I do not know what anything is for.
Lesson 25 of A Course in Miracles concretizes Lesson 24. It takes the abstraction of not knowing how to perceive our best interests and applies to the people, places and objects that make our lives in the world. We may know what a farm, a friend or a Flexible Flyer is but we do not know what it is for.
And, since “purpose is meaning” (W-pI.25.1:1), we remain separated from God, our joy and peace fractured and incomplete.
Yet the lesson pulls no punches in sharing what is a core concept of our healing: everything is for our healing. Everything is for our happiness.
Everything is for your best interests. That is what it is for; that is its purpose; that is what it means. It is in recognizing this that what you see is given meaning (W-pI.25.1:5-7).
In a sense, then, what we are learning is that the ego has goals and we do not share those goals. Ego’s goal is not our happiness but its survival. The two are not compatible in any way because what we are not ego (W-pI.25.2:2).
Another way of describing the goals you now perceive is to say that they are all concerned with “personal” interests. Since you have no personal interests, your goals are really concerned with nothing. In cherishing them, therefore, you have no goals at all (W-pI.25.3:1-3).
The suggestion that we have no personal interests often comes as a shock to us, because we are conditioned to take everything personally. This is true for everything from sex to A Course in Miracles to whether we like our eggs scrambled or over easy.
Awakening is impersonal; what we are in truth does not have personal interests, interests that can be opposed to anything else.
Thus we can ask: what lies beyond the range of personal experience? What am I if not . . . this person I seem so intensely to be?
Lesson 25 helps us answer that question by gently orienting us with a concrete example. We know that a telephone is designed to help us communicate with someone who is not in the room. What we don’t know is what we want to reach that someone for.
In other words, the means by which we communicate are nothing compared to the goal of our communication. The course will teach us to ask of everything that makes up the world in which we live: what is it for?
In any situation in which you are uncertain, the first thing to consider, very simply, is “What do I want to come of this? What is this for? The clarification of the goal belongs at the beginning, for it is this which will determine the outcome (T-17.VI.2:1-3).
And we will learn that everything serves either the ego’s goal of survival or our goal of happiness. And the only way we can learn this is by surrendering entirely our goals for literally everything.
Thus, lesson twenty-five – like the one preceding – continues to emphasize our humility. We don’t know what this farm is for, what this friend is for, what this flexible flyer is for.
Our goal is to undo our deeply-rooted insistence that we know the function of everything. As we become humble in this regard, we are let go of the false and chaotic meaning *we write on the world and open up to the meaning that the Holy Spirit writes there on God’s behalf.
When I do this lesson there are basically two voices in my head. The first diligently does just what the lesson asks me to do. “I do not know what this farm is for, what this friend is for, what this Flexible Flyer is for.”
The second tells the first voice it’s an idiot. It sounds a bit like this:
Voice one: I do not know what this mug is for.
Voice two: Actually you do. It’s to hold tea. See? It’s actually got tea in it right now.
Voice one: I do not know what this fish tank is for.
Voice two: Seriously? You don’t think it’s to hold fish?
Voice one: I don’t know what this shoe is for.
Voice two: Wow. Look who Jesus put in the slow class.
I’d get lost in that sterile back-and-forth there if it wasn’t for the telephone example, which neatly exemplifies the following:
Before you can make any sense out of the exercises for today, one more thought is necessary. At the most superficial levels you do recognize purpose. Yet purpose cannot be understood at those levels (W-pI.25.4:1-3).
Again, at a basic level, the telephone makes phone calls. But what we don’t understand (because we aren’t used to thinking this way) – and what really matters – is why I want to communicate.
This clarity neatly exposes the ego’s pathetic attempts to undermine us. The ego, of course, is Voice Two in our dialogue. At first glance, its digs seem reasonable, wise cracks from somebody who’s not going to get suckered by silly question. But ego – so insistent when we want to know what a thing is grows quieter when asked what it’s for.
Voice one: I don’t know what this shoe is for.
Voice two: Wow. Look who Jesus put in the slow class. How about – wild guess here – it’s to put on your foot?
Voice one: Yeah, I get that. But why put it on my foot? I think because it enables me to go out into the world – I can teach today, take my parents to lunch, go work with the horses with my daughters. And, in addition to being able to do those things safely, I’m not going to be focused on my freezing feet so I can give more attention to my students, my parents, and my kids. But why do I want to focus on my students, my parents, my daughter?
And to that question, Voice two is silent. The ego doesn’t know why I should love and be kind to my brothers and sisters. When the ego shuts up, I come back to the lesson and learn this simple fact: my job isn’t to figure out what’s good or bad in the world but rather to see it all as meaningless. Why? Because then I can perceive the meaning that God has written on it. That is a goal worthy of creation.