Ending the Foolishness of Our Belief in Separation

It was just my imagination

In 2006, I fell into a deep depression. It was just like others had described it to me – a deep dark hole that you felt you could never climb out of, no matter what. Nothing in the world mattered to me. I called this my, “fuck it” stage of depression.

The house catches fire? “F*&# it.”

The dog dies? “F&#@ it.”

I win the lottery? “F&$@ it.”

Nothing, good or bad, could shake me from my darkness. During that time, one of my most beloved cats did, in fact, die, and while I missed him, it didn’t rip me apart as I thought it would. I could not sink deeper into darkness, even with his death.

I keenly felt a sense of separation – from the person I loved the most at that time and even the animals I loved the most. Nothing in the world brought me joy, and going within myself to try to find that joy made me feel even more depressed.

It wasn’t until my psychologist put me on anti-depressant medication that my world changed. Not because the medication made me feel better. In fact, I felt worse. The first day I took the meds, I felt invincible. I got so much done and felt better. As the weeks wore on, though, the meds helped even less than nothing. I felt angry all the time.

I called my psychologist.

“These meds are not working. They’re making me homicidal,” I told her.

“Are you having suicidal thoughts?” she asked in her clinically concerned voice.

“No!” I emphasized. “I’m fine. Everyone else must die.”

I stopped taking the medication and thought to myself, “There’s gotta be a better way.”

There was.

During that time, I had been reading a lot of material about the stories we tell ourselves and how those stories shape the lives we lead and the world we create. I realized that I had been repeating the same sad, woe-is-me, nobody-likes-me, everybody-hates-me stories to myself every single day since the depression had set in.

As A Course in Miracles, along with other metaphysical and spiritual practices, teaches, our thoughts create our reality. I was, of course, skeptical of the whole, “change your thoughts, change your life” New Age slogan, but when you’re at the bottom, you try anything that seems promising.

I changed the stories I was telling myself. I found reasons to celebrate, even if they were small. I began to transform stories of how the world had done me wrong and how lonely I felt into stories about how I was making new connections in my world – no matter how small or tentative. I found something to celebrate every day and I forced myself to stop rehearsing the stories that made me sad.

What I discovered was that all these teachings are true. My thoughts created a whole new, happier, and more loving world, both within myself and around myself in the world. It didn’t happen overnight, of course. It still took me another year to dig myself out of the pit, but if I had followed Lesson 41 in the workbook of A Course, I think the time would have been much shorter.

This lesson says that “God goes with me wherever I go.” It promises that “this idea will eventually overcome completely the sense of loneliness and abandonment which all the separated ones experience. Depression is an inevitable consequence of separation.”

During that time, I felt a keen sense of separation – not just from those I loved, but from God. I truly believed God had abandoned me in this pit of despair.

My old Southern Baptist training kicked in, though, and set God up as both the villain and the hero. I believed that God was punishing me for something, but, at the same time he would be a superhero, who would swoop down and save me – set my feet upon the rock and help me sing a new, happier song. I didn’t realize that I had created that separation and had been maintaining it by telling myself a story about a disappointing superhero God that never quite shows up in time to save you from a fatal fall.

I kept looking outside for my cure – in doctors, pills, therapists, people, or the god of my old religion to rescue me. This lesson says that’s not where our salvation comes from. It comes from within; from the holiness we already possess. God goes with us wherever we go because God is within. God is the creator in whom we live and move and have our being  – and if we can wrap our minds around that, then “the ills of the world” find no foothold in our minds.

“You can never be deprived of your perfect holiness because its Source goes with you wherever you go,” the lesson says. “You can never suffer because the Source of all joy goes with you wherever you go. You can never be alone because the Source of all life goes with you wherever you go. Nothing can destroy your peace of mind because God goes with you wherever you go.”

It was, indeed, this realization that God is always present that finally lifted me from the pit. This lesson convinced me that acknowledging the holiness that resides in me had “the power to end all this foolishness forever.”

“And foolishness it is,” this lesson says, “despite the serious and tragic forms it may take. Deep within you is everything that is perfect, ready to radiate through you and out into the whole world. It will cure all sorrow and pain and fear and loss, because it will heal the mind that thought these things were real and suffered out of its allegiance to these beliefs.”

Whether you feel as if you’re in the pit of despair, or on the mountaintop, the Source of your holiness is always there. If you think you’re separated from God in any moment, that’s just your ego lying to you. Your Source is always there, ever available, waiting for you to notice and grab hold of your true power as a blessed Child of God.

Reaching God, this lesson assures us, is “very easy, because it is the most natural thing in the world.” When we realize this, we can “afford to laugh at fear thoughts, remembering that God goes with you wherever you go.”

This means that when we experience despair, we are misusing our imagination to envision a false world where God can abandon us, and we can be separated from God and each other. This is the foolishness that needs to end.

As the Sufi poet Hafiz puts it:

For me, and for the one who is One with God,
imagination does not exist.

Whatever you might be able to do in a dream,
or in a thought or fantasy,

I could literally pull from my pocket,
or just make appear in my hand.

What kind of world is this then
that we live in?

It has been make-believe since the beginning
and does not know any other way to act.