On Seeing Differently

A great deal of our practice as students of A Course in Miracles rests in seeing differently. Awakening begins that way. This process usually begins with our physical eyes: our physical sight. The early lessons of the workbook direct our attention to the pedestrian, the ordinary: tables, chairs, pens, shadows.

We are explicitly taught that “[O]ne thing is like another as far as the application of the idea is concerned” (W-pI.1.3:7).

We are urged to “[R]emain as indiscriminate as possible in selecting subjects for [the lesson’s] application, do not concentrate on anything in particular, and do not attempt to include everything you see in a given area (W-pI.2.1:6).

And we are reminded that “whatever you see becomes a proper subject for applying the idea (W-pI.3.1:2).

A very clear foundation is being laid: a principle that underlies the whole premise of A Course in Miracles: nothing can be excluded. Thus, it doesn’t matter if we are gazing at a lovely rose, a breathtaking sunset, a deer dying on the side of the road, or a car accident on the interstate. It is all equal. It is all the same.

Of course, we don’t believe this, even if we profess to intellectually. Obviously, a rose is nicer than roadkill. Obviously we would rather eat a loaf of bread than a plate full of stones.

But the course is not so focused on the content of our thoughts: nor our feelings about them. The objective is more on how we see. We are being asked to question a method of seeing, and to evaluate its effects, and on that basis to consider an alternative.

The salient quality of the world that we perceive is its mutability. It changes. It holds no single unalterable meaning. Thus, I can fall weeping at the sight of a pink rose and somebody else can pass it by without a thought. Your comfort food is chocolate and mine is spicy pepitas.

That world and the judgment upon which it rests feels very natural to us, but peace is not possible in it because of the lack of a sure foundation. Jesus alludes to this in Matthew 7:24. The house built on solid rock can withstand anything. The one built on shifting sands inevitably collapses.

Our goal then – and the objective of the lessons – is to stabilize our erratic and fickle perception. We do this by questioning its propensity to declare what it see as true. If we are attentive, we will notice that we accept almost always without question whatever thought tell us. It sees a sunset and declares it beautiful. It sees a chair and declares it practical. But this is always the past talking: and when the past talks, our mind is closed.

The lessons aim to teach us to question the process and commit to something different.

When you say, “Above all else I want to see this table differently,” you are making a commitment to withdraw your preconceived notions about the table, and open your mind to what it is, and what it is for. You are not defining it in past terms. You are asking what it is, rather than telling it what it is. You are not binding its meaning to your tiny experience of tables, nor are you limiting its purpose to your little personal thoughts (W-pI.28.3:1-4).

In essence, we are saying, “okay. My way of seeing does not bring me peace. So I am going to try again. What am I looking at? What does it mean?”

And rather than rush in with an answer, we wait. That’s hard, but we can do it. Even if we can withhold egoic judgment for a few seconds, it is healing. It only takes a moment for God to show us there is another way, a better way. And there is nothing spectacular or dramatic about it. A chair is as good as a temple for learning purposes.

Right perception is necessary before God can communicate directly to His altars, which He established in His Sons. There He can communicate His certainty, and His knowledge will bring peace without question (T-3.III.6:1-2).

This is something we can practice all the time. That is the whole point. Nothing is excluded: every thing is sufficient unto the lessons God would teach us.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Maha July 1, 2013, 8:33 am

    Thank you for an awesome post – this came at an appropriate time for me (the joys of divine timing!) I’ve revisited it several times since you posted it 🙂
    One of the concepts I’m working with lately as a healer, is stepping back from my client and asking how can I be of service? This takes me/my knowledge & experience/what I think the client needs off the table, and allows anoyher Voice to come forth. It’s taken my healing work to a whole other level.
    And reading this post, gave me an AHA! moment! I can certainly apply that same concept to my life experience. Just stepping back and opening a little space in my mind to allow God’s movement! Ah! Yes! Now I can see more clearly!

    • Sean Reagan July 1, 2013, 9:52 am

      You’re welcome, Maha. I’m glad it was helpful.

      Yes, that idea that we can open a little space for God – for what is – to speak and direct us is very powerful. It is easy to say but hard to bring into practice – or hard maybe to see the need to bring it into practice. Yet once we do – as you say – the clarity is there. We don’t have to do anything: simply make the space for God to do through us.

      Thanks for reading!

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