A Course in Miracles: The Escape from Darkness

We live in a state of self-imposed exile from God’s Love. It hurts; there is a better way. Are we ready to accept that way and go home?

A Course in Miracles is a way to undo the effects of our supposed descent into fear. It helpfully frames this undoing – this journey from darkness to Light, from separation to the quiet stillness of our God-created being – as a two-step process.

The escape from darkness involves two stages: First, the recognition that darkness cannot hide. This step usually entails fear. Second the recognition that there is nothing you want to hide even if you could. This step brings escape from fear. When you have become willing to hide nothing, you will not only be willing to enter into holy communion but will also understand peace and joy.

T-1.IV.1:1-5

The “darkness” referred to here might be thought of as “lack of knowing.” We have forgotten what we are in truth, and this fundamental error makes knowledge of truth impossible.

This error – this confusion of identity – is both made and sustained through projection and denial. We don’t see hatred in ourselves, we see it in folks outside of us. That’s projection. We frame the violence of yelling at our child as justified under certain circumstances. That’s denial.

When we realize that projection and denial don’t actually work, we become fearful. Deeply fearful. It means we have to look at hatred and violence in our own self. We have to own those feelings in our heart, our mind.

Think of a messy room. We don’t like looking at the mess, so we turn off the light. Now we don’t see the mess because of the darkness. But the mess is still there.

That’s the first step, or stage, of the escape from darkness – the recognition that darkness doesn’t actually solve the problems it pretends to hide. Therefore, it doesn’t really hide at all. It can’t.

The second step of the escape is the realization that even if darkness could hide something, there is nothing that we want to hide.

This is the insight that healing – or salvation – comes from releasing literally everything that appears to constitute the egoic self. There is no secret, memory, mystery, goal or fantasy that we would keep from being raised to light. We commit to releasing every last shred of guilt, hate and fear. We will look at all of it.

To learn this course requires willingness to question every value that you hold. Not one can be kept hidden and obscure it will jeopardize your learning.

T-24.in.2:1-2

When we say “yes” to this condition – when we are exactly that willing – then darkness no longer has any hold on our mind. It doesn’t work and that’s okay. We wouldn’t want it to.

Thus begins a sort of spiritual psychotherapy. We search for every scrap of resentment and hostility and dysfunction we can find and offer it to the Holy Spirit. If we’re scared in any way – however it appears, whatever the form – we look at it. If we’re hateful, we look at it. We look at it because looking at it is how it is undone. In the light of holiness – which is our willingness – nothing remains to mar the perfection of love. It is all undone.

As we do this work, we gradually remember the promise inherent in the first principle of miracles: there is no such as thing as a large or a small problem, and so they are all healed with equal ease. “All expressions of love are maximal” (T-1.I.1:).

No matter how egregious the hate appears, no matter how terrified we are of what we perceive in our self, love simply washes it away.

Why? Because it all arises from the same basic problem – the mistaken belief that what we are is a vulnerable body in a dangerous world. The miracle gently undoes this over and over, and eventually – in time, in bodies – we realize that we are ready to go home to God. We are ready to be done with piecemeal healing.

Empty your mind of everything it thinks is either true or false, or good or bad, of every thought it judges worthy, and all the ideas of which it is ashamed. Hold onto nothing. Do not bring with you one thought the past has taught, nor one belief you ever learned before from anything. Forget this world, forget this course, and come with wholly empty hands unto your God.

W-pI.189.7:2-5

And there – and then – because it is God’s Will and we share that Will – we remember that we are creations of love given only to create as we are created. And all is well and will be well and was well, forever and forever, amen.


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6 Comments

  1. Hi Sean , great post . My experience , the incredible lightness of being ….As a massage bodywork therapist of many years I appear to work with bodies , again and again clients have been able to heal there injuries and illnesses in the Holy Instant only when an emotion is released . When a darkened idea of what was done to them is found in the body , say like resentment in the thigh . When this area is massaged deeply , poked and prodded so it must be looked at , when the emotion is uncovered when the experience is reinterpreted , when there is a little willingness to look again with a desire to recover , this motivation can lead to a deep healing of the resentments that we use to hurt ourselves … Many times I have seen a brother forgive and recover , and the miracle , is that they are forgiving there misinterpreted story of some long ago wounding that has continued to cause havoc because of a lack of knowledge in the seeming power of a darkened dearly held thought …. resentment 🥵 Its exhausting to live with darkness , this is what the course shows me every day in my work …… I love the quote , what if you looked within and saw on darkness there , it takes the courage of a willing Heart/ Mind to live in the light in a world that accepts darkness as its law 🙃 so much joy in waking up to read your posts and do my daily lesson 🎉

    1. Thanks for reading and sharing, Michelle. Those stories of healing are beautiful and helpful. It is truly exhausting to live in darkness – yes! This needs to be shared over and over. There is another way. We forget this and end up cramped and lonely with peace and joy literally a heartbeat away . . .

  2. Thank you both. It’s amazing the Esher-like difference any expression can have by/to the (assumed) perceiver. “Darkness” registered not for me as ignorance, until it did. It was quite mysterious and unhelpful, even threatening, therefore, until it connected with the more benign (for me) use of ignornace in Buddhism. The dark appelation though helped to connect the “depth” of suffering that is dreamt to that ignorance, and that dreams up words like darkness and hell. The start of any of our awakening mythologies, though, is always the words form light and its truth, that we are not of fear (and so don’t address its forms – anymore – in order to real-ize this). “Nothing real can be threatened”; the first commandments, hey “I Am” the lord thy God, and any experiment dreamt up to make that into a dreamt commandment will need to be graven to make it stick in/with time; there is no god but god; life “is” – “was/will be” – dukha; and admitted we WERE powerless over alcohol. The latter two are the revelation of awarness no longer dreamt away by dreaming mechanisms played with as the me/world. I am curious about the interplay of the mythologies between affirmative descriptions (I Am God) and negation (what sees suffering and alcoholism is not of them, including the suffering of trying to use the affirmative description/path – “I am not those”). The need to look at “our” illusions without an acceptance of the truth first, is well i guess the primary illusion. But the mythologies provide their unwitting help anyway, like the depth of despair from trying to manage/understand looking at “my” illusions. That looking does NOT escape a hell anymore than the hells of supposedly trying to avoid their “reality” gets blamed. For example, the success of addictions, the poster child for avoidance of “something else” supposedly, has provided incredible relief beyond the addictions (well beyond malady in the individual, regardless the success rate of individuals and that malady metric). And of course it does bring addicts around: to looking at and releasing their resentments; and not denying guilt by an ammending to it instead. But it’s the willingness (the light of our holiness – beautiful, thank you!) that can see and admit (non judgement, and not attaching it as yet another identity). And so there’s that interplay. ACIM’s Escher-side of discussing fears and darkness and looking at guilt, does not get escaped from (necessarily, guaranteed, or even much evident success) by the prevalent reassurances and affirmative descriptions that are OF Escherness. So I wanted to write this too because of the simplicity of the body in all this and Michelle’s reinflowment of it. If the subtler the “pain” is the more I would wake to that re-minding that there is identifying AS body, well it would be laughed out; and I’m grateful now that it’s there to be massaged out!, no more recriminations about a “me” that is “still” like this (woohoo an experience to not hide or want to anymore because there is nothing to hide – and vice versa!). The me is the immediate bedevilment, but NOT a devil or guilty or …! That’s why I’m curious about the interplay, and what/how I express the relief I have been given and would give on (there’s nothing to say, it can be taken either way!). I thank you (“both”). (Thanks for the massaging!)

    1. Hey Mike,

      I don’t think you’ve ever left a comment that made me want to sit down and talk with you more. I won’t belabor it but your frame of the “primary illusion” is really significant; I think that a lot of undoing takes us to that error which is the whole Escher paradox (see also the Brown reference below). My favorite Escher, for context:

      Escher

      Also your phrase that various mythologies provide “unwitting help” is magnificent. A friend recently pointed out to me how ACIM “works” or “helps” in spite of both itself and the many “teachers” gussying it up with spiritual drama . . . God is not mocked! Or something like that.

      So big gassho in your direction, my brother.

      Has your reading/study/practice/journey ever led you to George Spencer Brown? Your comment sent me back to his book The Laws of Form, especially this:

      Thus the world, whenever it appears as physical universe, must always seem to us, its representatives, to be playing a kind of hide-and-seek with itself. What is revealed will be concealed, but what is concealed will again be revealed. And since we ourselves represent it, this occultation will be apparent in life in general, and in our mathematics in particular . . . At a certain stage in the argument, we somehow cleverly obscured this knowledge from ourselves, in order that we might then navigate ourselves through a journey of rediscovery, consisting in a series of justifications and proofs with the purpose of again rendering to ourselves, irrefutable evidence of what we already knew.

      Coming across it thus again, in the light of what we had to do to render it acceptable, we see that our journey was, in its preconception, unnecessary, although its formal course, once we had set out upon it, was inevitable (106).

      There is more. Laws of Form is a wild book, and I only pretend to understand about 8% of it but still . . .

  3. No, but I treasure all your recommendations of course, so thank you. The paragraph you cited was a beautiful indication of a stange loop! (I’ve been enjoying Douglas Hofstader recently lol). I think you may have introduced me to Donald Hoffman and I keep listening to him! I like the hide and seek analogy, like I like Lila more than Maya, and much more than mistake/error. (I am Found, now tag you’re It too! – and thanks “first” to the one who tagged me, and that loopiness!)

    1. Here is one of my favorite Hoffman essays. He is a serious meditator who has gone very deeply into these issues both from the materialist/scientific side and the “sitting quietly/doing nothing” side. Brilliant and fascinating mind. Hofstadter, too, though he lacks Hoffman’s humility (probably the meditation practice has something to do with this – as Ken Wilber pointed out, you need the information but you also need a yoga, a practice, in order to fully assimilate).

      Spencer-Brown is next level and dismissed by most (or, more aptly, just ignored). But the book is fascinating; there are pdfs floating around the internet. He was not a charming guy. Suffered a lot and lost a lot. He was under R.D. Laing’s care and did a lot of LSD in that relationship. But every time I touch the book I feel like a shiver, like an electric shock. Very powerful stuff.

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