Nothing I see in this room (on this street, from this window, in this place) means anything.
The first time I did the lessons, I had only just begun reading the text. I had no real idea what ACIM was about. It wasn’t until around Lesson 79 and 80 that I started to make contact with my inner teacher in a ground-shifting kind of way. Who knows what I thought of this first lesson.
But now I see it as typical course – simultaneously subtle and explosive, capable of waking us from the dream of separation from God into the full awareness of our oneness with God.
The emphasis is on physical sight – the undoing of which is a central goal of the first 220 lessons. We are encouraged to announced that nothing we see in our present location has any meaning. The lesson could easily have stopped there. Take a look around – everything that you can see has no meaning. Spend a minute doing this.
But that would avoid what I think is the real gem of the lesson – the opportunity to get specific. Because after that brief introduction, the lesson asks us to declare there is no meaning in this dog or that wedding ring or this fish tank or that cup of tea.
Why do we have to get that detailed?
The answer is simple. Our calling as students of A Course in Miracles is to forgive – and we practice forgiveness very specifically. We have to. It’s actually easy to say the whole world is an illusion – it’s much harder to say that your beloved cat is an illusion. Or your child. Or that gorgeous sunset.
It is that degree of specificity that allows us to wake up. This lesson – without making a big deal of it – is actually training us for that experience. We’re going to take a big abstract idea – forgiveness, say – and then we’re going to apply to the specific details of our lives.
As I do this lesson, I like to notice if I can those things that I want to exclude from meaninglessness. I can say the words about anything, but in my heart I draw a little protective circle – I gave an example above. My unmade bed is definitely meaningless. But the dog curled up at its foot?
Don’t freak out about that, by the way. Noticing what we want to exclude from our practice is an amazing gift. It’s a clue to the special relationships we have and those – whether they are with pets, people, objects or ideologies – are special forgiveness opportunities. That’s where the supposed separation from God is – and that’s where the healing is going to be, too. The problem and the solution go hand in hand.
Lesson one is not taxing. A minute at the beginning of the day; a minute at the end. I like to bring it into application when I think of it during the day. It is one of the course’s bedrocks – this world does not mean anything. It’s a dream, an illusion baked up by a mind shard bent on keeping God at bay. We don’t have to get it all at once – we only have to bring our willingness to the task, little by little. It’s going to work.