|How To Be Holy
A strategy of holiness is the first tool in your kit of special resources for acting on the awareness to become a more loving being.
Do you long to be holy? At first glance, the goal of holiness may seem impossible because it conjures up religious definitions and stereotypes of martyrs or extraordinary do-gooders. For example, the word "holy" is most typically used by religions to confer special status to important people or sacred sites, which closely links these people and places to God. This special award-like status suggests that select people and places have been singled out by God and have a bit of His presence. Therefore it's generally believed that these particular holy beings or sacred sites truly are "holier than thou." Such holy beings and places are thought to bestow special favors, healings, predictions, and divine interventions.
A more liberal but still traditional interpretation of the word "holy" suggests that any work done by anybody on behalf of God is holy. So if you're a Mother Teresa doing work in Calcutta for the poor as God's representative on earth, then that work is holy. Or if you're a volunteer doing work for your church in Allentown, Pennsylvania, then that work is holy. Or if you're a spiritual person who writes books about God, then that work is holy. But what about terrorists who kill on God's behalf? Is that work holy? What about people who kill doctors who perform abortions because they feel so passionately that abortion is evil and contrary to God? Is that work holy? Much killing and other harmful acts are done in the name of holiness and God. This is what makes holiness so confusing.
It's clear that an even more updated interpretation of holiness is now needed. We need a way of understanding and interpreting "holy" that can be generalized to all people, whether or not they belong to a church, whether or not they "officially" do God's work. Let's start the defining process by looking for clues. Consider the word "holy" and think about some of the more obvious English words that are related to it.
HALO A "halo" is a golden circle of light around the head. This circle of light is a symbol of closeness to God. What else is the halo telling us?
- We see that the light completely surrounds the head, no other part of the body. So we know that holiness has something to do with the mind.
- We also see that within the halo there is no darkness. There's only light. So we know that holiness has something to do with the absence of darkness.
- In addition, we see that the halo is a beautiful, often luminous shade of gold. Gold is the symbol for the highest value. Luminosity underscores the radiance that comes with this value. So we know that holiness has something to do with the only thing that's really important, and that is love.
- And finally, the word "halo" is a variation of the word "hallow." So the phrase hallowed be thy name can be reinterpreted to mean light be thy name or love be thy name. Whenever we clear our minds of hate, the mind shines bright as gold and connects with God.
WHOLE Something that is "whole" is complete, perfect, and satisfied. Nothing is missing. Nothing is needed. There is no emptiness. No impairment. No lack. No wrong that needs to be righted. No fear that needs to be assuaged. The love that our Higher self extends is whole, perfect, full to the brim, not concerned in any way about lack.
WHOLESOME "Wholesome" means healthy, clean, upright, open, forthright, honest. The love that our Higher self extends is wholesome and open to all. It does not manipulate or control to determine how the love is received, appreciated, or returned.
So now let's summarize what what know. Holiness is a way of describing your state of mind when fear and hate are not present. It's light in the mind. It's a mind that is whole. It's a mind that is wholesome. A Course In Miracles reminds us that contrary to popular belief, holiness is very easy to achieve. This is because the mind is holy whenever it holds only love. Therefore the most convenient place to practice this divine strategy is within the context of our special relationships.
There is nothing, absolutely nothing, quite like a special relationship to bring out the impulse to hate and the urge to kill. That's why special relationships are such a powerful and transformative tool on your spiritual path. Special relationships can drive you crazy and provoke you to be mean and spiteful. Or they can inspire you to learn about holiness and to directly experience holiness.
One of the Boston TV networks where I live recently did a feel-good kind of news story about couples who were married 50 years or more. These couples were celebrating their many years of marriage with a formal
dinner and dance at the Copley Plaza Hotel. A reporter made the rounds to a few dancing couples to ask them how their marriages had survived for so long, "What's the secret of staying married?" he asked. The reporter didn't sound very interested in their answers. It was more like he wanted a few quick sound bytes to fill up space. As if on command, the first two answers he got were predictable and sappy: "Never go to bed angry," and "What you don't say is just as important as what you do say." Then the reporter decided to change his question. "Have you ever considered divorce?" he asked a dapper-looking 80 year-old man who was leading his wife around the dance floor. The fellow pauses, stared the reporter right in the eye, and then said, "Divorce, never! Murder, a thousand times."
We begin to rediscover our greatness and to remember our Christ self whenever we override the impulse to hate with the deliberate decision to be loving and harmless. We don't really get rid of the impulse to hate. Instead, we rise above it. The impulse isn't rejected. Instead, it's overridden and replaced by a loving thought. That's why some people refer to this process as transcendence or conscious override. You are transformed when everything inside you is screaming for attack, and you consciously choose to not attack.
Holiness comes through you, not to you. You are not holy because you hapen to witness holiness, or because you are in a place that others consider holy, or because you read a book that people consider holy. Holiness is not a passive or mindless event. Rather, it's a highly conscious and active state of being. Therefore it makes sense that holiness comes to you through highly conscious choice. Everytime you override or transcend the impulse to hate with the choice to not attack, you are holy. This holy state of being must be directly experienced before it is fully understood.
Every single person in your life who makes you crazy presents you with the opportunity to be holy and to understand holiness. Therefore these are the most valuable people in our lives because they inspire us to break free from the trap of returning hate for hate. Otherwise we are just too comfortable, too lazy, too uninspired. Without the people who make us crazy, we would not have a reason to push ourselves to higher levels of awareness. We would not be propelled to try something different or new. Sheer exasperation can work for you -- especially when you've tried every other possible solution without any success.
The fastest and most efficient way to learn about holiness is through the challenge of a difficult relationship. We need people who make us crazy. We need them very, very much. They are important and valuable assets. Our difficult relationships are the fertilizer for spiritual growth.
Let the goal of holiness uplift your special relationships. A special relationship is about getting love. In contrast, a holy relationship is about being love. A special relationship is about seeking what is lacked. Conversely, a holy relationship is about providing what is lacked. A special relationship is about expecting people to conform to our dreams. Alternatively, a holy relationship is about waking up from dreams and accepting ourselves and others as we are. A special relationship is about giving happiness to get something. A holy relationship is instead about being happiness, because that is what you are. A special relationship is about attempting to separate love and limit it to yourself. A holy relationship is about extending love because love cannot be contained.
Put your halo on now and decide to be holy. A holy mind is tightly aligned and connectefd to God. Holiness is therefore an act of power as well as an act of love. There is nothing the power of God cannot do, and there is nothing your holiness cannot do. Through your holiness, God's power is manifested and made available. Your holiness solves all problems. Your holiness makes miracles possible. Your holiness uplifts the world.
This article is excerpted from THE BOOK OF LOVE (ISBN 0966696735).
About the Author
Karen Bentley is a dynamic woman with a passionate mission. Her goal is to revolutionize the way that people think about love. She is the creator of the acclaimed Big Heart Books and companion lecture series, including 10 Radiant Ideas, The Book of Love, and The Power to Stop. Bentley is also the founder of Heart Mania, a set of activities open to the general public that celebrate unconditional love. In 2003 Bentley launched www.spiritualreviewer.com, the only website on the planet exclusively dedicated to reviewing books about love from an uncompromisingly spiritual perspective.