Something Beyond Thinking Right

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Christ / Course Ideas

The Truth is True.  That we can say for sure.  Beyond that, it gets kind of prickly.  Consider, for instance…

…when a being who has latched onto a thought that is out of accord with the Truth is enjoying a period of relative satisfaction, expansion, and accomplishment in the world, it might be noted by some that things are going well, and concluded by others that a general condition of harmony must therefore reign in the innermost sanctums of this being’s life.  After all, we understand the outer world to be an expression, or mirror, of one’s inner thoughts and beliefs.  When, on the other hand, a being who has latched onto a thought that is out of accord with the Truth is enjoying a period of relative poverty, difficulty, and diminishment in the world, it might be noted by some that things are going poorly, and concluded by others that various conditions of discord must reign in the innermost sanctums of this being’s life for the very same reason, e.g. inner thinking is mirrored in outer effects.

I am beginning to think this is bollox, at least in a certain oft-used variation on the theme.  I think the principle is over-simplified in its application, and this leads to distortion of its true meaning or potential.  I need, obviously, to explain why, as I think for many spirituality is thought to offer the promise of an ability to “manifest”, “secret”, or otherwise “bring into being” conditions favorable to our happiness and well being.  In short, the notion exists that spirituality might assist one in exerting a modicum of control over what arises in our world.  Many of us believe and have read and been taught that it is through inner transformation that we transform the world around us.  I subscribe to this viewpoint, but I think it is too often applied in a vacuum with respect to a larger picture or context in which we exist.

The fact that one of two virtually identical persons who are vulnerable to being blown over by the wind is not presently being blown over, and the other, who is caught in a wind storm, is being blown over, does not mean the first is invulnerable and thinking properly about the wind, and the second vulnerable and thinking improperly about the wind.  The fact that one is caught in a wind storm and the other is not, is not the result of blind fate or pure chance or circumstance, but nor is it due to what they were thinking about while eating breakfast.  When we attempt to measure our progress by the yardstick of daily events, I daresay all of us are doomed to come up against a really, really tall speedbump at some point.  They call those walls.

The first difficulty is that many of us retain our right to perceive ourselves as separate beings, separate from one another and separate from the whole, and thus separate from the Truth, or what is, and we try on those terms to implement the whole “bringing into being” proposition by being real peace-loving, straight-thinking separate beings.  Since we can never control or influence what is outside of us, separate beings can never really exert much influence over anything.  To be separate is to be isolated from the only power there really is, which is our unity, or Truth, or Love, or whatever you wish to call that which is precisely and fully what it is regardless of what we choose to label it.

The reason I say all of this is that sometimes we get caught in the wind storm, and we think there must be something for us to take a look at.  Something within ourselves to fix or figure out.  We must have thought the wrong things at breakfast, or when we had that argument, or when we were a child, or whenever.  Other times we are not caught in the wind storm and we think we’re on track.  We may even think we’re thinking the right things, the good things.  We’ll think these two states are different, and what I think I’m beginning to see is that they’re not.

A being who has latched onto a thought out of accord with the Truth can have a good day, or a bad day.  Days lived in separation are but the passage of time, however.  Winning the Super Bowl and spending your first night in a homeless shelter are, at some level, the same.  The beings measuring their progress by the yardstick of daily events might view these two days as radically different.  Christ views them as identical.  Being in the wind storm or not being in the wind storm is not the issue.  Joining as one with the wind storm is our challenge, and joining with each one who is in the storm, and with each one who is not.  This is a tough pill to swallow, but it is starting to make some sense to me.  I am reminded that Jesus says in A Course of Love that he doesn’t really think like we do.  He’s not trying to focus His mind on having good days.  He’s not trying to think the right thoughts to produce more of something He is lacking.  He’s not interpreting any events or conditions as meaning He’s got some work to do on Himself.  He said in A Course of Love that basically His thinking is like a process of discovery, of receiving, of encountering joyous surprises.

Our world could be such a world.  In unity.  In unity, I daresay the wind would no longer lie outside of us, and thus a type of harmony seldom glimpsed or understood would reign.  If we experienced unity with the wind, we still wouldn’t control it.  We wouldn’t turn it off or on at our whim.  We wouldn’t measure our progress by what it did or didn’t do.  We would simply want the same things as the wind.  There would be things that we, and the wind, wanted to become together, and we would live in a never-ending process of discovering and becoming those things.  I don’t think it is more complex than that, but I don’t know how to get from here to there.  If I lived in the Phillipines I would have been blown around like everyone else.  I think if I had gone into the reactor at Fukushima I would have gotten sick, too.  This frightens us, and makes us want to be special so we can protect ourselves- so we can be in the right place at the right time through our correct thinking, but this very desire isolates us from transcending the game of separateness and all of its attending fragility, fate, chance, and distorted powers.

In A Course of Love Jesus encourages us to develop a relationship with the unknown.  That way it can speak to us.  I think He is onto something.  Do you see what I mean?

10 Comments

  1. tracey says

    Michael…. Brilliant. Utter brilliance and yes, I do believe you’re on to something. To “develop a relationship with the unknown” is oft said in The Course of Love– and it’s comforting. Your words are comforting. Conversely, to think that I have to feel correctly… think correctly…. in order to “control” my surroundings makes me tired. Makes me want to sit on my couch and say “Uncle.”

    My ego, however, has a question (I’ll blame it on my ego so I can save face…. see, control!): and that is: to develop a relationship with the unknown….I know that I will find a way to do that incorrectly. Or so says my ego… any tips on that? Or since it’s unknown, we *can’t* do it “incorrectly” because we’ve never done it?

    And round and round I go, chasing my tail. Not sure if this makes sense, I’m typing and thinking at the same time, always a dangerous combination.

    Thank you for your words,

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    • Tracey, what comes to mind reading your comment is this thought: just look at where you are and ask yourself if you have not already moved into something that previously did not even exist in your world. It has already happened. It is only the fact that we carry ourselves along with us wherever we go that the sensation of the familiar is always available to overshadow the unknown. But I daresay we all have things in our lives that previously weren’t even in the realm of possibility at some point previously, relationships we may at an earlier time never even imagined- and if shown them at the time, that we might never have fathomed why or how such a relationship would ever come into our experience! Yet here they are. Here we are. And still, having brought ourselves with us, despite having arrived at this juncture we never knew was possible, we find it to be mundane and ordinary, because we cannot understand how we could just be who we are, and be somewhere altogether new. If we feel the same, how could we be immersed in the new?

      So I think the unknown is all around us, and Jesus is simply asking us to be in relationship with it. This I think implies an acknowledgment of its reality. There is something unknown, but it is very much real, and even though it is not known to me now, I make space for it. I set a place at the table for it to join me at a meal. I trust I am engaged with it. What does it mean to be in relationship? To come to know. I think that is at least part of it. So, to be in relationship with the unknown is to come to know it. This maybe… never ends. We are given the way to live in a state of coming to know. I think maybe this is what Jesus meant when He said he doesn’t really think the same way that we do. He understands what is next will be given, and then re-given.

      I don’t think this can be done incorrectly. As I said, we are already in some way doing it I think. What is missing perhaps, is our acknowledgment or acceptance of it as being a very real part of our experience of being.

      Michael

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  2. Oh very much so, I do see what you mean! So many things bubble up to the surface of me when reading your exploration here – I share a few – but in the end, where you leave off, is a place of … um, words fail me here, the place of equanimity for all that is. I recently was looking at some medieval forms of theatre for class, and came across the Theatre of Grotesque. I was fascinated to learn how many of the performers were disabled in the old pageant shows that went from town to town. These souls had been banished from their villages for these challenges and deformities because such human conditions were associated with “sins”. Sometimes now I feel an undercurrent of judgement in the line of some of the ways people perceive their power to manifest abundance in contrast to the suffering of misfortune. Such paradox! When the experience is just experienced, who is defining what is good and bad, and through a higher lens the windfall and the misfortune are the same. Simplistically, some of the most stressful times in my life, exteriorly looked amazing, and such joy has flowed through me in seeming tragedy – anecdotal, I know! So grateful for the way you share your insights, process, epiphanies along the way! I sit on the fence of this paradox currently, attracting such beauty into my days, and also just BEing – with the flow of whatever may come.

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    • Marga, I understand what you mean about the way that undercurrent of judgment can pop up in the sense that some may feel they’ve “got it” and others just aren’t paying attention, or are at fault for their particular (and temporary) condition. I have a tendency to use this particular line of thought against myself at times, and against others. It can be a real trap. And it is a paradox, to be sure, because I also would be very unwilling to endorse the notion that we are powerless. So I can totally relate to being on the fence.

      I just so instinctively come at this stuff from the level of the “problem” sometimes. Can we participate in change, and alleviate difficulties? I think we can. But I don’t think it boils down to getting something for ourselves alone. I think somehow there is an acceptance of our unity that unlocks difficulties and aids in their melting away, a relinquishment of the notion that we can use will power, effort, focus and positivity alone to make all this happen… The paradox is accepting what is given, but not being given suffering, right!? I keep reminding myself that suffering and separation are dance partners. Fullness, wholeness, joy… these are the experience of unity.

      We have these lives. These bodies. These personalities. What does unity mean in the context of a physical reality where I feel the pain of my own broken limbs, of my own broken heart- but not of everyone else, at least not in the same way or immediacy? I am feeling of late that unity arises in our recognition of one another, and in an experience of being unified internally. We learn to see, in one another, a rendition of our self. Not identical. Unique. But uniquely who we are. A being of the same, singular material as all reality. I am wondering of late: is this recognition the path home to our power?

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      • Right after reading your words here, I ran across a poem that seemed to reflect so many things that were swirling about in your words and my “thoughts” that when I finished the last line, I fell profoundly silent. I never know if this mirroring is just for me and sharing is like trying to tell someone about a dream – un-relatable – but in the effort of sharing, perhaps we get to that deep recognition of one another – unification internally. I am going to link to youtube video of the poem, just in case you see a connection too – of rightness and wrongness, of the immensity of all outside of these personal dimensions that are constantly surrounding us – the frozen river – Sitting together and considering.

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        • I really enjoyed that link. I need to make some more room in my life for William Stafford it would appear! I think that is the second piece of his you have sent me, and they have both left me with that profound silence you describe.

          As far as knowing whether something is for just us alone, or meant to be shared, I don’t know. I really like the question though! I like your summary, too- we achieve this recognition, this unity internally. It isn’t something we specifically set aside time to go do, like cooking, eating, or driving to an event of some sort. It just arises, and I would say that as I write I think it is meant for more than just ourselves- it is an encounter with our shared self.

          Jesus talks about this in a section of the Dialogues on A Course of Love I was reading last night, actually. This whole conversation is very “present”, as if this internal dialogue is unfolding in my life in multiple places at once. He talks about receiving something we know, with certainty, but find difficult to share even though we have a strong desire to do so. He says we may not be able to share these revelations except through our sharing of who we are, and who we know others to be. He says in this way, we discover we are not alone- others are having the self-same experience. Unity, although seeming discovered in isolation (at first) is always learned together. At first I tried to make this concept so abstract that I tried to picture myself sharing discoveries with everyone everywhere, but this was difficult to hold or understand, but now I think I realize, he is talking about exactly what is happening here…

          Some recognition arises, through sharing of ourselves and coming to know others, and we discover in places that we each understand something taking place within us, that is nearly impossible to share, yet somehow is understood. And we know, we did not have to explain this to one another… We are one and yet the lives we have understood to be “our own” are unique, diverse expressions of this silent Truth…

          Michael

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  3. I love your idea of being in unity with the wind. In the past, I would have said we have to ride the wind but I love this picture even more. To be in unity with the wind requires us to be in the present moment. Terrible things can happen to anyone. Spirituality is revealed by how we respond to our tragedies and sufferings in life.

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    • Thanks, Teresa. I really like your thought about the manner in which we respond to the events of our lives being a revelatory act. Maybe it could even be a creative act? In A Course of Love Jesus talks a number of times about the importance of our “responding to Love”. Response is a really interesting concept to me, especially in this concept of responding to Love, because it implies relationship. Relationship with the wind would mean the wind and ourselves respond to one another. Really wonderful to think about!

      Michael

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  4. This post immediately made me think about measuring sticks of “success” here on this planet. Ultimately I feel there is only one universally applied to us all, but the measurements it can take are highly personal and only give the accurate height and dimensions when set to show growth and size with and within ourselves. The exact same story beginning, arc and ending, but unique details that fill out each of our blurbs.

    Horrible things happen here on this planet.
    OR do they?
    Is it only our thinking assigning meaning about what has happened as horrible that makes it so? I remember once reading a story about the bombing of London during WWII.
    Horrible, right?
    Well, not if you were the two meant to be together star crossed lovers who found that when the air raid sirens were going off and when bombs were falling was the only time they could physically be together. Bombs looked forward to as sounds supporting true love and music to the ears? Anything is possible when we allow what is to just BE what it is.

    The unknown. hmmmm a deeeeeep one
    How complex is it to think about knowing what it is we do not yet know that we do not know? For me, this started to make a bit more sense when the unknown was more about the concept of remembering as it is attached to the activity of letting go of what I think I know to make more room (and to free up bandwidth in wonderment) for the not knowing leading me in a dance into the newly known that I always, all ways knew. Ya know?

    ARABIAN PROVERB:

    He who knows not and knows not that he knows not, He is a fool – shun him
    He who knows not and knows he knows not, He is simple – teach him;
    He who knows and knows not he knows, He is asleep – wake him;
    He who knows and knows he knows, He is wise; follow him.

    –Unknown
    (honestly the actual author as it is listed when searched for!!!)

    And just who is each he? I think at the end of the day it is always me. I always, all ways know what I need to know when I need to know it.

    “Behold I stand at the door and knock….” Just where was that handle found to open the door to the unknown knocking on the otherside again?!


    (I hope that links to the right picture in the right place)

    Oh yes, I do seem to remember something very important about free agency and free will powering this level of knowing, too! (lol)

    —–
    There have been these incredible gale force winds here where I am now living…so strong one day last week that they rattled my big heavy wooden front door. Well, I dutifully had given out my new address for this front door to all requesting official parties who required it and THEN I went for a walk around the neighborhood to find the area that our mailboxes were installed and grouped together at.
    Only I did not find them.
    Turns out boxes regularly blow over and blow open here so almost everyone uses a PO address. (Looks like I have some new forwarding work to do now that I too am attached to a new box instead!)

    Love your contemplations hung upon the shifting breezes of awareness. Fun to watch where the mind is then free to be blown by the love felt at the heart of the words and the door handles that appear to help the unknown in.

    -x.M

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    • Thanks, M. I love the images and thoughts that arise in response. This one in particular struck me, “For me, this started to make a bit more sense when the unknown was more about the concept of remembering as it is attached to the activity of letting go of what I think I know to make more room (and to free up bandwidth in wonderment) for the not knowing leading me in a dance into the newly known that I always, all ways knew. Ya know?”

      It’s really interesting. In ACOL Jesus talks about never stagnating, never reaching a state that is “it”. He talks about being in a relationship with the unknown, of perpetually “becoming” by receiving the gifts from the unknown and of that as our natural and most powerful way of being. I think you describe it beautifully here. To be in relationship with it, we have to make room for it, and let it appear and lead us through a new dance. I’m just starting to learn how to feel the beat… 🙂 There’s hope! Ha!

      Michael

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