[acimlessons_list] Lesson 8 - January 8
sue at circleofa.org
Sat Jan 7 08:31:34 EST 2012
Lesson 8 - January 8
"My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts."
Purpose: to teach you that your mind spends all of its time empty, because
it is always contemplating what is not there (the past). While it thinks
about the empty, it itself is empty. Recognizing this emptiness makes way
for something new to come in: real thoughts which will produce real vision.
Exercise: 4 or 5 times (3 or 4 if you find the practice irritating), for 1
minute or so
* Close your eyes and search your mind for a minute or so
without investment, noting the thoughts you find and naming them by the
central figure or theme of each one. Say, "I seem to be thinking about (name
of person), about (name of an object), about (name of an emotion)...."
* Conclude with, "But my mind is preoccupied with past
Remarks: If you find the exercise arousing feelings in you-for instance,
irritation-you may want to apply the idea to those feelings just as you
would to anything else. This is a helpful tip for many of the lessons.
"This idea is, of course, the reason why you see only the past." This
clearly assumes that what we see simply reflects the thoughts occupying our
minds. If that is so, then because our minds are preoccupied with past
thoughts, we perceive pictures from the past in the outside world. "No one
really sees anything. He sees only his thoughts projected outward." This
idea is so central to the Course, yet here it is simply slipped into this
discussion of the past and time. We don't really see anything! Everything we
see is "the outside picture of an inward condition," as the Text puts it
I've always loved the first line of the second paragraph: "The one wholly
true thought one can hold about the past is that it is not here." Ponder
that a moment. You may have some extremely clear memories of the past,
especially the very recent past. Yet if several people who experienced the
same thing firmly disagreed with you, you would probably begin to doubt your
memory--because you cannot really be completely certain it is reliable. You
know very well from experience that your memory can deceive you. "I could
have sworn I left that key on the table!" "Didn't I tell you about that? I
thought I did." We say that sort of thing all the time without realizing how
shaky our memory really is. But there is one absolutely trustworthy thought
you can have about the past: "The past is not here. This is the present."
Now if it isn't here, how can the past have present effects? "To think about
it at all is therefore to think about illusions." You are thinking about
something that no longer exists; something that does not exist is an
OK, so if my mind is preoccupied with past thoughts, and all thoughts about
the past are thoughts about illusions, and all that I see is a projection of
my thoughts--where does that leave what I am "seeing?" Nowhere. We are
seeing reflections of memories of an illusion. When we are picturing the
past or anticipating the future, the Course says our mind is actually BLANK,
because it is thinking about nothing.
This lesson is trying to get us to recognize when our mind is not really
thinking at all, but is full of what it calls "thoughtless ideas." This is
why "these thoughts do not mean anything." To open ourselves to "vision" we
have to stop blocking the truth with these meaningless mental images of
something that isn't here. The first step towards vision is becoming aware
of what is NOT vision, which are the thoughts that normally fill our minds.
I find this kind of exercise helps develop a kind of mental detachment. You
step back, as it were, from your thoughts and observe them. Don't make the
mistake I did at first of trying to force these thoughts out of the mind and
make it blank--hey! we don't need to do that because it is blank already!
Just observe them and follow the lesson, saying, "My mind is preoccupied
with past thoughts." Be willing to let go of your investment in the
thoughts, your investment in having them be real thoughts, or deep ones, or
important ones. Unclasp your fingers from them, let them go, be willing to
see that they are without real meaning if they are based on the past, and
thus based on something that is not here.
The lesson is a gentle wedge, prying loose our attachment to what we think
of as our thoughts.
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