The Going-On Going On

A lot of the writing I do these days – some of which shows up here, some of which does not, but all of which has as its essence a desire to see more clearly what I think and feel in order to see more clearly thought and feeling arising – has to do with A Course in Miracles. I am moving on from it, I am grateful to it, I am wondering if I will ever go back to it, does all this thinking mean I am still with it, in it, et cetera.

I have been writing a response to a comment in this post on Gary Renard, and in doing so, it is clear that there is a way in which I am still very much in and with A Course in Miracles. What do I mean by this? I mean that I care about it, which means – for me – that it puzzles and excites and illuminates me, especially certain aspects of it, and certain aspects of me.

Yet it is also clear that what I mean by A Course in Miracles is not what you mean – nor what anybody else means – and that this diversity of understanding is important, even as it may restrain or even preclude an ongoing dialogue. The course points to something complex that merits attention, going deeper, comprehending, sharing, et cetera. But what exactly? And how shall we know?

Human observers are processes, not stable entities. We are in motion: our movement becomes us. It doesn’t feel this way. It feels like we’re solid, predictable, reliable, tangible. But that’s just how the process feels. That’s just how the process seems, when the process is looking at itself.

What happens when we slip a Text, Workbook and Manual for Teachers into a process like that?

It is like dropping a twig into an eddy on a brook. At first, the twig behaves in predictable ways. It swirls, rotates, spins, bobs. If we study its movement closely, and compare it to the same twig in another eddy, then we will observe subtle but non-trivial differences. But from a distance, in broad strokes, there is a predictable similarity. At the outside, from a distance, course students share clear similarities in practice. But when we go closer – track the narrow road to the interior, say – differences in ACIM practice appear which, the closer we get, become more and more pronounced.

This is because eventually, the eddy moves on. It settles back into the brook. It dies in the sand of either bank. It spits the twig out. The twig drifts, encounters other twigs, other eddies, other currents. On and on it goes, even after we’ve lost sight of it.

In time, our ability to predict what will happen to the twig necessarily dissolves. In fact, the only real prediction we can make with respect to the twig is that eventually our prediction will fall apart. Our knowing is always temporary and situational.

In part, this is why I cannot insist that A Course in Miracles necessarily means this or that or something else altogether. Or that this teacher is right, while this one is wrong. Helpful or unhelpful, sure. But right or wrong? What do I know?

There is a saying that the map does not equal the territory. This is sound but it does not mean that the map cannot ever be helpful. A map is a way of relating to the territory. A Course in Miracles is a kind of map. It is a way of being in relationship with experience.

If we look at our map and the map says that there should be a river where we are, and instead there is a mountain, then we have to discard that part of the map. Or update it, if you prefer. The mountain is what’s there. What the map says no longer obtains.

Our ACIM map has a lot to do with Jesus, but we might find that out in the territory, there is no Jesus, or only a little Jesus.

In that case, we have to find another map. It’s okay to do this. It doesn’t mean the ACIM map is wrong in any ultimate or final sense; just that it no longer applies to the given territory.

The territory is not objective. It is always shifting, always personal. How does the brook appear to an eddy? The only possible answer is: it depends on the eddy – where it is, what stage of eddying it’s at, and so forth. It is impossible for an eddy to give anything other than a relative answer.

Thus, your still pond may be my craggy mountain. Your vast lake may be my trail through the forest. Where the map – be it ACIM or something else – might be efficient for me, it may not be for you. This is neither a crisis nor a problem nor even an invitation to debate (though it may yield some interesting and helpful dialogue). It is simply experiencing our human observer experience.

Thus, one is never “finished” with A Course in Miracles. Nor does one actually ever begin A Course in Miracles. It feels like our study begins and ends: but that is just the movement of the river. That is just the spinning of the twig. Here we are: and here we go.


  1. I like the map reference of the terrain changing, this beyond learning that there had been map-living, when it was no longer sufficient to actually living. I was surprised to see the Gary Renard controvery again. This is how I found you 3+ years ago, and you were instrumental in changing my map. My interest in spiritual drama as (beyond) life and death, with its questions HAVING to be solved, found perfect fodder with Renard. Your handling of it showed me kindly I also was becoming more interested in the bridge to don’t-know-mind and my peace being of enough interest to entertain me. I started to read the new Renard entries, and saw McDonald now in the mix. I read his book . I went through some of that conditioning again – who/what is right?! I also was glad to notice how much quicker/less I spent in it!

    A bird just flew by my window and there’s some beautiful fog drift. And I enjoyed imagining the twig in the eddy in the brook. It’s “my” attention, God bless it, and they were enjoyable stuff!

    1. Thanks as always for reading & sharing, Mike.

      Yeah, from time to time that Renard post surfaces . . . almost as if I am executing a slow circle, checking in on familiar landmarks, seeing what’s changed, what’s not. I’m glad you found it helpful at one point. It has always mattered to me to simply be aware of how certain forms of conceptual thought are helpful – and then not helpful – or aren’t helpful and then suddenly are helpful – as a means of realizing that the “going on” is not about me. Or rather, that “I” is more in the nature of a perspective. Other perspectives apparently abound. This, too, is a kindness.


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