[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]
The pull of God is a truly mesmerizing topic in the Course. It upends everything we think about our desire for God. It is talked about by name mostly in the original dictation. However, you can find the topic here and there throughout the Course if you pay careful attention.
We typically see ourselves as not having enough desire for God. Wanting God seems analogous to wanting our vegetables. We know we should, but we can’t seem to work up much real desire. As a result, we feel inadequate as spiritual seekers, and we feel guilty, as we always do when we should love someone but can’t quite manage it.
What is the pull of God? It is an inbuilt desire we have for God. It is an attraction He naturally holds for us, a love we naturally feel for Him, such we feel pulled toward Him. What follows are fifteen points we can glean from what Jesus said to Helen about the pull of God.
1. The pull of God is absolutely overpowering; it is literally “irresistible.”
Four times we find this pull described as “irresistible.” And this is meant quite literally: The pull is too powerful to actually be resisted.
The attraction of God is irresistible at all levels. (Helen’s notes)
…God, Whose pull is so strong that you cannot resist it. (T-13.II.1:2)
The attraction of love for love remains irresistible. (T-12.VIII.7:10)
…the powerful attraction of the Father for His Son. (T-15.VII.1:1)
His attraction for you remains unlimited. (T-15.IX.6:3)
2. It is far stronger than any other attraction, including physical drives.
The pull of God is stronger than physical drives, like hunger and sex. It is stronger than the attraction to romantic partners. And it is even stronger than our identification with the ego.
The threat value of the lofty [impulses] is really much greater [than that of the baser impulses] to the ego, because the pull of God Himself can hardly be equated with the pull of human appetites. (Helen’s notes)
Beyond the poor attraction of the special love relationship, and always obscured by it, is the powerful attraction of the Father for His Son. There is no other love that can satisfy you, because there is no other love. (T-15.VII.1:1–2)
For still deeper than the ego’s foundation, and much stronger than it will ever be, is your intense and burning love of God, and His for you. (T-13.III.2:8)
3. This is the only real desire we have.
This is not one desire among many; it is the only one we really have. God is the only thing that can really satisfy us because He is the only thing we could ever really want. We’ll see in a bit what that says about all our other desires.
There is no other love that can satisfy you, because there is no other love. (T-15.VII.1:1–2)
The reality of this relationship becomes the only truth that you could ever want. (T-15.IX.7:5)
4. We are eternally “fixated” on God. We cannot overcome this.
Fixation is a Freudian concept. Freud believed that as infants we progress through three stages: oral, anal, and phallic. If any of these stages is not completed and released, we become fixated at that stage. That means that the method of obtaining satisfaction of that stage will dominate our entire adult personality. In other words, we will remain permanently stuck at that unresolved stage. In a brilliant (mostly edited-out) section, Jesus says we are not fixated on our infancy in this world, but fixated on our infancy in God.
Fixation is the pull of God, on whom your mind is fixed because of the Holy Spirit’s irrevocable set. “Irrevocable” means “cannot be called back or redirected.” (Helen’s notes)
You were eternally fixated on God in your creation, and the pull of this fixation is so strong that you will never overcome it. The reason is perfectly clear. The fixation is on a level that is so high that it cannot be surmounted.
5. We fear this pull because we think it will uproot us and sweep us away from ourselves.
We think that, in the presence of this pull, we would not be able to control ourselves and would leap into God, abandoning everything else.
…a pull which you both recognize is so intense that you are afraid. You think you’ll be uprooted. (Helen’s notes)
The ego attempts to save itself from being swept away, as it would surely be in the presence of knowledge [and in the presence of “the call of God,” as the next line mentions]. (T-4.V.2:7)
You think you would be helpless in God’s Presence, and you would save yourself from His Love because you think it would crush you into nothingness. You are afraid it would sweep you away from yourself and make you little. (T-13.III.4:1-2)
6. We do everything we can to cover it up, so that it appears to not be there.
Our fear of the pull leads directly to a cover-up, one so massive that it could be called the mother of all cover-ups. We have used the entire world to cover up the pull of God. We use attack to do so. And we have built our entire belief system to do so. This is why it seems like our desire for God is so weak. That is a very intentional deception.
You think you have made a world God would destroy; and by loving Him, which you do, you would throw this world away, which you would. Therefore, you have used the world to cover your love. (T-13.III.4:3-4)
You realize that, by removing the dark cloud that obscures it, your love for your Father would impel you to answer His Call and leap into Heaven. You believe that attack is salvation because it would prevent you from this. (T-13.III.2:6-7)
You have built your whole insane belief system because you think you would be helpless in God’s Presence. (T-13.III.4:1)
7. We block its impulses from consciousness; keep them corralled in the superconscious.
The pull of God is constantly trying to stream into consciousness, in the form of revelation impulses—impulses to experience union with God. But the ego blocks most of these impulses from reaching consciousness, because they are so threatening to its existence. The ego is also threatened by our baser impulses, which if followed indiscriminately would destroy our lives on society and land us in jail. But it’s threatened even more by the superconscious impulses—the pull of God—because it is so much more powerful.
Repression thus operates to conceal not only the baser impulses, but also the most lofty ones from the ego’s awareness, because both are equally threatening to the ego and, being concerned primarily with its own preservation in the face of threat, it perceives them as the same. The threat value of the lofty is really much greater to the ego, because the pull of God Himself can hardly be equated with the pull of human appetites. (original version of T-4.V.2:5-6)
8. To cover up the pull, we use “reaction formation,” adopting the pose of someone who doubts God, is uninterested in God, is unlike God.
Reaction formation is a Freudian concept in which there is an impulse in us that we fear, and we then cover up that impulse by adopting, on a conscious level, its opposite. In the classic example, if we fear homosexual tendencies in us, we consciously adopt the pose of one who hates homosexuality. This proves that those unacceptable impulses simply can’t be in us.
In a key passage in Helen’s notes, Jesus explains that the difficulties she and Bill were having with level confusion—and by extension, with the Course itself—only seemed to be because they were distantiating (keeping the Course at arm’s length), were full of doubt, and were unable to believe. In truth, their posture of standing apart from the Course in doubt and disbelief was a clear case of reaction formation. It was just a pose, designed to mask the frighteningly intense pull of God which the Course stirred to life in them.
The reason is not that you (plural) distantiate, doubt, or cannot believe. It is more of a reaction formation against a pull which you both recognize is so intense that you are afraid. You think you’ll be uprooted. (Helen’s notes)
From other comments in the Course, it seems clear that our entire appearance of being an ungodly little human on a physical planet is a gigantic case of reaction formation, a massive pose designed to cover up what we really feel.
9. We fear anything we associate with this attraction
Because we are so afraid of the pull itself, we also fear anything we associate—either rightly or wrongly—with it. As we just saw, it is the reason we fear and resist the Course. In Helen’s notes, Jesus also said it is the reason we fear being possessed—either by spirits or by other people: “Fear of possession is a perverted expression of the fear of the irresistible attraction of God.” And it is the reason we fear looking at the ego’s dark cornerstone: “You could look even upon the ego’s darkest cornerstone without fear if you did not believe that, without the ego, you would find within yourself something you fear even more” (T-13.III.1:9)—your “intense and burning love of God” (T-13.III.2:8).
10. We convert this attraction into other attractions which obscure its real nature.
A poignant prayer in the Workbook says that in all of our seeking, we have really been seeking God’s Love. It’s the only thing we want and thus the only thing we really seek. What we have done, though, is misidentify this desire. We have seen it in all kinds of other things and so have sought the other things. But since they are not what we really want, they never satisfy.
What can I seek for, Father, but Your Love? Perhaps I think I seek for something else; a something I have called by many names. Yet is Your Love the only thing I seek, or ever sought. For there is nothing else that I could ever really want to find. (W-pII.231.1:1–4)
11. It is constantly pulling us back to God.
This attraction is never completely dormant. It is always exerting its pull on us.
You are always being pulled back to your Creator because you belong in Him. (Helen’s notes)
12. The spiritual journey is one of progressively yielding to this pull.
There is an interesting passage in the Urtext in which Jesus says that right perception—which is the goal of the Course—is a yielding to the pull of God. Have you ever thought of true perception that way—as a case of yielding to God’s pull?
But the strength of right perception is so great that it brings the mind into accord with His, because it yields to His pull which is in all of you (Helen’s notes)
The Song of Prayer characterizes the ladder of prayer as a case in which, as we ascend the ladder, our desire slowly transfers from the things of the world over to God. This does not mean, however, that we are creating a new desire for God. It means we are allowing our eternal desire to surface. As the Workbook has us say, “Father, my ancient love for You returns” (W-pII.248.1:1).
13. We get back in touch with this pull especially in the holy instant.
The Course says that in the holy instant, we at last get in touch with the attraction of God. There, the attraction is no longer ambivalent—we at last accept it as undivided. And so we yield to it; we join with God, realizing this is the only thing we could ever want.
In the holy instant there are no bodies, and you experience only the attraction of God. Accepting it as undivided you join Him wholly, in an instant, for you would place no limits on your union with Him. The reality of this relationship becomes the only truth that you could ever want. (T-15.IX.7:3–5)
14. We ultimately find anything that gets between us and God intolerable.
Even though we now seem incredibly attached to all sorts of things that are not God, in the end, says the Course, we will find them intolerable, simply because they stand in the way of the only thing we really want:
Much as the ego wants to retain guilt you find it intolerable, since guilt stands in the way of your remembering God, Whose pull is so strong that you cannot resist it. (T-13.II.1:2)
15. The pull of God will have its way with us in the end. We cannot really oppose it.
We can oppose the pull of God, but only for a time. Our defense against it is ultimately a weak, half-hearted one that cannot sustain itself. In the end, we cannot resist a pull that is literally the only desire we have. And so our ability to oppose the pull ends up not being a real ability but merely a delusion.
To oppose the pull or the will of God is not an ability but a real delusion. The ego believes that it has this ability, and can offer this ability to you as a gift. You do not want it. It is not a gift. It is nothing at all. (Urtext)
The truth is still that the attraction of God is irresistible at all levels, and the acceptance of this totally unavoidable truth is only a matter of time. But you should consider whether you want to wait, because you can return now, if you choose. (original version of T-7.IV.6:1-5)