ACIM Lesson 4 These thoughts do not mean anything. They are like the things I see in this room [on this street, from this window, in this place].
These thoughts do not mean anything. They are like the things I see in this room [on this street, from this window, in this place].
1. Unlike the preceding ones, these exercises do not begin with the idea for the day. ²In these practice periods, begin with noting the thoughts that are crossing your mind for about a minute. ³Then apply the idea to them. ⁴If you are already aware of unhappy thoughts, use them as subjects for the idea. ⁵Do not, however, select only the thoughts you think are “bad.” ⁶You will find, if you train yourself to look at your thoughts, that they represent such a mixture that, in a sense, none of them can be called “good” or “bad.” ⁷This is why they do not mean anything.
These instructions are very simple. Notice your thoughts. Notice that you think of them as good or bad. And if you are like me when I first started doing these lessons, you didn’t mind using the bad ones. On the other hand, using the good ones felt different. I thought it was because it seemed like a waste of time. It seemed obvious to me that I needed to clear out the bad ones, so why waste time on the good ones.
I have come to understand, though, that I didn’t really want to think of my good thoughts as meaningless. On some level I was not yet willing to examine, I equated my thoughts with me. The truth was, I didn’t want to think of myself as meaningless. I did this lesson anyway. I have since discovered that the “me” I was defending wasn’t really me. But that is a discussion for another day.
Not Good, Not Bad, Just Meaningless
2. In selecting the subjects for the application of today’s idea, the usual specificity is required. ²Do not be afraid to use “good” thoughts as well as “bad.” ³None of them represents your real thoughts, which are being covered up by them. ⁴The “good” ones are but shadows of what lies beyond, and shadows make sight difficult. ⁵The “bad” ones are blocks to sight, and make seeing impossible. ⁶You do not want either.
None of the chatter in my mind is my real thoughts. I do have real thoughts; these are the thoughts I think with God. And why could I not find my real thoughts? I was unaware of my real thoughts because my entire awareness was focused on the senseless chatter that seemed to never cease. Even the thoughts I felt were good thoughts were shadows that hid my real thoughts. Good or bad, neither is valuable because both are meaningless.
A Major Exercise
3. This is a major exercise, and will be repeated from time to time in somewhat different form. ²The aim here is to train you in the first steps toward the goal of separating the meaningless from the meaningful. ³It is a first attempt in the long-range purpose of learning to see the meaningless as outside you, and the meaningful within. ⁴It is also the beginning of training your mind to recognize what is the same and what is different.
I have learned to sit up and listen carefully when Jesus indicates that what he is telling us is especially important. Here he says that this is a major exercise. This is where we begin to learn to tell the difference between what is meaningful and what is meaningless. We really don’t know and maybe that seems unlikely to you, but it is true. How wonderful that it will not remain true. In doing these lessons understanding will come.
³It is a first attempt in the long-range purpose of learning to see the meaningless as outside you, and the meaningful within. This seems like an odd sentence. What it means is that everything outside, that is everything seen through the body’s eyes, is meaningless. Everything within is meaningful. Not within the body of course, since the body is something seen, but within where our true thoughts abide.
We will learn what is the same and what is different. The Holy Spirits’ thoughts are what is real. Everything else is different. You would think that it would be easy to tell the difference, but you might be surprised. It took me some time to get really clear on that because I had an agenda. I wanted my separate individual self to be real and important so that goal got in the way.
Practice Like This
4. In using your thoughts for application of the idea for today, identify each thought by the central figure or event it contains; for example:
²This thought about _________ does not mean anything.
³It is like the things I see in this room [on this street, and so on].
I overindulged during the holidays and now I am returning to a healthier way of eating. I notice a lot of thoughts about what to eat and when and how much.
These thoughts about food do not mean anything. They are like the things I see in this room.
I notice a resistance to this idea. After all, it does seem to matter what I eat so I should be thinking about this. How could these thoughts not mean anything, Holy Spirit?
A Conversation with the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit: The body is outside you and therefore meaningless. The body will be fed and you must choose what to feed it, that’s true. If you use your thinking mind to make decisions it will remain meaningless. If you choose me as your Guide in all things, the feeding of the body will take on meaning. The body used by the ego is meaningless. The body in use to Me has meaning. That is how we sort the meaningless from the meaningful.
I see, so my thought that I won’t seem to have time to do the lessons in this way with my new schedule does not mean anything. It is meaningless if I see all of this as outside me. A schedule I can’t seem to change, lessons requiring more time than I have if done right. But if I give that thought to You, I will see this differently and it will have meaning.
Holy Spirit: Yes, that’s right. Your thought of not having enough time is meaningless because your thoughts about this are focused on a world that does not actually exist. As well, the focus is on time and that does not exist either. Again, this action must be taken and the plans must be made. When you turn this over to Me you become my extension, My hands and My Voice. Now it is meaningful and you can trust Me to guide you and to arrange time for you.
5. You can also use the idea for a particular thought that you recognize as harmful. ²This practice is useful, but is not a substitute for the more random procedures to be followed for the exercises. ³Do not, however, examine your mind for more than a minute or so. ⁴You are too inexperienced as yet to avoid a tendency to become pointlessly preoccupied.
6. Further, since these exercises are the first of their kind, you may find the suspension of judgment in connection with thoughts particularly difficult. ²Do not repeat these exercises more than three or four times during the day. ³We will return to them later.
I’ve been doing these lessons for a long time now and I welcome them, but I do remember when they felt hard and confusing. Eventually, I began to recognize this as resistance and I was able to accept correction. Each year when I contemplate the lessons, I gain additional clarity. I had not used this lesson in the way the Holy Spirit clarified it for me this time, so I’m happy I took the time to ask Him for help. I continue to re-visit the lessons because each year they are new to me and more is discovered. It’s very exciting!
To enjoy the Pathways of Light Insights on ACIM Lesson 4 click here.
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