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What An Open Classroom Can Teach Us About Spiritual Growth
How well am I growing on my spiritual path?
It's a natural question to ask. We sincerely would like to know whether the lessons we're practicing, the thoughts we're thinking, the steps we're taking are working.
But it's also a loaded question. Because what we're really asking is how far up the ladder have I traveled and how much more to go?
As if spiritual growth were a class and we're hoping for a passing, if not excellent, grade.
Yet there is no external indicator that can measure progress. The number of times we've completed the ACIM workbook, the plethora of passages we've memorized and can quote verbatim in response to any worldly situation, the ability to perfectly recite course metaphysics, and so forth, make no difference.
There is one, and only one question that makes sense to ask, and it is this: How peaceful am I feeling?
When I was in sixth grade elementary school, I was enrolled in an open classroom. Meaning: while there was a general structure, kids progressed at their own pace.
We were not given regular textbooks - instead we were given the teacher's manuals. The ones with the questions AND the answers. There was no external assessment. Rather, we self-graded based on the honor system.
So, we'd teach ourselves the lessons. Take tests in the book. Grade ourselves based on the answer key, and either proceed to the next section or re-learn the material. If we ever got stuck we could ask the teacher for help. Otherwise, we were pretty much on our own.
Obviously it would have been very simple to give ourselves excellent marks and fly right through the material. But what's the point? While it might boost our ego, it would deprive our real learning.
The most helpful thing we could do was to be honest with ourselves. If something didn't make sense or if we kept missing the mark during testing, then clearly we needed help. Either practicing a bit more or reaching out to the teacher - or, oftentimes, both.
Spiritual growth is exactly like that open classroom.
We've been given the syllabus (our body and the daily drama surrounding it) and the answer key (the measure of peace we experience in each moment). We can proceed at any pace we wish. We can choose to fool ourselves and take passing marks on each test, or we can honestly say "Hmm, I'm not quite getting this particular lesson because I am definitely not at peace. I ought to practice this a bit more and reach out to the teacher for help."
The "teacher" in this case is the right mind of spirit. Our connection to source. The reflection of peace and love.
In any situation we can turn to this guide whose counsel will always leave us with a deep sense of calm and understanding. The more often we honestly assess our level of peace and ask for help, the faster we progress through the curriculum and up the ladder. It's an incredibly inspiring and wonderfully blissful way to learn.
Join me in our Thursday Zoom session where we'll explore the nature of spiritual practice as an "open classroom" - and the extraordinary benefits that result. I look forward to seeing you, and your creativity, then.