Unknowing and Awakening in A Course in Miracles

In a sense, awakening through A Course in Miracles is about letting go of the insistence that we know what awakening is. It is about a state of unknowing that is – paradoxically – knowledge itself.

It is not necessary – nor possible really – to know in advance what awakening is and then choose to embrace it, the way we peruse a menu for just the right meal, and then order it and consume it happily.

All that precedes awakening is the willingness to accept what is already given, even though those words may seem too abstract or even meaningless.

When I look give sustained and devoted attention to thought, I see that it is attached to identification and classification. It names things, puts them in groups, judges them as good or bad, safe or dangerous, and so forth. Thought is busy (and nowhere near as productive as it advertises). Importantly, thought is averse to what does not lend itself to the process of thought.

But awakening is beyond thought – or precedes thought, if you prefer – and so it does readily fit into thought. We might say that awakening is the space in which thought caroms about, doing what it does. Thought is always partial within wholeness.

We don’t need to know what works. We need only see clearly that which does not work, because that seeing is undoing, and what remains is the peace of God.

That is why we resist accepting awakening – because the familiar means (thought) is not capable of doing it. And so we’re scared. So we try to kill it by talking about it. We make awakening into a difficult process, speculating what paths reach it quickest, reading the work of people who claim to be awakened, and so forth. If we can keep thinking about it – and expressing that thinking – then we can perhaps avoid confronting the question of why we are not awakened.

But A Course in Miracles is clear that awakening is already given, and given unconditionally.

All things are given you. God’s trust in you is limitless . . . He gives without exception, holding nothing back that can contribute to your happiness (W-pI.165.1:1-2, 4).

And yet we confound this simplicity. We side with thought, believing that clear goals and objectives and plans are necessary in order to get anywhere or get anything. But A Course in Miracles emphasizes that this approach – which seems so sensible to the ego – cannot work in any ultimate sense.

Deny not Heaven. It is yours today, but for the asking. Nor need you perceive how great the gift, how changed your mind will be before it comes to you. Ask to receive, and it is given you . . . Sureness is not required to receive what only your acceptance can bestow (W-pI.165.4:1-4, 8).

We don’t need to know anything – we just need to trust that Love is given.

If we search our minds, we will likely find many definitions of Heaven and awakening. These will always reflect dearly held (and readily defended) beliefs about what we are in truth and what salvation is. Central to these beliefs is the conviction that what we are is up to us. They leave no space for God to enter.

[E]very mind that looks upon the world and judges it as certain, solid, trustworthy and true believes in two creators; or in one, himself alone. But never in one God (W-pI.166.2:4-5).

The course is teaching us that our beliefs – opinions, ideas, feelings, etc. – are what obscure truth. So long as we cannot let them go (because we believe they are ours and define who and what we are), we will not perceive what is given and – because we cannot perceive it – we will not accept it.

A Course in Miracles is asking us to step well outside the zone of what is comfortable and familiar. It is asking us to let go of all the insane ideas and beliefs that stand between what we are and what God is.

It is saying that a state of not-knowing is okay – that it is more than okay. It is necessary.

And that is what we resist. That is what the ego is – resistance in the form of the rush and effort to avoid not-knowing. It is the doomed attempt to circumscribe what cannot be limited by thought.

So we have to ask: can we sit quietly by without knowing what awakening will look like or feel like? Can we let go of our conviction that we know how to obtain it? That there is anything to obtain? Can we let go even of our ideas about God?

That willingness is all is required. It can be confused and wavery, and it’s still okay.

You need not be sure that you request the only thing you want. But when you have received, you will be sure you have the treasure you always sought (W-pI.165.5:2-3).

Quiet time given to God may yet take the form of all that God is not – which is to say, all that we make in order to avoid the simple present clarity that is God. But this looking is valuable, because it is how we undo those blocks. We see them clearly, we perceive their ruinous effects, and we turn with a sincere desire towards a better way.

Is it clear? We don’t need to know what works. That’s not our job. We just need to see clearly that which does not work: that seeing is its undoing: and what remains is the peace of God. There is nothing else, and never was, and never will be. That is why our joy is sure.

2 thoughts on “Unknowing and Awakening in A Course in Miracles”

  1. Hi Sean,

    Sometimes I feel silly writing to you about your writing, because words cannot adequately convey the ways your insights move and help me.

    “They leave no space for God to enter” is one of the most helpful passages I’ve seen in a while.

    Thank you for imparting such peace in your communiques.

    With much deep gratitude.

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