A Lesson in Form Versus Content

Last week I wrote an article (Equal Access to God) that resulted in intriguing feedback. By far most of it was positive and those responses concerned the overall message of the article – each individual awakening is essential to the Great Awakening so no one is special. Those few comments and emails from confused or offended readers that I received all concerned the initial paragraph where I wrote about book signing. Wasn’t I making a big deal about something insignificant and wasn’t I singling out book-signing to judge against when nothing in the world means anything? These reactions are a good lesson in how the ego always speaks first and how it emphasizes form over content. Of course the overall message of the article had nothing to do with book signing and wasn’t judging against it. The article simply used seeking signatures from teachers of A Course in Miracles as an example of a subtle form of idol-making. Those who were confused and offended by the ego’s interpretation of the first paragraph didn’t seem to get to the real, Loving content of the article.

Another question students asked or implied was, “Isn’t book signing just an opportunity to extend Love?” Yes it is if the writer finds themselves in that situation. No one who really teaches A Course in Miracles would seek to put themselves in that situation but some publishers make book signing a requirement for publishing a book. No doubt the Holy Spirit leads the writer to use book signing as an opportunity to extend Love. The world often asks us to do absurd things and we have to make the best of those situations by using them in a Loving way. But the article was really directed toward those who make idols of teachers in the A Course in Miracles community, and more generally, who seek to meet certain people for the ego’s reasons. You always meet yourself – you are always confronting an extension of the Holy Spirit or a projection of the ego from your own mind. So why would you single out certain people to meet? Of course this is quite apart from situations where the Holy Spirit leads you to meet certain people because you are each at a perfect place to teach/learn from each other.

You must question every value you have in your identification with a personal self. You have to look at what is motivating you at every turn. What are you teaching yourself about yourself? The ego always leads you outward to look for something in others and the Holy Spirit always leads you inward to the Truth that you do not have to seek for anything because you have everything within you always. The ego can be very subtle. It exalts messengers to obscure their message. I’ve heard of some who have rejected the Course because Helen Schucman said that while she knew it was true she couldn’t accept it. Like all of us Helen was torn between the Holy Spirit (knew it was true) and the ego (couldn’t accept it). How does that have any relevance unless you think that who a person is determines whether or not the Truth is in their mind? The Holy Spirit is in everyone and, no matter who you are, It can work in you and through you. If what someone teaches resonates as Truth for you then be grateful to the Holy Spirit for the teaching and be grateful to the teacher for allowing it to come through them. But don’t confuse the form (the body/ego of the teacher) with the Content of their teaching. Form is always nothing and, when the message is Truth, the Content is Everything.

Comments

JJ said…
Dear Liz,

You are a wonderful beautiful person. Do you think it is a possibility that you might have a blind spot? Could Spirit be trying to show you something through your readers? It seems from your responses that you are not very willing to consider a viewpoint that differs from yours, but I will try to make one anyhow.

Your original post was not completely “loving” as you pretend. You continue to say that those who see differently than you are “confused” and imply that book signing is “absurd”. You assume that the only reason someone would want a book signing is for "idol making". We find ourselves as spiritual beings alive in bodies. What joy to participate in the multitude of human rituals with joy and love, even knowing that they are all quite meaningless!

Here is a simple observation that you might want to think about: although you say that authorship is not important, you have printed “copyright 2009 Elizabeth Cronkhite” on every page of your rewrite of ACIM. Surely you must have noticed that most authors put the copyright at the beginning of a work, not on every page. A completely loving person might raise a question about why you do this. Questions can be a welcome thing.

I encourage you in your project. I think you are doing wonderful work. I read your version and compared it to the original and it seems that you changed very little except for having your name on every page. Although there may be absolutely no personal aggrandizement in your efforts, you could possibly see how others might see you giving a mixed message and that does not make them “confused or offended” as you label them. You say that those who raise questions about what you wrote are speaking from ego. You didn’t mention whether those who were positive about your post might also be speaking from ego. I wonder why not? You imply that if a person questions one part of your post that they have missed the entire point of it. We are smart people, Liz. We can get the whole point AND raise a question at the same time!


With love,

JJ
ACIM Mentor said…
If there's one thing I've learned writing these articles, JJ, it's that people will read their own stuff into what I write - ALWAYS. I'm reluctant to write about the comments others make about these articles because I recognize that it's their stuff (positive or negative), not mine, and if it bothers me then that's my stuff and I look at that with the Holy Spirit. But when I'm prompted by the Holy Spirit to revisit an idea I do it despite my own reluctance. This was one of those cases.

There doesn't seem to be a way to write perfectly so that everyone who reads what I write understands exactly where I am coming from. All I can say is that if a reader feels uncomfortable with, attacked by, or offended by what I write they might want to take a look at the thoughts in their own mind with the Holy Spirit.
TStrang said…
Hi All,

Regardless of how imperfect words are at communicating what our thoughts and questions are, Liz's original post and both Liz's and JJ's comments have helped me significantly. After thinking about the original post and the comments, I've realized that one thing I am not confused about is that it's impossible to teach inequality if you know only equality is true. Sign a book, don't sign a book, either way the truth isn't changed. I'm not implying anything about Liz's post when I write this. I'm only writing about how the post and the comments helped me. Also, for quite some time I've wondered what was meant by the Course teaching "Recognize what does not matter, and if your brothers ask you for something "outrageous," do it because it does not matter. Refuse, and your opposition establishes that it does matter to you. ..." (T12.III.4+) I think, given the post and the comments, I am a little closer to getting this teaching. So I am grateful to both Liz and JJ and if I missed their points all is not lost because I'm certain my thinking is clearer now than it was before.

Sincerely,
Tamara

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