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Purely constructive

[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]

After using Monday to get back on track, I have had a really nice week of practice. Tuesday I used an image from Chapter 2 in the Text, that of placing the chalice of the Atonement on my inner altar, where it could defend me against all intrusions of the ego. That had a very strong effect. You might just want to take a moment and try it yourself. Start by imagining that your inner altar is defiled, cluttered with your ego’s profane mess. Then clear all that off the altar, and put in its place one thing: the chalice of the Atonement. See a holy power radiating from that chalice and keeping the ego away, protecting you from its intrusions on your peace.

As I practiced that during the day, a feeling grew in me of being holy. If the chalice of Atonement is the only thing on my altar, isn’t that the same thing as being holy? So that got me on a holiness kick for the week. Then yesterday I came across a passage also in Chapter 2 (can you tell I’m reading the Text?). It talked about accepting the Atonement and said, “Once you accept this, your mind can only heal. By denying your mind any destructive potential and reinstating its purely constructive powers, you place yourself in a position to undo the level confusion of others” (T-2.V.5:3-4).

That phrase “reinstating its purely constructive powers” jumped out at me. It reminded me of how it felt to put that chalice on the altar. It also reminded of an observation I have made over the years. The observation is that sometimes people are simply in a destructive mood. They are determined to tear down. When they are in that place, there doesn’t seem to be anything you can say to them that will elicit a constructive response. In response to anything you say that is constructive, they will reply with something destructive, because that is where they are. Their response implicitly says, “I’m being like this because you are being so destructive,” but that isn’t necessarily the case. For they appear to have a perfect capability of being destructive even in response to constructive things from you.

Out of this bit of life experience, the phrase “Just be constructive” has become a kind of sacred dictum to me. Kind of like Rodney King’s “Why can’t we all just get along?” It hasn’t seemed like a very spiritual dictum, more just a mundane bit of practicality. I had no memory of the Course talking in such mundane terms about being “constructive.”

Yet here it was! Here was the Course talking in exactly those terms. So I made that my lesson for the day. I said, “I reinstate (or accept, or embrace) my mind’s purely constructive powers.” I had quite an effect. It made me realize how much I am just being destructive, how much I just want to tear down rather than build up. I found that if I just wanted to be constructive, I could be. Given the desire to be constructive, something in me seemed to automatically have an idea of what would be constructive in this particular situation. It just popped into my head.

It got me in touch with the fact that something in me really wants, even yearns, to be just constructive, purely constructive, and that this thing is me is always down there, struggling for air, so to speak, trying to break through all those destructive impulses and get to the surface. And that if it could break through to the surface, I would be a different person. I would be truly good, and even more: I would be holy.

It made me see the idea of being constructive on a kind of spectrum, in the same way that Bill Thetford’s very human plea that “there must be a better way” (in which we all get along) invited and was continuous with Jesus’ path of radical and unconditional forgiveness. I saw that “constructive” is a human virtue, but that at its higher reaches it becomes a spiritual virtue. To be constructive is human, but to be purely constructive is divine. It is holy. It is placing the chalice of the Atonement on one’s inner altar, where it radiates nothing but blessing.