Today we move inside with A Course in Miracles. Today Jesus ups the ante just the tinest bit, getting a little more philosophical – showing a bit more foresight – and letting us know that we’re now buckled in for a long ride. Today we aren’t looking at the world. Today we are looking at our thoughts.
The usual admonition about judgment pertains: we aren’t supposed to judge this thought better than or worse than that thought. They’re all equal candidates for the purposes of the lesson. But Jesus does take care this time to tell us why judgment is so useless.
You will find, if you train yourself to look at your thoughts, that they represent such a mixture that, in a sense, none of them can be called “good” or “bad.” This is why they do not mean anything. (W-4.1:6-7)
This is an interesting idea, as is the note later on that what we think are our thoughts – what we’re going to take a look at in the lesson – are in fact not our real thoughts at all (W-4.2:3). If the first three lessons were setting the stage for the undoing of physical sight, this lesson is opening the door to the dismantling of our current thought system. No wonder Jesus calls it a “major exercise,” one that we’re going to come to repeatedly albeit in different form (W-4.3:1).
For me, this is a disorienting exercise – even after having seen it before. It’s not exactly that I’m resistant – thoughts have always seemed wispy to me, akin to clouds, subject to dissolution – but that I open my eyes after practicing and . . . feel not quite here. But not quite there – whatever there is – either.
A Course in Miracles aims at mind training (T-1.VII.4:1). Its objective is to enable us to control our thoughts – to stop their aimless wandering, their loud chattering, and their dense collisions with one another. Taken together, our present thoughts obscure our real thoughts, which are those that we think with God. The way to Heaven – to awakening – is contingent on their undoing.
For me, then, this lesson represents the first tangible break with the familiar. As much as I want to resist saying so (because it’s not “spiritual”) I love my thoughts – I take pride in them. The first time I heard a Zen teacher tell us that our thoughts were unimportant and we should simply let them drift through our minds like clouds I felt sorry for him. If only he had my thoughts rattling around up there . . .
I tend to apply this lesson frequently through the day. If you’re new to the lessons, that’s possibly inadvisable. But I think it’s okay to take a lesson right up to the edge of your comfort zone. Doing so keeps me in a state of readiness – a state of disorientation which I think is actually helpful because it enables Jesus to do some real work.
Remember this definition of miracles (from the principles of miracles at the beginning of the text):
A miracle is a correction introduced into false thinking by me. It acts as a catalyst, breaking up erroneous perception and reorganizing it properly. This place syou under the Atonement principle, where perception is healed (T-1.I.37:1-3).
Lesson 4 is the first time that we get to crack open the doors of perception, to part the curtains that we have imposed against the light of God. Come to this exercise with an attitude of fearless and even joyful anticipation, ready and willing to have Jesus undo as much of your false thinking as possible. These changes – unfamiliar, awkward, even frightening – are what we really want. They presage our union with God.