Hope all of you are enjoying the early stages of your weekend, may it be peaceful and happy!
Well, Ken’s thoughts occupy 10 full pages for this lesson so I just couldn’t get through it all last night at about 11 PM. Read enough, though, to share some salient excerpts.
“In one sense, this lesson is a commentary on the famous passage in the Sermon on the Mount about seeking and finding: “…seek, and ye shall find; ….he that seeketh findest: (Matthew 7:7b, 8b) – the most frequently quoted biblical passage in ACIM. Thus we find enunciated here the important theme that what we seek we will find: if we seek for happiness in the world, we will have the illusion of finding it there; however, if we seek for it in our minds, we will truly find it.”
“This statement, first paragraph, first sentence, 1:1, expresses the ego’s fundamental maxim: Seek but do not find (T-16.V.6:5). It tells us the problem is in the world, and its solution there as well. The ego’s guidance thus aims to distract us from the real source of the problem: the mind’s decision maker choosing the ego over the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the solution must also be in our minds: reversing our mistaken decision. The ego camouflages that fact, having us believe instead we live in a body. Since we all experience physical problems and discomfort, our happiness is related to minimizing pain and maximizing pleasure. Thus we seek for happiness here, and our existence as creatures of the world is set up so we will never truly find it, yet continually seek for it. Frustration, disappointment and despair are inevitable.”
“This is the secret the ego never lets us see. (Ken is responding to the second paragraph, first sentence, 2:1). Our lives – physically and psychologically – are programmed for failure, and with each one we are motivated to strive even harder so that our new attempts will turn out differently: our next job will be rewarding; our next relationship will be satisfying; our next car will outperform all the others; and on and on and on. Such attempts, however are inherently meaningless because they will not work. This is what Jesus means by our involvement with tangential (or meaningless) issues:
“By becoming involved with tangential issues, it hopes to hide the real question and keep it out of mind. The ego’s characteristic busyness with nonessentials is for precisely that purpose. Preoccupations with problems set up to be incapable of solution are favorite ego devices for impeding learning progress (T-4.V.6:4-6).”
Thus do we strive to find something that will satisfy; and nothing will, yet we keep trying and trying. In back of all our attempts, however, is the ego’s sly laugh that says:
“Of course, it will not work, because you do not deserve to be happy.” That thought becomes one of the final witnesses to the reality of our guilt, and is the prime force behind our seeking and never finding.”
In response to the second paragraph, sentence seven, 2:7, Ken writes:
“This is another bombshell, if we think about its meaning. Externally, our conscious self believes we are looking for safety and security, happiness and peace. Simultaneously, though, our unconscious ego has us seek for danger, because this means we are victims of forces beyond our control: something out there can hurt us, and our suffering proves it. If we are thus the innocent victims of destructive, external forces, God will not punish us, but the perpetrators of our suffering instead. This affirms our face of innocence, which demands that everyone around us is sinful, guilty and deserving of punishment.
On the one hand, therefore, we seek happiness and safety, but on the other, we choose the ego as our teacher and guide, a choice that inevitably leads to identifying with its thought system of guilt and hate. Projecting this guilt, we see it everywhere but in ourselves, and hate it. Our problem becomes the threat perceived outside, but never the problem within. The protection for the little dream we made of the world reinforces the little dream of the ego’s thought system we cherish in our minds.”
Ken refers to a “conversation” Jesus once had with Helen:
“Jesus once told Helen that when she does his will he will uphold it, and when she does not, he will correct it. She cannot lose. That is Jesus’ point: when we make a mistake, it is not a sin for which we will be punished, but merely an attempt to cloak the answer that is already there. When we have had our fill of pain and disappointment, we are motivated to ask Jesus for help, which we can never fail to receive. He reminds us that everything we put in our minds is illusory, and so does not exist.”
“The problem again, is that people believe they do want the truth. Yet, if they did, they would not be here. People cleverly deny the fear, conflict, and guilt they secretly feel, because they want to be on their own and not return home. ACIM teaches that as long as you maintain you want to return home when you do not, the true desire to return remains buried beneath the wish to exist here and prove Jesus wrong. That is why it is essential that Jesus teach you not only that you are misperceiving the world, but that your misperceptions are projections of the mind’s basic thought: “I want to exist and be right.” You need to look at that thought, and when you change your mind it will disappear.”
Finally, in response to the closing three sentence statement, Ken writes:
“To state the oft-repeated guidance, what gives meaning to our practice is learning how much we do not mean the words of the lesson, accepting that part of us does not want the terrifying truth that will free us from our specialness. Therefore, before we say and mean these words, we have first to be aware of the ego’s truth, needing Jesus to help us forgive these special thoughts that prefer the ego to him. In other words, before truth can dawn on our minds, we must forgive ourselves for pushing it away. Thus we come to learn the happy fact that our pushing Jesus away had no effect: He went nowhere and, fortunately, neither did we. Without an effect, the sin of separation is not a cause, and nothing exists that is not causative. Therefore, sin does not exist and there is nothing to forgive. This is the truth and, by choosing to forgive, we choose to seek what we truly wish to find. Our single purpose ensure that we shall, for no one can fail who seeks to reach the truth.”
Well, it sure as heck seems to me it is imperative, critical that I be honest with myself. Specialness will emerge over and over throughout the day. I will experience fearful, unkind, unloving, critical thoughts, to be sure. Yet, I am happy and thankful that I have a toolbox full of remedies, practices, applications that will help me when I am too invested in my individuality to easily ask for help.
I was struck by the passage Ken refers to above where we Course students consciously want truth, peace, joy and love and, yet, we are attracted to the drama of the dream, if you will. That’s not the way he wrote it, obviously. But that scared me a bit. That is I must by vigilant for my denial of hateful thoughts or unloving thoughts of any kind.
It is so, so easy to get caught up into blame. It can be so subtle and insidious and, of course, that’s because the ego surmises I am intent on letting it go by practicing and it becomes vicious, determined to maintain its existence.
I can detach myself from my own fearful thoughts by getting above the battleground and just acknowledging that the ego I have chosen again and again is desperate to prove its “reality”. End of story.
Ken’s book as helped me so much to understand that looking at my heinous thoughts need not be terrifying, because Jesus or the Holy Spirit is always available to remind me that what I think are irreparable sins are silly mistakes and I will continue to make them.
All is well.
Inch by inch, step by step I move forward with honesty, patience and trust that everything that happens in my life which I repel can be transformed into a huge blessing…and by looking at the more “dramatic” occurrences that emerge with Jesus, I can be confident that that particular lesson need not be repeated. In other words, I don’t have to take that particular class in my classroom over again, having failed the first time or thousand to forgive it!
Have a blessed day!