A Course In Miracles Lesson 4
The original text of 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).
As we continue the path of establishing a new logic to the way we think and perceive the world, today’s lesson points out that our thoughts are not as important as we may think they are. Our thoughts are just like the objects we see around us, fleeting and meaningless. The content of our thoughts determine what we see. But what A Course In Miracles wants us to consider is that those thoughts we are having are actually not founded in any source of true meaning. The day’s lesson asks us to think of thoughts like the objects around us, and recognize both as meaningless.
This might be rather disconcerting to consider. It may seem as if we are being asked to view life as valueless. But actually, these first few lessons are the foundation for the shift in our understanding that will lead to greater resilience and peace. We first need to see the nature of our thoughts with more clarity. What do your thought really mean? Some thoughts feel significant. Some thoughts do not. Some thoughts are exciting and some are boring. We are asked to apply the same statement to all types of thoughts.
You may discover a sensation of relief in not having to force significance on concepts and objects that you no longer feel meaningful to you. This lesson legalizes not feeling obligated to make ourselves care about something. It is an invitation to release attachment to unstable structures. While this lesson may feel disconcerting to practice, causing you to question the very foundation of your mental stability, it will also feel like an undeniable relief because it is a true statement of fact. Our thoughts do not have inherent meaning. We give our thoughts all the meaning they have. What is true is always a relief.
This lesson is a first step in the long-range journey of learning to perceive meaninglessness as outside of you and the meaningfulness within yourself. You may ask, but aren’t my thoughts within myself? 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. Considering that brings me closer to locating that which has true meaning.
This lesson wants us to view the thinking mind a bit differently. The brain is a busy object. But there is also a deeper presence below the turbulence of thinking which is True thought, not brain thoughts. True thought is a state of knowing. Today we consider the difference between the busy brain thoughts and the deeper, true thoughts of our being. True thoughts feel calm and clear.
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.
Today's specific meditation
Today’s practice sessions are not like the previous sessions. We will not begin by contemplating the day’s lesson. Instead, close your eyes and observe the thoughts that cross your mind as if they were fish swimming by in an aquarium. Once you’ve registered a certain thought, say about a person or a task you need to do, say directly to that thought, “This thought does not really mean anything.”
This may feel very helpful when saying this statement to thoughts that do not feel good. But like previous lessons, we want to apply the statement to all the qualities of thoughts we have, even thoughts that feel good. In this way, we begin to recognize that “good” thoughts and “bad” thoughts are both equal in meaninglessness. Happy and sad thoughts do not hold real value for us and we do not want them because what they really are is a roller coaster ride up and down. Because of this up-and-down quality, both are unhelpful and we can not call one “good” while the other is “bad.” Both types of thoughts contribute to creating confusion and distract us away from real meaning and value. No thought that drifts by in the one minute of your sitting practice will represent real thoughts. A real thought is a deeper state of being that we will be achieving as we first learn to identify the “fish-like” thoughts distracting us.
You could certainly apply today’s idea to any particularly painful thought any time because it will help bring a bit of distance between you and that thought. And also put effort into bringing the same idea to pleasant thoughts as well.
Be sure not to practice this activity for more than a minute. The nature of our brains at this early stage is very prone to obsessiveness as well as depression. Be sure to just give it a try twice for one minute. The course will bring these ideas back again and again for more practice with them.