[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]
Over the past week, several seemingly unrelated things happened, but they turned out to be part of another undoing for me. It was all in relation to a lifelong “need” to know. I want to share it with you, because I think I’ve made (or am in the process of making) a significant shift.
It started on Monday, when I had a regular Skype meeting with two Course companions. We were clear that we had been brought together for a specific purpose, but we weren’t clear about what that was. Nor were we clear about what we were to do in our meetings. One of us came with the guidance that we were not to concern ourselves about knowing what to do, because our fourth “Companion” was to guide us and take the leadership role. I thought that was a great idea theoretically, but inwardly I gulped. “Oh, no; not plan our meetings? Not know ahead of time what we’re going to talk about? Not come prepared?” What if we don’t know what to say or do or don’t get any guidance?!”
For as far back as I can remember, I have had a need to know and to understand. I think it’s been a way for me to keep order in my life and feel that I have some measure of control. I like to feel prepared, partially because I don’t want to be caught in the position of not knowing. I feel safe when I know what to do and say and what to decide, and I don’t like it at all when I don’t know. After each of us shared our levels of comfort or discomfort with the idea, we all felt better with it and decided to go ahead and let Jesus be in charge.
The next day I went for my regular acupuncture treatment for macular degeneration. It usually hurts a little, but that day it was very painful. I didn’t have the opportunity to ask the doctor about it, and left feeling uncertain, scared, and quite teary. Afterwards, as I reflected on my surprising reaction, I realized that it had been all about my not knowing. I hadn’t known what was going on, whether or not the pain was normal, if the treatments were really helping, what I should do, etc., and I was very uncomfortable with that.
The following day, we moved into the Text sections on perception and knowledge, in which Jesus talks about perceiving (what we do here) versus knowing (our state in Heaven) and how right perception must precede knowing. He says that, “all your difficulties stem from the fact that you do not recognize [Ur: or know] yourself, your brother or God” (T-3.III.2:1). This was talking about a different kind of need to know; i.e., the need to know the truth, not the need to know what to say or what to do to keep safe in the illusion! This, in contrast to needing to know in the worldly sense, was a need that could be fulfilled and one in which I would be totally safe. I felt that what Jesus was saying was going to be very important for me.
I read that,
The mind returns to its proper function [of knowing, loving, and creating] only when it wills to know. This places it in the service of spirit, where perception is changed… the mind belongs to spirit which God created and which is therefore eternal. (T-3.IV.5:6-7,11)
“Only when it wills to know.” I must will to know before I can know. That day my practice was: “I will to know.” I did a longer version to start off my day:
I will to know.
My mind belongs to spirit, which God created eternal.
My Soul’s true functions are to know, love, and create.
My mind will return to these functions when I truly will to know.
That will place it in the service of spirit, and it will be at peace,
filled with joy and the power that comes from spirit,
and it will be fulfilling happily its function here. [from Lesson 96.4.]
Every time I repeated, “I will to know,” during the day, I felt a deep calm and a sense of expansiveness come over me. I felt as if I truly was, in those moments, willing to know, and that I was being heard and answered.
Today, Jesus went further, into “Beyond Perception” (T-3.V), and ended with,
How beautiful indeed are the Thoughts of God, who live in His Light! Your worth is beyond perception because it is beyond doubt. Do not perceive yourself in different lights. Know yourself in the One Light where the miracle that is you is perfectly clear. (10:6-9)
This seemed to take me from beyond willing to know to willing to know myself, so my practice has been:
I will to know myself.
How beautiful am I who live in God’s Light!
I will not perceive myself in different lights today.
Instead, I will to know myself in the One Light
where the miracle that I am is perfectly clear.
James and I had some errands to do today. The list was pretty long, and when James added something else this morning, I succumbed to feeling overwhelmed and anxious. We did our morning practice, and I focused on willing to know myself, and when our quiet time was over, I felt peaceful and clear. I told James that I wanted to focus on priorities and not try to get everything done. I wanted us to have a “good day.” And that’s what we did have. Apart from one little glitch, everything went smoothly, and although the day was full, I felt as if I went through it with grace and with ease.
The one glitch tied directly in with the words from Section V about perceiving ourselves “in different lights.” James is usually quite easy going. Contrary to me, he loves shopping and is quite content to take his time to look at this or that. Today, he was quite impatient with me, because he thought I was taking too long to pick things out and decide what to buy. As we talked about it later, I realized that sometimes I get impatient with him because I think he’s ambling along, taking too much time to get from one place to another––usually when he’s driving. So, here we were the two same people, being bothered by the same thing in each other, but in different contexts. Sometimes we are patient and loving with each other and sometimes impatient and unloving, depending on the situation. Our perceptions of each other and of ourselves shift according to the circumstances.
For the rest of our shopping time, we practiced, “I will not perceive myself in different lights today. I will to know myself in the light of God’s Love, as the miracle I am.” We also applied it to each other: “I will not perceive you in different lights today. I will to know you in the light of God’s Love, as the miracle you are.” It made quite a difference.
Here’s the last bit––my acupuncture appointment today. I talked to the doctor about my reaction the other day, reassured, and actually found the session quite relaxing. But that’s not the important thing about the session. It too tied in with these perception sections, going back to something Jesus said in “Miracles as True Perception”:
When you lack confidence in what someone will do, you are attesting to your belief that he is not in his right mind. This is hardly a miracle-based frame of reference. (T-3.II.3:1-2)
Taking this to heart, I decided to “trust my brother who is one with me”––trust that the doctor was in his right mind and have confidence in what he was doing. I realized that the answer was not in my having to know and understand everything. If I focused on willing to know my brother and myself, then I would perceive both of us truly, in God’s “One Light,” as the miracles we are. My thinking continued: Maybe I don’t have to understand and know everything about myself. Maybe all I have to do is accept myself as God created me. After all, that’s what accepting the Atonement for myself is about. Maybe accepting is as easy as deciding, as willing to accept myself, accept my brother, accept my healing.
This may not seem like very much, but to me it was huge. It seems as if a lifetime of needing to know in the usual sense is coming unravelled. Who would have thought that a discussion with two Course companions and an acupuncture appointment would lead me to having such important realizations about needing to know and to beginning to let go of that need! I do need to know, but what I need to know is my brother, myself, my God. All I need to do is trust and accept. That will eventually lead me to true knowing, not this pseudo-knowing that has been so much of my life. Perhaps this true need to know has always been there beneath my lifelong need to know, but had just been taken and distorted by the ego.
I will to know. I will to know myself.