Essentially, we are recovering the present moment (which is unrelated to chronology). It is a kind of attention to what is without the interference of the ego. The ego, in this case, we might simply call a habit of thinking that is mostly dysfunctional because it cannot discern between illusion and reality and doesn’t know it.
We are confused, is all. And our confusion has deepened to the point where we’ve forgotten we’re confused. A way of thinking – of perceiving – brought us to this point, and we won’t stop or alter it so it goes on. That’s the separation: the repetition of what doesn’t work.
We could say that our internal programming is trapped in what computer programmers call an infinite loop – it just goes on endlessly and unproductively repeating itself, forever in search of a condition it will never find. So the computer freezes, all its resources entangled in a problem that is inherently unsolvable.
A programmer would introduce a “loop counter” – code which instructs the infinite loop to terminate at such and such a point in order to proceed to the next instruction. A loop counter introduces (or reintroduces, really) flow and thus functionality.
The suggestion I so often make here is that we give attention to our thinking, to our patterns or habits of thought. When we do this in a gentle and sustained way, we will perceive the infinite (the dysfunctional) loop and the need for a loop counter of some sort.
If we want to stay close to the language and mythology of A Course in Miracles (which is perfectly reasonable), then the miracle is the loop counter: it is a shift in thought away from the egoic mode towards the Holy Spirit’s (e.g., T-1.30:1-2).
The miracle will arise naturally from attention, in the way that we only have to plant a seed in order for a flower to grow. We aren’t responsible for the growing itself.
“Ego” and “Holy Spirit” in this instance are simply metaphors. There is no ego and no Holy Spirit – there are just helpful and unhelpful ways of relating to thought. Thought, like perception, is natural. The question is one of relationship which is essentially one of attention.
We can understand the nexus between attention and relationship this way: We give a particular kind of loving attention to our children, another – somewhat less intense – attention to our nieces and nephews, and then another reduced kind to our neighbor’s kids, and then another reduced kind to kids on the other side of the world, and then to future generations of kids and so on and so forth . . .
It is helpful just to see the way we prioritize the gift of our attention and how we divide love accordingly. We don’t have to change this; we have to see it. We don’t have to say it’s right or wrong; we have to see it clearly as it is. If any response is called for, then clear seeing will include – will allow for – that response. In a very practical and real sense, it is out of our hands.
So our relationship with thought is like our relationship to children (or other people). We privilege this thought over that one, listen to this thought while suppressing that one. That’s the infinite loop in operation. You can’t use thought to stop it because thought is doing it. If you are hitting yourself with your right hand, you can’t also use your right hand to grab your right hand and stop it from hitting yourself. Thought can’t solve a problem made and sustained by thought.
Thus, we allow the miracle – the loop counter, if we find that analogy useful – to intervene on our behalf. The miracle will arise naturally from attention, in the way that we only have to plant a seed in order for a flower to grow. We aren’t responsible for the growing itself. If you are attentive, then miracles will arrive: love and gentleness and happiness will flower in beautiful and generous abundance. See if it doesn’t work that way.
So that is what the present reveals: that is the knowledge it restores to our awareness. Life unfolds, or flows, and we are the unfolding flowing. Sean (or Dad or daughter or Emily Dickinson or whatever) are just names given for convenience’ sake to this or that ripple of the Absolute. When we see this, the pressure of right action or right outcomes dissolves. It is not possible to make a mistake: only to believe that it is possible.