I am upset because I see something that is not there.
The exercises with this idea are very similar to the preceding ones. Again, it is necessary to name both the form of upset (anger, fear, worry, depression and so on) and the perceived source very specifically for any application of the idea. For example:
I am angry at ____ because I see something that is not there.
I am worried about ____ because I see something that is not there.
Today’s idea is useful for application to anything that seems to upset you, and can profitably be used throughout the day for that purpose. However, the three or four practice periods which are required should be preceded by a minute or so of mind searching, as before, and the application of the idea to each upsetting thought uncovered in the search.
Again, if you resist applying the idea to some upsetting thoughts more than to others, remind yourself of the two cautions stated in the previous lesson:
There are no small upsets. They are all equally disturbing to my peace of mind.
I cannot keep this form of upset and let the others go. For the purposes of these exercises, then, I will regard them all as the same.
Jesus is taking this a step at a time. We begin by looking around at what we see with our eyes and accepting that nothing we see means anything. If we think it does mean something it is only because we gave it the meaning it has for us. We each choose the meaning of what we see based on past learning which is often, if not always, misleading. Just these two ideas are enough to convince me that something is very wrong with the way I see the world.
It also points to why everything is so unstable and why the world so often provokes anxiety. What can be depended upon if nothing is enduring and how can we know how to respond if “reality” shifts with each person’s perspective. It will do no good to look for that one person who is going to straighten it all out for us so that we have something concrete, something that doesn’t shift meaning, because no one understands anything they see.
Then he leads us to understand that this applies to our thoughts as well. They do not mean anything either, which can be both a relief and fearful, a relief because our thoughts are so crazy and confused it’s nice to know they don’t mean anything, and fearful because we have always depended on our thoughts to explain the world to us. We will not be left in our confusion. But here he does introduce a new and important idea; what we see is connected with what we think. This is the beginning of the way out.
The next idea we are given is that we are never upset for the reason we think. This is an undoing, a letting go and emptying out exercise, designed to make room for something else. Today’s idea, that I see something that is not there, is what we were making room for. In his own gentle way, the Holy Spirit is asking us to take it easy, to let this build slowly. Today just let the mind adjust to the idea that everything is about to change.
The implication is not lost on me though. I see something that is not there. If what I see is connected to what I think as implied in the first lessons, then I must see something that is not there because my thinking is off kilter. For today, though, I will rest with the idea that I do see something that is not there. Isn’t that enough of a shock?
It certainly was startling, even disquieting, when I first began to do these lessons, I can assure you. In fact, at first, I didn’t really believe it. Not really. I was accustomed to thinking that the body’s eyes can actually see and that if they see it, it must be real, and it is real only if they see it. It felt like Jesus was asking me to throw reality out the window and as weird as that seems, I knew that I must do so.
My doubt didn’t stop me because I kept doing the lessons. That is all that is asked of us at this point. It seemed to me that Jesus was telling me that I am not upset by what is there, but that I am upset by what I think I see there. If my eyes are not showing me what is actually there, does that mean I must learn a new way to see?