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On Seeing What We Are Not

In a sense, we learn what we are in truth by seeing clearly what we are not: and what remains, after all of the flotsam and jetsam is undone and fallen away, is what we are.

That is work: that is a process. It occurs in time and in there are a lot of tools and tricks that can help us with it. Psychotherapy is good, yoga is good, eating local is good, A Course in Miracles is good, craniosacral massage is good, Zoroastrianism is good, art is good, meditation is good, reading Wittgenstein and Hegel is good.

All those things can be bad, too, but even when they’re bad they’re good. A bad experience with a meditation teacher can be extraordinarily helpful in many ways, for example. We’ve all that had that kind of experience. So it’s important not to be too judgmental, but just flow along with what is, which is all we can really do anyway.

It does seem that a moment arrives when we begin to see that what we are doing is getting clear about what we are in truth. It’s the moment when our searching is no longer aimed at becoming a better self who is wiser or gentler or kinder or prettier. Suddenly we realize that that self – that externalized formal being that is the object of so much attention – is just part of the distraction, is just more another speck of fluff to be shucked off.

For me, the decision to become a student of A Course in Miracles – which has been, in its way, from time to time, very half-assed and grandiose and wordy and greedy – was the moment when I said yes to undoing all that which obscured the truth of self. And it’s not even that ACIM is anything special. It’s just that it was what happened to be on hand when at last I grew sick and tired of being sick and tired and was ready to become responsible for salvation, which is to say, responsible for remembering that peace and joy are inherent in Truth, not byproducts we have to achieve.

It is a fortunate thing that we don’t have to be a special kind of holy while doing this work: we just have to get up in the morning and do it. I’d be toast if vows or standards were involved. It’s like being a nurse or a mother or a writer or a teacher – nothing sexy, just what you do. This is why I sometimes talk about tractors – well, there are a lot of reasons why I talk about tractors but this is one reason – because I want to remind myself that the work is mechanical, it’s just work, and there is no substitute for doing it, and nobody else can do it for us.

The other thing that goes along with all this undoing is that it takes no time, which can be very maddening when somebody says it, but it’s true. At any given moment you can see the whole untarnished truth of you, because the truth of you is not changing or evolving or emerging or clarifying. It just is.

We could imagine that we are emptying a vast trailer full of crap because at the farthest deepest corner of it is the lamp we need. Right? So there is all this trash and it blocks the lamp that we need for light, so we are working diligently at emptying the trailer. Twelve hours a day, day in and day out, no whining, just work.

That is one way to do it. That is the way that takes time. And it’s okay!

But we could also one moment look up and say, “hey – wait a minute. If it was dark then I couldn’t see to empty the trailer and I can see so there must be light. And if there is light now, then I don’t need that lamp after all.”

And then we walk – or skip, maybe – away from the trailer and stop bothering with the whole empty-the-trailer-to-find-the-light project. We walk away and explore what is in the light that is everywhere and always was. We play in it.

That is another way to do it: to just have the insight that it’s already done.

So if we are students of A Course in Miracles then we do the work: we read the text, we do the lessons, we sidle up with like-minded students and helpful teachers, all of whom stumble in more or less the same manner and direction we do, and we see what happens. We give attention together. And sooner or later – there is no way to avoid this, which is so beautiful and amazing if you think about it – we realize that we are already home, are already filled with light, are already what is.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Hazel December 10, 2014, 10:39 am

    I love the analogy of emptying the trailer of crap! There isn’t really anything to get rid of. I’m not going to become enlightened. What I am is already the light.
    I’m just not feeling it. So I will keep meditating, and studying, and trying to remember to be aware, and I am open to being shown what I really am. Perhaps I’m more scared of experiencing it than I realise…

    • Sean Reagan December 12, 2014, 9:25 am

      Thanks, Hazel. I’m glad it’s helpful. There is nothing to get rid of and nothing to do which, when we remember it, allows us to simply breathe and let go, breathe and let go . . . “not feeling it” is also it . . . Like Leonard Cohen “inner feelings come and go” – from where do they come? To where do they go? And who is the one who observes their coming and going?

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