As we are on this path of “Miracles”, we must remember not to overthink our journey. Jesus has laid out the parameters in our guidebook of A Course in Miracles. However, most students become entangled in intellectual gymnastics that actually slow our progress to a crawl.
In my over two and a half decades of studying and teaching the Course, there are patterns that are apparent in students. There are students who approach the Course from a high cerebral level. Their focus is knowledge and enlists in the approach that served them in higher learning. This does not serve the spiritual path. The Course is to be studied. However, the study is only one aspect of learning. When students focus only on dissecting, ruminating and memorizing its concepts, they have abandoned the heart of its learning.
The heart of learning the Course is in a simple sentence appears in the Text, Chapter 11 – This is not a course in the play of ideas, but in their practical application. Jesus instructs further in the next sentence – Nothing could be more specific than to be told that if you ask you will receive. When we approach the material from the brain, we are only training the brain; we are not awakening. It is a fool’s game to believe that turning the material upside down and sideways in one’s mind is going to achieve the goal. The only goal that is achieved is formulating a spiritual ego.
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the founder of Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado called this formulation of the spiritual ego, spiritual materialism. It is the process by which the ego grasps at the accomplishments and progress of the self upon the spiritual path. As I said, a fool’s game. This act by its nature denies the Self.
When we think of “materialism” just in and of itself, it is not merely a focus on the external. It is an attachment. So too, when we attempt to put a label on the “experience” that we have as we study and practice A Course in Miracles. As soon as we place investment in our spiritual quest and cling to it with our brain, we have valued something that is valueless.
Overthinking is a distraction from our spiritual journey. Overthinking does not lead to insight. That is an illusion. Acting on the principles in A Course in Miracles via practical application is the only way one will realize clarity; copious amounts of thought will not.
Be comfortable with being incorrect or producing mistakes on the path. Your knowledge will be gained by the mistakes you make. By these missteps, you will cultivate inner freedom and peace as you respond with forgiveness. This is why you are to complete the Workbook for Students with one lesson a day, every day. There is a system to it that Jesus in his Divine Wisdom created. There is a logical reasoning to his choices each day. When we proceed to segue from his plan of action, then we are transfixed on perfection and not practice, the valueless and not the valuable., the distraction and not the truth. The essence and ideas of the Lessons are rehearsed again and again albeit in a different format and approach. Trust the process Jesus has arranged for us.
Realize that it is our own unwillingness that deviates and evades from the structure of practice. This seems odd when we tell ourselves we pour ourselves into the pages and take great effort in understanding. However, as stated earlier the pursuit of knowledge will not bring peace, love, joy, and freedom. It is the daily walk of Miracles that will do so.
Take responsibility. Be aware presently of your approach thus far. Ask yourself, “Have I been overthinking this?”
Take a snapshot of your life, “Am I truly feeling peaceful?”
“Is a quiet, serene mind a part of my life or am I constantly judging and wanting to confront situations immediately and head on?”
“Am I consistently distracted by life situations, the news, and the opinions of others?”
Be honest in the answering of these questions. This will tell you if you are practicing vs. intellectualizing. The Course is a path of peace. It is accomplished through forgiveness, and this is not just forgiveness of others. It is forgiveness of ourselves; it is forgiveness of the very thoughts that intrude upon our minds and cause us dis-ease.
The presence of God is within you and not to be found in countless pages of a book. His essence is not found in your brain but in your mind, the One Mind He created. The Love of His Nature is tucked within your heart. You have not felt these because your mind has been too chaotic in frivolous pursuits. Your mind has also been stagnant with the effort to be “right” vs. “happy” of course. Your mind is imbalanced because of the lack of the practical.
How can you resolve this? You resolve it by making a dedication to living your life through the spiritual teachings and not in spite of it.
You may think it quaint when I speak of practical application. Instead, I speak from experience. Many people marvel at all I can accomplish in a day, from the administration of MiraclesOne (all-volunteer ministry for ACIM), to working with my web design clients, to taking classes to hone my skills for my clients and myself, to teaching meditation classes, to practicing meditation for two sittings a day for a total of 75-90 minutes (varies), to reading science fiction novels, to enjoying television programs, to cleaning and taking care of my home, and on the list goes.
I do so because my mind is focused. I am not swayed by distracting thoughts. I have fine-tuned my skill through my spiritual practice and mindfulness and meditation. It is the practice of presencing that permits me to do so. I choose to keep my mind focused on what is real in the now moment. Others opinions about me are just that, their opinions. I do not have to shoulder that burden, nor any shadows of the past, nor anxious premonitions of the future. I am here, now. As Ram Dass said, “Be Here Now.”
It is really not a marvel; it is a miracle in the sense that Jesus has shared with us. A miracle is a shift in perception from fear to love. The outcome arrives because of the degree of determination one places on healing the mind. Don’t look to the book for this. Look to the Wisdom within you to assist you. Remember in Lesson 189 Jesus instructs, “Forget this world, forget this course, and come with wholly empty hands unto your God.”
Your A Course in Miracles book does not make it Heaven, you do.
As the Eagles sang, “Take it easy, take it easy. Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.” Now think about what I have shared, but don’t overthink it! Embrace it, and you will find the peace you have sought your entire life. It has blessed my life, and it will bless yours a thousand-fold.