At the end of the Workbook in A Course in Miracles it says, “No more specific lessons are assigned, for there is no more need of them. Henceforth, hear but the Voice for God and for your Self when you retire from the world, to seek reality instead.” (Epilogue, para. 3)
I stopped counting how many times I completed the lessons after the 6th or 7th pass, and now even though I no longer feel called to do them sequentially, if I am to learn a specific lesson it will make itself known to me in my day.
Recently the lesson, “I see only the past,” showed up smack in front of my face.
Some of my close family members are collectors. They have an appreciation for vintage things, antiques, and other collectibles. Growing up, there were times when I felt embarrassed of the way my house looked, and so I ended up gravitating in the opposite direction of not collecting anything. One of my favorite things to do is to donate things and to drop off recyclables at the recycling center!
One of my collector family members is moving, and I readily volunteered to help them pack. Acknowledging that they have a bountiful amount of physical belongings, they jokingly said that if they die, they would leave me the name of someone who runs estate sales. In other words, I’d be the one to have to clean out their house.
This dredged up a HUGE amount of stuff from the past. Judgment about their “stuff,” anger at their desire to hang onto “things,” and feeling resentful that I could be left a house full of clutter to clean out when they are no longer in their body. I spiraled down a path of judgment, and I was now seeing through a lens colored by the past.
Shortly thereafter, another family member came into town. With my “past goggles” on, I started to see them do things that used to upset me in the past (e.g. not picking up after themselves). While I was at the sink cleaning up after dinner, I asked this person to rinse off their dinner plate and put it in the dishwasher. When I turned around from the sink and saw their dirty plate still on the counter, I snapped at them. Yet, I was physically blocking the sink the entire time, so they never even had an opportunity to rinse their dish!
I see only the past.
“[The peace of God]… calls to mind nothing that went before. It brings with it no past associations. It is a new thing entirely. The past just slips away, and in it’s place is everlasting quiet.” (Manual for Teachers, “What is the Peace of God?”)
If the peace of God brings “no past associations,” I definitely felt light years away from the Peace of God. Yet all was not lost, because this was simply another layer of false beliefs in my mind that were rising in my awareness to be healed. This was about peeling away another layer of the proverbial onion.
The problem was not collectible junk, it was not dirty dishes, and it was not the other person. I WAS the one who was holding onto the past. I was the one who was laying the past on the other person, which was preventing me from seeing the TRUTH of who they are.
Take this from Lesson 7: “I see only the past:”
“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?” – A Course in Miracles Lesson 7
Family members can serve as a great block to truth (if we so choose) because they are the ones that we can most easily lay the past upon, preventing ourselves from seeing them as they truly are, and therefore preventing our OWN healing. Or our family members can be our greatest saviors because they present us with the opportunity to COMPLETELY release the past. As they are part of our lifelong journey (regardless of whether they live in our daily lives or solely in our minds), they therefore present an opportunity for deep healing.
The part of our mind that believes in separation and WANTS to stay separate (ego), LOVES to point the finger and see what is “wrong” with another person. Yet “I am responsible for what I see,” and if “I see only the past” I must need healing in MY OWN MIND.
The following steps helped my mind return to peace after I chose to go down a path of judgment. When you find yourself in a situation where family members (or others) seem to bring up past stuff, follow these simple steps:
- Feel your feelings for as long as you need to. When you’re ready, proceed to Step 3.
- ASK for help from the Holy Spirit, “Help me to see this person as they ARE, not as I see them through the past.”
- Revisit Step 3 and make sure you AUTHENTICALLY desire to see this person without their past. If there is resistance to this idea, take the resistance to the Holy Spirit and ASK to see the resistance differently.
- If you need some space from the other person, take it.
- Trust that the shift will come when you are ready.
It can also be helpful to use this prayer from A Course in Miracles:
“I give you to the Holy Spirit as part of myself.
I know that you will be released, unless I want to use you to imprison myself.
In the name of my freedom I choose your release, because I recognize that we will be released together.” (T-15.XI.10)
When you authentically take your desire to release the past to the Holy Spirit, it is done. You’ll receive the shift when you’re ready to experience it. You’re letting go of another layer of the onion, which heals your own mind, as well as the mind of the other person, who is no longer chained to the past through your holding them to it.