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Audio credit: http://www.eckiefriar.com Lesson 7

Part 1

Undoing the Way We See Things Now

Lesson 7 I see only the past.

This idea is particularly difficult to believe at first.  Yet it is the rationale for all of the preceding ones. 

It is the reason why nothing that you see means anything.

It is the reason why you have given everything you see all the meaning that it has for you.

It is the reason why you do not understand anything you see.

It is the reason why your thoughts do not mean anything, and why they are like the things you see.

It is the reason why you are never upset for the reason you think.

It is the reason why you are upset because you see something that is not there.

Old ideas about time are very difficult to change, because everything you believe is rooted in time, and depends on your not learning these new ideas about it.  Yet that is precisely why you need new ideas about time.  This first time-idea is not really so strange as it may sound at first.

Look at a cup, for example.  Do you see a cup, or are you merely reviewing your past experiences of picking up a cup, being thirsty, drinking from a cup, feeling the rim of a cup against your lips, having breakfast and so on?  Are not your aesthetic reactions to the cup, too, based on past experiences?  How else would you know whether or not this kind of cup will break if you drop it?  What do you know about this cup except what you learned in the past?  You would have no idea what this cup is, except for your past learning.  Do you, then, really see it?

Look about you.  This is equally true of whatever you look at.  Acknowledge this by applying the idea for today indiscriminately to whatever catches your eye.  For example:

I see only the past in this pencil.

I see only the past in this shoe

I see only the past in this hand.

I see only the past in that body.

I see only the past in that face. 

Do not linger over any one thing in particular, but remember to omit nothing specifically.  Glance briefly at each subject, and then move on to the next.  Three or four practice periods, each to last a minute or so, will be enough. [1]

Photo credit: http://www.nationalpost.com

Notes and Personal Application (2019): So I see only the past when I feel angry with my sister.  I see only the past when I am worried about my children and grandchildren.  I see only the past when I look at a tractor.  I see only the past when I see my car.  I see only the past when I look at James.  Everything I look at – I see only the past.  Even if it is something that I never saw before, I am only seeing the past because it is already in the past by the time I finish looking at it. 

Notes and Personal Application (2020):  Here we are sitting up in bed and sipping coffee (in those annoyingly, small cups) and reading our lesson.  We got to bed rather late last night, considering how early we need to get up.  So we are both a bit groggy.  And I was still caught up in a dream in which I could remember no pertinent details, but nonetheless, felt as if I had been cheated from resolving, having awakened right before things were about to be wrapped up. 

We did the exercises looking around us and at each other.  There is nothing like looking at one’s husband, lover, and holy friend and saying, I see only the past! Or conversely, being the past in his eyes. And yet ego-less, this can be.

We discussed the Scientific American Special Edition on Time that I’ve been reading.  While our Course is urging us to recognize that everything our eyes behold is already over, modern science has only recently started to study the matter of how we understand the passing of time.  Paul Davies, a theoretical physicist and cosmologist at Arizona State University, writes about the illusory qualities of the passage of time.  He says that physicists think of time as a “timescape,” horizontal, more like a landscape.   He asks the reader to consider that one cannot even finish reading a sentence before the beginning of the sentence, and then the sentence itself, becomes the “past.”  Davies wraps up his article with this startling question and response:

“What if science were able to explain away the flow of time?” Perhaps we would no longer fret about the future or grieve for the past.  Worries about death might become as irrelevant as worries about birth.  Expectation and nostalgia might cease to be part of human vocabulary.  Above all, the sense of urgency that attaches to so much of human activity might evaporate.  No longer would we be slaves to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s entreaty to ‘act, act in the living present,’ for the past, present, and future would literally be things of the past.” [2]

In today’s lesson, we are asked to undo the way we see things now and realize that everything our eyes behold is in the past.  Recognize that it is over, brother!  Our confinement in time depends upon you not understanding this, continuing to grasp each moment as if it is not going to disappear immediately into the past, never to be seized again.  From the viewpoint of timelessness, we could say that what happens in time, stays in time, and never really was.  It is an illusion, a dream, and when used properly, a lesson in separation.  When we begin to see it as such, its hold loosens from our mind and sets us free.  


[1] A Course in Miracles.  Workbook for Students, Lesson 7 I see only the…Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition, p. 11-12.

[2] Davies, P. (2012, January). That Mysterious Flow. Scientific American Special Edition, 21 (1), pp 8-13.