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 the knee-jerk way we react to it.
Two things stand out for me 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 hav 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.
If we can understand this – and accept it – and then bring it into application (Tara Singh‘s phrase for walking the walk, so to speak) – then we have understood what the Course aims to teach.
The second aspect of this lesson that I appreciate is the fact that our upset is directly 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 Jesus is quite explicit: what stresses us out is the meaninglessness of the world. We can’t bear it and so we rush to fill it. The lesson suggests that if we can simply wait – if we can accept meaninglessness for what it really is, which is neither good nor bad but simply a fact, entirely neutral – then we will perceive in it God’s Word.
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, who will enable us to patiently wait for the revelation of God’s word.
Thus, one of the questions that we can ask ourselves is with whom are we looking at the world? Are we asking Jesus to join us? Or are we simply in the throes of egoic thought?
That is the nature of the choice that we must make, the one to which this lesson naturally leads. And – no pressure! – our salvation depends on the answer.