I am upset because I see something that is not there.
Lesson Six is an extension of the basic exercise in Lesson Five. In the fifth lesson we name specific upsets and then state that the cause of that upset was unknown to us. We are never upset for the reason we think.
In the sixth lesson we assert that we are upset but because we “see something that is not there” (W-pI.6.1:4).
Lesson Six invites us to consider that the objects of our perception – the apparent external causes that reside in the world – are not the cause of our inner state. Whatever we are feeling, we feel it because we are confused about we are actually seeing. We don’t know what is actually going on.
For example, I might say that I am angry at my wife because she forgot to tell me the dentist called to cancel my cleaning appointment. At first glance, that might seem like a reasonable cause for a moderate level of upset.
But A Course in Miracles suggests it is not. And the reason it is not is because I am confused about what is actually happening. That is, the form of what is happening is my wife forgetting to pass along some important information.
But there are other ways to see that action that do not insist on perceiving it in terms of form. As our study of the course deepens, we learn that the form is far less significant than the content, and content is always either love or a call for love (e.g., T-12.I.8:13, T-12.II.3:1).
However, at this stage of the workbook, the focus is not on a total theoretical understanding and application. Rather, the focus is on establishing the broad strokes of what constitutes a miracle.
A miracle is a shift in thought away from guilt and fear and towards love. Thus, one way to facilitate miracles is to be open-minded and not cling to “our way” of seeing things. The early lessons of A Course in Miracles are Thetfordian, in that they all gently encourage us to begin to think in terms of “another way.”
Slowly but surely our learning indicates that we do not know how to love, we do not know what we are or what anybody else is and we do not know God. Under those circumstances, it makes sense to look for a new teacher and a method.
Put yourself not in charge . . . for you cannot distinguish between advance and retreat. Some of your greatest advances you have judged as failures, and some of your deepest retreats you have evaluated as success (T-18.V.1:5-6).
So our understanding – as we presently understand it – is not especially helpful. Fortunately, it’s not that germane. Our willingness to practice the lessons, regardless of what we appear to be learning or what our attitude is, is what matters.
You are merely asked to apply the ideas as you are directed to do. You are not asked to judge them at all. You are only asked to use them (W-pI.in.8:3-4).
In this way, our expectations begin to dissolve and our focus shifts from what we are getting from our ACIM practice to what we can give to others. Our thinking changes, just as the miracle promised. We begin to live a shift away from fear and towards love.
Moreover, this shift is cumulative in effect. It has nothing to do with effort or with the apparent “success” or “failure” of a particular lesson. It has do with willingness to partake of the order and beneficence of God and love, which are our home.