Unlearning Classroom

W-15: My thoughts are images that I have made.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

This lesson tells me that I think that I am thinking, therefore the truth is that I am not thinking.  What I call thinking is actually not-thinking.

Because I think I am thinking, I think I see what I’m “thinking” about.  This is what eyesight is for: to witness to the ego that it exists through false visuals.

eye clockLesson 15 goes on to say it is teaching us an  “introductory idea to the process of image making” [bold mine].  This was said to Helen and Bill in the 1970s before the mainstream popularity of New Age ideas about creating your reality, visualizing your future and positive affirmations.  I’ve come to understand that positive affirmations, vision boards, setting intention, etc, are methods of manipulating the ego dream — which is okay for a while, but at some point this is no longer gratifying.

Discovering the power of the mind, even in the ego dream, is very useful.  The belief in ego mind has miscreated powerfully with the use of imagination:  galaxies, planets, the elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether, humans — yet, none of this is real.  You can think of it as virtual reality.

Lesson 15 says that we will begin to understand the process of image making when we see little edges of light around the same familiar objects which we see now, and that that is the beginning of real vision.  Jesus says once this happens we can be certain that real vision will come quickly–of course, we don’t know what Jesus means by quickly, lol.  Billions of years are nothing to him, and anything can happen in a holy instant.  We are also told that as we go along we may have many light episodes.  I’ve had some, and many others have as well.

Although light episodes can seem dramatic, they are, as my first yoga teacher Dharma Mittra used to say, “just another experience.”  Yogic practices can lead to light experiences, just as Course practices can.  As the Course says in the Text, there are many legitimate paths and A Course in Miracles is but one of them.  But if the Course does turn out to be your path, as it is mine, there is a satisfaction in acknowledging that the world has been a terrifying, unjust and vicious place.  In my experience it is also depleting, unsatisfying, perversely uncooperative, unreasonable and irrational place.  In recent years, since I found the Course, the world and my relationships have become much more gratifying.  Everything is much simpler now that I can remind myself that everything is a call for love, or Love Itself, and the only response is Love.  Now I can let go of the ego thought system with Love and return Home.

Some students of the Course take this information about light episodes literally.  I have had many experiences of seeing what Gurumayi and others call the “blue pearl.”   And I have also had a series of ocular migraines that, as I stopped feeling afraid of them and relaxed into them, have had a softening and opening effect on my mind.  They are a painless light show, jewel-like, kaleidoscopic-ish, and give me a strong demonstration of how “eyesight” is actually “brainsight” …

In the ACIM Preface, Jesus says, “The opposite of seeing through the body’s eyes is the vision of Christ, which reflects strength rather than weakness, unity rather than separation, and love rather than fear.”  This third part of the Preface, “What It Says” is written by Jesus and is an excellent synopsis of the entire ACIM teaching.

LESSON 15

My thoughts are images that I have made.

It is because the thoughts you think you think appear as images that you do not recognize them as nothing.  You think you think them, and so you think you see them.  This is how your “seeing” was made.  This is the function you have given your body’s eyes.  It is not seeing.  It is image making.  It takes the place of seeing, replacing vision with illusions.

This introductory idea to the process of image making that you call seeing will not have much meaning for you.  You will begin to understand it when you have seen little edges of light around the same familiar objects which you see now.  That is the beginning of real vision.  You can be certain that real vision will come quickly when this has occurred.

As we go along, you may have many “light episodes.”  They may take many different forms, some of them quite unexpected.  Do not be afraid of them.  They are signs that you are opening your eyes at last.  They will not persist, because they merely symbolize true perception, and they are not related to knowledge.  These exercises will not reveal knowledge to you.  But they will prepare the way to it.

In practicing the idea for today, repeat it first to yourself, and then apply it to whatever you see around you, using its name and letting your eyes rest on it as you say:

This _______________ is an image that I have made.
This _______________ is an image that I have made.

It is not necessary to include a large number of specific subjects for the application of today’s idea.  It is necessary, however, to continue to look at each subject while you repeat the idea to yourself.  The idea should be repeated quite slowly each time.

Although you will obviously not be able to apply the idea to very many things during the minute or so of practice that is recommended, try to make the selection as random as possible.  Less than a minute will do for the practice periods, if you begin to feel uneasy.  Do not have more than three application periods for today’s idea unless you feel completely comfortable with it, and do not exceed four.  However, the idea can be applied as needed throughout the day.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.

W-14: God did not create a meaningless world.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

One of my favorite lessons!  I get a big kick out of facing my “personal repertory of horrors”.  When you’ve worked with the Course enough, the savagery of the ego is reduced to a “quaint absurdity”.

What God creates is not the world as we know it.  In the undoing process A Course in Miracles offers us, we get to see the story we have made up about the world and unwrite this story, revealing God’s Word underneath our make-believe.

We learn to let go of the thoughts we have written on the world … salvation is the exchange of our thoughts for God’s Thought.  The process leading to salvation can be difficult, painful and lead us directly into fear BUT this fear that seems so real is eclipsed in a holy instant with perfect safety and perfect peace.

We are given a powerful exercise to address the “horrors in the world” and our “personal repertory of horrors.”  We name each one and state that it is not real because the horror was not created by God–it was made up by us.  This can seem outrageous, absurd, indifferent and cruel.

How can Jesus ask us to deny the obvious horrors and the pain they cause when we are convinced that they are having a profound effect on the world (“some of them are shared illusions”) and ourselves personally (“others are part of your personal hell”)?  No matter how depraved this attitude seems to us, we are told, “It does not matter.  What God did not create can only be in your own mind apart from His.  Therefore, it has no meaning.”

In the text there is a line, “Seek not to change the world, choose to change your mind about the world.”  This lesson is training us to detach from the ego mind’s obsessive/compulsive thought that pain and suffering are real, and to allow the mind to telescope to a longer, wider perspective from which vantage point we suddenly see that the body is not real, therefore nothing the body seems to suffer from is real.

This is a process of dis-identification with the ego thought system which instantly restores Identification with God’s Mind.

Lesson 14
God did not create a meaningless world.

The idea for today is, of course, the reason why a meaningless world is impossible.  What God did not create does not exist.  And everything that does exist exists as He created it.  The world you see has nothing to do with reality.  It is of your own making, and it does not exist.

The exercises for today are to be practiced with eyes closed throughout.  The mind-searching period should be short, a minute at most.  Do not have more than three practice periods with today’s idea unless you find them comfortable.  If you do, it will be because you really understand what they are for.

The idea for today is another step in learning to let go the thoughts that you have written on the world, and see the Word of God in their place.  The early steps in this exchange, which can truly be called salvation, can be quite difficult and even quite painful.  Some of them will lead you directly into fear.  You will not be left there.  You will go far beyond it.  Our direction is toward perfect safety and perfect peace.

With eyes closed, think of all the horrors in the world that cross your mind.  Name each one as it occurs to you, and then deny its reality.  God did not create it, and so it is not real.  Say, for example:

God did not create that war, and it is not real.
God did not create that airplane crash, and so it is not real.
God did not create that disaster [specify], and so it is not real.

Suitable subjects for the application of today’s idea also include anything you are afraid might happen to you, or to anyone about whom you are concerned.  In each case, name the “disaster” quite specifically.  Do not use general terms.  For example, do not say, “God did not create illness,” but, “God did not create cancer,” or heart attacks, or whatever may arouse fear in you.

This is your personal repertory of horrors at which you are looking.  These things are part of the world you see.  Some of them are shared illusions, and others are part of your personal hell.  It does not matter.  What God did not create can only be in your own mind apart from His.  Therefore, it has no meaning.  In recognition of this fact, conclude the practice periods by repeating today’s idea:

God did not create a meaningless world.

The idea for today can, of course, be applied to anything that disturbs you during the day, aside from the practice periods.  Be very specific in applying it.  Say:

God did not create a meaningless world.
He did not create [specify the situation which is disturbing you], and so it is not real.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.

 

W-13: A meaningless world engenders fear.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

We are chopping up God’s Thought into languages and words.  This prevents us from having the Whole Concept in our mind.  Words are like letters on the Scrabble board–they do not mean anything in and of themselves until they are put together.  Or we might liken the chopping of up God’s Thought to a jigsaw puzzle–we cannot see the whole picture until we bring the pieces back together into the Whole.  This occurred to me after re-reading the first paragraph of the lesson and I’m just blurting it out before I lose it.

The lesson says, “Recognition of meaninglessness arouses intense anxiety in all the separated ones.” [bold mine]  This touches my heart.  To be referred to as a “separated one” stirs a sense of being Loved inside of me.  Jesus knows about our intense anxiety, loneliness, and helplessness.  It is so comforting to sit with Our Mutual Friend (Holy Spirit) and just be together.

Next it says, “It represents a situation in which God and the ego “challenge” each other as to whose meaning is to be written in the empty space that meaninglessness provides.”  Ram Butler said many years ago in the Siddha Yoga Correspondence Course that “God is in the space between the thoughts.”

He may have been quoting Gurumayi, who, perhaps, was quoting Baba Muktananda.  Meaninglessness provides an empty space … if we choose not to pay attention to the ego’s scrawls and decide for the Holy Spirit … my heart feels a scroll-like design written upon it as I feel my way into this …

“It is essential, therefore, that you learn to recognize the meaningless, and accept it without fear.” [bold mine]   Develop awareness without judgment, just with an ability to observe with interest and enjoy the outcome of That.  As we’re able to recognize the meaningless, We are Undone.  Meaninglessness changes back to Fearlessness.  Fearlessness, guiltlessness, sinlessness, Innocence 🙂

The lesson says that to the ego, illusions are safety devices, used to endow the world with attributes it does not have and images that do not exist.  Why would the ego need a safety device?  Because it is afraid of God.

Why is the ego afraid of God?  Because once we rediscover of our awareness of God, the ego instantly evaporates.  The ego is simply an idea that is trying to block God out, as it plays at being God, so that it can believe it has succeeded at replacing God.

By the way, there is nothing offensive to God about the idea that the ego could replace Him, just as a father would simply be amused if he found his son dressed up in his oversized clothes playing “Daddy.”  We have simply psyched ourselves out and are paranoid about nothing.  There will be no punishment.  Through the undoing process of these lessons, you will find that out for yourself.

LESSON 13

A meaningless world engenders fear.

Today’s idea is really another form of the preceding one, except that it is more specific as to the emotion aroused.  Actually, a meaningless world is impossible.  Nothing without meaning exists.  However, it does follow that you will not think you perceive something that has no meaning.  On the contrary, you will be particularly likely to think you do perceive it.

Recognition of meaninglessness arouses intense anxiety in all the separated ones.  It represents a situation in which God and the ego “challenge” each other as to whose meaning is to be written in the empty space that meaninglessness provides.  The ego rushes in frantically to establish its own ideas there, fearful that the void may otherwise be used to demonstrate its own impotence and unreality.  And on this alone it is correct.

It is essential, therefore, that you learn to recognize the meaningless, and accept it without fear.  If you are fearful, it is certain that you will endow the world with attributes that it does not possess, and crowd it with images that do not exist.  To the ego illusions are safety devices, as they must also be to you who equate yourself with the ego.

The exercises for today, which should be done about three or four times for not more than a minute or so at most each time, are to be practiced in a somewhat different way from the preceding ones.  With eyes closed, repeat today’s idea to yourself.  Then open your eyes, and look about you slowly, saying:

I am looking at a meaningless world.

Repeat this statement to yourself as you look about.  Then close your eyes, and conclude with:

A meaningless world engenders fear because I think I am in competition with God.

You may find it difficult to avoid resistance, in one form or another, to this concluding statement.  Whatever form such resistance may take, remind yourself that you really are afraid of such a thought because of the “vengeance” of the “enemy.”  You are not expected to believe the statement at this point, and will probably dismiss it as preposterous.  Note carefully, however, any signs of overt or covert fear which is may arouse.

This is our first attempt at stating an explicit cause and effect relationship of a kind which you are very inexperienced in recognizing.  Do not dwell on the concluding statement, and try not even to think of it except during the practice periods.  That will suffice at present.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.

 

W-12: I am upset because I see a meaningless world.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

We, humanity, are experiencing a major perceptual distortion.  We have given the world all the attributes it has for us, whereas the world is actually completely meaningless.  The exercises are specifically instructing us to use our eyes to look around … and, occasionally, to close our eyes to better become aware of our thoughts.  Eyesight is not Vision.  But eyes, the windows to the soul, can be used for Vision’s Message to be communicated through us.

We are instructed to  find a measured rhythm as we look around in this lesson … again, as in Lesson 11, this reminds me of the Sufi turn, the spiritual practice of Rumi and, after him, the whirling dervishes.

Amy Whirling at Sufi Retreat. Photo: Scott Johnson

Being in a rhythm quiets thinking.   Even a frenetic rock’n’roll drummer has a quiet mind as his body clicks into a groove of rhythm from his head through his heart, ears, arms, hands, legs, feet.

Internally his visceral organs must become, what is called in heart rhythm meditation, “coherent” or, in layman’s language, harmonized.  Good percussionists are unhurried, deep in their felt sense of the beat, be it fast or slow.

Then it goes on to say, a bad world, a good world, it’s all the same.  We may not understand how a good world experience could be the same as a bad one, but at least we can comprehend that “bad” suggests “good,” in another words, a dualistic experience.  God is beyond dual and non-dual … He simply Is.

And then, Lesson 12 says, “What is meaningless is neither good nor bad.  Why, then, should a meaningless world upset you?  If you could accept the world as meaningless and let the truth be written upon it for you, it would make you indescribably happy. But because it is meaningless, you are impelled to write upon it what you would have it be.  It is this you see in it.  It is this that is meaningless in truth.

Beneath your words is written the Word of God. The truth upsets you now, but when the words have been erased, you will see His.  That is the ultimate purpose of these exercises.” [bold mine]  How comforting!  A click of recognition is felt within — Truth has true authority and feel liberating, not oppressive.  Beneath the meaning I have given the world is Real Meaning Itself.  As the Workbook works its undoing within us, God’s Message becomes clear.  Amen.

It occurs to me that in that tiny, mad moment when we thought we could separate from God’s mind, we made a blank canvas for ourselves.  A previous lesson has said our mind is actually blank.  Then we paint “meaning” onto this blank canvas “mind”  …  The blank canvas “mind” isn’t real–it’s just an unachievable idea.  The meaning we paint onto the blank canvas is not truly meaningful, it’s just a bunch of defensive ideas sprouting forth from  the first tiny, mad idea that we could separate and be an autonomous god-self, encased in individual bodies …

LESSON 12

I am upset because I see a meaningless world.

The importance of this idea lies in the fact that it contains a correction for a major perceptual distortion.  You think that what upsets you is a frightening world, or a sad world, or a violent world, or an insane world.  All these attributes are given it by you.  The world is meaningless in itself.

These exercises are done with eyes open.  Look around you, this time quite slowly.  Try to pace yourself so that the slow shifting of your glance from one thing to another involves a fairly constant time interval.  Do not allow the time of the shift to become markedly longer or shorter, but try, instead, to keep a measure, even tempo throughout.  What you see does not matter.  You teach yourself this as you give whatever your glance rests on equal attention and equal time.  This is a beginning step in learning to give them all equal value.

As you look about you, say to yourself:

I think I see a fearful world, a dangerous world, a hostile world, a sad world, a wicked world, a crazy world,

and so on, using whatever descriptive terms happen to occur to you.  If terms which seem positive rather than negative occur to you, include them.  For example, you might think of “a good world,” or “a satisfying world.”  If such terms occur to you, use them along with the rest.  You may not yet understand why these “nice” adjectives belong in these exercises but remember that a “good world” implies a “bad” one, and “a satisfying world” implies an “unsatisfying” one.  All terms which cross your mind are suitable subjects for today’s exercises.  Their seeming quality does not matter.

Be sure that you do not alter the time intervals between applying today’s idea to what you think is pleasant and what you think is unpleasant.  For the purposes of these exercises, there is no difference between them.  At the end of the practice period, add:

But I am upset because I see a meaningless world.

What is meaningless is neither good nor bad.  Why, then, should a meaningless world upset you?  If you could accept the world as meaningless and let the truth be written upon it for you, it would make you indescribably happy.  But because it is meaningless, you are impelled to write upon it what you would have it be.  It is this you see in it.  It is this that is meaningless in truth.  Beneath your words is written the Word of God.  The truth upsets you now, but when the words have been erased, you will see His.  That is the ultimate purpose of these exercises.

Three or four times is enough for practicing the idea for today.  Nor should the practice periods exceed a minute.  You may find even this is too long.  Terminate the exercises whenever you experience a sense of strain.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.

 

W-11: My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

My personal thoughts are meaningless.  The previous lessons have systematically been showing me that.  My meaningless thoughts would, therefore, have to produce a meaningless outcome: world, people, beliefs.  A world without meaning could seem very scary at a certain point in our lives.  When we’re still interested in actualizing our personal potential, when we’re still raising children … these are periods of life when the world is obviously meaningful to us.  We might experience this lesson with feelings of despair, disorientation, anxiety.  We might believe we’re being told to abandon our lives, though we are not.   Keep reading, I like to say.  There is more to be revealed and it is all filled with Love.

Then there comes a time when we’re satisfied enough with our accomplishments and have fulfilled our responsibilities that we’re ready to move into spiritual vision.  OR, we’re desperate enough, lonely enough, defeated enough that we’re willing to see another way.  Still, we may fight.  How can my thoughts determine the world I see?  I’m not that powerful.  And I don’t want that much responsibility.  Even so, we are invited to do the exercises if we feel Called, despite resistance, disbelief, lack of comprehension, etc.

sufi light swirls turquoiseFor maximum benefit, we are told, the eyes should move from one thing to another fairly rapidly, not lingering on anything and the words should be unhurried, even leisurely.  This reminds me of the Sufi turn.  The turn of Rumi and the whirling dervishes.  Leaving the eyes softly open and at gazing outward at eye level, the feet do not move until God gently pushes us, as children on a swing.  And when we do start to turn, the eyes report a rapidity of motion, a pleasant vaguely stripe-y blur  that appears much faster than the pace of the body and feet.  The effort trains us to coordinate our thinking process with our eyesight process which leads us to true perception under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit.

Oh how liberating to realize that my thoughts are meaningless but I am Guided and no longer have to think.  It would be best to be open to Thought pouring through me at all times.  Contrary to how that seems to the ego–that I am just a puppet, a slave to the Master’s Mind, it turns out that I’ve plugged in to my Original Source and have restored power to my seemingly human system.  This does override the ego, but that turns out to be of no concern.  I feel more alive, at peace, happier, unafraid, and relaxed than ever before.

LESSON 11

My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world.

This is the first idea we have had that is related to a major phase of the correction process; the reversal of the thinking of the world.  It seems as if the world determines what you perceive.  Today’s idea introduces the concept that your thoughts determine the world you see.  Be glad indeed to practice the idea in its initial form, for in this idea is your release made sure.  The key to forgiveness lies in it.

The practice periods for today’s idea are to be undertaken somewhat differently from the previous ones.  Begin with your eyes closed, and repeat the idea slowly to yourself.  Then open your eyes, and look about, near and far, up and down,–anywhere.  During the minute or so to be spent in using the idea merely repeat it to yourself, being sure to do so without haste, and with no sense of urgency or effort.

To do these exercises for maximum benefit, the eyes should move from one thing to another fairly rapidly, since they should not linger on anything in particular.  The words, however, should be used in an unhurried, even leisurely fashion.  The introduction to this idea, in particular, should be practiced as casually as possible.  It contains the foundation for the peace, relaxation and freedom from worry that we are trying to achieve.  On concluding the exercises, close your eyes and repeat the idea once more slowly to yourself.

Three practice periods today will be sufficient.  However, if there is little or no uneasiness and an inclination to do more, as many as five may be undertaken.  More than this is not recommended.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.

 

W-10: My thoughts do not mean anything.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

Some of the intriguing sentences in this lesson are, “The emphasis is now on the lack of reality of what you think you think.” and “To recognize this [that your mind is a blank] is to recognize nothingness when you think you see it.”   New students to the Course may find this scary and disorienting — trust that this is a good kind of scary and disorientation.

Let’s practice together.  Here goes:

My thought about not being a good Course student do not mean anything (ha ha). This idea will help to release me from all that I now believe.

My thought about pest control poisoning my front lawn, not to mention the entire planet, does not mean anything.  This idea will help to release me from all that I now believe.

My thought about … practicing this exercise is very relaxing … I’m having trouble stringing words together … again “little me” asks: Is the return to a wonderfully un-thought-filled state?  Or is the ego lulling me to sleep?

My thought about the ego lulling me to sleep does not mean anything, tee hee.  This idea will help to release me from all that I now believe.

My thought about how mischievously adorable the cats are does not mean anything.  This idea will help to release me from all that I now believe.

This lesson helps me to recognize that what I call thinking is really not-thinking.  It is helping me to understand that each of “my thoughts” is just another brick in the ego wall which keeps me Mindless.  In this world of opposites, thinking is not-thinking and thoughts are blockages to real Thought (which is Unified Love).  My thoughts are an “oddly assorted procession” which seem to have great personal meaning to “me” but who am I really?  Lol.  Five practice periods, one minute each.

There is a powerful shift stirring in the mind.  I love how I don’t need to try to understand it.  And even if I think I understand it, that doesn’t matter.  All that matters is practicing.

LESSON 10

My thoughts do not mean anything.

This idea applies to all the thoughts of which you are aware, or become aware in the practice periods.  The reason the idea is applicable to all of them is that they are not your real thoughts.  We have made this distinction before, and will do so again.  You have no basis for comparison as yet.  When you do, you will have no doubt that what you once believed were your thoughts did not mean anything.

This is the second time we have used this kind of idea.  The form is only slightly different.  This time the idea is introduced with “My thoughts” instead of  “These thoughts,” and no link is made overtly with the things around you.  The emphasis is now on the lack of reality of what you think you think.

This aspect of the correction process began with the idea that the thoughts of which you are aware are meaningless, outside rather than within; and then stressed their past rather than their present status.  Now we are emphasizing that the presence of these “thoughts” means that you are not thinking.  This is merely another way of repeating our earlier statement that your mind is really a blank.  To recognize this is to recognize nothingness when you think you see it.  As such, it is the prerequisite for vision.

Close your eyes for these exercises, and introduce them by repeating the idea for today quite slowly to yourself.  Then add:

This idea will help to release me from all that I now believe.

The exercises consist, as before, in searching your mind for all the thoughts that are available to you, without selection or judgment.  Try to avoid classification of any kind.  In fact, if you find it helpful to do so, you might imagine that you are watching an oddly assorted procession going by, which as little if any personal meaning to you.  As each one crosses your mind, say:

My thought about _______________ does not mean anything.
My thought about _______________ does not mean anything.

Today’s thought can obviously serve for any thought that distresses you at any time.  In addition, five practice periods are recommended, each involving no more than a minute or so of mind searching.  It is not recommended that this time period be extended, and it should be reduced to half a minute or less if you experience discomfort.  Remember, however, to repeat the idea slowly before applying it specifically, and also to add:

This idea will help to release me from all that I now believe.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.

 

W-9: I see nothing as it is now.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

I only see the past.  My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.  These previous lessons lead to this one: “I see nothing as it is now.”  What I seem to see is not really here.

All Jesus asks is that we apply the idea by doing the exercises.  We don’t understand, that much is obvious.  And if we did understand we wouldn’t need this workbook.  Jesus says, “Each small step will clear a little of the darkness away, and understanding will finally come to lighten every corner of the mind that has been cleared of the debris that darkens it.”  Practicing is as wonderfully, comfortingly mundane as cleaning out our closets.  As I practice, clutter is removed, space is opened, and light dawns.

As usual, we are told that when doing the exercise, “remember the need for its indiscriminate application, and the essential rule of excluding nothing.”

Here goes:

I do not see this _____________ as it is now.

I do not see this blog as it is now. I do not see these fingers as they are now.  I do not see this book as it is now.  I do not see these crystal pyramids as they are now.  I do not see this whirling dervish statuette as it is now.  I do not see this glass of water as it is now.  I do not see these reading glasses as they are now.  I do not see this waste basket as it is now.

Cleaning out closets, uncluttering my mind.  Little by little.  My heart feel light and care-free.

LESSON 9

I see nothing as it is now.

This idea obviously follows from the two preceding ones.  But while you may be able to accept it intellectually, it is unlikely that it will mean anything to you as yet.  However, understanding is not necessary at this point.  In fact, the recognition that you do not understand is a prerequisite for undoing your false ideas.  These exercises are concerned with practice, not with understanding.  You do not need to practice what you already understand.  It would indeed be circular to aim at understanding, and assume that you have it already.

It is difficult for the untrained mind to believe that what it seems to picture is not there.  This idea can be quite disturbing, and may meet with active resistance in any number of forms.  Yet that does not preclude applying it.  No more than that is required for these or any other exercises.  Each small step will clear a little of the darkness away, and understanding will finally come to lighten every corner of the mind that has been cleared of the debris that darkens it.

These exercises, for which three or four practice periods are sufficient, involve looking about you and applying the idea for the day to whatever you see, remembering the need for its indiscriminate application, and the essential rule of excluding nothing.  For example:

I do not see this typewriter as it is now.
I do not see this telephone as it is now.
I do not see this arm as it is now.

Begin with things that are nearest you, and then extend the range outward:

I do not see that coat rack as it is now.
I do not see that door as it is now.
I do not see that face as it is now.

It is emphasized again that while complete inclusion should not be attempted, specific exclusion must be avoided.  Be sure you are honest with yourself in making this distinction.  You may be tempted to obscure it.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.

 

W-8: My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

This is getting funny now.  The lesson says no one really sees anything, we’re just “seeing” our thoughts projected outward.  I comprehend this through a swooping suction-y feeling, as if the content of my mind is being sucked through my forehead and vortexed forward and out.  There it goes, what I believe, outpictured and accepted as reality.  Yikes.

The lesson goes on to say that the only true thought about the past is that is doesn’t exist, therefore what we call thinking is actually in a state of blankness.  Today’s exercise begins to train the mind to recognize when it is not thinking at all.  That might make meditating easier.  I could close my eyes and think about how all those passing thoughts are the past and my mind is actually blank.  The thoughtless ideas I call thinking actually block the Truth.  The Truth is there, but preoccupation with the past (Jesus is kind here — “obsession” is often more accurate)  blocks the Truth.

This is important:  Jesus says, “The purpose of the exercises for today is to begin to train your mind to recognize when it is not really thinking at all.”   Stop.  Let’s take that in.

The practice is: “I seem to be thinking about _________.” Fill in the blank and conclude with “But my mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.”

The purpose is to train my mind to recognize when it is not really thinking at all.  The practice is to examine my thoughts.  Purpose.  Practice.  Purpose.  Practice.

Here goes:  I seem to be thinking about having a snack and worrying that, at this rate, I’ll just get fatter and fatter.  I seem to be thinking about my taxes and, oddly, feeling a sense of pleasure at being able to afford them.  I seem to be thinking about that background noise: is the cat throwing up?  I seem to be feeling irritated, but the exercise said that’s okay as long as I note my feeling.  And anyway, all that’s actually happening is that my mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.

I am more the breath than I am the body.  If I undo the body, I get back to the breath.  The breath is invisible … except when it mists in cold temperatures.  The breath is the bridge to Formlessness.

If God’s name is the sound of the breath, as I’ve learned more than once from various spiritual teachings, identifying with the breath takes me closer to God … I’ve also heard it said that when God exhales we inhale, and when God inhales we exhale.  I’ve been invited to let God breath me.  To put an end to my effortful breathing, my tense, constricted breathing, my shallow, inadequate inhales and overly depleting exhales and to just let myself fall into God’s flow, God’s rhythm, God’s breath of Life.

There’s been too much striving and trying for me.  Even worse than perfectionism, all that trying.  My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts, but something is budding, Something is making Itself felt.   In spite of myself, thank God, the Truth shines on and Its Gleam within me glows softly, dimly, increasingly.

The lesson directs the practice for today, “I seem to be thinking about ______________.”

I seem to be thinking about my vision–there seems to be no comfortable distance from which I can read clearly.  With contacts or without contacts, with reading glasses or without reading glasses, everything is mostly blurry and I feel sad about that.  Many times I feel irritable, the texture-y anger and helpless that I call frustration.  Right now I feel sad because I’m so engrossed in reading and writing these days and would like to enjoy reading and writing smoothly and effortlessly.  But what’s really going on is that my mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.  Right now :)

I seem to be thinking about  …

But my mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.

Four to five times of practice is suggested for today … unless the lesson is irritating me, lol.

LESSON 8

My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.

This idea is, of course, the reason why you only see the past.  No one really sees anything.  His sees only his thoughts projected outward.  The mind’s preoccupation with the past is the cause of the misconception about time from which your seeing suffers.  Your mind cannot grasp the present, which is the only time there is.  It therefore cannot understand time, and cannot, in fact, understand anything.

The one wholly true thought one can hold about the past is that it is not here.  To think about it at all is therefore to think about illusions.  Very few have realized what is actually entailed in picturing the past or in anticipating the future.  The mind is actually blank when it does this, because it is not really thinking about anything.

The purpose of the exercises for today is to begin to train your mind to recognize when it is not really thinking at all.  While thoughtless ideas preoccupy your mind, the truth is blocked.  Recognizing that your mind has been merely blank, rather than believing that it is filled with real ideas, is the first step to opening the way to vision.

The exercises for today should be done with eyes closed.  This is because you can actually not see anything, and it is easier to recognize that no matter how vividly you may picture a thought, you are not seeing anything.  With as little investment as possible, search your mind for the usual minute or so, merely noting the thoughts you find there.  Name each one by the central figure or theme it contains, and pass on to the next.  Introduce the practice period by saying:

I seem to be thinking about __________.

Then name each of your thoughts specifically, for example:

I seem to be thinking about [name of a person], about [name of an object], about [name of an emotion],

and so on, concluding at the end of the mind-searching period with:

But my mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.

This can be done four or five times during the day, unless you find it irritates you.  If you find it trying, three or four times is sufficient.  You might find it helpful, however, to include your irritation, or any emotion that the idea for today may induce, in the mind searching itself.

For more on “I seem to be thinking about …” read Coming Apart at the “Seems”.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.

 

W-7: I see only the past.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

I see only the past and that is why everything makes no sense and I can’t understand it.  Not to mention I’m not really seeing anything.  And as I look around and apply the idea, very specifically and yet not excluding anything, I begin to lose the ability to remember the names of objects.  “I see only the past in that mouse pad.  I see only the past in that TV.  I see only the past in the wire thing.  I see only the past in that … thing.  I see only the past in … that.  I see only the past … ”  Not sure if this is me really getting into the spirit of the exercise (or the Spirit of the exercise in me :) ) or whether the ego is throwing in some interference.  Either way it’s nice to know that what never happened is over.

Okay, here I go again:

I see only the past.
I see only the past in my precious book Unified.
I see only the past in the tree outside my window.
I see only the past in this glass of water.
I see only the past in the veins on my hands.
I see only the past in my highlighter pen.

Then Lesson 7 reviews how the statement “I see only the past” is the rationale for all six preceding lessons:

I see only the past is the reason why nothing I see means anything.
Because I’m filtering everything I see through the lens of the past.
Because in seeing the past I don’t see the present.
Because ego-seeing is an outpicturing of a false thought.

I see only the past is the reason why I have given everything I see all the meaning it has for me.  I’m the one assigning meaning to the past.  I’m the one assigning meaning to what I “see” which is not actually seeing at all.  I’m the one hurling a thought out of my Mind and calling that “seeing.”  I like what Raj/Jesus (http://www.nwffacim.org/) pointed out about the sentence in the Course which says,”Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality.” T-16.VI.  Raj says we could interpret this to mean that we do not have to fear being hurled into reality because reality is gooooood.  Come to think of it, if we originally hurled a thought of our Mind, then, technically, we would be unhurling :)

I see only the past is the reason my thoughts do not mean anything.
My thoughts are always out of date.  Like spoilt milk–not fit for consumption.  False thought can imagine a past, but True Thought simply extends from the Father through His Son–us.

I see only the past is the reason why I am never upset for the reason I think.  If I’m always immersed in the past, I don’t know what is actually upsetting me in the present.  Nothing would be upsetting me in the present.  The present is Beingness Itself.

I keep myself hypnotized by seeing only the past.  In that way I keep from my awareness what is actually upsetting me … which is that I’m believing I’ve managed to separate from God and can never get back to Heaven and I’m expecting to be punished by God as well.  Seeing the past is a delusion in itself.  The ego makes up the past by saying something has happened which has not.

The ego says we have separated from God’s Mind, even though we have not.  The ego psyches itself out by telling itself its pretend game has become real.  It takes the idea that the pretend game has become real seriously and that is the beginning of  beliefs, of its fearful belief system.  “Fearful” because it is full of fear, similar to the fullness of God’s Mind, but opposite in the feeling of fear rather than Love.  The ego mimics God’s Mind but in a distorted manner–it has double “vision”/seeing, and makes duality out of non-duality/Absoluteness.

If the ego did not psych itself out, and did not take itself seriously, we could still play the “pretend-we-are-separate-from-God-game” and enjoy it.  We could dress up in God’s robes, and play with the power of His mind, and enjoy the puzzle pieces we threw onto the floor until we solve the puzzle, or until we grow tired of the puzzle, and then, in a blink, release the fantasy, open our Spiritual Eye, and return to the Reality from which we Come.

I see only the past is the reason why I am upset because I see something that is not there.  I feel the undoing process … I feel the mind quiet.  Jesus’ insistent logic is loosening the ego hold … my thoughts slow, I feel peaceful.  I do not  understand anything at this point.  This does not feel like ego sleepiness.  Here is the peace of God.

LESSON 7

I see only the past.

This idea is particularly difficult to believe at first.  Yet it is the rationale for all of the preceding ones.

It is the reason why nothing that you see means anything.
It is the reason why you have given everything you see all the meaning that it has for you.
It is the reason why you do not understand anything you see.
It is the reason why your thoughts do not mean anything, and why they are like the things you see.
It is the reason why you are never upset for the reason you think.
It is the reason why you are upset because you see something that is not there.

Old ideas about time are very difficult to change, because everything you believe is rooted in time, and depends on your not learning these new ideas about time.  This first time idea is not really so strange as it may sound at first.

Look at a cup, for example.  Do you see a cup, or are you merely reviewing your past experience of picking up a cup, being thirsty, drinking from a cup, feeling the rim of a cup against your lips, having breakfast and so on?  Are not your aesthestic reactions to the cup, too, based on past experiences?  How else would you know whether or not this kind of cup will break if you drop it?  What do you know about this cup except what you learned in the past?  You would have no idea what this cup is, except for your past learning.  Do you, then, really see it?

Look about you.  This is equally true of whatever you look at.  Acknowledge this by applying the idea for today indiscriminately to whatever catches your eye.  For example:

I see only the past in this pencil.
I see only the past in this shoe.
I see only the past in this hand.
I see only the past in that body.
I see only the past in that face.

Do not linger over any one thing in particular, but remember to omit nothing specifically. Glance briefly at each subject, and then move on to the next. Three or four practice periods, each to last a minute or so, will be enough.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.

 

W-6: I am upset because I see something that is not there.

scary shadow tim burton

Ego “seeing” and ego “thinking” are forms and perceptions.  Forms and perceptions are illusory.

Reality is Content and Truth, not form and perception.  Content and Truth are formless.

Without a body, there is no perception and no need for perception.

Communication is Immediate, Natural and flows without obstruction directly from God-Source.

It is the ego which obstructs communication with upsets, grievances, wounds, perception, duality and other insane ideas which seem indisputably convincing when you’ve chosen the limitations of ego-time-body-mind, but, as The Everly Brothers sang, Wishing Won’t Make It So.

Our treasured wounds keep us upset.  At first it is unthinkable that we would treasure our wounds.  But as you contemplate your wounds, you can discover many ways that they serve you.

Wounds maintain loyalty bonds, the perverse power of victimization, inertia, procrastination, excuses for avoiding life, justifying failure, etc.

It’s well worth discovering what your wounds are and how they have served you — if you’re ready to shed your self-imposed shackles.

LESSON 6

I am upset because I see something that is not there.

The exercises with this idea are very similar to the preceding ones.  Again, it is necessary to name both the form of upset (anger, fear, worry, depression and so on) and the perceived source very specifically for any application of the idea.  For example:

I am angry at ____ because I see something that is not there.

I am worried about _____ because I see something that is not there.

Today’s idea is useful for application to anything that seems to upset you, and can profitably be used throughout the day for that purpose.  However, the three of four practice periods which are required should be preceded by a minute or so of mind searching, as before, and the application of the idea to each upsetting thought uncovered in the search.

Again, if you resist applying the idea to some upsetting thoughts more than others, remind yourself of the cautions stated in the previous lesson:

There are no small upsets.  They are all equally disturbing to my peace of mind.

And:

I cannot keep this form of upset and let the others go.  For the purposes of these exercises, then, I will regard them all as the same.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.