As regular readers will know, I've been working on my grievances for some time. In the last post I talked about releasing ourselves from them and included a worksheet and some of the forgiveness lessons I've been using. You can find them here. After writing that post, a highly significant lesson from A Course in Miracles (lesson 78) made me pause and look again at what I called my 'stream of grievances'. The lesson is an important one with universal application, and I wanted to share some of the elements of it with you. Before I share the quote, I should explain that in the context of this pargraph, "miracles" refers to seeing the true nature of others*. The lesson starts by saying:
"Perhaps it is not quite clear to you that each decision that you make is now between a grievance and a miracle.
Each grievance stands like a dark shield of hate before the miracle it would conceal.
And if you raise it up before your eyes, you will not see the miracle beyond.
Yet all the while it waits for you in light, but you behold your grievances instead."
A "dark shield of hate". Wow! Such a strong image. In fact, my first reaction was to feel quite afronted by it. While there are plenty of people I prefer not to hang out with, I don't hate anyone and I've been working hard to release my major grievances. However, in light of this lesson, I saw many small things - judgments and opinions based on the past - that affect the little decisions I make throughout the day, and ultimately they DO stand in the way of seeing the true nature of others. The result cannot be much different from hiding behind a shield of hate and looking only at my grievances instead of truly seeing the other people. The most uncomfortable realisation was that I also do this with the people I love.
If you are honest with yourself, I suspect you might find exactly the same thing. Luckily, the Course teaches how to replace these grievances (with miracles) and in this post I'm going to talk about how to do just that, and will share an exercise which I've based on Lesson 78, but which uses my own words and phrases, rather than religious-sounding language or iambic pentameter which put me off studing the course for over 20 years. More on that later.
The heading for this lesson is "Let miracles replace all grievances"and as I indicated in the introduction, it could be paraphrased as 'let me see others, free of my grievances'. As A Course in Miracles ("the Course") is a spiritual text, the lesson is related to "God's salvation plan" but forthe purposes of this discussion, we will focus on how it can help us to improve our relationships, resolve the feelings of resentment I talked about in the last post and ultimately how it can heal us through increasing our sense of wellbeing, happiness, and peace.
Before we move onto the exercise, let's get really clear on what I'm talking about. Imagine there is a collegue you're not very fond of. They never offer to make the tea, but always accept if you offer to make it. You're both sat in the office and you're feeling thirsty but you don't really want to make a drink because you feel it should be their turn. The more thirsty you get, the more resentful you start to feel towards them. Meanwhile, they are getting on with their work, oblivious that all this is going on in your head, and you are getting increasingly angry and thirsty! Sounds ridiculous doesn't it? But there's a high probability that, like me, you do sometimes think like this.
Another example from my own life is directly related to the Course. For no obvious reason, I grew up with a deep distrust of anything 'religious' or related to a patriarchal God. (I have a strong sense that this isn't the only lifetime I've worked as a healer, and that this 'fear' of organised religion may not be from this incarnation, but it has been very real for me since childhood.) It caused me to declare myself an atheist from a young age and to reject anything that might suggest otherwise. For this reason, A Course in Miracles sat unread on my bookshelf for at least 23 years. I was first drawn to the book in my early 20s but I couldn't get past the language which seemed 'too Christian' and inaccessible to me, as it frequently talks about God**. My 'dark shield' was most definitely up, and my grievances were blocking any messages the book might have for me (and, as you might have gathered, there have been rather a lot).
The choice to remain thirsty or to ignore the teachings of a book which mentions God are simple examples of how we use our grievances as barriers in everyday decisions. Take a moment to think about it, and I'm sure you'll see further examples in your own life.
Lesson 78 suggests starting with a single person you have a grievance against. "Someone, perhaps, you fear or even hate; someoneyou think you love who angered you; someone you call a friend, but whom you see as difficult at times or hard to please, demanding, irritating or untrue to the ideal he should accept as his, according to the role you set for him." That last phrase is particularly noteworthy - 'the role you set for him'. In our first example, that role was a turn-taker in making tea, a role the colleague clearly hadn't assigned themselves!
So let's try an exercise in dropping the grievances and replacing them with a different vision instead. In my Reiki practice, when energetic blocks or ties are released from a person, I fill the 'space' that's left behind with something else - most often I visualise it being filled with light. To me, the following visualisation does the same thing, replacing grievances with a different vision of the person you are feeling resentful or judgmental about.
To do this exercise you need only choose a person you have a grievance towards. In fact, the Course suggests that the person you NEED to do it with is likely to have come up for you already.
**It was Gabby Bernstein's work that made me reconsider. Through her use of the word 'Universe' in place of God, I was able to see the benefits of the Course teachings and became willing to try again. This in itself was a miracle! By the way, the wording no longer triggers me, in fact some of it is so beautiful I stay with the same lesson or piece of text for several days.