Forget this book: well; maybe tomorrow

As I sat at my desk carefully cutting out strips of duct tape to suture the ragged spine of my A Course in Miracles book the other morning I became aware of my imaginary Jesus quietly sitting beside me. I did not remember calling on him but his presence indicated otherwise.

“I know what you’re thinking,” I said.

“You usually do.”

“OK, so, I may have become a tad too attached to this book. But honestly; I know it’s not the form, but the content that’s important. It’s just that I really like this book, you know?” I rubbed it with my hand as if petting a dog. “I mean, it’s mine.”

“I see. A security book.”

“Exactly.”  I folded a strip of duct tape to overlap one side of the broken binding and pressed down hard. “It’s just that I started with this book, you know; seven-and-a-half years ago.”

“Oh, my,” Jesus said.

“I know. It has sentimental value. Not to mention many—if I do say so myself–brilliant annotations.”

“Like those ones that made it almost impossible for you to read that section you were studying with your class last week?

“Hey,” I said, although, as usual, he was right. My wild, exuberant hieroglyphics coupled with multiple highlighting had all but rendered nearly every page indecipherable, leading well-meaning fellow Course students to wonder aloud why I bothered to highlight in the first place.

“I know what you’re thinking,” I said. “I am still convinced my understanding is a powerful contribution to the truth. But it’s not like that. It’s just that this book is evidence of my journey, you know? Evidence of my progress, evidence of my commitment.”

“Ah. So, you’re saying this particular book belongs to a particular Course student named Susan having the experience of a particular journey home to perfect, undifferentiated oneness?”

“Well, when you put it like that, it sounds a bit precious but, essentially; yes.”

“Far out.”

I sighed. “Also, this book first belonged to a good friend who died before she ever got around to it. So you can see how I need to honor her memory.”

“Go on,” he said.

But I knew only too well where we were really going with this.

Ultimately, there’s nothing special about this book. It is merely a symbol of the one, awakened mind from which it sprang; the articulated memory of wholeness that followed us into this dream of exile from all-inclusive, ever-lasting Love. Just a little treasure map back to our one right mind.

Even this Course can become a defense against the truth if we begin to depend on it for solace and support and forget that it’s only a tool to help us become mindful. The answer is never in the form, but always in the mind wherein the question of our mistaken identity first arose. All we need to really do from moment to moment is catch ourselves investing in the dream again through our attachment to our special identities with their special stories of suffering, triumph, and betrayal, their special talents and disabilities, cravings and preferences.

As workbook lesson 189, “I feel the Love of God within me now,” reminds us:

“Simply do this: Be still, and lay aside all thoughts of what you are and what God is; all concepts you have learned about the world; all images you hold about yourself. Empty your mind of everything it thinks is either true or false, or good or bad, of every thought it judges worthy, and all the ideas of which it is ashamed. Hold onto nothing. Do not bring with you one thought the past has taught, nor one belief you ever learned before from anything. Forget this world, forget this course, and come with wholly empty hands unto your God.”

Easy for Jesus to say but I’m just not there yet. I am still attached to many things. The comforting ritual of rising to work and write at dawn, the worn fleece “softie” I don on chilly mornings as I make my way with my 3/4 decaf light room Americano to my computer, my pink crocs, my battered A Course in Miracles book, my amazing daughter I realize will vacate the premises in less than two months with or without my willingness to see her go. My husband, my dog, my home, my cookbook and finger puppet collections and certain particularly juicy chapters in the story of my life.

All these nouns preceded by that pesky little adjective “my,” that bogus stamp of ownership by a bogus self. Although I believe everything the Course is telling me with all my conscious heart and have experienced the release, relief, and absolute, joyful completeness practicing its forgiveness brings I still am not entirely convinced that God has a welcome mat waiting for me at the other end of the rainbow, still not 100 percent sure that losing this special self with its many attachments offers the real freedom and eternal comfort I have been seeking all my life.

And so, even as I celebrate another birthday vowing to make wanting the peace of God once and for always my only goal, I feel the need to hold on to this book a little longer. I do so fully aware that it is not the form but the content for which I really yearn. Even as I continue to find its ragged heft on my desk and night stand, it’s liberally tattooed pages, the rainbow of tattered sticky notes protruding from its edges ear-marking something really important to remember deeply comforting.

For a while longer (years, decades, multiple lifetimes 🙂 ), until my unconscious fear subsides for good, I may still fall asleep with it sprawled open beside me–the light on, my reading classes tangled in my hair–because I want the peace of God and still, often, find it right here between these pages on my way to finding it where it really resides. At the end of this journey to the place we never left. The reality to which I will awaken when all  my “secret sins and hidden hates” are undone through the practice of forgiveness in my daily forgiveness classroom, choosing from moment to moment the inner teacher of enduring Love over the inner teacher of separation, exile, and fear.

I am still afraid enough of the real Love we are to approach it directly. I don’t find it a lot easier to remember the lesson for the day in the second part of the workbook (wherein we open our mind to direct experience of God) a whole lot easier than I did five years ago. Still, I am often able to call on Jesus so automatically now; that he is simply there when I need a reminder that the time to put away my toys and grow up is approaching. It is almost time to wean myself from my dependency on this big, blue, broken book held lovingly together with duct tape. Not that I would ever stop reading, studying, teaching, or rejoicing in it. But that its specialness related to the imaginary specialness of Susan’s fantasized journey home would eventually fade into the welcome nothingness from which it came.

NOTE: A Course in Miracles uses the character of Jesus as a symbol of the pre-thought of separation/awakened mind we can relate to and call on in the condition we think we’re in here in the dream. He asks us to bring all the illusions that arise in the classroom of our lives to him for review and re-interpretation from evidence of separate interests to proof positive of the “atonement,” the certainty that the “tiny mad idea” of separation from our source never happened and we remain awake in all-inclusive, eternally worthy Love, simply dreaming our silly dreams of exile.

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Comments

  1. Hi Susan,
    This is a beautiful post and I resonate with it greatly. My book is held together with duct tape too. 🙂 When we’re healed we’re not healed alone and I want the peace of God too. I’m happy to be joined with you in this journey. Thank you so much for sharing!
    Warmest Regards,
    Corinne

  2. Hi Corinne:

    Thanks so much for the kind feedback. So happy to hear there are other ACIM duct tapers “out there.” So happy to be sharing the journey home with you!
    Love,
    Susan

  3. Isn’t it amusing how easily we get attached to and identified with form? I have an older ‘semi-loose-leaf’ copy of ACIM I call my ‘backpacking edition’ that I used to take on solo treks into the high Sierra above timberline for a week or so. I would savor the metaphorical perfume of its non-dual poetry, and years later in 2007 (after the re-awakening to ACIM via Gary Renard’s ‘can-opener’ books) dusted off that copy and was amazed how much it had been ‘rewritten’ 🙂 All good lessons in looking at specialness, regardless of the form, to return our minds to the content of inclusion that laughs gently at our ‘my’ specifics. 🙂 BTW, the quote from Lesson 189 is one of my faves (yet another ‘specialness alert’ 🙂 Thanks again, Susan, for these superb posts! 🙂

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