My thoughts do not mean anything.
Within each lesson there is always a seed or two, the flowering of which seems to aim at completely undoing our sense of self. There is a tendency to merely glance at these “seeds” – to pass over them quickly – under the mistaken belief that we are making the lessons less fearful and thus more manageable. Leave what’s scary for another day! But this is a delay tactic that only postpones our inevitable – and desirable – readjustment. Atonement, as Jesus points out frequently in A Course in Miracles, reflects a total commitment on our part.
As it clearly states, Lesson 10 is a second, somewhat altered, take on a soon-to-be familiar theme: our thoughts are meaningless. We saw this first in ACIM Lesson 4 which compared our thoughts to the objects we perceive in the material world. The goal was to begin to sense that our “thoughts” are actually outside of us rather than within and that they are also in a critical sense “past.”
We are not ignoring that aspect in Lesson 10. Implicit in the brief review of Lesson 4, is the need to remember that our thoughts – as we now understand them – are essentially unreal in the sense of time and space, which is to say, in the sense of bodies. We need to rethink the way we think: and this “rethinking” is not a function of the brain but rather of that in which – or through which – the brain has its function.
Lesson 10 takes it a step further, largely through the lines that are both the heart – and the above-mentioned seeds – of this exercise.
Now we are emphasizing that the presence of these “thoughts” means that you are not thinking. This is merely another way of repeating our earlier statement that your mind is really a blank W-pI.10.3:2-3).
If these thoughts – about whether Chrisoula or I will take Sophia riding today, or what is for supper, or will I teach Dickinson or Whitman this semester, or where is the next dollar will come from, or why am I so suddenly and intensely scared of death, why doesn’t so-and-so call anymore, etc. – do not constitute thinking, then what does?
Better yet, who is the “you” that this workbook lesson addresses?
I think that last question is one of the true gifts of A Course in Miracles, although it arrives – and can remain for sometimes – more in the nature of a curse. Whoever – and whatever – we are, our bodies and the brain-chatter produced by them are inside of us.
We aren’t who we think we are. We aren’t what we think we are. When Jesus assures us in the text that we are perfect creations of a loving Creator, he isn’t referring to Sean Reagan or you or anybody else. He is not referring to bodies. He is not referring to identities attached to bodies.
Thus, this “identity in God” to which I often refer is not some perfection of the bodily self, some pinnacle of emotional wellness, a last stop on the train of spiritual evolution.
Rather, it is spirit itself. And there is only one spirit, only one mind. This we that “we” think “we” are is going to be wholly and utterly subsumed by its origins, absorbed back into God from which it did not, in truth, depart. We fight that – we are fighting it right now, else what is the ego for – but with each lesson we take another inexorable step in the direction of Heaven where differences of any kind are entirely dissolved.
This is not an experience that we have as bodies. Our physical experience is subject to the laws that characterize bodies – ups and downs, comings and goings. At best, our bodily experience hints at the greater peace from which it borrows its existence. Lesson 10 is a way in which we begin to allow the weighty pervasiveness of the body to recede as we give attention to mind and the light in which – and through which – mind exists.
Thanks for sharing the sampling of “your thoughts” (whose thoughts are “whose”? lol). My first naming in the exercise I did right after reading the post was, “My thoughts about Sean’s thoughts do not mean anything” (took the burden off “my” thoughts, and gave a warm and friendly and shared and even humorous sense instead). The meta thoughts kind of always want to jump ahead of the more simple named thoughts of this type of excercise for me. That was frustrating (and unrecognized) in earlier relations with the course, but now seems part of the point. I like “what can be perceived can’t be perceiving” and the “practical” aspect of that. What I’m assuming to be thinking (and acting) like certainly doesn’t make sense to be so, if what’s assumed to be perceiving them isn’t actually there to validate the further downstream perceived images!
At least a friendlier thought of yours -Mike
I find that turn back – within – to find the source that can validate all the subsequent images / actions / objects / etc is a kind of fool’s gold, at least when undertaken in contemporary settings. I imagine a lot of this work unfolded differently back in the day when there more teachers and way less access to such a broad array of materials. On the other hand . . .
The other thing I don’t often say in these lessons posts is that the lesson are intentionally cumulative. I do think there are moments of deep insight and lights going on and whatnot but it’s like – perhaps? – the twelve steps. Step 8 is meaningless without step 9 and could even be dangerous – like, don’t wake sleeping dogs if you don’t have a plan to feed and house them.
I hope you’re well Mike!
Love this post , I am not a body I am free for I am still as God created me 🥳 funny that a bodywork therapist should know that its not bodies God created , this idea has saved me countless times from attachment and aversion , as I watch the world of dreams go by I am gladdened that it’s not the real world . Happy that my thoughts do not mean anything and grateful for the opportunity to once again review the beliefs that are not my own as this idea helps to release me from all that I now believe 🎉🙃🖖
Doing this early lessons with a willingness to review the contents once again , I am having fun with the lessons this time round 🤪 not quite so much rubbish in here now 👍
“not quite so much rubbish in here now . . . ”
Thank you Sean for this blog. I am new to putting ACIM in practice, after have glanced at the course several times as it appeared in my life over the past 10 years. With these lessons like this one that ask one to set aside the time to sit and observe the mind to then apply the lesson, I am finding that there are far and few between thoughts (sometimes no thoughts at all) when the observer is observing. The thoughts just disappear. There are times during the day when my mind is running on its own with thoughts (when I’m not observing) I will then will apply the lesson. I understand that it’s best to do the course as it is written. How do you see this?
You’re welcome, Lee. I’m glad to hear that the course is going well for you. It hovered on the periphery of my awareness for many years before I settled into practicing it more intentionally and actively.
It is a gift when those spaces of no-thought arise. Tara Singh called them “gaps between thoughts,” and there is a lot of rest and grace in them.
In terms of practice, I think it’s okay to just meet the course where it seems to be meeting us. The real question is not which edition we are reading or which teacher or whether we are still going to church or doing yoga or whatever, but our openness to the Holy Spirit’s message of peace and love. When our mind opens to that message – when our heart opens – it does not really matter precisely WHAT did the opening.
Part of that reflects ACIM’s emphasis on reversing cause and effect. We think we’re doing something and that what we do has a corresponding effect on our inner peace and happiness. But in fact the peace and happiness are already given and are themselves causes. The appearance of helpful spiritual practices are just effects of remembering our natural proximity to God.
Thank you for being here and sharing.
Thanks Sean, yes, exactly. This realization came to me after I made the post. I am finding that when you invite Holy Spirit/JC/God/Source into your heart and ask for the teachings, the communications appear in whatever manner that is best for you in the moment, in a way that you will understand, but within the foundation of the course.
Thank you for being here and sharing your voice. Your words are much appreciated and helpful in understanding some of the language given in the text.
Lots of Love