[acimlessons_list] Lesson 17 - January 17
sue at circleofa.org
Tue Jan 16 05:49:41 EST 2007
Lesson 17 - January 17
"I see no neutral things."
Purpose: to continue teaching you the real cause and effect relationship
between what you think and what you see. You think that outer events cause
your perceptions, but in fact your perceptions are caused by your thoughts.
Exercise: 3 or 4 times (3 are required), for 1 minute (less if there's
* With eyes open say, "I see no neutral things because I have
no neutral thoughts."
* Then look about you, resting your glance on each thing you
see long enough to say, "I do not see a neutral [name of object], because my
thoughts about [such objects] are not neutral."
Remarks: As usual, it is crucial to treat whatever you see as the same. The
carpet may be neutral in itself, but you do not see it that way, because
your perception of it arises from thoughts that are inherently non-neutral.
Even if the carpet is black-and-white, figuratively speaking, your thoughts
always color it
True cause and effect in the world, according to the Course, is that
thoughts are the cause and the world is the effect. "It is always the
thought that comes first, despite the temptation to believe that it is the
other way around." We have no neutral thoughts and therefore we see no
What is our usual tendency when we find ourselves having certain thoughts?
We ask ourselves, "What made me feel this way? What made me depressed, or
angry, or bored?" The thought always comes first. It was not anything
outside of your mind that caused you to think in a certain way. Rather, your
mind caused the world you see.
The lesson becomes quite radical in its statements at times: "Regardless of
what you may believe, you do not see anything that is really alive or really
joyous. That is because you are unaware as yet of any thought that is really
true, and therefore really happy." I've been studying the Course now for ten
years and I still have trouble fully accepting the idea that I don't see
anything really alive. I know that the Course states that the body (which is
what I see with my eyes) does not die because it has never lived, and so I
know intellectually that the Course defines "alive" quite differently than
we normally do. By alive it obviously must mean something non-physical,
because it writes off the physical body as not being alive at all. But I
have to admit that I still need to practice with this lesson because my
instinct is still to regard bodies as alive. I have to work at it to
I recall speaking with my friend, Lynne, a little over a year before her
body "died." She was a student of the Course. Her body had deteriorated
rapidly over the preceding year, and after several surgeries was only a
shell of what it had been. She remarked to me that she was really learning
the truth of what she really was. I said, "I guess you have a little more
understanding of what the Course means when it says, 'I am not a body.'"
"I damn well better not be!" she exclaimed, laughing.
So although the ideas that nothing I see with my eyes is really alive, and
nothing I see is neutral because my thoughts are not neutral, can be
disconcerting, they also have their plus side. The lesson is the same for us
all, although for some, like Lynne, it seems to be accelerated. But our
bodies will wither and decay just as hers did, only a little more slowly. It
is a welcome relief to realize that its only meaning is given it by my mind.
The mind and spirit are what are alive and real; they are the cause, and the
body and its world is only the effect of thoughts.
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