We take everything so personally. I do anyway. I walked outside this morning, cup of coffee in hand, and the moon was setting. It was very beautiful – sort of golden as it sank through a thin veil of clouds that covered the hills. There is always a little bit of magic around the moon. Watching it, I felt desire – to possess the moment, to make it mine. There was some sort of ambition in the moment, some sort of triumph.
Very strange! Yet on the other hand, not surprising. The egoic self insists on its centrality. The moon is indifferent, impersonal. It wasn’t setting on my account. There wasn’t any impulse in it to please or gratify me. Yet to let it be that way was intolerable at some level. The ego requires specialness at all levels – even the lunar level.
What do we want? It’s important to ask that question and not settle for the simple answer. I want the truth, God, peace, happiness. Maybe. But mostly when I say that, I’m not going much deeper than the words. The word is not the thing, right? I’m not really trying to understand what I mean by them. I’m not really looking at the desire underneath them, the actual want.
I don’t mean this in an intellectual way. It can come off that way, I know, because I am here writing it. But it’s not about understanding. That feels very clear and calm to me. Whatever else A Course in Miracles means, it doesn’t mean understanding.
A better and far more helpful way to think of miracles is this: you do not understand them, either in part or in whole. Yet they have been done through you. Therefore, your understanding cannot be necessary (T-16.II.2:4-6).
So I sit down with my coffee while the dog runs around in circles, sniffing out the skunks, and I try to let the moon be. I don’t compose poems in my head. I don’t lecture myself about attention. I don’t wonder what my Buddhist friends would do in this situation. Or rather, I do do all those things, but with a little smile. It’s okay. Here I go again, being all egoic and selfish. There’s this lovely moon setting and it’s just before dawn and it’s so beautiful and peaceful and I can’t let it be. It’s not enough. I need to add something to it, anything.
It’s better to laugh at that impulse then get worked up about it. You know? Okay, so I’m not enlightened yet. I still need help – lots of it. It’s good to see that and say it. We aren’t going to get fired. We aren’t going to be given demerits. It’s nice because when we do relax into the present moment, the fragmented self, the many desires . . . something happens. It’s not anything spectacular, like disco balls in Heaven, but our awareness shifts and a little peace is revealed. It’s like to the extent I can remember not to get worked up about insanity, then to that extent I remember peace. It’s tiny, but it’s enough.
Then I can breathe and see the stars. I can see the thin clouds floating around. I can watch the yellow moon sink beneath the hills, the glow behind it fading even as the glow of the rising sun begins to lighten the opposite sky. Five, ten, fifteen minutes of quiet, of stillness. The ego clamors to get in – you should grab your camera! You should climb the hill to see better! You should wake somebody up and share the love! – but it can’ t get a foothold.
So there is something else to us besides the false identity inherent in the ego. It’s deeper and more quiet. Its being doesn’t easily resolve to words.
There is a tendency to fragment, and then to be concerned about the truth of just a little part of the whole. And this is a way of avoiding, or looking away from the whole, to what you think you might be better able to understand . . . Yet it is still impossible to accomplish what you do not understand. And so there must be Something in you that does understand (T-16.II.2:1-2,7-8).
To make contact with that Something is not easy because effort of any kind obscures it. The more we try to draw it close, the more it recedes. Yet as soon as we give up and laugh at our crazy need to do something, to try and make things happen, to add our personal gloss to every little experience, then it is there. Its silence and calm inflect the whole world, from the inside out.
So I am grateful then for those moments where I remember to laugh, when I surrender – briefly, a little – the need to be special. There is some light in those moments. There is a reflection of Heaven and it is enough. In that moment, it is.