A Course In Miracles Lesson 4
A Course In Miracles Lesson 4 states:
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).
Today’s lesson will not be conducted like the previous lessons. Today we will take one minute to observe the content of the thoughts that come to mind. Then, after about a minute, apply today’s idea to all those thoughts. Your thoughts may be comprised of unhappy thoughts. Use those thoughts as the subject for today’s idea. But also, if pleasant thoughts occur, be sure to also apply today’s idea to those as well. As we practiced in previous lessons, not choosing or discerning between objects we focused on, we also want to apply today’s lesson to any and all thoughts that arise, without selection.
Do not seek to choose thoughts you think are “bad” to apply the lesson to and not choose thoughts you like. You will find, if you train yourself to look at your thoughts, that they represent such a mixture of good and bad sensations, that none of them can be called good or bad. This mixed nature of good feeling and bad feeling thoughts indicates a condition in our minds to select and discern (i.e. to judge) which has become a compulsive habit and which is, in truth, not able to be fully informed of the entire situation in which the thoughts are occurring.
Today we will take note of how we experience our thoughts as either tense or relaxing, and we will also consider today’s lesson with all of our thoughts equally. None of our thoughts have any meaning. If we have felt stuck thinking about a certain issue, today’s lesson can be a big relief. That thought really does not mean what we think it means and we can put it down as empty and meaningless. We do not need to carry it.
In selecting the subjects for the application of today’s idea, be specific in identifying the thought and applying the lesson to it. Say, “This thought about ________ does not mean anything.” Do not be afraid to apply this idea to “good” thoughts as well as bad thoughts. None of these thoughts represent your real thoughts which are, in truth being covered up by the experience of “good” and “bad” thoughts.
The “good” thoughts are but shadows of what lies beyond them and the “bad” ones are interferences to clear thinking. We do not want either of these kinds of thoughts. We want to let go of this round and round nature of so-called “thinking” which is, in truth, not really thinking. A Course In Miracles Lesson 4 wants us to glimpse that thinking is not what we think it is. Thinking is more than looping the scenarios of our life situation. Real thinking is of an altogether different quality which we can meet once we recognize and gain a bit of space from the “good/bad” content that currently fills our attention. Today we will take the first step in that, and observe our thoughts, recognizing in each one that it does not have a hold on us. It does not have any meaning.
This is a major exercise, and it will be repeated from time to time in a somewhat different form. The aim here is to train you in the first steps towards the goal of separating the meaningless from the meaningful. Today’s lesson is a first attempt in the long-range purpose of learning to see the meaningless as outside of you and the meaningful within yourself. It is also the beginning of training your mind to recognize what is the same and what is different.
It may seem like your thoughts are within you and that objects in the room are outside of you. But actually, your environment and your thoughts are all together in an inseparable field of thinking. What is in your mind shapes what gathers around you physically. But currently, you believe that the things around you shape your thoughts. Both inner and outer are reflections of each other. My thoughts are like the things I see in this room. My thoughts are like the objects around me, shaping and defining my experience and perception. These thoughts and these objects around me do not need to be given the authority I ascribe to them. I could consider, for a moment, that they are all meaningless.
What would happen if I let that idea in? Would I experience anxiety or depression because of an unbearable preponderance of emptiness? Let such a thought also be included in today’s lesson. This worry or this fear of emptiness does not really mean anything. It is like the objects I see around me.
You can also use the idea for a particular thought that you recognize as harmful. This practice is useful, but it is not a substitute for the more random procedures to be followed for the exercises.
Do not examine your mind for more than a minute or so. You are too inexperienced as yet to avoid a tendency to become pointlessly preoccupied. Since this exercise is the first of its kind, you may find it difficult to suspend your judgment towards, particularly challenging thoughts. Give it a try, and do not repeat the exercise more than four times today. We will return to it later.