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Meaning Resides in Wholeness

Meaning is not inherent; it is projected. Nothing external – be it a fruit salad, a spouse or a graveyard – has any meaning save what we give it. If we can realize this – which is something different than intellectually understanding or admiring it as a concept – than our lives would change. We would literally be transformed.

Our practice as students of A Course in Miracles begins with the external. This is so important. The very first lesson asks us to look around and see what’s there – a road, a wall, a window, a table. And as our physical sight rests on these things, we gently tell ourselves that it “does not mean anything.”

It is good sometimes to come back to this and spend some time with it. After we’ve studied and practiced a bit, it can be helpful to look again at some of the early lessons. They are simple but profound. Tara Singh used to say that any one of them could awaken us if we paid attention.

What is an apple if we withdraw from it all meaning and judgment? Can we do that? It is so hard! We think we are doing it but then if we watch our thoughts we see how fast and subtle they are. We are always defining things, and deciding whether they’re good or bad, and how they relate to other things.

It is so hard for us to give anything a little space, a little breathing room from our thoughts.

But just seeing this is helpful. We begin to see how busy our brains are and how chaotic and unreliable our thoughts are. When we see this, one thing that can happen is we stop trusting ourselves so much. We stop assuming that whatever is going on in our thoughts is right or good or even accurate.

A Course in Miracles is very clear: we have to resign as our own teacher. We really do

Not one thought you hold is wholly true. The recognition of this is your firm beginning . . . Perceptions are learned and you are not without a Teacher. Yet your willingness to learn of Him depends on your willingness to question everything you learned yourself, for you who learned amiss should not be your own teacher (T-11.VIII.3:2-3, 7-8).

So much becomes possible when we accept at last that we don’t have a clue and need help. And you know, it’s often one step forward, two steps back. One day we get it and the next we’re like bulls in a china shop. Don’t tell me I don’t know what I’m doing!

That is why the lessons are so instructive, even the early ones which are so deceptively simple. They are chances to learn again that our own resources are insufficient and we must avail ourselves of the mighty Teacher ever ready to instruct us in the ways of reality. It becomes part of our practice: we question what we know. We don’t stop at the judgment and the fragmentation that seems so natural to the brain but go farther. We are willing to go farther. We turn to the Teacher who promises to take us farther.

Meaning does not reside in the fragment but in the whole. This is the fact upon which our salvation – our deliverance unto peace and joy – is based.

The whole power of God is in every part of Him, and nothing contradictory to His Will is either great or small. What does not exist has no size and no measure. To God all things are possible (T-11.VI.10:6-8).

That is knowledge: that is where our seeking finds its end.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Claudia August 1, 2013, 8:39 am

    Sean, its so funny you would say “one step forward, two steps back.” I have been wondering if I would ever get to the place you once mentioned where I would want to throw my ACIM book across the room in frustration. I finally got there last week, but my salvo was to think that I’m hopefully taking “two steps forward, one step back.” I don’t want to think that it’s the other way around, but then again, I happy to once again read your words, admit to myself that I am honestly still clueless and need help. At least I’m committed (even on the worst days. I couldn’t help but pick the book back up and continue the next day.) Onward.

    • Sean Reagan August 1, 2013, 9:13 am

      Yes! It definitely feels that some days are better than others! And that we are losing ground. But I always try to keep in mind that lovely guidance in the course, advising us that we are not in charge of the plan of atonement:

      Put yourself not in charge of this, 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).

      All we have to do is exactly what you said: throw the book across the room then go pick it up and trudge onward.

      Your part is only to offer Him a little willingness to let Him remove all fear and hatred, and to be forgiven (T-18.V.2:5).

      Thanks for reading & writing, Claudia. It’s always great to hear from you!


  • Janet Acquilano August 1, 2013, 8:41 pm

    Hi Sean. This post could not have come at a more perfect time for me. I have finally asked Jesus to be my confidante. I really like my Course group, but I need someone that is with me all the time. I have had a hard time with asking Jesus this because I do not see him as the Church does. The only son of God. I do see him as an enlightened being who did do many miraculous things, but I do not believe in the Virgin Birth. I believe he is a Son of God like you and me, who did reach enlightenment and taught that with his actions. I am just about to read Zealot by Reza Aslan. He is a Muslim, but also a Doctorate of Religion, and the book focuses on Jesus in the time that he lived, and well, I will read it for interest. You have probably heard of it already. A long comment, but good to hear from you : )

    • Sean Reagan August 2, 2013, 10:51 am

      It’s nice to hear from you too, Janet.

      Making personal contact with Jesus is so important. In the early chapters of the text we are constantly invited to do just that – to talk to Jesus regularly, casually, and to rely on him as we would a beloved older brother. Though this may change in time (and may not), a relationship with Jesus is a keystone to the course belief system. I’m all about that!

      Hope you’re well!

  • Anil August 3, 2013, 1:02 am

    That does it ! I guess I can’t be a true course student. I must be a bliss ninny. First Ken, then Claudia and then Sean, all say that there must be a stage where one throws the book across the room, or out the window. (:

    When, o when will I get there ? (:

    Ps. Lest this be misconstrued, I will add that it is written in a humorous vein, on a night after partying in town, with no hangover and no guilt.

    • Sean Reagan August 3, 2013, 7:07 am

      Never lament living in the Happy Dream!

      Perhaps you threw your book across the room in a previous life . . .

      It’s nice to hear from you Anil – hope you and yours are well . . .


  • Anil August 4, 2013, 9:32 pm

    Good advice, Sean.
    If things are going well, why look for trouble ? Eventually, the guilt will come back into awareness again, so I can always (try to) deal with it at that time. (:

    The weekend following my night out on the town with my childhood friend was intense. And luckily I am now aware of when the Ego likes to associate the guilt arising with my specific actions.

    I still fall for its reasoning, until a few seconds pass, and I am reminded that it is also possible that the guilt is buried deeper still, and unrelated to the world of my daily experience and actions of commission and omission. (Like not calling my wife and son when traveling away from home, or not calling as “often” as I “should” ! )

    All a long-winded way of ending where I started (: That is, good advice indeed you offer, enjoy the Happy Dream when it’s Happy nd remember it is a Dream.

    Where would we be without the door that the course has opened for us ? Am glad the door is open….

    All is well with me, and hope the same with you and yours.

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