While you know you have not allowed yourself freedom of expression, you believe you have allowed yourself freedom of thought. You believe you have allowed yourself freedom of feeling. And yet if the truth be admitted, you know that even this is not quite true. You know that you censor your own thoughts and feelings, accepting some and not others. D:Day 9.7
As I sit at my cabin window each morning, I am here for a certain feeling of freedom that comes of habitual presence. It’s a time of being free of thoughts that concern anything in particular. Not “things to do.” Not “sensitive situations.” Not next week’s events or next year’s obligations. This morning I realized I’ve been chastising myself for mind-wanderings that do not meet my definition of freedom. Even when an idea arises that is just the right idea to free me from some knotty little problem with something I’m working on, I get a little miffed. I have told myself I’m not “supposed” to be thinking of “that” at this time.
Case in point. This morning an idea arose that had to do with the ACIM Conference next year. Its theme is Change your Mind/Change the World, nice, broad theme that each presenter is asked to speak to in their way. No problem. But in submitting my description of my presentation, I failed to put this theme in the title and was reminded that it needed to be there. As I was sitting with my meandering thoughts, a new title presented itself: Changing the world takes being present as all that you are. It felt just right. And this is what suddenly made me realize that I’ve been attempting to censor the very freedom I’ve so desired.
This realization came on Friday morning, and in the evening, just before I was about to begin my grandson Henry’s bedtime ritual, a ritual that always includes reading, I took a moment to check email and received one about . . . reading. My friend Paula had been reading The Secret Garden. And so I wrote a response that was all about reading, and that led to memories of my young self and the flyers that would come to us, at school, from Scholastic Books. This started when I was in fifth grade and eager to read and especially keen to choose my own books. I would pour over the contents that were offered and receive my new books with a pleasure approaching nirvana. Although I can recall few titles other than Silas Marner, I can still remember the feel and particularly the smell of those books.
That email exchange felt like the freedom I’d been craving as I abandoned myself to that memory. It was sparked by my friend and in response, what rolled out felt like the most natural thing in the world. It’s what happens in relationship.
This exchange added to the other—an exchange I’d had with myself—and resulted in a new understanding that what “comes” to us is the effect of a cause that is in our nature, that has basis in our lives as lived thus far, and the lives unfolding before us. What “comes” is the combining, the relationship between life and Self.
Yet this unfolding is not unlike Henry’s Friday visits with his best friend, Caleb. Over years of being consistent and diligent, having his friend over is effortless. I know this little boy and delight in him almost as much as I do Henry. Both boys, at nearly nine, are beginning to have real conversations with each other and with me. They tell me about things and it thrills me. I continually get to know them better. And this all formed out of the years of devotion that preceded it—not unlike what I do each morning, or my time spent with A Course of Love.
It was many years ago that I realized that the inner life, contrary to what I’d seen it as before, was not about thinking. In ACOL, Jesus makes a distinction between thinking and thought, and guides us to recall moments of what we call “thoughtfulness.” He does this to help us distinguish the new way from the old. Chapter 12 of the Dialogues became a wonderful re-read after this little squabble I had with myself. “Thinking” is described as the “active and often unwelcome voice “ in your head, the voice of background chatter. (D:12.10) “Thoughts” are described as “the more meditative version of your “thinking,” often even resulting in a conclusion to your thinking, a summary of the finer points, as what might come to you in a reflective moment at the end of the day. Again we will see the idea of thoughts “coming to you” at such times. This is not the “thinking” of a conflicted and struggling mind, but the “thoughts” of a mind at rest.”
Finally, Jesus says that, “You do have, right now, and have always had, true thoughts that come to you from your Self, the Self joined in unity. These are thoughts you did not “think,” just as the first receiver of these words received them as thoughts she did not “think.” (D:12-11)) He goes on to say that “Union isn’t achieved with a flash of light from above,” but that it quietly infiltrates the self in its unguarded moments. (D:12.12)
I fully believed I had come to respect meandering mind in all its vast wanderings. Now, being less than embracing of “useful” thoughts seems as silly as discounting all the steps that have led to such lovely times in the companionship of two small boys, or intimate email exchanges that elicit memory and bring pleasure.
Yep. Changing the world takes being present as all that you are.
Hi Paula, You just wrote me about “losing” something you were trying to send me, and now I’ve lost my first reply to you! Hmmm. I love this, Paula–not the losing but the finding that you’re experiencing as you allow yourself spaciousness. I’ve known of my need for that for so long it feels like forever, and I’ve developed ways and places to allow myself “down time.” Your story of your own is so perfect, such a great description of the way dreams and life can mix and mingle in such times. I’m just getting used to letting this space provide, oh . . . the useful! Useful in a practical way. Isn’t that funny? And BTW, I changed my title I was so thrilled with, making it, after getting some advice, a little shorter. It’s interesting me to be in this space where the practical and necessary keeps butting up against areas that once were so inner directed. In these times collaboration (or union and relationship) provide many faceted gifts!
Mari, this dear post about thoughts that we do not think, or true thoughts, that come from the Self and that are beyond ‘thinking.’ The often come in a more meditative moment. This is just where I am! I wrote on the ACOL USA blog about this today, but it comes to mind again in reading what you wrote. So I’ll share it with you.
In this quiet time, set apart from my usual activities, time for healing, I have had an image that comes to me regularly. The image is powerful and grew more so just today. I am seeing whales, Orca whales, who dive deep into the ocean then return to the surface for air often leaping into the air. I notice the older whales get encrustations, barnacles, on their hides, some have a lot of barnacles on them. I imagine this is uncomfortable, even painful. In my recurring meditations, I see a whale who is diving deep deep deep into the ocean, then when it leaps into the air I see some of the barnacles are gone and new skin glistens black in that space. I recognize that this is the process I am in these past weeks. As time goes by more barnacles are shed. Then this morning the whale came back and when it rose out of the water it kept going higher and higher, I got nervous and wanted it to come back, to be safe, but then I knew to let go. The whale rose until it disappeared into some clouds.
A couple hours later in real life, three of us were kayaking. We paused in one calm spot, paddles resting, just floating near the mangrove lined islands, watching pelicans diving, water birds fishing, fish leaping into the air in ecstasy all about. I shared my whale vision and they got it, totally supportive. I looked up into the sky and was startled, I pointed to a cloud up ahead that looked just like a whale, floating up there, then I became aware there was a whole pod of whales there. So clear. One kayaker, an artist, said “Yes, they are all elongated, whale shaped!” We laughed, but also felt awe.