A Course in Miracles Lesson 9

I see nothing as it is right now.

In the early lessons, we move back and forth between “seeing” as an activity of the physical body in the physical world and “vision” as an action of spirit in the real but abstract – imperceptible to the physical eye – world. The goal of these early lessons is to help us recognize this shift – this back-and-forth – so that we can notice when we are seeing physically and choose instead to see with the Holy Spirit.

This morning, coming back from the field and forest, I passed a fir tree. Against the full moon – soft and blurred in a bower of cloud – each needle was perfectly illuminated, sharp and distinct, pure and still in the frozen air. I stood a long time gazing at this image, mind ranging as it does when I am outdoors walking.

The world presents both moments and images of beauty to us – pictures of perfection and glory, radiance and grace. You can’t photograph or even write about it without removing yourself from the fullness of the experience. God is there in those moments, fully present, fully willing to be seen and known. If you will accept the gift (and if you do not know how to accept the gift then ask yourself how, for you know how to do this because it is inherent in what you are) then you will learn that you have always had it.

ACIM Lesson 9 is a wonderful exercise in acknowledging that so long as we rely on physical seeing and the ego’s interpretation of what we see, then we will be clueless. We will fail to understand. As always, this acknowledgement is itself an helpful undoing. As we look about our lives – the room in which we read, the road on which we drive, the institution at which we work, the people with whom we interact – we are being consistently  invited to consider the possibility that we are completely mistaken about all of it. For many of us, even cracking this door even a little will be too shocking, too unsettling.

But we should not fight this. We should not judge it but simply allow it to be the part of our experience it naturally is. The workbook lessons are not about getting anything right – rather, they are opportunities to practice a new way of living that enables us to remember the peace and love that is our natural inheritance. We have already passed the midterm and final exam. What remains is to bring them into application, excluding nothing in particular and including nothing in particular. That’s it. The rest is handled by God because it is already being handled by God.

Indeed, one of the joys of this lesson is the degree to which we can realize – or even just act as if we realize – that God cheerfully does handle the rest. To stare deeply at an orange or trout jumping in the river or an old dog or moonlight beyond the fir tree, and at the same time to accept that we are simultaneously actively disrupting our capability to see love, is to invite a new, a radical experience. Or rather, to perceive the ordinary with new eyes. The real world is given. We are not called to add to it or redefine it or even to understand it. Its accessibility is contingent on nothing but our willingness to let God show it to us, which God is always doing because sharing is what God is.

Thus it is given to us to look around: to partake of the world in its loveliness and complexity, its bounty and multiplicity. With the eyes we are given, we look. And we allow our looking to be infused with acceptance of the underlying confusion A Course in Miracles is given to undo. To look with open eyes from a posture of epistemic humility is to be open to the natural enlightenment of God. We can be grateful and in our gratitude wait joyfully for the answer God has already given.

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  1. I’ve experienced this feeling numerous times while on my morning hikes. I seem to become one with the dewdrops on the grass as the morning sun shines down, or seeing the shooting star or the hawk circling above. My heart expands, my chest feels warm, filled with immense gratitude and feels very light. I know I’m in the presence of God. I’m actually moved to tears. I’m trying to figure out how to do this with the rest of the areas of my life. It’s so easy to do in nature.

    1. It is a welcome feeling! It can be helpful to recognize that we do nothing to create it, earn it, et cetera. It is in the nature of a gift. Our job – if we even want to call it that – is simply to be attentive and grateful. I didn’t invent dew; I didn’t invent joy.

      Importantly, the state of grateful attentiveness is also the gift. We don’t have to figure anything out. We don’t have to parse our lives into what works and what doesn’t. We just have to give attention in a quiet, gentle, non-dramatic and sustained way and the holy luminosity of the morning hike (or morning run by the beach or morning visit with the horses or evening walk by the lake, or . . . ) will flow in a way that undoes the distinctions that appear to separate us – from each other, from God, from joy.

      In other words, we are “immense gratitude.” We are light. There is no “seems,” only being. God is neither subject to division nor capable of giving partial gifts. We aren’t either.

      The apparent spaces in our life where this light and gratitude appear so overwhelming are in the nature of Love pleading with us on its knees not to leave it in the dewdrops and circling hawks but to take it with us everywhere.

      And “take it with us everywhere” is simply to realize – yet again – that there is nowhere love is not.

      Nothing real can be threatened.
      Nothing unreal exists.

      Thank you for reminding me of this, Beth!

  2. Wow so eloquently written and beautifully simply in application …. makes sense to me . I am filled with joy with the vision of the real world 😍

  3. “The apparent spaces in our life where this light and gratitude appear so overwhelming are in the nature of Love pleading with us on its knees not to leave it in the dewdrops and circling hawks but to take it with us everywhere.”

    You make me aware that dewdrops and the circling hawks happily have no opinion about me, so in their presence it’s easier to shed an ego perspective More challenging to take that presence of Love back into the day-to-day where I have assigned a self-important, self-preserving meaning to everything and likewise presume that’s being *done* to or with me in return. Sheesh. Thanks.

    1. Thanks, Susan. That’s a pretty clear insight! Yeah, in a lot of ways ego is just a valuation – or that which assigns and then defends value – in a place where the value has already been set in Creation. Getting out of the way is not easy 🙂

      Thanks for reading & sharing!


  4. I feel like I’ve been locked into a struggle between feeling drawn to the Course and resisting every lesson—until this one.

    As I read the words for Lesson 8 and then your perspective on it here I felt something on me shift and soften. When you used the word ‘curiosity’ I heard the word ‘wonder’ which for me has always been a word that describes the reverence and curiosity I feel for God and for the beauty I ‘see’ in nature.

    But with this lesson I felt a call to be still enough to invite or allow that word to mean more. To wonder at the beauty I ‘see’ but also the Beauty beyond and within that beauty. The Love beyond and within that beauty, beyond my perception of that Beauty, to the Truth of that Beauty.

    It’s like I got here and was able to stop holding my breath, be still, and wonder.

    Thank you for your part in that.


    1. You’re welcome, Dan. Thanks for being here. Yes, “wonder” is a good word. I think part of becoming a spiritual adult is remembering that the wonder of the so-called child is not childish but divine, and so recovering and reclaiming it in our living. Wonder and curiosity bridge the gap between me and my brothers and sisters – broadly defined to include black bears, sunflowers and faraway stars – and restore to awareness the underlying unity in which “nothing real can be threatened, nothing unreal exists” can be known as the truth.

      Resistance is okay, too 🙂


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