It is helpful to remember that as we become more aware of what A Course in Miracles calls the ego, we may feel the effects of egoic thinking quite intensely. Patterns of thought and behavior and feeling that went unnoticed before suddenly call attention to themselves. It is not always comfortable when this happens! It can feel like failure, like falling back down a hill we’ve spent a long time climbing.
But really, it’s okay. Crazed machinations of egoic thought are not new and, as distressing as they may seem, are no more or less important than anything else going on, inside or out. They are just another facet of the various landscapes to which we are giving attention. And it is the giving of attention that matters in the end; not the images to which attention is given.
The forgiveness process of A Course in Miracles is about looking clearly and – as much as possible – without judgment at what is going on. If we are sad, then we look at our sadness. If we are listening to birds at dawn, then we look at listening to birds at dawn. Nothing is excluded, and nothing is better than anything else. It’s all equal. It might not seem so initially, but sooner or later this equality reveals itself.
People ask me sometimes: what is the point? So I am looking at looking at a banana split – so what? That’s not spiritual. That’s not healing. Or they say that it hurts to look at so-called negative aspects of character – lust, greed, anger, dishonesty. We’re supposed to change that stuff – not just stare at it.
Well, yes. I appreciate that. I feel that way myself quite often. But the suggestion I am making is that giving attention – which is to say, looking with the Holy Spirit – is itself curative. There’s really nothing else to do. We don’t understand that, at least not initially. It’s too simple. We prefer drama – big insights, big shifts, and all of that. We want results. We want outcomes that make us happy.
But really, healing simply happens because we are being attentive, and what we are attentive to is not very important at all. There really is nothing more to do! And it’s impossible to do it wrong, because attention isn’t our creation. It’s just there, a kind of responsiveness forever present. So the pressure comes off a little. Life isn’t our personal responsibility. How hard is it to do nothing?
When giving attention becomes difficult – because we see how selfish we are, how impatient, how naive, or whatever – it is important to remember that this is a form of clarity! And clear seeing is quite literally the Holy Spirit in action. Our impatience or selfishness is no more or less valuable in this regard than a sunset or a grilled steak. Attention is not contingent on that to which it is given. Give the Holy Spirit an inch and then sit back and watch it take the miles.
So we give attention. We don’t worry so much how it feels or whether it’s working or what results we’re getting. We don’t really know anyway. It is the gift of attention that matters. No more than that, and no less. We rest in giving: we become giving. And it’s enough; it’s more than enough.