The world is false perception (W-pII.3.1:1).
We experience the world through our bodies, and we interpret that experience through thought. Our thinking – which is not inherently confused – becomes confused, because it takes as its premise our identification with bodies. Thought does not question separation but assumes it, and so everything that follows from it is in error.
We don’t have to be in a rush to undo the material world. In fact, to do so – rushing or otherwise – would be to obfuscate the applicability of A Course in Miracles. It does not ask us to deny the world, but rather to see it as it is. And to see it as it is is to question thought (see T-24.In.2:1, T-11.VIII.3:8 and so on).
We don’t really have a problem with trees or starlight or foxes or even other people. Our problem is always with interpretation, which is thought. We have ideas about people – about what is good behavior and what is bad behavior, what we need from them, what they should give, when they should give it. We are always moving towards conclusion, rather than letting life just be. So the first step in coming to inner peace is to stop interpreting.
In order to do that, we have to be aware when we are doing it. Thus, we have to give attention to thought. Nobody can prescribe for us how to do this. It is very personal and, if it is going to be truly helpful, it has to be personal. But in general, time set aside to simply be present to life as it moves or flows – as it is in a given moment – can be very fructive. When we give attention to life without leaping into it or molding it but simply letting it be – which it so beautifully and simply does – then we start to perceive that thought is not really necessary. We begin to see that life has a volition that neither begins nor ends with us. Perhaps we even begin to sense how we are enfolded within it.
But even that insight is down the road. All we want to do at first is become comfortable with giving attention to thought in order to see it rightly. What is the chickadee if I do not project vulnerability onto it? What is the sunset if I do not project beauty onto it? What are you if I do not project “other” onto you?
We can’t answer those questions intellectually until we have seen the answers, until we have observed them for ourselves. Ultimately, we are moving towards finding out what happens to perception when it is unencumbered by interpretation.
. . . all perception can be given a new purpose by the One Whom God appointed Savior to the world. Follow His light, and see the world as He beholds it (W-pII.3.4:2-3).
It is kind of like saying, “if you think you like chickadees and sunset and making love now, just wait until you see it without your self all tangled up in it.”
One of the hardest illusions to let go is the one that tell us life is personal, that it is about us. Our house, our partner, our bread, our orgasm, our trail, our dog, our vision of starlight, our favorite poet . . . But life does not have favorites. It is all of it given all of the time to all of it.
We get upset when our personal narrative goes this way rather than that. We get cancer, or the job doesn’t come through, or there’s no money for the mortgage, or the horse dies, or whatever. But life is bigger than all of that – life is not what happens. It is more like the space in which those things happen. And even that is only a dim metaphor, far removed from truth.
And – this point cannot yet be made enough – those things are only problematic when we are identified with the body. But your body isn’t worried about anything: it knows what to do. It’s very mechanical and hums along. It even knows when and how to die. Given that, what else would we do but be amazed at Creation? What else is there to do?
Often when I talk this way somebody will stop me and say “okay, okay it sounds great but how?
And my answer is always the same: just give attention. Wherever you are, give attention to it. Whatever is happening, give attention to it. Whatever thoughts are floating around, give attention to them. Just see it all. Don’t worry is it right or wrong or are you giving enough attention or giving it with sufficient intensity or any of that. Don’t add to your quotient of grief – don’t multiply it! Just give attention, like a gift. It really is a gift. Your attention is a gift to you and all you can do with it is give it away in turn. So do that. Be a giver. And see what happens.
Sooner or later – probably sooner – you will begin to recognize how little is asked of you. You will start to recognize that thought is a big blowhard – talking the talk but never walking the walk. And being unimpressed with it, you’ll simply stop giving attention to it. Really! It will still be there in awareness, but it will be like your foot or your opposable thumb. Unless you really need it, you won’t do anything with it.
What happens when the space between thoughts expands unto infinity? When eternity gently comes to replace the strictures of time? “The smallest leaf becomes a thing of wonder, and a blade of grass a sign of God’s perfection” (T-17.II.6:3). That’s what.
But we must be clear: this step – this witnessing unto God’s perfection is a precedent to God’s Oneness, which encompasses us (T-8.V.3:1). When we no longer identify with the body or with thought, then “God will take the last step swiftly” (T-17.II.4:5). So the clarity and joy to which I refer is not an end unto itself. There is more.
The stars will disappear in light, and the sun that opened up the world to beauty will vanish. Perception will be meaningless when it has been perfected, for everything that has been used for learning will have no function. Nothing will ever change; no shifts nor shadings, no difference, no variations that made perception possible will still occur (T-17.II.4:1-3).
In the end there is nothing to say; and even as fine a text as A Course in Miracles can only gesture poorly in the direction of what happens when perception is perfected. That’s okay because it’s not really our concern. It’s like trying to explain the plot of King Lear to a black bear in rut. It just doesn’t work. He doesn’t need the information, and you can’t really give it to him anyway.
The gift of attention is what finally reveals – when we are ready to see it so – that life is impersonal. When we accept that, when it becomes a fact for us, nothing remains but to be thankful because nothing remains but what we are thankful for.
Understanding isn’t what matters. How hard it is see this when we are so attached to our thoughts and bodies! Only application matters. Bless the world with sweet and ever-widening filter of your attention and see what blessing returns.