The peace of God is shining in me now.
Lesson 188 of A Course in Miracles is part of a sequence that aims to deepen our commitment to our practice by undoing specific obstacles to that application – casualness, stubbornness, specialness and so forth.
In Not One, Not Two, Francisco Varela points out that we can only experience what corresponds to our organization. We are human! So we cannot experience living and world as ants or maple trees or Beluga whales. We can imagine those beautiful lives and those fascinating worlds but in doing so we are still just human observers. We are still just experiencing what our organization allows, in this case imagination.
But there is a paradox here, says Varela. Somehow, despite our perceptual and cognitive limitations, we are sometimes able to perceive a whole, a nonduality that transcends the personal and subjective – and separative, the dualistic – nature of our own being. How does this happen?
I cannot but take as consistent the fact that socially so many different cultures and individually by so many routes, these leaps of experience can occur and are quite isomorphic . . . I am assuming that mind as the unity of the conversational domain of the biosphere (i.e., mind-at-large, or mind proper) can be experienced, and further, that more or less all of us have experienced it (Varela Not One, Not Two).
Varela appreciated that this kind of thinking – for him located in a scientific, rational and logical domain – was naturally and positively analogous to religious and spiritual thinking. Indeed, his work was often about bridging those two domains in ways that were advantageous to both.
Thus, for me, it is helpful to consider Varela in tandem with A Course in Miracles. The effect is harmonious.
A Course in Miracles points out to its students that a sure way to miss the peace of God is to actively seek the peace of God.
Those who seek the light are merely covering their eyes. The light is in them now. Enlightenment is but a recognition, not a change at all (W-pI.188.1:2-4).
That is, we already are the peace of God but, in our zeal and ambition for spiritual growth, divine bliss, self-improvement et cetera, we actively overlook that peace. To seek outside the self is to fragment the self, because one already is that which is sought.
The peace of God is shining in you now, and in all living things. In quietness is it acknowledged universally (W-pI.188.5:5-6).
How then shall we come to this quietness? How shall we reach that space in which “honest thoughts, untainted by the dream of worldly things outside yourself, become the holy messengers of God Himself” (W-pI.188.6:6)?
Well, if we are students of A Course in Miracles, we will come to the daily lesson, seasoned by our study of the Text. We come not out of a duty but because it is a gentle and consistent means of opening a sense of the sacred, of making manifest that love that is naturally brought forth in our living.
To spend quiet time with the Course, morning and evening, is essential . . . Reading the course slowly is a holy undertaking . . . To be a serious student of the Course requires integrity, discrimination, and a deep sense of responsibility. But miracles and holy instants will open the way (Tara Singh Nothing Real Can Be Threatened 54).
In this way, our practice of the lesson becomes a prayer that informs our day, a giving of attention that quiets our hyperactive brains and restless bodies.
The peace of God is shining in me now.
Let all things shine upon me in that peace,
And let me bless them with the light in me (W-pI.188.10:6-7).
Notice that the light – the peace of God – in this prayer is reciprocal. It is not only in us but in all things. Notice too that the prayer evokes a responsibility to extend a blessing to all things. Attention is a gift – to us and from us. Attention is the blessing we extend to the world which in turn attends to – and blesses – us.
The shining in your mind reminds the world of what it has forgotten, and the world restores the memory to you as well. From you salvation radiates with gifts beyond all measure, given and returned (W-pI.188.4:1-2).
The mutuality inherent in those lines is not an accident. When seen clearly, it utterly undoes the sense of specialness that pervades our sense of being separate and personal and individual. What appears as discrete and separate is, when perceived and cognized seen in the light of love (the peace of God), remembered as one.
. . . the dual elements become effectively complementary: they mutually specify each other. There is no more duality in the sense that they are effectively related; we can contemplate these dual pairs from a metalevel where they become a cognitive unity, a second-order whole (Varela Not One, Not Two).
I am not suggesting that folks must read Varela or study constructivism or phenomenology, any more than I am suggesting folks ought to become students of A Course in Miracles.
I merely point out a way in which – for me – peace and happiness are revealed in a sustainable and ongoing way. The lesson, as such, lies in accepting the ACIM maxim that “it is we who make the world as we would have it” (W-pI.188.10:3), and the Varelan insight that “a change in experience (being) is as necessary as change in understanding if any suturing of the mind-body dualism is to come about.”
The obstacle to be surmounted in this process is nothing less than the cognitive homeostasis of each of us, the tendency to stick with our interpretation of reality, entrenched and made stable by emotions and body patterns. To work through this veil of attachments, and to see (experience) reality without them is part of the process of unfoldment (Varela Not One, Not Two).
Thus reading, thus writing . . . thus unfolding and infolding . . . and thus the rambling prayers I make in our shared voluble cheerfulness.