A Course in Miracles: On Holiness and Truth

The holy do not interfere with truth (T-20.III.3:1).

I write by a window facing north. Robins are working a patch of earth beneath the dogwood tree whose blossoms have yet to soften and open. The sky is pale gray; rain fell earlier and may yet again. Beyond the early summer bird song and far off drone of traffic on Route 112, a chainsaw growls. It is never too early to shore up wood for winter.

When we give attention – gently, cheerfully, consistently – we begin to perceive the utter and unconditional equality of what is external. We begin to perceive it less as a compendium of life through which perception thumbs and more as a fluid whole which rises and falls within – not without – us.

That last insight – that what we perceive as external is in reality internal, is in reality one with us – emerges from the fact that what is external is not personal. Stars don’t shine for us. Forest trails don’t open because our feet are poised above them. What is simply is. It neither offers nor takes anything. It is wholly neutral and bereft of meaning. It is, and we are with it.

It’s nice to say that. But it is important to ask if it is in fact our experience. Do we know it because Tara Singh or Sri Aurobindo said it? Or Ken Wapnick? Or do we simply know it?

It is helpful to acknowledge the fact that we are not at peace. A Course in Miracles assures us that peace – here in this world at this moment – is possible (T-20.IV.8:1-3).

Nothing you need will be denied you. Not one seeming difficulty but will melt away before you reach it (T-20.IV.8:7-8).

Do we not want that? And do we not want to identify and undo that which obstructs this peace?

The absence of peace – of a quiet, consistent and generous joy – simply reflects our ongoing attempts to interfere with truth by making it more true or differently true or even false.

These attempts are essentially thoughts, especially thoughts taken for our personal body and personal experience. We want the sun to shine now and not later. We want the house to be quiet. We want a vacation here and not there, now and not then. We want this or that person’s attention. We want somebody else to leave us alone.

Our litany of wants – which together compose our fantasy of a perfect life, a holy life, a life of truth – is nearly endless. Variants spiral this way and that like weeds. We are always bargaining with disappointment. I didn’t get what I wanted today, but tomorrow I will. I’ll do this and get that.

And on and on it goes.

Much of this wanting and bargaining happens outside the immediate range of awareness. We don’t notice it. The only evidence we have it exists is our unhappiness – the absence of peace that flows forever unaffected by what appear to be external people, places, things and events. It’s like the wind. You don’t see the wind – you see its effects rippling the lake’s surface or swaying the crowns of pine or tossing leaves at the sky.

It is not critical that we come face to face with this wanting and bargaining – these endless adjustments we insist to making to truth. It’s okay if we do – if it happens that way – but it’s not critical. Rather, it is critical that we become aware that wanting and bargaining are active within us, that we perceive their ruinous effects and, on that basis, choose to be finished with them.

“Being finished” in this case simply means to trust that seeing what is dysfunctional is itself healing. To be holy is not to fix anything or improve anything or amend anything. It is simply to rest attentively in the present, allowing what is true to be true. When we do this, truth naturally shows itself: our vision is made right by it. Healing is not a doing, but rather a natural effect of not doing.

[The holy] look on [truth] directly, without attempting to adjust themselves to it, or it to them. And so they see that it was in them, not deciding first where they would have it be. Their looking merely asks a question, and it is what they see that answers them (T-20.III.3:3-5).

So we go about our day, then. When it is time to make dinner we make dinner. When it is time to call the in-laws we call them. We go for walks, balance our checkbooks, weed the garden, visit the library, and change the oil in the car. We write by the north-facing window. The only difference – the essence of our practice as students of A Course in Miracles – is that we do these things while giving attention to our awareness of Love. Is it there? If not, then our work is simply to realize that we are yet clinging to some idea that we can make better what God made perfect. And that is a silly idea – it’s not sinful, it’s silly. When we see it clearly, we can let it go. Why hold on to silliness, especially when doing so is painful?

More and more I realize the importance of simply being present to what is happening. It doesn’t matter what is happening. It matters that I am present to it. And, for me, presence and attention are synonymous. The rest is done for me, because it is already done. The Truth is here: God has offered it. What is left is simply acceptance, and acceptance is simply the choice to place nothing personal – nothing at all – before truth.


      1. I had an interesting “thought” while meditating. That as I learn what it really is to accept WHAT I am thinking/feeling/apprehending/doing I could then likewise (kindly?) allow the Attention that creates ME. That added some hope to the Course’s objective of my having an experience. I can choose to accept that attention and have the experience that that IS, and then give my attention that much more consciously in turn. Thank you Sean for helping me to “turn” my attention around. Or, to use my recent lesson, “it can be but my gratitude I earn.” So I give thanks to One as you writing the words, and One as I appreciates reading them and gives thanks back (and hopefully forward).

        1. I’m glad it’s helpful, Mike. Thank you for sharing your experience. I find it helpful when we do that. The course can feel so abstract and high-minded or whatever, that we often lose sight of just sharing about what it means to bring it into application.

          I think this experience of being attententive in a conscious way – a deliberate way, a gentle way, a sustained way – is very practical. I find it helpful, as you suggest. In a way that is hard to understand at the level of the body, the work is done. Oneness isn’t a future condition but a fact. The “work” is just to see that there is no work.

          Anyway, thank you so much for sharing.


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