Rigorous Honesty and A Course in Miracles

It is more and more clear to me that a student of A Course in Miracles is called to rigorous honesty. We have to be honest about who we are and where we are as well as about who and where we think we are. We have to see the pain of illusion, which is the cost of our seeming separation from God. To the extent that we experience inner peace and joy – to the extent we know the atonement – it is a consequence of this honesty.

Honesty requires a certain slowing down. We have to pay attention to the ego’s directives – seeing the ways in which we act in accordance with its wrong-minded thinking. There is no substitute for this. It is only by getting in close and often intimate touch with the ego and its patterns and processes that we can finally say – with candor and conviction – that we are ready for the better way.

This isn’t to suggest that we are supposed to obsessively dwell on our lives – what we say to this person, how that person interacts with us, and how the exchange reflects on our shared history and sheds light on the way our parents treated us during this or that sensitive phase of childhood.

It is more like simply noticing what is going on: I’m angry right now. I’m sad. I’m happy. We don’t have to explain our feelings or justify them. We simply see them – take note of them, if you will. We are honest about them. If we are honest, we are far more likely to accept what is rather than modify or amend it through some variation of deception.

For example, sometimes when I am angry I get scared. I don’t want to be scared and so I stuff the anger down. The situation that makes me angry is generally cloudy at best and altogether invisible at worst. Then, hours later, the anger will come rushing in at something entirely unrelated to the original event or circumstance. That’s not being honest.

The Manual for Teachers is eloquent on this point.

The peace of mind which the advanced teachers of God experience is largely due to their perfect honesty. It is only the wish to deceive that makes for war. No one at one with himself can even conceive of conflict. Conflict is the inevitable result of self-deception, and self-deception is dishonesty (M-4.II.2:1-4).

The conflict comes when we don’t want to see what is – but rather move it around to something more appealing or healing or whatever. It never works. There is a simple sort of flow that comes with practicing ACIM. We don’t get it right all the time, but more and more we simply witness the unfolding. It really does start to feel like you’re just watching a movie. Your emotions stay in check. You stop projecting guilt and fear because you are no longer at odds with guilt and fear.

What happens when we can simply witness what appears to be happening without intervening? Without judging?

One thing that happens is that conflict ends.

At no level are they (teachers of G0d) in conflict with themselves. Therefore it is impossible for them to be in conflict with anyone or anything (M-4.II.1:8-9).

When conflict ends, we know peace.

Thus, inner peace is not getting rid of problems in the sense of solving them or addressing them or manipulating them in any way. It is simply witnessing them without drama. We witness with the Holy Spirit, allowing its capacity for seeing both our illusory lives and the grander wholesomeness of identity in God to dissolve the tiny little bumps that seem to make up the cruel and unjust lives conducted and experienced by our physical bodies.

Slow down. Breathe. Invite the Holy Spirit to be a part of your life. It is already there, awaiting your invitation. What could possibly justify delay? The world waits on our decision to be free.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Xavier Nathan October 18, 2012, 8:52 am

    This post deals with something I consider central to the A Course in Miracles and you have done well in expressing it here. Asking the Holy Spirit to give every experience its purpose and stepping back to being a witness rather than reacting is more easily said than done but by sticking with the intention all will be fine in the end. Thank you. I regularly include your posts in my newspaper The Daily Miracle and commend you on the quality of what you write.

    • Sean Reagan October 18, 2012, 5:18 pm

      Thanks for the kind words, Xavier. I am familiar with the Daily miracle – it is a great resource. Thank you!

  • Nadia October 23, 2012, 4:38 pm

    Sean,
    I love this post! Thanks so much for sharing this, and as usual, your words reach me at the perfect time and give me exactly what I needed to take a step forward.
    I will keep referring to this one!
    Love and hugs,
    Nadia

    • Sean Reagan October 24, 2012, 6:00 am

      Hi Nadia,

      Thanks for writing – I appreciate your kind words. It means a lot!

      Sean

  • Chef Jem November 27, 2012, 5:28 am

    Excellent commentary, Sean!

    Slowing down enough to allow (and accept) our inner witness to function is worth practicing. You presented some wonderful representations of that, both in actualizing this and in the resistance of it; that makes for a really effective contrast!

    Many Blessings!

  • Bet Carbery May 22, 2013, 8:59 am

    Can I ask Sean – if we see a situation from a negative perspective, are we stuck with that or can we change it to a more positive perspective. Both perspectives are equally true (or not true) so why not just choose the one that lifts us up and, therefore, everyone around us. Does that sound trite? I’m not talking about feigning happiness (although that can work sometimes) but to observe that there really is a negative and positive aspect in equal measure. After all our feelings are dependent upon our thinking although I can see that sometimes just to be with our feelings can reveal something hitherto unacknowledged but equally we can go into a really deep pit and doesn’t ACIM say give our anger, etc, to the Holy Spirit? Another saying is find the gift in the problem.
    Or is it the case that I’m just not getting it? Most likely.
    Thanks again for your assistance.
    Bet

    • Sean Reagan May 22, 2013, 11:40 am

      Hi Bet,

      It’s a good question. On the one hand, there is a lot to be said for choosing the illusion of happiness over the illusion of sadness/loneliness/etc. I am a big fan of “fake it ’til you make it,” and “when the going gets tough, the tough watch sitcom reruns” and so forth.

      Yet there is (as you point out) a space or condition in which we see that “good” too, is an illusion, and so then what? I think that is the space to which the Course is truly directing us. What do we do when we see that good and bad are equally illusory?

      The external is neutral: neither good nor bad. This is true of rose bushes, dogs, babies, bombs and banks. Good and bad are what the separated mind bring to the question. So long as we are judging at all, we are separated. The happy dream is still a dream. I think many of us spend lifetimes refusing to take the next step which is to awaken from the dream altogether.

      It feels sometimes like tracing a thread back through the labyrynth. Where does the impulse to judge – to separate experience into good and bad (or right and wrong, significant and insignificant) begin?

      And perhaps more helpfully: what lies beyond it?

      Some part of our mind decided that separation was the way to perceive: but that means it can choose to perceive another way, too. It is like the Course says: we aren’t trying to fix the content of thought but simply to see that we are thinking. Once we see that we’re doing it, then we can decide to do it differently.

      So I think we are trying to go all the way back to that decision to be separated: we want to perceive the external free of the separation impulse altogther: neither good nor bad. Just as it is.

      It is a very tricky thing because it is continuous: we don’t do it once. It’s not like flipping a switch and then we’re all set forever. It’s more like training ourselves to think from the mostly unused, mostly unfamiliar mind that doesn’t function dualistically. It is actually quite natural to perceive oneness, but we have gotten very good at denying that, and complicating it and so forth.

      So sure. Choose happiness. Choose good over bad. But also give some space to making contact with the part of your mind that insists on good vs. bad in the first place. And in that place, choose to see without judgment at all.

      Thanks, Bet. I hope the hill walks are going well!

      Sean

  • Bet Carbery May 23, 2013, 7:29 am

    See what you mean Sean – thanks. Hillwalking great. My dog (died last year) was called Jake. I am working towards getting another dog – border collie like Jake, maybe

    • Sean Reagan May 24, 2013, 6:54 am

      I don’t know if I mentioned this – or if you read it elsewhere in some post – but my old dog was named Jake. What a great companion he was! He loved the forest and rivers around here. Very hard to say goodbye to him. I still see him when I walk the familiar trails.

      Thanks, Bet.

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