A Course in Miracles Workbook Lesson 8

This lesson and commentary is part of a complete class on A Course in Miracles offered here at The Joy Within. Signup for the full class here, or view all ACIM workbook lessons.

Lesson 8: Idea for the Day

My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.

Guided Audio Narration

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Insights and Commentary

Today’s lesson continues from our prior reasoning. If, as we discussed yesterday, you see only the past, then it also follows that you think exclusively about the past. Since everything you do or see is in the past, you can begin to see that you are actually obsessed with that past, so much so that you cannot become present in this moment.

To understand today’s idea, you must also recognize that the world you witness of a projection of your own thoughts. We have touched on this fact briefly, and it will continue to emerge with increasing clarity.

Everything you perceive is a reflection of your thoughts. Thus, you can begin to see a vicious cycle that exists within your perception. You observe the physical world (which is in the past), the then think thoughts about that world (which are also in the past). These thoughts then form the basis of further perception.

Do not worry if this is as yet unclear. Simply by noticing this circle, you can begin to see the basics of your error, as patterns of past energy continue to perpetuate themselves.

The point to realize here is that everything is thought. The material world you think is real is composed of your own thoughts. Thoughts built from thoughts, built from thoughts.

None of it is real. All is illusory. By definition, the past cannot exist in the present. As the course states, “The one wholly true thought one can can hold about the past is that it is not there.” Your mind has created every detail of your experience.

You cannot learn this fact through logic or any academic course of study. You can only know it through experience. There is a great Zen saying that to one who does not yet know enlightenment, even a thousand books of scripture may be insufficient, but to one who knows, even a single word is too much.

Thus, it is important that you begin to intuit these ideas, and take the time to internalize them.

Close your eyes. Breathe naturally and easily. Take a moment to witness the black screen of your mind. As you observe, thoughts will come. Some will be more vivid than others. Focus on those that seem most real. Clarify them: the face of a loved one, the comfort of your home. Attempt to feel the thought with as much sensory awareness as possible. Aster a few moments, release the thought and watch it evaporate into nothingness. Rest in the acceptance that the thought is not there.

Then state today’s mantra: 

I seem to be thinking about [a love one, or my home] but my mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.

Repeat this approach with more abstract thoughts, or use distant ideas you cannot easily clarify. Recognize that each is unreal, and each represents a preoccupation with the past.

Repeat this exercise for several minutes at a time, several times throughout the day.

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