For a few months now, the word “natural” has been coming to my mind. It will occur to me that something the Course asks of me, something I’ve been very ambivalent about, is actually natural.
This morning the word came to my mind again and so I thought about it some more. “Natural” means what is in line with our nature, and thus what comes easily, effortlessly, and happily—naturally. Normally, we think of our nature as being separate, biological creatures. And thus what’s natural is what flows from that—physical impulses and ego urges.
Of course, what this does to the spiritual life is make it unnatural. Meditation seems unnatural, a case of trying to discipline a naturally undisciplined mind (the “monkey mind”) and reach a God that is outside of its nature. Indeed, all forms of spiritual practice are unnatural in this view. Forgiveness is unnatural, a case of the slighted ego trying not to protect its interests but stretch away from them, because someone told it to be “good.” Everything the Course asks of us becomes a case of this naturally self-interested, physically needy ego trying to reach beyond its tiny circumference and touch stars that are light years away. It feels like a terrific strain, an impossible dream.
What has been spontaneously occurring to me—which implies it must be sinking in on some level—is that this view is backward. I know that theoretically, but only now is it starting to make sense to me on a more practical level. These are the sorts of things that have been occurring to me:
- Hearing guidance is natural, because it represents my own true desires being relayed to my conscious mind
- Meditation is natural, because my mind is part of God’s
- Workbook practice is natural, because my mind is naturally at peace
- Giving miracles is natural, because love is natural
This morning I looked up the word “natural” in the Course and saw this line of thought fleshed out in much greater depth and detail. Try to read the following examples and really get a feeling for them. Try to picture them as actually natural. It might help if you read them as genuine first-person statements, as being genuinely about you.
- Atonement is my natural profession, because I am a child of God (T-1.III.1:10)
- My mind naturally welcomes the stranger without, because he is my brother (T-1.III.7:5)
- I have a natural talent of protecting others, being both their brother and a Son of God (T-2.II.7:8)
- Greeting others with honor is natural, because I am like them (T-3.I.6:3)
- Peace is my natural heritage, because I am spirit (T-3.VI.10:1)
- I naturally communicate with God, because I am His creation (T-4.VII.3:8)
- Following the Holy Spirit is easy and natural, because it is in accord with my nature (T-7.XI.1:3-4)
- The natural use of my abilities is to share, not attack (T-9.IV.3:2-3)
- The holy instant is easy and natural (T-18.IV.7:1)
- Miracles are as natural as breathing is to the body (T-21.V.3:3-4)
- Forgiveness is natural, because anger and attack are unnatural (T-30.VI.1:1-5)
- Forgiveness is natural, because our attacker is secretly in distress over his error, and this distress naturally calls for help (T-30.VI.2:7)
- Reaching God is the most easy and natural thing in the world, and in fact is the only natural thing in the world (W-pI.41.8:1-3)
- In going to God in meditation, my mind is merely taking its natural course (W-pI.44.7:4)
- To be without a body is my natural state (W-pI.72.9:3)
- Forgiveness is natural because sin is unreal (W-pI.134.6:1)
- Seeing unity, rather than separate objects and people, is natural; learning a thousand separate names for things is so hard because it is unnatural (W-pI.184.5:1-2)
- Patience is natural when I hold in mind the inevitable happy outcome (M-4.VIII.1:1-2)
- To uncover psychic abilities in myself is to become more natural, not less (M-25.2:7)
- Walking with Jesus is natural, because he is my brother whom I’ve known since I was born (C-5.5:6)
What sort of feeling do you get in reading these statements? Do any additional statements come to your mind that might address your own limiting beliefs?