptance. How could it not be? I couldn’t just walk away! We were co-parenting. I don’t know of any other role I have ever played where I was more attached to the outcome than my role as a parent. And attachment is where fear thrives!
Another lovely quote from the course, and I am paraphrasing, “In any given moment, you are either a host to love or you are hostage to fear”. You can say this in many ways, “Host to truth or hostage to your ego”, “ Host to God or hostage to ego”. Use your own noun based on your higher power but the fundamental choice is the same.
Neem Karoli Baba always said, “Never put anyone out of your heart”. A simple teaching, but a high goal, and by no means easy. Ram Das, who learned his practice under “Maharaji “Neem Karoli Baba, spoke years ago about a politician that he despised. On his puja (or alter), Ram Dass had pictures of Buddha, and Majaraji, and Jesus, and Ananda Mahima, and also a picture of this particular politician. And every morning he would light the candle and greet these saints with his heart expanded and then he would get to this man, who the course teaches is his brother, but he identified as his nemesis. And he would feel his heart close, and he would be reminded how much work he still had to do to build a bridge such that he could keep even this man he currently despised in his heart, that his heart could then remain open to love. Maharaji had instructed him to love everyone and Ram Dass took that practice on as his life’s work. From what I can tell, it seems he is pretty much there.
So this verse from the course “your job isn’t to make your brother (or sister) wrong, but rather your job is to show him where he or she is getting it right” is speaking from a deep place, because underneath all of the veils of who we think we are…. we are all the same. Egos are not the truth of who you are. You are not your preferences, and neither is the other guy. When you are all up in your ego, trust me, you are just as ugly as the next guy. Because egos aren’t pretty. But when the ego falls away, my friend, You are so beautiful! And so is he and so is she... yep and even that guy you despise too. So what I believe we are being called to do here is to dig deeper to affirm this profound truth rather than endlessly fighting the egos fight which just keeps us all caught up in the problem, never getting to a solution. When you are coming from love, even in the worst of circumstances...which is when love is really needed and called for...you are doing the good work. And no, this isn’t easy. But I invite you to look into your own life at where you can begin to apply this. Where can you build a bridge? Where can you stop standing for how right YOU are and loosen up so you can find a place where you can see we all want the same thing.
Notice where you have built a wall and reflect on how you can begin to tear it down and build a bridge. This practice may begin with small conscious choices in a challenging situation you are currently dealing with. Remember, the choices you make in each moment can make the most profound change in your life and in the world.