Our pain is bound up in our memories. We don’t see what’s in front of us, we just see strange reenactments of our past. It’s not really our past even, just the things we concluded from our past. Our conclusions travel with us wherever we go. This is what Jesus calls learning. It’s our loyalty to all the stuff we made up. We keep these little statues woven to the inside of our coats to remind us. We place them under the bed and deep in the closet corners. Up on the shelf, behind the pots and pans, there’s a memory we put there. They’re everywhere.
We think we hid them away, not realizing they’re all in plain sight for those who can see. Plain sight is all there truly is.
Partly we don’t understand the power that we are. We don’t understand the implications of locking something away inside. We think it’s a dark and silent space in which we chose to hide things away, an empty place no one could find. But we only have one type of room in us, and it’s a projector room. Everything we’ve ever learned—everything we’ve ever hidden away—swims past in the world around us, in symbol form, over and over and over again.
The remedy of course is brightly colored dreams of the future. We write them constantly and throw them down the well. Up ahead somewhere, the brilliance that awaits us will neutralize the misunderstandings that haunt us. Then we’ll be free. We have projector rooms beside and inside of projector rooms, and so we play our future over our past. We neutralize one with the other. We’re experts at noise cancellation. It’s a shouting match to produce silence, a game of tuning the colors just right, but still… The picture is all mixed up. Our smiles are sometimes strained. Our trust is something we give or withhold depending on what we see.
Or perhaps we’re tired of authoring pretty pictures, of painting things over with the ideas we like, and tuning lamps and sampling colors. It’s a lot of work, and we’ve grown tired. Perhaps our conclusions are all that remain, all that we see. We sink into them, and everything becomes a vote of confidence for what we have learned. The evidence is conclusive. It’s everywhere. It’s obvious.
But it’s a dream… If only we could trust that for the merest instant…
We forget everything we know or carry is connected directly to the stars, to the sea, to the warp of space. The projection room is unbelievable. The depth and subtlety arising from the seeds we carry inside is astonishing. It’s so beguiling we can hardly trace the thread of cause and effect. Most of us conclude it’s not even there… What I see has nothing to do with me. It is objective, independent, and hardly so sentimental in its workings. It’s vast and elusive.
Then the moon rises, the light shifts, and the future we were writing on top of our past fades a little. A tear forms in the corner of the eye. The past shines through the future, in the present. Everything is tarnished. Rosy cheeks are replaced with skeletons. We buckle. Because the light shifted. Because a cloud drifted across the sun, or we passed into the sodium glow of a street lamp. The construct we fabricated to give us hope has disappeared.
We’re all quite convinced of ourselves, of our learning, of the symbols that dash across our lives. Who would we be without them? That’s the scariest question of all, the one we all must ask.
My favorite de-constructionist spiritual texts suggest that with healing comes the end of time. Some have interpreted this to mean the end of stars and seas, the end of tree and stone, the end of winged-flight and furry hibernation. A return to nothing but unified light. So people dream of a time of uninterrupted bliss, and no light bulbs to change, or groceries to grow or buy. I think such a return is certainly possible in an ultimate cosmic sense, but I also think maybe the end of time just means the end of our efforts to cancel the past with our future. Maybe it just means we call our own bluff. We see the pain is our own idea come back to haunt us. We collect our statues and hidden memories and place them into the fire.
We make our way bit by bit. If I hadn’t felt some pain of late, for reasons neither here nor there, I wouldn’t have written this. I wouldn’t have walked on the beach with Jesus for a little while, outside of time, in this gentle light, and let a few memories dissolve completely. There is a quote from A Course in Miracles that I found recently that speaks to this I think… I will rest there for now…
“And when the memory of God has come to you in the holy place of forgiveness you will remember nothing else, and memory will be as useless as learning, for your only purpose will be creating.” (T-18.IX.14)