I see only the past.
This lesson is a wonderful example of both the specificity of the ACIM workbook and its usefulness in helping unravel the abstraction and density of the main text.
The first time I did it, I got hung up on the word “past.” I kept assuming – even though it made no sense – that Jesus was suggesting that the cup I saw was “literally” in the past. I think I did that because it was sexier and more fun than what he’s really saying, which is simply that our minds draw exclusively on the past when interpreting the present.
I am still resistant to this concept! For example, when the lesson focuses on the cup, it sounds quite rational, right? We see the cup according to our past experiences with cups – that’s how we know what to use it for and how to use it. Breaks when it’s dropped, hold it by the handle when filled with hot liquid. It’s a familiar drill.
Part of me responds to that with, of course that’s how I see it! How else am I supposed to see it? You want me to try and drink my coffee by lapping it off the floor? Soaking a hand towel in the carafe? Our past experience enables us to survive – it’s the way that we navigate the world safely and sanely.
That, too, feels very rational. In fact, I can imagine many of my scientist-type friends making precisely that argument.
First, we are not called to argue with the lessons – only to apply them. We can apply them in a state of disbelief if we want. I’m not saying that it’s not fun and interesting to think about these things – it is. And I do. But I am careful about entering a space where I decide a lesson is or isn’t valid based on the way it fits (or doesn’t fit) into my world view.
Second, the more I work with this lesson, and the ideas contained in it, the more I see the potential in it. Or rather, the more I feel the potential in it. There is a lot of undoing at work in this simple exercise.
In the Course, we are being invited very specifically to develop a new way of seeing. Lesson 7 starts by helping us identify and get familiar with our current way of seeing. That’s the whole point of this one. Simply to see – or begin to see – that we are conditioned to seeing the world through a lens of past experience.
What gets interesting is when we accept that and begin to play with it. Because it is a choice, right? We choose to see in terms of the past – but we can also choose to see in terms of the present, the now. Letting go of the old ideas and judgments is a lot of fun, and the world that we see in their wake is bright and bluid and sparkling – cliche’s, I know – and altogether new. And contrary to expectation, we aren’t helpless when that happens. In fact, we are powerful in a way that only the truly peaceful and joyful can be.
I am saying that this lesson is deeply radical, a taste of just how intense the undoing proposed by A Course in Miracles can be. Engage with it – argue with it, apply it, compare it to other experiences you’ve had. Put a cup on the table in front of you and stare at it for a few hours. I’m serious! Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see it without judgment, without the past. You’ll be given a gift, a taste of Heaven.