1 Nothing I see in this
room means anything.
MT: You begin this year of change by wiping clean the slate. What a challenge
to say, "I do not know." There was a time I found these words
a disgrace. Back then, I must know everything, and I thought it a thing
of shame to have a gap in my expertise. Thank you for the permission not
JC: Knowledge is of God. It is given you, not made up by you. It is grace.
It comes from an infinite, boundless Source vast beyond comprehension.
Awe—not interpretation!—is the only appropriate response to
the Source. But the ego wants to think it understands, and thus it dismisses
opportunities to learn the new. It remains ignorant by pretending to be
MT: An explosion of collective intelligence would happen if we all admitted:
we do not know. We can, and must, collect information, but then there's
a point of surrender, the space of "not knowing," and that's
where God steps in and the path is shown us.
1 Nothing I see in this
room [on this street,
from this window, in this place] means anything.
I first practiced this lesson back in 1984. It was with great trepidation
that I said the words and put on a brave front, being the brave girl who
led a youth group in the Baptist church at age 13. I did not know how
the Course would change my life, only that it would do so, and I was ready
for it, having been prepared by a premonitory dream a couple of weeks
Does anything mean anything to me now, twenty-four years into this study?
I can tell you that the beauty I now see can make me weep. I can also
tell you that my relationships have changed such that they no longer hold
any semblance to their former configuration. Two women in my life hold
on fiercely to their image of me as a sinner, or their image of themselves
as sinners, which is the same thing. To them I say, God be with you when
you are finally ready to accept His grace. This is the change I prayed
for and received: that their thoughts of attack no longer have the power
to affect me.
At times I ache for this beautiful planet of ours. I ache about the destruction
the ego wreaks upon it--the rain forest disappearance, the loss of animal
species, the fence that separates us from Mexico and confines mountain
lion and gray wolf. When the heart opens up, we also become open to the
pain around us. But, as I am fond of reminding my daughter, the smallest
action is better than helpless tears. This year, then, I pledge to take
a stand for the environment. I wait for God to provide the means. Ball's
in His court.
2 I have given everything
I see in this room (house, street) all the meaning it has for me.
JC: You do notice how arbitrary your definition of a "thing"
MT: Yes. I can see a calendar, a date on the calendar, the blackness of
the number, a pixel of blackness. Well, I can't see the pixel but I know
it's there. It is endless. I can separate things into smaller and smaller
components, down to atoms, or I can include more and more and call it
a room, a city, a country, the whole Earth. That's so cool!
JC: You are welcome to delight in this finding. Just don't take it too
seriously. It's only intended to make a point.
MT: The point being?
JC: The point being how subjective and arbitrary perception is. It is
tied to words, and words are useful to communicate with others (or with
me, in this case), but words do not make reality. "The map is not
MT: Thank you for this book, JC. It has raised my IQ by ten points at
the very least.
JC: Better still, it facilitates access to a universal intelligence, and
that's a stunning leap in abilities. Why crawl on the ground when you
can fly with eagles?
MT: Why indeed. . .
3 I do not understand anything
I see in this room [house, city, window].
MT: I notice, JC, a feeling of peace and rest when I gaze at things and
say I don't understand them.
JC: You get a break from the constant work of trying to give meaning to
things around you, yes.
MT: And I realize it's OK not to understand, that things will be there
tomorrow, whether I fret and worry or don't.
Today I allow my mind to be serene and uncluttered. I cloak myself in
the garments of peace. I look upon the world with eyes of peace today.
4 These thoughts do not mean
anything. They are like the things I see in this room.
My mind chatter maintains the dream of separation, as do the things I
see, the bodies I make up around me. If I am to let in a new vision and
a new thought, I must surrender my old way of seeing and thinking.
Today, JC, help me to silence, because it is in silence that I hear the
Thought of God.
5 I am never
upset for the reason I think.
MT: I find all sorts of "reasons" to be upset. This cold persists.
Should take better care of finances. What about my diet, is it good enough?
And why am I so reluctant to meditate? Am I enlightened enough? Is my
ego small enough?
JC: And you know by now that the upset comes first, then the ego manufactures
reasons for the upset.
MT: I want the peace of God.
JC: The connection you thought you saw between your upsets and a world
you believed to be external to you (excuse the convoluted phrase) is now
broken. That in itself is a major step in the Atonement. It is a major
step toward peace. Now take a moment to contemplate how far you have gone
in this direction. Rejoice here with God and all the angels. You are blessed,
and you can bless.
MT: This is a day of silence and of peace. I rest in God.
5 I am never upset for
the reason I think.
We are so good at finding reasons for our feelings! A brand new morning
dawns when we realize a precious truth: the feeling is there first, then
the separated mind attributes it to a cause outside ourselves. An anger
searches for the culprit, a sadness for the loss, a brief happiness for
the trinket we just bought. And thus we make ourselves powerless.
6 I am upset
because I see something that is not there.
MT: All right, JC, all right, I hear you.
But my mind is full of Things to Do.
JC: And the point is, Things to Do aren't there. They are part of the
illusion, the fantastic story you made up when you thought God had banished
you from Paradise.
MT: I agree, I need peace now, not a to-do list. This is the essential,
my only need--but I still cling to the illusion that "doing things"
will give me peace, that there are goals to be attained before the final
goal of peace. My ego wants to busy itself pretending to run the sun
and the stars and the universe. Please help me see this differently.
JC: Beyond the sun and stars, beyond the known universe and anything
you think you know and see, a pure white light emerges--or was it always
there? It suffuses your being with its radiance, and now you know what
was hidden to you before: you are a Being of Light. You are this light,
as God is this light, as those around you are this light.
6 I am upset because
I see something that is not there.
I think I see conflict, but it is not there. This thought is an image
that I have made.
I think I see separation, but it is not there. This thought is an image
that I have made.
I think I see that old self I made up as a child. That old self does
not exist. It is an image that I have made.
I think I see beauty in my garden, in my house. Much as I like it, beauty
does not exist. It is an image that I have made. But I choose to see
it! That is my prerogative as the Son that the Father loves.
7 I see only the past.
MT: I know this, JC. Of course I see only the past. You have convinced
me. But what should I see instead? I'd like to know how this relates to
miracles and spiritual seeing. Is it something that happens to a lucky
few? How do I cultivate spiritual vision?
JC: You need a quiet and receptive mind for spiritual vision, to answer
your last question.
MT: So how are things NOW? How do I see them now?
JC: If I told you how they are now, you would be looking for this concept
and making it up, and then you would be back in the error: seeing things
as you think they should be, not as they are now.
MT: So we're talking about attitude. We're talking about openness to new
experience. I get that. But what about miracles? How do they relate to
JC: The miracle happens in the now. It is an instant of complete connection
to your brother. When you see the past in him, you are locking him there
with your energy, and locking yourself in the past as well.
MT: A misuse of the mind.
JC: It is a grievous misuse of the mind, but all who walk the earth do
it until they learn a better way.
7 (2006) I see only
I get an occasional glimpse, dear JC, of the meaning of this sentence:
I see only the past. As Fritz Perls said, "Lose your mind and come to
your senses." There is a place in my mind where I am enraptured with What
Is, a timeless state of just being there. And then I lose it. The world
collapses back into drab ego forms, and once more I see only the past.
But even in the grief over losing something so precious, I know I've
evolved, I will never be quite the same, and I know the next miracle of
awareness will be given me soon.
7 I see only the past.
What is to see the Eternal Present? I think it's more a seeing with the
whole body, the eyes only a marginal part of it. It is a skin sense, a
vibration. I remember napping next to my mother on a warm, lazy Sunday
afternoon. Her slow steady breath was one of the rhythms of life then,
and I can still hear that comforting sound when I meditate six decades
We came from Love, and to Love we shall return.
8 My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.
Great lesson, JC. I really appreciate
you, especially when you say, "[your mind] cannot understand time,
and cannot, in fact, understand anything." This is so true, startling
and gently humorous at the same time. Your quiet authority refreshes like
a spring of clear water in the desert. It's about time I stopped lying
to myself and pretending that my vapid stream of consciousness is Truth.
My question then would be, if I'm not thinking about the past or the future,
then what's there to think about? What do I put in my head then? I am
being asked to totally, completely change the way I operate.
JC: You are being invited to open up to guidance, that's all.
MT: But what a new world this ushers in!
JC: Not new, only forgotten. Enlightenment is merely a moment of recognition.
8 My mind is preoccupied with
MT: I became aware, this morning, of how past thoughts keep the miracle
away from me. As you know, medicine offered me a Draconian diagnosis of
macular degeneration, and I've been struggling with it ever since. Medicine
tells me the problem can only get worse with time, but I know my eyes
are living, adapting organs. So I find myself between two worlds. My first
thought as I wake is, how are my eyes doing today? Are those blotches
growing? But in doing so, I bring up my "problem" of yesterday
to see if it's still there.
JC: Wealth cannot be had by focusing on poverty. Love cannot be found
by paying attention to wrongs. Healing cannot happen by giving power to
MT: It takes courage to look away from a problem. What if it gets worse?
There's the urgency. Shouldn't I be doing something about it?
JC: You need do nothing. This is your challenge now--to drop your puny
efforts and to trust that all things work together for the good.
MT: No matter what happens?
JC: No matter what happens.
8. My mind is preoccupied
with past thoughts.
What do I see? I see only the past. I see a collection of emotions, social
learnings, restrictions, judgments. This is the thought of man that I
learned so well. Now I have a chance to experience a bigger picture, a
boundless reality so far removed from this shabby world I made.
9 I see nothing as it
MT: I don't know what to say, JC. I think I know this lesson.
JC: But do you really? Or do you only rehash the past? Your perception
is made of ideas that you first formed decades ago.
MT: Well, yes, I am rehashing the past. Which, you're telling me, is
what I do when I look around the room. I used to differentiate between
hallucination and perception, but I guess our perception is an hallucination
JC: And a huge one. Open yourself to the glorious unity of all things
of Heaven and Earth.
MT: I long for a fresh look that shows me that. All I see is the usual
drab world of dusty things. No glorious unity for me, right now. Sometimes
I really empathize with Apostle Paul and his laments.
JC: For now it suffices to accept
that what you are seeing is an idea, not the "Ding an Sich," the thing
9 I see nothing as it is now.
JC: In order to attain real vision, you must give up your present way
MT: I do want real vision. A moment ago, as I looked around as directed,
colors turned brighter, the fall foliage outside the window more vivid,
and my head got lighter!
JC: Believe in what is happening! The ego will seek to discount any
changes in perception as mere illusion. It maintains that drabness is
reality, anything else a passing whim, but it is not so. You need not
dwell in the ego's upside down world.
MT: Today I see with the eyes of forgiveness. Today I accept only God's
9 I see nothing as
it is now.
No, because I see only my past experience with things.
This phenomenon seems to be related to left brain/right brain. The right
brain sees wholeness, the left brain categorizes and gives names to
things, thus separating them. For those who haven't yet heard of Jill
Bolte Taylor, she's an inspirational and moving listen. A stroke knocked
out a massive part of her left hemisphere, leaving her without much
of this separating function. But she reports ecstasy, a fearless child-like
state of bliss, along with the preoccupation of getting along in a left-hemisphere
world. She has appeared several times in Oprah, and gave a presentation
10 My thoughts
do not mean anything.
This is a point I touched on lightly in earlier study of the Lessons.
My attitude was, ok already, let's get on with the real material! Enough
pussyfooting around! But you put so much emphasis on this concept, I know
you must judge it crucial to everything that follows. Guess you'd want
me to highlight it in fluorescent yellow, to make it into a throbbing
JC: It is essential, like the air you breathe. We've already dedicated
nine days to this undoing, and will continue to reinforce it throughout
MT: It is a tool to quiet my overactive mind, isn't it.
JC: Yes. You asked for such a tool a long way back, and here it is.
MT: Right in the beginning. You snuck it in when I wasn't looking.
JC: So today, return to this basic idea: your thoughts do not mean anything.
They are as devoid of meaning as the things and bodies you've made up
to populate your world.
10 My thoughts do not mean anything.
MT: What happened to Descartes' "Cogito ergo sum"? Was that
the beginning of the separation?
JC: More like the beginning of the end of separation. Descartes put the
ego's argument on the table for all to see. It was one man's opinion.
It was now open to question.
MT: What do you say to me, right now? The assumption we live by is that
"If I don't think, I don't exist." That's the fear of annihilation
in one sentence. I know the fear of meditation, of being silent--I avoid
it at all costs. When I'm not talking to someone, my mind continuously
spews out its internal dialogue. What do you say to my fear of meditation?
JC: You know what I say to that. You fear God. You fear love. You believe
that the boundless love of God would be the end of you.
MT: But I am tired of me, JC. This personal me is tired and worn and bedraggled.
I would just as soon put me to rest!
JC: Why not today? Your day may be spent, once again, measuring life in
coffeespoons, filled with meaningless thoughts. Or it can be the glorious
day you let God in.
10 My thoughts do not
Sobering thought, no?! Our heads are full of garbage! Thoughts of past
and future, vengeance, false pride, thoughts of how to manage special
relationships, fear thoughts and thoughts of (brief) happiness expected
from new car/new bling/new mate. They are all equally meaningless! They
are thoughts about nothing!
Index of Lessons