There are three related Lessons here, starting with the one today and continuing with the next two. The Lesson tomorrow reads, "Beyond this world there is a world I want." (W.129) Lesson 130 says, "It is impossible to see two worlds," meaning we are making a choice, in each moment and with each decision we make, as to which world we value, the world of the ego or the world of the Holy Spirit.
We are advised not to mistake the message of this Lesson by thinking Jesus is saying that the things of this world are wrong, bad or even forbidden. If we interpret it in this way, it would suggest he is asking us to give up what we still value and hold as important. He does not intend for us to live as an ascetic by giving up things in form while still being attached to them. To do so is to confuse form and content. It reflects our fear of surrendering to God, in the belief we will be left with very little. We fear the loss of our creature comforts and the people and places we still want in our lives. The ego warns us, if we give everything over to God, we will have to live with deprivation and scarcity. Yet Jesus continually assures us that there is nothing to give up except our fear and our guilt, and in their place we are given abundance and limitless love. When we value the things of this world, we give importance to nothing of any value, but until we see that for ourselves, it will feel like sacrifice to let these things go.
All we are being asked to do is look at the things of this world that we currently turn to for relief of our pain and suffering. Jesus is asking us to see how we believe there are special people, material things, and substances to which we turn to fill what we think is lacking in us. He does not say we are prohibited from going after these things in the name of being spiritual, but he makes it very clear that these things we think the world has to offer will only bring us more guilt and pain, and do not compare to the gifts offered when we choose to know who we are. Our toys and treasures are not being taken away from us. He is only asking us to question why we would want to continue to seek for happiness where it does not exist. This is the question we need to put to our own minds. With everything we do, we can ask one simple question. "Will what I am pursuing bring me closer to my goal of awakening?"
When we read, "The world I see holds nothing that I want," (W.128.9.4) it is not entirely true for us. It is important to remember the focus of this Lesson is about the purpose we give to the things of the world, not the things themselves. Each thing we value binds us to the world. While we continue to believe the things of this world will bring happiness, we will pursue them until we recognize they only bring more guilt. The only purpose the world has is to help us learn there is nothing here of intrinsic value for us. Yet everything can be used by the Holy Spirit to help us learn the Lessons of forgiveness.
We are learning to undo our investment in our bodily identity. Even if we think of ourselves as very spiritually advanced because we have been with the Course for a long time, or because we think we get it, we need to look with honesty at the "body thoughts" that still tempt us. What are these? They relate to our mistaken notion that the body is who we are, and thus we focus on pursuing pleasure, safety, protection, longevity, beauty, comfort, food, sex, sleep, power, material things, substances, and our ideas of happiness. We believe there are things, substances and people in the world that are the source of our pleasure and make us feel good about ourselves. It is a belief that we are lacking and must fill our ourselves with these things and with our special relationships. When we really come to accept that none of the things of this world are the source of happiness, our attachments to them will diminish until they fall away.
We have blocked our awareness of the Christ Self we are, and thus we experience pain, believing we have turned ourselves into these needy, lacking beings who now need to fill up the emptiness with specialness. We think we are the body, and as such it rules us with all its needs and wants. This journey is about releasing our minds from the demands we have placed on them. This is the purpose for everything in this world, and nothing else. It is not about letting the world go, but about using the world as a classroom for letting the guilt in our minds be released.
He makes it clear, "Believe this thought, and you are saved from years of misery, from countless disappointment, and from hopes that turn to bitter ashes of despair." (W.128.1.2) We need to really look at our investments, which are the places we have determined our happiness can be found. If we really look at them, we can see that the promise they held for our happiness fell far short of our expectations. I was thinking about this when I went out today to find another birdhouse. Is this where my happiness is? To have another birdhouse? Is it wrong to buy birdhouses? Of course not! As the Lesson says, we need to disconnect our belief in happiness being found in our worldly collections, whatever they may be.
When we perceive our happiness coming from something in the world, it puts another chain across our minds. It hides our awareness of the divine Self we are and the knowledge that this Self is the source of our true happiness. (W.128.2.1) Jesus is not asking us to sacrifice anything we still want, or to feel guilty when we pursue something that has no value. He is only asking us to look at the guilt in the mind that has projected this world of form. He is asking us to see, "The only purpose worthy of your mind this world contains is that you pass it by, without delaying to perceive some hope where there is none." (W.128.2.3) Ultimately, we are being shown there is no world. It has no reality. The only thing real is God's Love and nothing the world has to offer. However, everything in the world can be used by the Holy Spirit for our awakening when we choose to use it in this way.
When we value something, it becomes part of our identity, which is what he means when he says, "For what you value you make part of you as you perceive yourself." (W.128.3.2) Clearly, we value our bodily identity, and thus believe it is our reality. We surround the body with whatever we value. For example, I think my home is a reflection of me, and, in my estimation, I think it defines me and makes me valuable for what I have. Yet Jesus says, this is not so. The exact opposite occurs, because "All things you seek to make your value greater in your sight limit you further, hide your worth from you, and add another bar across the door that leads to true awareness of your Self." (W.128.3.3) When I give value to the body and its pleasures, I am seeing my reality as a body rather than recognizing the Christ Self as what I really am.
I had an interesting experience with this last night. I had the most severe case of food poisoning that I have ever known. When the body is in such a state of discomfort, it does feel like it is my entire identity. It becomes the focus of all our attention. As I was lying in bed, I asked for the Holy Spirit to help me see this experience of the body as not my reality. My reality is my Christ Self. I was determined not to use the body's sickness to keep me from the love that I am. I started to witness the bodily experience and saw it as separate from what I am. While the character in the dream was not well, the Self observing the character was at peace. I felt this with deep conviction and knew all was well, regardless of the state of the body. The body is not who I am. I affirmed there is no sickness in God's Kingdom and His Kingdom is the only reality. The world of bodies and sickness cannot be the truth.
We fall in love with a special person and think we are at the heights of happiness, only to be at the depths of despair when things don't go as we had hoped. Anything we value binds us to the world because of the purpose we have given it to make us happy. Why would we want a world that keeps us bound and chained to it? Why would we want use it to hide the truth about ourselves? Why would we continue to look for our happiness where it does not exist? Why would we want to continue to seek for anything we deem valuable outside ourselves when this keeps us imprisoned? We continue to look for fulfillment where it does not exist. It is not about asking for help to give up our attachments to the things of this world, but only asking for help in understanding the purpose our attachments serve. They serve the ego's purpose as a defense against the truth of who we are. They affirm our reality as bodies, as separate from others, and as living in the world.
Last night I was at a function where someone posed a question asking what was our biggest and best dream and then to visualize ourselves achieving it. My mind struggled with the question because I was reminded of this Lesson. What dream in this world could I want? There is nothing wrong with dreams. There is nothing wrong with our worldly achievements. There is nothing wrong with wanting them. Yet, ultimately, we will want to come to the place where we recognize that staying bound to the world will never bring us the joy, love, and peace, which is our inheritance because of who we are. When we value the things of this world that we think will make us happy, it keeps us from looking for happiness where it truly can be found. "All things you seek to make your value greater in your sight limit you further, hide your worth from you, and add another bar across the door that leads to true awareness of your Self." (W.128.3.3)
Today, let us examine the attachments we have that still keep us chained to the world. What do we still believe about where our happiness lies? When we see the suffering inherent in being attached to this world, we will no longer want it. We no longer have interest in pursuing what we once valued. I love the comment Jim Carey made when he said, "I hope you get everything you wish for in this world, so that you will see it is not what you ever wanted." As long as we are here, we can experience what we came to experience as a body. Now we have help to recognize how we can use our experience to awaken from this dream. Thus, we ". . . loosen it (the world) from all we wish it were." (W.128.5.3) Life without expectations of how things should be becomes a life where the way is shown to us and we begin to see nothing is lacking. There is nothing to want when we have Everything. We cannot get upset when we choose not to set up things for our perceived enjoyment. We cannot get disappointed when we don't appoint how we believe things should be.
"Forget not that the healing of God's Son is all the world is for. That is the only purpose the Holy Spirit sees in it, and thus the only one it has. Until you see the healing of the Son as all you wish to be accomplished by the world, by time and all appearances, you will not know the Father nor yourself. For you will use the world for what is not its purpose, and will not escape its laws of violence and death. Yet it is given you to be beyond its laws in all respects, in every way and every circumstance, in all temptation to perceive what is not there, and all belief God's Son can suffer pain because he sees himself as he is not
." (T.24.VI.4.1-5)(ACIM OE T.24.VII.52)
Everyone and every circumstance we encounter in this world is to be used for our healing. Each one is an opportunity to look at how we keep ourselves in chains, or how we use each circumstance for healing and release. Everything we experience in this moment is an invitation for healing. Everything is totally perfect for this purpose, no matter what judgment of good or bad we might put on it. When the Lesson says, "We leave it [the world] free of purposes we gave its aspects and its phases and its dreams," (W.128.5.2) Jesus is telling us the ultimate problem is the value we have bestowed on the world. It is the value we have placed on the many things we think the world offers us. It is all about what it is for.
Leaving everything in the world free of our own purpose is to accept what is. Only our resistance to what is creates suffering in our minds. When "We hold it [the world] purposeless within our minds, and loosen it from all we wish it were," (W.128.5.3) we are freed from this world. "Pause and be still a little while, and see how far you rise above the world, when you release your mind from chains and let it seek the level where it finds itself at home." (W.128.6.1) Jesus tells us, when we do this, our minds will be grateful.
Imagine the freedom of allowing your mind to soar. This reminds me of the book, Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Jonathan Livingston, the seagull, refuses to be invested in what was readily available in the garbage dump, where all his buddies seek for treasures. Instead, he is like the mind that ". . . knows where it belongs" [with God in Heaven] (W.128.6.3) and simply wants to fly free. One day, Jonathan, standing on the shore, closing his eyes, concentrating, all in a flash knew what Chiang, the wisest gull, had been telling him. "Why, 'It is true! I am a perfect unlimited gull!" He felt a great shock of joy at this recognition. It is the same joy we long to know and to experience.
"Your mind cannot be stopped in this unless you choose to stop it
." (W.44.7.3) We are the ones who have chained the mind, "But free its wings, and it will fly in sureness and in joy to join its holy purpose." (W.128.6.4) The decision-making mind can make this choice, but the ego will never choose for this freedom. It is what keeps us chained. Its mantra is for us to keep seeking, but never find. We have it in us to make the decision to free our mind so it can soar and ". . . fly in sureness and in joy to join its holy purpose." (W.128.6.4)
With this practice, Jesus assures us, ". . . when your eyes are opened afterwards, you will not value anything you see as much as when you looked at it before." (W.128.7.2) Each time we free our mind and let it soar, our perspective will shift, meaning the value we put on the world will change. Rather than giving up anything in the world, we just shift our perspective in how we see it and what we give value to.
Protect your mind throughout the day as well. When you think you see some value in an aspect or an image of the world, refuse to lay this chain upon your mind, but tell yourself with quiet certainty, "This will not tempt me to delay myself. The world I see holds nothing that I want." (W.128.8.3-4) Our investment in the world is our investment in guilt. Ask for help today to look at the world differently. By doing so, our perspective will change just a little each time we bring awareness to our worldly temptations. Be willing to stop and step back and look with the Holy Spirit. He will give you a new way to see everything. Every time you are upset by anything in your day, ask for His help to see it differently.
Ken Wapnick, a magnificent teacher of this Course, has told us there is one simple question we can ask that consolidates all of the teachings and will help us unify our learning. It illustrates for us what Jesus calls the simplicity of salvation. Ken said, anytime we are confronted with a situation, an event, a relationship, or a bodily condition where we feel anguish, guilt, fear, pain or judgment, we can ask ourselves, "Is what I am doing, feeling, thinking, or saying helping in my awakening from this dream or impeding my path and solidifying my ego?" Ask this question consistently of yourself regarding everything in your day.
Love and blessings, Sarah
~ A Course in Miracles-Original Edition has chosen this title from the scribe's original notes: "The world I see has* nothing that I want."