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Order Restores Salvation to Awareness

One of the significant changes in my practice of A Course in Miracles over the past year has been related to order which in turn is related to my willingness to surrender my plan for salvation in favor of God’s Plan.

Tara Singh, who I consider my teacher of A Course in Miracles, called on his students to bring order to their lives.

Let us start with eliminating the unessential.
Irresponsibility makes man casual and wasteful.

We here are coming to the wisdom of conservation,
putting an end to any waste of food,
money, gasoline, electricity, water, energy
and telephone calls.
Simplicity is the key to a new way of life.

. . .

We are getting our lives in order, debts paid,
and we are discovering
that simplicity is free of indulgences.
Outlets fall away when purpose and direction are clear

(The Voice that Precedes Thought 291).

A teacher cannot ask us to do this if we are not already crying out internally for it. When we are asked to bring order to our lives, it is only because we are ready to better hear the Holy Spirit.

External reminders sometimes feel safer than simply accepting the Truth that is inherent in us, but that does not make the lesson less critical.

When I was asked last year by my teacher to bring order into my life, I resisted her. I felt she was confusing cause and effect and asking me to approach the course backwards – as if what was external was causing my lack of inner peace.

But when I began to bring her lessons into application – because I was willing to accept at least the possibility that I might not know everything – I quickly saw the wisdom in her directive. I saw that she was only asking me to give attention to order because I was ready for it. In fact, I needed it.

When this became clear, it was like a thousand dusty veils dropped away at once. I saw that there was nothing external that was not also God calling on me to remember Oneness. It was all helpful if I was willing to see it that way. Though my identification with this truth wavers, it has never altogether disappeared.

We are One Mind remembering its Oneness. This makes no sense at the level of the world and its wordiness, but it doesn’t have to. All that matters is that we are ready to give ourselves to it, without regard for the form in which it makes itself known to us.

This is all fun to say of course but it is very hard to pull off in practice because it requires that we have some humility. It requires that we accept the limitations of our resources. It is only when our back is to the wall, and we can see no other apparent way, that we are ready at last to express the heartfelt “there must be another way.”

There is nothing else to say – and nothing else to do. When we are ready to remember God, God is there. We can take it slowly or we can do it in one fell swoop; the result is the same. God has not forgotten us and we are not bereft.

Order is a way of clarifying our lives in order to see this truth. That which obscures Oneness – that which hinders the Voice for God – needs to be gently and kindly set aside. Nothing that is Love can be lost, so we are not sacrificing anything. We are merely declaring our intention to know ourselves as God created us.

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Annie June 23, 2014, 10:29 pm
  • Cheryl June 24, 2014, 10:36 am

    Hi Sean,

    I’ve been processing a lot the last two weeks. Many of those I hold dear are going through difficult times — my daughter, my husband, my sister-in-law, the woman I work for. I have had long conversations with each of them about their particular frustrations. Also, while in Austin (and on the flight there), I heard several other stories of deeply troubled relationships.

    And, of course, I try to remember to ask “how can I be truly helpful here” before speaking. And I suggest — sometimes aloud even though it isn’t always well received — perhaps there is some important lesson to be learned in that particular situation. Still, there seems to be this swirl of chaos around me and although I am not in the center of the storm, at times it feels that way, and I sense myself going on the defense.

    So then, I wonder, what am I to learn from all of this … particularly at times when I am being pulled in emotionally and find myself responding out of fear rather than love.

    In your video, you mention, and I paraphrase, we are never not learning with God, but this seems to be a time when so much is zinging and pinging I’m having trouble paring it down to what is ego and what is spirit when so many others are involved. I so want to “fix” things and haven’t quite mastered the “knowing” of when it is best to offer guidance and when it is more helpful to merely get out of the way and allow…I know I am to do what brings peace, but in this tangled nest of stuff, that is not always clear.

    I guess what I am asking …. is there any guidance you can offer? It seems in doing what feels loving for one person, I somehow step on another’s toes. I’m not really dispirited, at least it doesn’t feel that way, but I’m certainly not truly peaceful, either. And I’m having trouble stringing words together to capture my thoughts, which usually signifies some inner disturbance, even when I am not aware of it….

    Sigh….thanks for “listening.” I really get what you are talking about here.


    • Sean Reagan June 25, 2014, 8:07 am

      Hey Cheryl . . .

      I know that maelstrom . . .

      More and more I appreciate that the whole thing comes down to my ability to give attention to the still small Voice for God which is internal and never misleads me. When my attention is pulled to the external, no matter how compelling the attraction, it is always a distraction from the one relationship that can teach me I have no problems anywhere and remain as God created me, in perfect peace and joy.

      This is true whether the external to which I am drawn assumes the form of a lovely sunset, or a student navigating the third act of Macbeth, or my fears about climate change, or members of my extended family being nosy with respect to homeschooling or parenting, or whatever.

      So when I perceive the maelstrom, it is because I want to be distracted from remembering God. This lesson has been painfully hard for me to learn because there is so much external that I feel merits my attention: but there is never anything to do out there. It always takes care of itself when I give attention to the one thing that matters: the internal relationship with my Teacher.

      The other thing that is slowly becoming clearer to me is that the ego cheerfully appropriates this whole “what is the lesson here” idea. It will always substitute its ideas about what we are supposed to learn and how to learn it and how to share that lesson. So I’ll decide – in a very righteous, very holy way – that my siblings need to be gently instructed in how kind and loving homeschooling is . . . and all that really does is bring about yet more rancor and grief because it accepts as its premise that somebody out there is wrong – not functioning as God intends – and it is my job to fix them.

      But the Holy Spirit never sees the problem that way – it only sees the call for love, and it knows that the answer is always internal – to accept that we are love – and then let the external chips of form fall where they may, and they always do may, and I don’t have to worry about.

      Solutions to external problems are none of my business, really.

      The thing about the Holy Spirit, the right mind, is that its learning is clear and simple: I just need to get out of the way and the lesson is right there. It doesn’t take any time to learn it. I don’t have to reason it out, or seek it, or interpret it, or anything.

      Lately I have been studying trees on my walks: trees as systems (roots, trunk, branches, twigs, leaves, sometimes fruit), as extensions of other systems (sunlight, water, air, soil), as ecosystems (for birds, bugs, squirrels etc), and as inhabiting the temporal-spatial illusion in a way with which I am only dimly familiar. They don’t travel, live longer, have more radical (in most but not all cases) seasonal transformations and so forth . . .

      Somehow, they remind me that Life assumes many forms and it is all in motion – not all things are connected but the one thing folding and unfolding – and something in me quietens when I see this and a lot of the egoic dross falls away. The question is not what to do with all these forms but rather to see the One Thing for which this world is but a faint and growing fainter proxy.

      I know you know all this by the way, and are only checking to be sure I haven’t forgotten it myself. So thank you lovely Cheryl!


  • Cheryl June 25, 2014, 9:24 am

    Thank you for such a carefully considered and thoughtful response, Sean. Your last paragraph gave me a big smile — how kind you are!

    This sentence, in particular, made me pause and reflect:
    “So when I perceive the maelstrom, it is because I want to be distracted from remembering God.”

    In thinking about that, I thought, too, of how the Course says that we tend to confuse our retreats and advances and how it is ego that labels situations as problems or difficulties when our only real problem is our separation from God.

    Your words also reminded my of my New Year’s mantra: Be present, stay open, allow …. and somehow what dawned on me in thinking about those three directives is that if we do all three in a state of peace, continually returning to that center even amidst ego hissy-fits … that is enough. Indeed, it is all we can do.

    So thank you for pulling me up, out and in…it was, of course, what I needed to hear. And, synchronicity being the delight that it is, your study of trees brought me up short (it was spot on) and got me thinking about a poem I wrote three years titled “Deciduous.” I posted it over at my blog if you get a chance to check it out.

    Thanks for being present, staying open and allowing me to share this space, Sean. You are, as always, appreciated.


    • Sean Reagan June 27, 2014, 10:35 am

      I love this phrase – “ego hissy fits.” And, I identify with it!

      Yes – there is a quiet center and we are always welcome in it. It is everywhere . . .

      You’re welcome, Cheryl . . . but you know it’s a big circle. We are pulling each other in!


      • Sally June 29, 2014, 7:30 am

        Dear Cheryl & Sean, what can I say but at 3 am this morning I was filled with concerns regarding my family’s ongoing over years of pain, one on Hospice at home now, my confusion over my computer Internet,Provider, a finger tip I cut yesterday etc., etc. seemingly 1000 times. So I thank you Cheryl for telling Sean basically my story AND thank you Sean for sharing basically what I needed to read for my mind, this morning. And for me, my ego-embarrassment is not happy realizing I really do know what I was REMINDED of . God Bless you both for your open honest sharing with each other and me/us all. xo 🙂

        • Sean Reagan June 29, 2014, 11:08 am

          Thank you for sharing, Sally . . . Family is a big deal and being present to them in all the ways we can be matters. It is a kind of attentiveness that is both nurturing of the form as well as the content behind it. I hear you. Cheryl is always an articulate thinker with respect to the course – her ability to move from heart to head and back is always impressive to me. I am grateful for her clarity as well!

          It’s funny, Sally – every now and then I will have a very clear thought about you: how is Sally? I hope she is well. And then I hear from you! So we are joined, right? There is a lot of peace in that for me, knowing that despite the appearance of separation – you, me, Cheryl, Eric, whomever – we are all also that which is not separated and cannot be, and that is Love, and we are it – we are reminding one another of that, one word at a time.

          Thank you so much Sally for bearing the Love!


          • Sally June 29, 2014, 11:13 pm

            Dear Sean, Right, and it is a cozy warm happy feeling for me that we are joined 🙂 And that happens to me too sometimes just thinking of someone, not a Course person, and suddenly my phone rings and I have to laugh when I say hello it IS that very person, unexpected because I guess I don’t yet catch on that we ARE all of one mind. Thanks for telling me this, because I think it has to happen the opposite way, but none of these people ever say a word about it.
            And that the 3 + of us are ONE as REALITY and even one in this not real Play where we all are playing our role we can find that it is so that we are one in a different way, and reminds me that I began ‘ remembering ‘ God’s Oneness even before I ever heard of ACIM. Ain’t even our Play time fun-happy with these surprises? 🙂 luvuall4evr, sally

          • Sean Reagan June 30, 2014, 11:03 am

            our play time is fun indeed, especially when we let the Holy Spirit be the cruise director! Thank you again for being here and sharing, Sally – I am deeply grateful . . .

            ~ Sean

          • Cheryl June 30, 2014, 9:31 am

            Good Morning Sean and Sally,

            Thank you both for such kind words. There is so much peace in knowing we are all connected … and so much joy in having that confirmed…

            This has become one of my favorite “spaces” to visit. Thanks for keeping the door open.

            Hugs to you both…

          • Sean Reagan June 30, 2014, 11:01 am

            the door is open and hugs are never not welcome!

  • Eric June 26, 2014, 7:39 am

    Hi Sean,

    I really like what Tara Singh is saying here about order. I know that often times teachers tell people to just be normal and on one level I agree. There is no need to quit our jobs and run to the mountain top temple and be a monastic. In fact, that could be just another way of escapism. Though I would have went to Singh’s Easter one year retreat if I were a student then with no ties. 🙂

    But also, if we’re to be serious about our path, whether it be the course or something else, we can’t just continue on with what we have been doing that has not worked for us. In the UrText, Jesus tells Helen to tell Bill that one of the reasons he feels that he is not proceeding on the path as well as he would like is because he is trying to bring old patterns to the new ideas.

    I think to bring order into our lives is to give attention to what the course calls “what we value”. This attention can look on what we value as far as materialism and its excess; our ideas; attitudes; beliefs; etc.

    If we’re to study the course while simply remaining on our old course then we will be impeding our own progress as we must actively participate in our own path, because it is our own will we are talking about. This doesn’t mean that we try to correct ourselves or usurp the Holy Spirit, but we can begin to look on what we value and ask are we valuing the valueless?

    We cannot be as Singh said, casual about this. I don’t think it is simply enough to read the course and/or read some author explaining it while holding on and just continuing our old patterns. We’re not bringing order to our lives if we simply read the course and continue to drink in excess continually, or sit around in a trance for hours watching mindless TV, or committing crimes against other people, or buying an endless supply of material goods, or carrying on in destructive relationships, etc.

    We must look at what we are valuing. Everything is a lesson if we give attention to it, because it gives attention to what the mind, our mind is valuing. To “practice forgiveness” while continuing on with old patterns is what the course calls a circular process that would hardly foster the time collapse in which the miracle was intended for in the first place.

    When we bring attention to order and begin to let go of what we once thought was valuable, because we begin to see it is valueless, we begin to unclutter the mind, because everything is experienced within the mind. And of course there might be some that protest that the course very specifically tells us that we need do nothing and to bring order is to do. Yet, I would say that if we are to look at “I need do nothing” with this type of interpretation, then we must disregard even reading the course and doing the lessons in the first place! We must also disregard reading the authors that provide such an interpretation that some read, accept, and adopt.

    But the course is not telling us this. This is in reference to when we come to the Holy Spirit, we need do nothing except to not interfere. The course tells us that action MUST occur in time, which is why it doesn’t disregard the body, but retranslates it into being used for communication. In fact the course says in the section, “I Need Do Nothing” :

    To do nothing is to rest and make a place within you where the activity of the body ceases to demand attention. Into this place the Holy Spirit comes and there abides. He will remain when you forget and the body’s activities return to occupy your conscious mind.

    Yet there will always be this place of rest to which you can return. And you will be more aware of this quiet center of the storm than all its raging activity. This quiet center, in which you do nothing, will remain with you, giving you rest in the midst of every busy doing on which you are sent. For from this center will you be directed how to use the body sinlessly. It is this center, from which the body is absent, that will keep it so in your awareness of it. ~ACIM

    Eric: To bring attention to order is the beginning of the end of casualness. It is the beginning of real responsibility in that we are not just some passive on looker in our salvation, but must fully participate in our salvation. When we give attention to order, we give attention to what we value. When we give attention to what we value, we can begin to “sort out” as the course calls it.

    Next, the teacher of God must go through a “period of sorting-out.” This is always somewhat difficult because, having learned that the changes in his life are always helpful, he must now decide all things on the basis of whether they increase the helpfulness or hamper it. He will find that many if not most of the things he valued before will merely hinder his ability to transfer what he has learned to new situations as they arise. Because he has valued what is really valueless, he will not generalize the lesson for fear of loss and sacrifice. It takes great learning to understand that all things, events, encounters, and circumstances are helpful. It is only to the extent to which they are helpful that any degree of reality should be accorded them in this world of illusion. The word “value” can apply to nothing else. ~ACIM

    Eric: Now in my experience, there is more of an ebb and flow to this, rather than some neat and tidy linear process. I stumble and often fall back to the valueless, believing it will save me from, ironically, the valueless. And this is what I wonder if this is what the course means when it is talking about the “period of unsettling”.

    Yes, order restores salvation to awareness. It helps to unclutter the mind with all its thoughts, and “values”. It simplifies our life, thus simplifying the path.

    Two things I have done to help bring some order is, when we thought we were going to have to sell our house, we got rid of a lot of stuff. I mean a lot. We gave so much stuff away to Good Will. After we had done so, our home felt more in order. It felt simplified. I realized that all of these “things” that I valued, I actually didn’t value and they cluttered my mind. They actually brought me a kind of underlying anxiety that I didn’t even realize until I got rid of them.

    Another thing I have done is to stop or at least cut down quite a bit going to “spiritual” forums and discussing spiritual matters (yes, I realize that I reply to these blogs), but I think there is a major difference. I think there is more of a sharing of ideas here rather than unorganized spiritual dogma and junk food for the mind theology that often pervades a lot of forums.

    Of course there are other aspects of my life that I need to bring attention to and I’m working on it.


    • Sean Reagan June 27, 2014, 10:27 am

      Hi Eric,

      I don’t have a lot to add here. This is a clear and lovely comment. Thank you for sharing it here.

      Yes, that concept of the unhelpfulness inherent in bringing old patterns to new ideas is very important. That is a temptation I feel all the time, somewhat like assuming that some external shift – in appearance, work, relationship, whatever – will cause the internal change.

      I like very much the idea that bringing order can be considered a sort of active and ongoing question of what we are valuing – the valuable or the valueless. That makes a ton of sense.

      Thank you again, Eric. I appreciated this very much.


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