I am upset because I see a meaningless world.
Again, with this lesson we build on previous lessons – working increasingly to both understand and take responsibility for the role our minds play in creating the world that we see and experience. Lesson 12 drives the point home. Our upset – call it anger, fear, guilt, shame, distress, worry, sadness, loneliness etc. – is not caused by the world. Those feelings – those impressions – are what we have projected onto the world. The real source of our stress is our perception of meaninglessness, and our unwillingness to become responsible for it.
Two things stand out in this lesson of A Course in Miracles. The first is the beautiful wording – poetic, actually – that describes just what is happening in this process of projection.
If you could accept the world as meaningless and let the truth be written upon it for you, it would make you indescribably happy. But because it is meaningless, you are impelled to write upon it what you would have it be. It is this you see in it. It is this that is meaningless in truth. Beneath your words is written the Word of God (W-pI.12.5:3-7).
Few passages of the either the text or workbook are as clear and precise as this. We perceive what we want to perceive. It is a choice we make, one that we can undo – and make again, differently – whenever we want. The truth – God’s Word – is already there, waiting. Beneath the anguish and hostility, the guilt and fear that is our text is God’s text, clean, shining and pure. Which would we rather see?
If we can understand this distinction – and accept it – and then bring it into application (Tara Singh‘s phrase for walking the walk of any spiritual path) – then we both understand and are practicing what A Course in Miracles aims to teach.
So in this respect, Lesson 12 is an opportunity – early in the process – to begin taking responsibility for projection and learning how peace arises when we stop insisting on our interpretation of experience.
The second aspect of this lesson that is worth noticing is the way in which it declares that our upset is directly related – can be traced to – the world’s apparent meaninglessness. In other words, logic would seem to dictate that we’re upset because we see violence, poverty, hunger, loneliness, anger, greed etc. Those things upset us – it’s obvious, right?
But A Course in Miracles is explicit: the source of our stress is our unwillingness to simply accept the meaninglessness of the world. We can’t bear it and so we rush to fill it. The rush to fill it becomes our stress because what we add is not meaning but confusion. Lesson 12 is an invitation to simply allow the meaninglessness to be what it is, to see its fundamental neutrality.
What is meaningless is neither good nor bad. Why, then, should a meaningless world upset you? If you could accept the world as meaningless and let the truth be written upon it for you, it would make you indescribably happy (W-pI.12.5:1-3).
Thus, if we can accept meaninglessness for what it really is – which is neither good nor bad but simply an entirely neutral fact – then what we will perceive on it will be God’s Word, which is our happiness and our rest.
There is a clear – if unstated – subtext here. There are two ways of looking at the world – one is our own (call it the ego’s) and one is with Jesus and/or the Holy Spirit, both of whom enable us to patiently wait for the inevitable revelation of God’s Word.
Thus, one of the questions that Lesson 12 asks us to answer is: with whom are we looking at the world? Are we asking Jesus to join us? Are we inviting the Holy Spirit to share its vision?
Or are we simply surrendering to the throes of ego? Are we doubling down on our perception, our understanding, our vision of life in the world?
There is – there is always – another way. Are we ready to avail ourselves of it?