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17.1 To succeed is to follow after, and to follow into inheritance. It is a following after that occurs in time and space rather than in truth. It is never about one. It is not about replacement. It comes in a never ending series rather than in singular form. It is not true succession if there is a break in the chain or in the line of succession for true succession does not stop and start, but is continual.
17.2 The series build to a climax, to what, during the time of evolution, might have been called evolutionary leaps.
17.3 The secret of succession is simple. It is but a matter of wholehearted desire. Do you wholeheartedly desire to follow me to your true inheritance? To come after me and be as I was? To be the inheritor of the gifts that are ours? Do you desire this? Are you willing to claim it? Are you willing to claim it in form and time?
17.4 Can you understand that what you claim in form and time was always yours?
17.5 Little can be had without desire. Desire, unlike want, asks for a response rather than a provision. Desire is a longing for, a stretching out for. Imagine yourself at the summit of this mountain we have climbed, standing with arms raised, hands wide open, gazing jubilantly into the heavens rather than toward the earth below. This is the stance of both desire and fulfillment. Of longing and attainment. Of having asked and having received. Of having striven mightily and succeeded. It is what comes after the embrace of homecoming, and what comes before the passing of desire and the reverence that replaces it. It acknowledges a certain “taking over” of the spirit of desire. Having “arrived,” the desire to “get there” has not been satiated but only has grown into something different. With having arrived comes the “presence” of Self so long awaited, the joy of accomplishment, the taste of victory.
17.6 But the desire, the desire is stronger than ever before. The influx of attainment has begun. The height of achievement has been reached. Your glory is realized. But the desire, the desire is stronger than ever before.
17.7 You are not alone in your glory or achievement and you marvel that this takes nothing from your feeling of accomplishment. You want to share it with the whole world. From the top of the mountain, arms outstretched, this desire too has caused your arms to raise as if of their own accord. You feel the power of giving and receiving as one, for this is what this gesture symbolizes, a great and steady flow of giving and receiving as one, an unbroken chain of giving and receiving as one. You offer up your glory and call it down from heaven, both at the same time.
17.8 But the desire, the desire is stronger than ever before.
17.9 You know instinctively that this desire is not a desire to hold on to what you have. That this moment of achievement and glory is a gift of this moment, a gift of presence. Your gesture, so like unto that of a champion who has crossed a finish line and won a race, is not meant to remain as it is in this moment. It is not a trophy for your wall. It is not an achievement you would hope to best. It simply is what it is: A moment of presence full of both desire and fulfillment.
17.10 Hope, as was said within this Course, is a condition of the initiate. You have now passed hope by as you have moved beyond the state of initiation. You are no longer hopeful for what will come. Hope is desire accompanied by expectation. To expect is to await, and you are no longer waiting. You have arrived. You have passed through the stage of initiation. You have reached the top of the mountain.
17.11 You stand now at the threshold. The stimulus has been provided, the journey taken. You are present. Now is the time for your response.
17.12 That response is wholehearted desire, which is the power that A Course of Love came to return to you. You were told within this Course that wholehearted desire for union would return union to you and return you to your Self. This is the moment of realization of that accomplishment. But your desire has not left you. Your desire is stronger than ever before.
17.13 What is different now is that your wholeheartedness, as well as your desire, has moved beyond the pattern of thought.
17.14 Let me return you to the questions that were asked of you earlier, for they are even more pertinent now. Do you think desire will still be with you when you have achieved what you have desired? Is it not possible to conceive of a time in which desire will no longer serve you, just as learning now no longer serves you? If you reach a state of full acceptance of who you are, and in that state, fully accept that your contribution is being made, will desire still be with you?
17.15 Your heart is a full well. It is because you have now turned to your heart, instead of to your thinking, that you feel both fulfillment and desire. But my earlier questions seemed to indicate that once fulfillment was reached, desire would no longer be with you. But your desire is still with you. It is stronger than ever before.
17.16 The only reason why this might be so is that it is meant to be so. Something is still desired.
17.17 Desire asks for a response. Earlier it was said that desire asks for a response while want asks for provision. What is the difference we speak of here?
17.18 Provision is about preparation for future needs. This is an appropriate response to want, but it is an inappropriate response to desire. It is an assumption of needs unfulfilled. You now stand in fulfillment. This is the secret of succession.
17.19 Desire asks for a response. From where is this response sought? You now must understand the fullness of the well of your heart, the interrelationship of desire and fulfillment. The interrelationship of desire and fulfillment is what occurs at the threshold. Beyond the threshold is the state in which desire has passed and been replaced by reverence. To revere is to feel awe, which, it has been stated, is due nothing and no one but God. To move beyond desire to reverence is to move into the state of communion with God, full oneness with God, wholeness.
17.20 You have realized now that you remain in a state of becoming, and any disappointment you may have initially felt with this realization has been replaced by acceptance. Acceptance has come because you recognize the signs of becoming that we have been discussing. You recognize them because they are what you are feeling. You may wonder still, however, how you can be told that you have arrived and are at your journey’s end and yet still have farther to go.
17.21 You have nowhere to go. The journey is over. You stand at the threshold, the gateway to the site you have traveled so far to reach. You are here and desire fills you, even while you know the glory of having arrived.
17.22 But having arrived here, it is as if a new question is asked of you. Just as in the myths that are as ageless as they are timeless, you are asked for something here. You are asked for a response.
17.23 Only in myth is this a response to a specific question, but even the specific questions of myth, when seen truly, were questions of the heart, calling only for a response from the heart.
17.24 Desire calls here, louder and stronger than ever before, because of your proximity to what you have desired. Every hero’s journey returns him home. To where he started from. In story form, this takes place with movement. Years are spent traveling many paths and many miles. All the heartaches are experienced along the way. All the experiences and learning occur on the journey.
17.25 This is why you have been told the time of parables, or stories, has ended. This is why you have been told: “As within, so without.” This is why you have been taken to the top of the mountain without leaving home. You have taken the inward course, the inward journey, the only journey that is real in the only way that is real.
17.26 We will spend forty days and forty nights here together, at the top of the mountain, fasting from want, becoming aware of desire, responding to desire. This is the final stage of becoming. Herein lies the secret of succession.
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