Workbook Lesson 9, I see nothing as it is now
The three most recent workbook lessons are “I see only the past,” “My mind is preoccupied by past thoughts,” and today’s lesson, “I see nothing as it is now.” The first three chapters of NTI Romans give some context for these workbook lessons.
According to NTI Romans, Chapter 2, judgment, which means decision, is the tool we use to create experience. This statement does not need to be taken on faith. This statement can be directly explored by watching our minds and experiences very carefully and noticing the relationship between them.
If I decide I don’t like someone’s attitude, what experience do I have?
If I decide that I have been rude and thoughtless, what experience do I have?
If I decide it should be as hot/cold as it is outside today, what experience do I have?
If I decide I should not have eaten that piece of cake, what experience do I have?
If I decide to let all things be as they are, what experience do I have?
If I decide to focus on the consciousness in myself and every person I meet, what experience do I have?
It takes very little looking to see there is a direct relationship between judgment/decision and experience.
This teaching is also a review of last week’s reading assignment in NTI Luke Chapters 12, 16 & 17. That reading said that everything is given meaning by the thinker. We make an unevaluated judgment about something, and then that is the meaning it has for us. As Romans goes on to add, we then experience the effects of the unevaluated judgment we have made. This is a very simple summary of how we go about creating our experience, through one unevaluated judgment after another. NTI Luke also tells us that we then take an unevaluated judgment and reapply it when a similar set of circumstances arises. Or as the Course workbook says, “I see only the past.”
If we look, this process can be seen as true even if we adhere to the idea that the world is real and I am a person. Even in a ‘very real world’ as a ‘person’ at least the vast majority of my experience comes from my own decisions. However, both NTI Luke and NTI Romans take this further.
NTI Luke says that we experience separation because we decided things are separate from one another. We decided not to see them as whole. NTI Romans goes even further. In NTI Romans there is only one essence, which we might call ‘God.’ Within this essence, a creative question arose and was seen as having value.
There’s nothing wrong with that. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a creative God. What a wonderful step in the natural growth or evolution of all-that-is!
But according to NTI Romans, something went wrong when two ideas arose in this creative mind. One idea was to notice that everything created is still the essence of God, since the essence of God is all-that-is. This option would have allowed creative play alongside remembrance of truth. The other option was the idea that something major had just changed. The essence that was ceased to be and something else had come into existence. According to NTI Romans, the ‘caster of attention’ cast its attention on this second idea, decided this option was true, and truth was forgotten as attention began a very deep journey into fantasy.
Is this true? As I sit here as an apparent 56-year old woman in my living room typing on a computer keyboard, can I look and see if there is some truth to this story?
I can see this much. It is true that I make decisions by casting attention. Thoughts come into the mind. I do not actually ‘think’ them. They appear. Some of them seem to capture my interest, and I cast attention on them. Typically, casting attention is followed by a value judgment or decision. The first value judgment or decision is simply, “This idea is meaningful.” From there, attention goes more deeply into the idea and makes additional judgments like this is good or bad, I like it or don’t like it, I can allow it or I need to change it, etc. Regardless of what those follow on decisions are, they lead deeper into the game of that thought and that thought becomes a ‘real’ part of my ‘world.’
This is the exact process that NTI Romans just described, and I can see that this process plays out over and over again with my mind.
NTI Luke talks about “unevaluated judgments.”
NTI Romans refers to “judgment without basis.”
I feel like just looking at those to statements, contemplatively casting my attention there for a few moments.
The Commentary on Mind from The Teachings of Inner Ramana says that mind cannot be ignored entirely because it is the tool of perception. NTI Romans agrees with this if we see mind, judgment and decision as synonymous. Without mind, perception would not be. Mind (judgment, decision) is a tool that allows God to be creative. Again, there is nothing wrong with that. The problem comes from unevaluated judgments and judgment without basis. The problem comes from being on auto-pilot instead of being a conscious creator (caster of attention & decision maker).
“I see only the past.”
“My mind is preoccupied by past thoughts.”
“I see nothing as it is now.”
Everything I see comes from unevaluated judgments I have made topped off with reapplying that same unevaluated meaning when similar circumstances arise. That is judgment without basis, the cause of delusion.
“… all you need do is unweave your way out of fantasy. You reverse the ‘laws’ that made it by ceasing to play the game.”
Rest, accept/allow and trust. Let go of judgment without basis.
Workbook Lesson 10, My thoughts do not mean anything
NTI Romans, Chapter 4 says, “Existence is Love, and Love is existence.” I don’t feel this is something to think about. Thinking can argue against this fact and keep us blind to its truth. I think this is something that is discovered through practices like awareness-watching-awareness and the loving consciousness methods of meditation. However, I see this as a fact. Existence (or being) and love are absolutely synonymous.
According to the online Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, existence is “reality opposed to appearance.”
The thinking mind may argue that existence is not love. It may argue that existence is hell. That is certainly the experience for some individuals, but that is because they are focused on appearance, not reality, especially the appearance of thought.
The energy of thought is not existence. It is appearance. The online Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines appearance as an “external show.”
The early workbook lessons are helping us discover that our thoughts are an external show. For example, today’s workbook lesson (10) says, “you might imagine that you are watching an oddly assorted procession going by, which has little if any personal meaning for you.”
The problem is that attention has become so engrossed in the external show that it does not know the difference between what it is and the show it watches. But there is a difference between the essence of attention and the show it watches. Being unaware of this difference is delusion. Discovering this difference is freedom.
Workbook Lesson 11, My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world
Jesus was my first model of spiritual perfection. Of course, that is common for someone raised in the western world. Had I been raised elsewhere it might have been Buddha, Krishna, Elijah or Muhammad, for example. It doesn’t really matter what symbol represents spiritual perfection. The point of NTI Romans, Chapter 6 is that the idea of spiritual perfection exists in my mind because spiritual perfection is within me.
If we were to get very specific, we would say, “I am spiritual perfection.” That is the truth. However, most spiritual students see spiritual perfection as a goal, so although NTI Romans does say, “This is your truth,” it also points within as the direction to go to realize spiritual perfection.
Because Jesus was my first model of spiritual perfection, and because NTI is based on the New Testament, Jesus is used as the symbol of spiritual perfection in NTI. We are told that Jesus (spiritual perfection) is in us. We are told that we are Jesus (spiritual perfection). We are also told that Jesus represents our true desire (spiritual perfection). NTI Romans, Chapter 6 says:
“…the model that rises to the top of your mind is the symbol of the man called Jesus. This is because Jesus represents your true desire. Jesus is the freedom you want to be. Everything else that floats within the universe of the mind is from a past desire and is not your current desire now.”
Our recent Course lessons have told us “I see only the past” and “My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.” As we did the mind searching the workbook exercises required, we may have been able to see that we were thinking about circumstances from our past. However, we might have also seen ideas about the future.
NTI Romans explains how all of our thoughts are from the past. All of our thoughts, whether they are from memory or imagination, are the echo of the desire to experience something other than truth (NTI Romans 2). That is a past desire.
When we cast attention on thoughts about the world as if it is real and about ‘me’ as if I am this person, we give attention to a past desire to experience ourselves as something other than our truth. More than that, we give attention to a past desire to believe ourselves to be something other than our truth.
That is a past desire, not our current desire. Our current desire is to realize truth.
When we look at the world, we look through the filter of our mind. (NTI Luke)
Our mind is preoccupied with the past. (ACIM Workbook)
The past is meaningless to us now, because it isn’t our current desire or purpose. It has no value for us. Yet, we continue to give those thoughts value. Therefore, our meaningless thoughts are showing us a meaningless world, a world of untruth when we seek truth.
NTI Romans 6 says, “You may let the past go. You need not keep anything you do not want. Focus your eyes on Jesus (your true desire) and know the love in your own Heart.
In order to let go of the meaningless thoughts that show us a meaningless world, we need to remember what we want now. That is the key. Remembering what we want now will help us transcend the habit (reprogram the brain) of casting attention on stories that represent a past desire, a desire that is meaningless to us now.
Workbook Lesson 13, A meaningless world engenders fear
Today’s lesson shares an idea that is really important for anyone who wants to awaken beyond the ego point-of-view.
“The ego rushes in frantically to establish its own ideas … fearful that the void may otherwise be used to demonstrate its own impotence and unreality. And on this alone it is correct. It is essential, therefore, that you learn to recognize the meaningless, and accept it without fear.”
This also tells us how we “unweave” our way out of fantasy. (Reference NTI Romans, Chapter 3.)
Politics, relationships, spiritual discussions and more present us with wonderful opportunities to see the opinions and beliefs we want to cling to and defend. If we pay close attention we can feel the energy arise within that “I must make this point,” “prove that I am right” or get the other one to “see it my way.” This energy is the ego rushing in frantically to establish its own ideas so that it remains potent, seeming real and ‘me.’
If we want to unweave our way out of fantasy, it is “essential, therefore, that you learn to recognize the meaningless, and accept it without fear.” In other words, feel that energy rushing forth inside of us and do nothing to satisfy it. Hold back on our opinion. Do not try to prove we are right. Let the other have their point of view. Etc.
Feel the ego squirm. Rest, accept and trust. Let it squirm. Do nothing. The threads are pulled out of the ego tapestry as we become comfortable with not placing meaning on everything we perceive.
Note: One fun exercise today might be to write down the things that seem important to you, the things you’ve noticed yourself feeling fired up about recently, and then look at the list you have written and say to yourself, “I am looking at a meaningless world. A meaningless world engenders fear because I think I am in competition with God.” This may help you to rest, accept and trust instead of rushing forth with opinions and defense in those same or similar circumstances in the future.
Workbook Lesson 14, God did not create a meaningless world
Some important comments about Workbook Lesson 14:
When one does this workbook lesson, it is helpful to do it with the attitude of wanting to uncover false beliefs and see through them to truth/reality.
There is another attitude that is not helpful to healing. It is an attitude that comes from fear. It is an attitude of denial and repression. It is the attitude that avoids looking too hard and denies feeling/experience to the best of its ability. It is the attitude that has become cliché regarding the ACIM or non-duality student: A person’s family member dies and the ACIM/non-dual student says, “He/she was just an illusion anyway.”
That sick form of denial is not what we are after with this workbook lesson. We seek truth by seeing through illusion.
Here are a couple of tips that might help you practice today’s workbook lesson with a healing attitude.
NTI Romans 2 says that we made the building block of “judgment, or decision, and this became a new creative force. It allowed for experience without creation.” If we equate the word “creation” in this sentence with truth or reality, experience is something different from truth. However, experience is experienced. If you don’t believe me, pinch yourself or slap yourself in the face. You felt it. Right? It was experienced.
When doing workbook lesson 14, you aren’t denying that the ‘horrors’ are experienced, because they are. You are simply denying that they are truth or reality. This is necessary, because in order to see what is real, first you must remove your belief that the horrors are reality.
Here’s another way to look at it: NTI Romans 2 says that the illusion began with a curiosity. Well, we are going to use that same tool, curiosity, to help unweave our way out of illusion. The curiosity we are using is “What is reality?” or “What is truth?”
When you say, “God did not create that war, and so it is not real,” realize war is experienced, but experience is not reality. Something else is reality. Have the willingness to see right through suffering to truth. Have the curiosity, “What is real?” Let that curiosity grow in you so that it becomes a motivating force within you.
In short, do not deny that experience is experienced, but be intensely curious to see and know truth.