I’m continuing my journey with Marianne Williamson through the Lessons of the Workbook to A Course in Miracles. I’ve been following the Workbook for 18 days now. I’m finding it fascinating. I hope you are as well.
Lesson 9 states that “I see nothing as it is now.” As Marianne Williamson points out, this truth follows from what we’ve been doing up until now.
Our minds are preoccupied with the past. All we see are past associations; not present reality. We see something, and the first things we observe are its limits. How big or how small it is. What shape. And so on. We don’t see its essence.
I look at my hand, but I do not see my hand as it is now. I see it as separate and distinct. Part of me, perhaps, but not me. Yet the drop of water in the ocean is still the ocean. Where does my hand stop and the rest of me begin?
According to Lesson 10, “My thoughts do not mean anything.” This exercise is an interesting one because it seemingly conflict with the notion that thoughts are powerful. But what I believe it’s getting at is that the veil of thoughts that hides our true thoughts of love is meaningless.
And indeed, when I think about friends or what’s happening in my life or what I want to happen in the future and so on—those thoughts are meaningless. They are a layer of separation between me and my real thoughts, which are based in love.
When doing the exercise, there is an additional phrase: “This idea will help to release me from all that I now believe.” What I now believe are the falsehoods of the ego. For example, I believe in scarcity. But all there is is abundance. I believe lies about myself—that I’m not intuitive, that I lack common sense, that I’m not good enough. All these lies, all these self-limiting beliefs, stunt me, make me play small.
And thoughts about others—all those less-that-loving thoughts—thank goodness they don’t mean anything! Then there are all those thoughts of the past and the future. They mean nothing. That’s going to be a hard lesson.
I go back to Descartes’ “I think, therefore I am.” We identify with our thoughts. We are them.To think of them as meaningless cuts s to our core. The ego will fight for its very life, but the soul has resources of its own. In particular, God is available to help us lift the veil so we can see truly.
Lesson 11 tells us that “My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world.” We are taught to see the world as determining reality, but we actually project our thoughts onto the world thereby molding it to our unloving thoughts. ACIM call this lesson “the phase of the correction process the reversal of the thinking of the world.” It’s a reversal of perception—and nothing less—that the Course teaches. Until we see through the eyes of love, we see a distorted world.
Williamson cites the case of being accosted by an angry or otherwise unloving person. It would be a mistake to fall into an unloving perspective with this person. Instead, we should see the unloving behavior as a call for love. That is the meaning, and anything else would be meaningless.
A miracle is a shift in perception, and we are all here to work miracles.
It’s our perception—based on what we’re taught, not how we’re born into the world—that is meaningless for we perceive through unloving, fear-based eyes. We’re here to shift that back to the original love-based world. It’s instantaneous when it happens. Miracles are instantaneous.
This is a significant, mind-blowing lesson. “My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world.” This world of strife and scarcity doesn’t exist. A world of peace and abundance is the real world. We have but to perceive it so.
In Lesson 12, we learn that “I am upset because I see a meaningless world.” The world is meaningless in itself—neither good nor bad. It is simply the world. We have attributed meaning to it—fearful, crazy, wicked—whatever. We may even have given it positive meaning. It doesn’t matter, because if we, for example, think of a good or satisfying world, that would imply the possibility of a bad or dissatisfying world.
In fact, “if you could accept the world as meaningless and let the truth be written upon it for you, it would make you indescribably happy.” Our projection of meaning onto the world hides its true nature, which is God’s Truth. We are upset because we see this meaningless world that leaves an apparent void.
Humans want to see meaning. But when we project meaning onto things—including the world—we limit them. It’s a sad world. It’s a happy world. Doesn’t matter. To project one is to imply the other. In other words, to give meaning to the world is to render it other than perfect. No matter how positive the meaning I give to the world, it will never be as magnificent as God’s meaning.
But it’s hard to see the world as meaningless because we fear a vacuum. That’s upsetting to us. Scary even. We need to move on and begin to see the world the way God does—how He intended it to be seen. How it is.
“A meaningless world engenders fear.” In Lesson 12 the meaninglessness of the world upset us; today in Lesson 13 that upset is specified—it is fear. Fear of what? The unknown? The vacuum? According to the Workbook, this world that is empty of meaning creates a sort of battleground for the ego, which feels challenged.
It is God who creates meaning. It is the ego that wants to. Or at least so it is for those of us—most of us—who are separated from God. By recognizing tht we re fearful, we can begin to address that fear. Until we do, the fear prompts us—through the ego—to project onto the world our own meaning—to fill the world with meaningless things. All this compulsive endowing of the world with meaning actually does is compound the initial error of fearing a meaningless world.
As Marianne Williamson states, God is everything. God is all there is. That’s why we’re the sons and daughters of God—we are God because God is all that exists. Easy enough to say—and to think and to write—but mind-blowing to feel. It literally blows our ego-mind. And that ego-mind resists. Since we identify with the ego because we’re separated from God, we are afraid.
In Lesson 14 we learn that “God did not create a meaningless world.” The reality that we project onto the world is meaningless, but the Reality God created is meaningful. “God did not create that war, and so it is not real.” And yet, it seems to me, the results of that war are real. The dead, the maimed, the devastated—they are real.
I’m definitely having trouble digesting this lesson. What does it mean for a war (or hunger or Covid or violence in our schools) to not be real? For one thing, war exists in time and space, and time and space are themselves illusions. So if time and space don’t exist, what? We all exist as everyone and everything? Is that the message?
I don’t know. I merely know that I need to do the exercise. “God did not create a meaningless world;” therefore, a meaningless world does not exist. I need to wrap my head around that notion.
Lesson 15 teaches us that “My thoughts are images that I have made.” One thought that comes to mind is that we must be powerful indeed to have made all these images. Now if only we could harness that power to work God’s will and to see clearly—see the truth of our essential love and perfection.
“It is because the thoughts you think you think appear as images that you do not recognize them as nothing.” What do infants see, I wonder? Do they see differently from adults? How early do they start to populate their world with the things of their thoughts?
My eyes keep lighting on my living room chairs. And when they do, I repeat, “These chairs are images that I have made.” And I actually think, “Well, I made a good job of it; they’re lovely, wonderfully functional chairs.” Is that ego talking? Or is that a beginning recognition of my power? The power that might be used in service to God?
According to Lesson 16, “I have no neutral thoughts.” All my thoughts have consequences. “Everything you see is a result of your thoughts.” All thoughts are, in effect, powerful. Even “little” thoughts. In fact, there are no “little thoughts.” Even that quick, passing thought of harm to another—or of peace on earth—is not neutral, is not without effect.
And we all have these quick, passing thoughts. I know I do. Feelings of jealousy or judgment when I wish someone ill. No matter how quickly I recognize and “correct” the thought, it has had its effect.
“I have no neutral thoughts.” My thoughts are neither strong nor weak, big nor little; they are true or false. True thoughts bring peace; false thoughts bring war. Most of my thoughts are judgments, which I take to be false. Even if the judgment is “positive,” it’s still judging. If i compliment someone in my mind, I’m judging them for their form. My job is to extend God’s perfect love. When I judge, I’m not doing God’s work or my job.
The following exercise, Lesson 17, tells us that “I see no neutral things.” I see no neutral things because I have no neutral thoughts. Everything I see is filtered through the conscious mind—hence none of it is unbiased by that mind—filtered through our thinking.
As the Workbook states, “It is always the thought that comes first.” And those thoughts are limiting. The “things” around us could be so much more joyful, beautiful, illumined. We limit our world by imposing on it ego’s fear, ego’s smallness. No matter how beautiful, for example, we think something to be, what we don’t see is so much more beautiful.
I remember a day, a morning, I went for a long walk with Bach’s St Matthew’s Passion. The day was perfect, the music sublime. And I thought that such an experience gave testament to the existence of God. (This was back when I wasn’t sure what I believed.) I experienced a moment on that day of bliss. Life can be like that—even better—all the time when we see clearly through the eyes of love.
In Lesson 18 we learn that “I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my seeing.” This statement means a couple things, as Marianne Williamson points out. First, we are joined at the level of the mind. Second, and really logically following from the first, any change in my perception changes yours.
Further, according to ACIM, “The idea for today is another step in learning that the thoughts which give rise to what you see are never neutral or unimportant.” What does it even mean for our thoughts not to be neutral? If they’re not neutral, what are they? I take it to mean that our thoughts are biased by the ego-mind.
In Lesson 13 we learned that “Every thought you have contributes to truth or to illusion; either it extends the truth or it multiplies illusions.” In other words, it proceeds either from love or from fear—there is no neutral thought—so there is no neutral effect. Since the vast majority of people’s thinking is based in fear, our world is based in fear. But we have the power to change that—to change to a love-based world.
But we need to change our very perception of the world. The chair, the lamp, the puppies are illusions because they are based on fear, which can’t exist because God didn’t create fear, only love.
This blog has covered a lot of ground. I look forward to continuing with the Workbook. I hope you are as well. I also hope you’ll subscribe to my newsletter. Just enter your name and email address in the form at the upper right of this post. See you next week!