I spent time reflecting on the following passage from the Text of A Course in Miracles this week:
The message your brother gives you is up to you. What does he say to you? What would you have him say? Your decision about him determines the message you receive. [Chapter 9, Section II, Paragraph 5]
The message my brother gives me is up to me? My decision about him determines the message I receive? I knew the truth in these words as soon as I read them, and I realized that knowing their truth placed responsibility on me for embodying this truth in my life.
Somehow, I have known and lived this truth within the classroom for years. I didn’t know it as a spiritual truth, but I did realize very early in my teaching career that my students reflected back to me what I perceived in them. As I responded to the bright light I recognized within each of them, we developed a caring classroom community in which each student blossomed and grew in his or her own way. Somehow, I have always known that teaching is more about caring and nurturing that bright spark within each student that is entrusted to me than it is about pedagogy.
I have witnessed how young people respond when the adults in their lives have made negative decisions about them or do not recognize their inherent worth. When adults decide that youth are “troubled,” “bad,” or “a waste of their efforts,” that is exactly the message they get back. Children and youth reflect back what we expect to see from them. However, when adults see, and hold onto, what is beautiful and promising in each child or teenager they interact and work with, in time, that young person will let down the walls they have erected in self-protection against a judgmental world that perceives only what they lack. As they let down their inner walls, they reflect back what is beautiful and promising. Many times, those walls take time to come down, but they do come down when young people realize that we truly see them, that we see the beautiful inner light of their spirits.
And so it is with everyone we encounter in our lives. If we hold preconceptions about another or we are looking for faults or limitations, we will perceive the shortcomings that we expect to see. And we will validate our perception with the thought, “See? I told you so.” However, if we flip this and expect to see the bright spark of spirit within others, our expectation will draw out what is good and beautiful and true. My experience has been that it can take time to witness this transformation with some people, particularly if they are used to being judged and they are suspicious of where I am coming from. When they realize that I am genuine and that I recognize their worth and inner beauty beneath any surface trappings or preconceived flaws, their light will shine. I have witnessed the transformation over and over again.
I believe in the universal truths explained repeatedly in A Course in Miracles. We are all One. We are all God’s Son — all individual manifestations of God. Although we differ in appearance because we inhabit physical bodies, inside, we are all one spirit. Most of us have forgotten who we really are at the soul level. We have become accustomed to seeing ourselves as separate individuals who have to protect ourselves in a dog-eat-dog world and who want to make ourselves into something more, believing that success will make us “more” in the eyes of the world. This is the message of the world in which we live, but we are not separate and we do not have to be “more” in any way. We are all part of one Spirit — we are all part of God — and God loves us completely just as we are for we are His Beloved creations.
I really like the analogy of the little wave in the big ocean. When the little wave emerges from the ocean, it thinks, “Look at me! Look at how big I am! I am bigger and better than that puny little wave… but wait, there’s a wave that is bigger than me. I want to be just like that wave. Then, I will be more powerful and all the little waves will look up to me.” The little wave doesn’t realize that when it completes its expression as an individual wave, it will return to the body of the ocean. While it is a wave, it doesn’t remember that it is a part of something much bigger, and although it believes itself to be separate and individual, it is a part of the ocean out of which it came.
We are like that little wave. We emerge from Spirit into this lifetime and believe that we are individuals who have to “make it” in some way. We believe that we are separate from all the other individuals who inhabit this planet, but we have forgotten that we are a part of all that is. We are a part of the spiritual energy of God, and we will return to God when this physical life is done. Just pause for a moment and consider the amazing truth of these words: God is within us, and we are part of God. We are God’s beloved creations, and so we are expressions of God.
If I am God’s child, then so are you… and so is everyone else. Within each one of us, there is the bright spark of God’s Light. We may have forgotten and be completely unaware of who we are, but God knows and waits for us to remember. When we remember and begin to perceive the beautiful light of spirit within each of our Brothers and Sisters, we help them begin the process of remembering and responding to the radiant spirit that lies within them.
Remember that the Holy Spirit is in him, and His Voice speaks to you through him. What can so holy a brother tell you except truth? But are you listening to it? Your brother may not know who he is, but there is a light in his mind that does know. This light can shine into yours, giving truth to his words, and making you able to hear them. His words are the Holy Spirit’s answer to you. Is your faith in him strong enough to let you hear? [A Course in Miracles, Chapter 9, Section II, Paragraph 5]
Let us remember the power of our expectations in what we perceive and experience from others. When we look to see the inner spiritual beauty that lies within everyone, that expectation illuminates and helps us to remember the truth of who we really are. Namaste.