Fall from Grace
I grew up in a Catholic family, and being from Poland, this meant that my family–in particular my grandmothers–had a deeply devotional relationship with the church. Memories of my grandmothers quietly meditating in prayer over the rosary at dawn still warm my heart.
However as a precocious little girl I did not share my family’s dedication to Catholicism. My understanding, granted, not entirely of my own making, pictured the God of the Catholic church as made in the image of man (rather than the other way around), as something unreachable, as a kind of benevolent puppet master who required my obedience and who’s forgiveness I had to beg. From a young age, this felt like a tedious ploy–one that may have worked in the Middle Ages, but it was not going to work on me in 1985!
This teaching of God did not align with what I knew to be certain and its treatment seemed rote, insincere and offensive. It felt aggravating to me, because it was in complete conflict with my sense of a higher power.
As I got older terms like Source and Universe came into my awareness. These untainted, sexless names for my higher power felt like home. They resonated with my inherent concept of God and became my solution for circumventing the problem of Judeo-Christian language.
But my fluid understanding of the Universe as Source energy, was challenged when I began to study A Course In Miracles. Faced with the word God, in this new context, has proven to be an extraordinary experience. One that has given depth to any term which aims at naming that which is beyond language.
The Prism of Awareness
Feeling incredibly drawn and open to the teaching of the Course, at first I chose to either ignore the patriarchal Christian language and see “beyond” it, or to mentally replace words like “God” with the more comfortable “Source.” This became dizzying and exhausting, and thankfully didn’t last long.
The language that appeared to be the prism of conventional or popular Judeo-Christian principles, quickly began to take on new meaning for me. Delving deeper, beautiful nuggets of truth revealed the nuance of the words I read. Like glittering gold dust, the text suddenly illuminated, and what felt like religious verbosity fell away.
A new definition of God emerged.
God means Extension. God means Consistency. God means Truth.
Extension is pure love. It reaches out in fullness, consistently blessing and in asking for nothing in return, knows itself. Not to be confused with expansion. Nothing is subsumed through Extension. There is no impetus to encroach on anyone or anything else, it is simply the process of sharing being.
The Course says that, “Being is known by sharing.” (Text.137.7.6.)
This can be understood as the reason why you feel so vibrantly alive when you’re on purpose, when you’re creating as an extension of your natural gifts, when you’re connecting with another person in a way that feels authentic, when you extend love to another by giving unconditionally.
Although these are experiences that we know to be enjoyable or good behavior, the distinction that ACIM brings to light (and that is of course the real message of Judeo-Christian teachings) is that these moments of extending our Self to another person or the greater world, are quite literally an experience of that which is God. The eternal, undeniable aspect of our being.
“Being must extend. That is how it retains the knowledge of itself. Spirit yearns to share its being as its Creator did. Created by sharing, its will is to create. It does not wish to contain God, but wills to extend his Being.” (Text.132.2.6-10.)
A simple mirroring of this in my life experience has been the near painful desire to share myself, my gifts, and the magic of life with the people around me and beyond. This natural urge has guided nearly all that I’ve tried to achieve in life as an artist, a health coach and in my relationships. But when either rejection, or my ego’s own destructive projections and bad behavior blocked me from sharing my authentic self in a situation, it felt like death to my soul.
An accumulation of these experiences has repeatedly lead to sadness and self-loathing, or worse, to the conclusion that I simply won’t share myself any more. This, of course, is impossible.
Identity has no bounds
Your true identity is maintained by extension. By sharing. Because in truth you are so full there is no other choice. This uninterrupted lifeline is understood in human experience as joy, and joy as fulfillment, because you are making good on your purpose to create.
“The full appreciation of the mind’s Self-fullness makes selfishness impossible and extension inevitable.” (Text.133.4.6.)
Extension is not based on conditions, if you aim to extend, it cannot be in the context of rewards or reciprocity. That’s expansion, or inflation. You can only achieve extension if it is not subject to limits of context or another’s loss. These are our limiting beliefs, and this has been my biggest problem.
Throughout most of my life my context for sharing was subconsciously driven by heartfelt extension, but also rather consciously, by the desire for gain. If I loved someone, I needed them to love me back. If I longed to share a talent with the world, I needed to have professional affirmation.
This duality can only lead to disappointment. It feels like dissonance within, and projects a conflicted self outward. This left me in a place that felt like I was perpetually taking two steps forward, and three steps back.
Extension is everything
This is why the constraints people put on how they are willing to share themselves are painful. A system of give and take is diametrically opposed to what we are in our essence. Your real, Self-full expression of what you are can only be fulfilled through sharing, or extending: yourself, your knowledge, your gifts, your love.
“Fullness is extension. The ego’s whole thought system blocks extension, and thus blocks your only function (…) your joy, so that you perceive yourself as unfulfilled.” (Text.132.3.3-5.)
If you find yourself withholding your love and gifts, for fear of rejection or out of resentment, try to remember that by denying another you deny yourself the experience of Being, of Self-realization–of God. Extension is the essence of Being. I’m working on living this in my own life, and am feeling increasingly grounded in the knowledge that I am fully responsible for my own feelings of fulfillment.
This reimagined definition of God is allowing for a deeply moving experience with A Course in Miracles. As a result, I’m finding that with this mindset I need less from other people, while releasing grudges and blame for perceived disadvantages placed in my life’s path. The feeling of dissonance has all but vanished, and each day I feel a deeper connection to my essence: Extension, Truth, Consistency.
If you feel called
If you feel called by the concept of God as Extension, take a few minutes with these quotes. With each one, close your eyes and let the meaning descend upon you.
Despite being out of context, these quotes need no explanation. Some repeated from above, these varyingly assembled words, at least to me, communicate one fundamental teaching. Perhaps, one and not another will speak to you.
Excerpts from the Text volume of A Course In Miracles:
“…there is only one meaning. This meaning comes from God and is God. Because it is also you, you share it and extend it as your Creator did. This needs no translation, because it is perfectly understood, but it does need extension because it means extension.”
“Understanding means consistency because God means consistency. Since that is His meaning it is also yours”
“Being must extend. That is how it retains the knowledge of itself. Spirit yearns to share its being as its Creator did. Created by sharing, its will is to create. It does not wish to contains God, but wills to extend his Being.”
“Fullness is extension. The ego’s whole thought system blocks extension, and thus blocks your only function (…) your joy, so that you perceive yourself as unfulfilled.”
“The full appreciation of the mind’s Self-fullness makes selfishness impossible and extension inevitable.”
‘Your Self-fullness is as boundless as God’s. Like His, It extends forever and in perfect peace. It’s radiance is so intense It creates in perfect joy, and only the Whole can be born of Its Wholeness.”
“Being a lesson in sharing its is a lesson in love, which is joy.”
“Being is known by sharing. Because God shared His Being with you, you can know Him.”