Above all else I want to see.
This lesson often strikes me as a hinge. It evokes many past lessons – 6, 7, 9 and, of course, 20 in particular – and it tees up a series of lessons that culminates the first couple of lessons that invite a direct contact with the God of A Course in Miracles.
The early lessons invite us to question both how we see and what we see. Our natural human reliance is on the physical eyes. In general, we accept without question the data they provide. If it can’t be perceived with physical eyes, then it’s suspect. The Course wants us to reverse this thinking. The objective – repeated with subtle variations – is simply to change our mind about seeing.
Our success in this regard boils down to our willingness to reconsider what it means to see. How far can we go in questioning reality? This is a question of expanding our comfort zone but it is also a question of being reasonable. This is important. Jesus never wants us to push too hard. There are frequent caveats (see, for example, W-pI.26.4:2) reminding us to relax, not to berate ourselves for forgetting an application, not to force ourselves into a place of discomfort.
We should never to forget that it’s a process. It’s not unlike learning to swim or learning to play guitar. Willingness and diligence are the hallmarks of good students. Practice really will make perfect, in time.
The first time I saw this lesson, I felt like Jesus was being redundant. After all, it was a more or less the equivalent of Lesson 20: I am determined to see. Yet there are subtle differences that I think are helpful in undoing our attachment and investment in physical sight and the laws of the ego.
For example, wanting something is not the same as being determined to accomplish it. To want is to be in a place of desire. It is not so much a place of action. Desire precedes determination. First we want it, then we determine to get it, then we take action to get it. Effectively, Jesus is taking us a step deeper into the way our minds work.
Second, lesson 20 has less of an absolute feel to it. We might be determined to see but we can still be determined to keep a little bit of physical sight, a little bit of egoic thought for ourselves. The playing field is level and seeing might be just one objective one it. This lesson is less equivocal – it places the goal of seeing rightly above all other goals.
Thus, we are both being led deeper into the creative levels of the mind and affirming our commitment to reach them.
These differences are not insignificant even though they might seem only semantic. I didn’t really get them the first couple times around, but as I look more closely and reflect more carefully, I do “see” them. And, more importantly, I trust them. Our job is to show up and do the lessons: the result, the transformation, the new vision – that is in better hands than ours.