One of the keener insights I’ve been given over the years has been a sense of when to keep quiet. I’m not great at it, wordy s.o.b that I am (or can be). But I do try to recognize those moments – that sometimes last for weeks or even months – in which the better part of judgment is to hold one’s tongue.
For the past couple of weeks or so I’ve been reading The Real Alternative from the final chapter of A Course in Miracles. It is lovely and fruitful. From time to time in my reading I think “maybe I should write something” (I did, kind of) or “maybe I should read the next section” but I never quite get around to it. Part of studying the Course is not rushing it, but accepting that any one section – sometimes any one sentence – can itself be sufficient. We don’t earn understanding and insight – it is a gift, freely given. But when I am attentive and disciplined in my study – when I settle into it – I seem to find that space in which I can say “yes” to God more readily.
Really, what else can we do? We make a decision to be the Student – at some point we do, whether we know it or not. I whispered it at three a.m. in the dark in the pouring rain, hoping nobody would hear, but God was there. Jesus was there. And it’s enough. Even the faintest yes means that we have chosen to merit the teaching. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. But it is nice in the sense that you know what’s on the other side of the lesson. You know where you’re going. You have confidence in your companions and it really helps.
There is a lovely idea across my reading lately, put this way in the course:
The search for different pathways in the world is but the search for different forms of truth. And this would keep the truth from being reached (T-31.IV.6:4-5).
There is a way of thinking – of being, really – that is attentive. It observes but does not seek. It is passive and calm and not the center of anything. It is hard to get to this state at first but with practice it can become habitual. This is why the course refers to itself as mind training (T-1.VII.4:1). This state of mind is not overly attached to thought, nor to people, places and things that are external. It is not trying to accomplish anything, certainly not awakening.
David Bohm called it “participatory thought,” a way of being (thinking was only a facet) in which one was not functioning separately from anything else but rather in a sense of oneness, wholeness.
Participatory thought sees that everything partakes of everything. It sees that is own being partakes of the earth – it does not have an independent being . . . participatory thought tends to bring things together (On Dialogue).
Talking about it doesn’t necessarily help! Yet as we read and study – as we allow ourselves to let go a little and stop trying so hard – insight just sort of arrives. The mind opens. It seems to become more reflective. It is not like anything, because it is. One sees – not intellectually but otherwise – that God is everywhere and all things and we cannot be apart from God.
Forgive yourself your madness, and forget all senseless journeys and all goal-less aims. They have no meaning . . . For God is merciful, and did not let His Son abandon Him . . . There is no path that does not lead to Him (T-31.IV.11:1-2, 4, 7).
Thus we are there. Thus we are home.