Piper – a young Rhode Island Red – is the latest addition to our flock of chickens. She is a vigorous layer, which is nice as many of our older birds are at best sporadic egg producers. Most people would toss the old hens into a stew pot, but we love them, and feel grateful for their help – egg-laying and composting our kitchen and garden scraps – and so they get to live out their natural lives. It seems only fair.
It is helpful to remember that projection is a mode of perception, not an action that we take, like writing a letter or mowing a lawn. It is a way of seeing that is at odds with reality and is thus dysfunctional. It enhances rather than dissipates our sense of separation from life.
All metaphors are clunky, but we could think of it this way. Yesterday, when I came in from my walk I looked at the calendar. I pulled my glasses from my pocket to read and saw only a blur through shadows. I squinted, moved my head back and forth, shifted my glasses and nothing helped.
Then I realized that I was wearing my sunglasses, not my regular reading glasses (insert embarrassed smile). Once I put the right glasses on, everything clarified. I could see again.
So when we project, it is like we are focusing through a wrong lens. The solution isn’t to do anything, other than focus through the right lens.
Even that is a bit misleading because it makes an image of us picking and choosing between lenses – like trying on this or that pair of glasses until everything comes into focus.
But the shift we are talking about – from wrong-seeing to right-seeing – is simply a change of mind. It takes place internally. There is nothing to do. We don’t have to resolve to stop projecting, we don’t have to apologize to the object of our projection, we don’t have to make an amends to Jesus for screwing up his ACIM program. Nothing.
We are not seeing clearly and so we choose to see clearly. No more than that. No less, either.
The simplicity of this is both astounding and intimidating. When we see the truth of “the secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself” (T-27.VIII.10:1), we are given the means of ultimate liberation. We may yet delay our release – we may backtrack into denial and projection – but the game is truly over. It is merely a question of when we choose to bring the truth into application. How easy!
And yet, after so many years of resistance – lifetimes, perhaps – how frightening to think that we can at last be happy and at peace forever. We become paralyzed a little. We freeze up. It happens to all of us, and it is understandable.
When we discern that we are holding some external influence (a person, place, thing, event, etc.) responsible for our inner peace, then we are given an opportunity: to continue to obsess over and blame this external influence, or to accept that we can be hurt by nothing except our own thoughts (W-pII.281.h).
If we choose the latter, then we are taking responsibility for own salvation. This alone creates a powerful shift in perception. Our focus moves from the external – the person who impedes us, the job that doesn’t function, the city that’s too loud, the weather that’s too wet, whatever – to our thoughts. We give attention to thought itself.
When we give attention to thought, sooner or later we learn that its flow is no different than anything else that is external – a river, a tree, the song of a bird. Its apparent importance and power are simply affects we’ve assigned to it and then pretended that we weren’t involved in it at all. But the truth is that of itself, it is nothing. It is merely another external detail.
A Course in Miracles meets us where we are, accommodates our illusions of preference, and moves us as far into healing as we are ready and willing to go. It is very practical and efficient, and its efficacy is premised mostly our willingness to let it work without getting in the way.
And so at last our attention moves away from mental thought and towards what A Course in Miracles calls “the thoughts we think with God” (e.g. W-pI.51.4:4).
How do we do this? For me, it is a matter of making A Course in Miracles my spiritual practice, for lack of a better word. I read the text, I do the lessons, I heed my teacher and trust that eventually the requisite insights will blossom allowing me to heal my fractured perception. And, notwithstanding a few bumps and wrong turns here and there, that is pretty much how it has gone.
More and more I appreciate and respect the deeply personal nature of A Course in Miracles. It meets us where we are, accommodates our illusions of preference, and moves us as far into healing as we are ready and willing to go. It is very practical and efficient, and its efficacy is premised mostly our willingness to let it work without getting in the way.
. . . [T]he memory of God cannot shine in a mind that has obliterated it and wants to keep it so. For the memory of God can dawn only in a mind that chooses to remember, and that has relinquished the insane desire to control reality. You who cannot even control yourself should hardly aspire to control the universe (T-12.VIII.5:2-4).
I am not saying that ACIM should be anybody’s spiritual path and, if it is, I am not saying that they should walk it this way or that. I am merely bearing witness to how it has worked – and continues to work – for me.
Chrisoula won first place at the Cummington Fair this year for this Moss Stitch Hat. The yarn is Cascade 128 in Straw.
There is really nothing to do but give attention to our practice, right here in the world, and trust that we are not alone in it. Tara Singh encouraged his students to bring a sense of order to their lives – to make God their first love – and to know as a result that “the Divine Intelligence is there to help” (Love Holds No Grievances 54).
It can seem boring and insufficiently mystical at first – to clean our house, eat simple healthy food, focus intently on the daily lesson’s directive or whatever – but that is only because, as a means of resistance, we insist that God be a mystery, or distant, or conditional.
God of course is none of that. God is here now, a present reality presently unrecognized. The slower we go and the simpler we live, the more vividly and clearly our recognition of that fact – that truth – dawns in our minds.