Are all my thoughts really meaningless?

Question: The early Workbook lessons tell us that "my thoughts do not mean anything" (W-pI.10.Heading) Is this really true of all of my thoughts? What about the thoughts I need to live in this world? What about my loving thoughts? What about Course-based thoughts, like the ones the Workbook wants me to repeat?

Answer: These lessons really do claim that all of the thoughts we currently seem to think are meaningless. They are meaningless because "they are not your real thoughts" (W-pI.10.1:2). "None of them represents your real thoughts, which are being covered up by them" (W-pI.4.2:3).

Under all the senseless thoughts and mad ideas with which you have cluttered up your mind are the thoughts that you thought with God in the beginning. They are there in your mind now, completely unchanged. They will always be in your mind, exactly as they always were. Everything you have thought since then will change, but the foundation on which it rests is wholly changeless. (W-pI.45.7:1-4)

Our real thoughts are more than just real; they are reality itself, since "all creation lies in the thoughts I think with God" (W-pI.51.4:8). They are more than just meaningful; they are meaning itself, since God "is the Source of all meaning" (W-pI.53.4:3).

In comparison with our real thoughts, we are told, the thoughts we currently think are nothing but pseudo-thoughts. Instead of pure truth and goodness, they are a mixed bag (see W-pI.4.1:6-7). Instead of abiding within the Mind we share with God, they are outside of our true mind entirely (See W-pI.4.3:3 and W-pI.10.3:1). Instead of eternal realities, they are ephemeral illusions preoccupied with a nonexistent past (see Lesson 8). They are so far from our real thoughts, in fact, that they don't qualify as "thoughts" at all: "The presence of these 'thoughts' means that you are not thinking…[when you seem to be thinking them] your mind is really a blank" (W-pI.10.3:2-3). What a statement! Given what the Course says about our current thoughts, it naturally follows that, if our real thoughts are meaning itself, these "thoughts" are utterly meaningless.

The purpose of these early exercises on the meaninglessness of our current thoughts is "to begin to train your mind to recognize when it is not really thinking at all" (W-pI.8.3:1). These pseudo-thoughts are blocking our real thoughts from our awareness; if we can recognize pseudo-thoughts for what they are, then we can let them go and experience the real thoughts that lie beyond. (One of the major methods the Workbook gives us later on for experiencing our real thoughts is meditation.) We are promised that once we experience our real thoughts, "you will have no doubt that what you once believed were your thoughts did not mean anything" (W-pI.10.1:5). I love this line. Right now, we are like little kids discussing among themselves how babies are made. We think we know what we're talking about, but once we experience the truth, we'll realize that we hadn't the slightest clue before.

Finally, since our thoughts produce the world we see, once we get in touch with our real thoughts we will no longer project meaningless thoughts outward, which inevitably results in seeing a meaningless world (see Lesson 11). Instead, we will extend our real thoughts outward and see what the Course calls the real world: "I can…see a real world, if I look to my real thoughts as my guide for seeing" (W-pI.53.1:5). We will achieve true vision, a vision that sees the Word of God written upon the world, and this vision will make us "indescribably happy" (W-pI.12.5:3).

What, then, about the thoughts we need to live in this world? What about our loving thoughts, and all those thoughts the Course wants us to repeat? Compared to our real thoughts, all of these thoughts, even the loftiest of them, are indeed meaningless. But this doesn't mean that they are useless. The exercises that have us let go of all earthly thoughts only have us do so temporarily; obviously, there are all sorts of thoughts we do need while we seem to be living within this illusory world. The big question is: How do we know which ones we need? The Course's counsel is very simple, if not always so easy to carry out: We are to let the Holy Spirit tell us which ones we need. We are to turn our minds over to Him and let Him "tell [us]…what thoughts to think" (W-pII.275.2:3).

If we will trust our minds to Him, He will give us thoughts that help us find our way back to God. He will give us the thoughts we need to live in the world-including guidance on the most mundane daily decisions-in a way that serves His plan for salvation. He will take our thoughts through a sifting process in which He retains those that are in accord with God, purifies those that are partly in accord with God, and undoes all the rest (see T-6.V(C).1:1-5). He will certainly retain our truly loving thoughts; indeed, "The loving thoughts [the Son of God's] mind perceives in this world are the world's only reality" (T-11.VII.2:2).

And, in the pages of the Course, He has given us a treasure trove of thoughts that are wholly in accord with God, thoughts that He indeed wants us to study, reflect upon, practice frequently, and take deeply to heart. Repeating powerful thoughts like "I am as God created me" and "God is but love, and therefore so am I" is in fact the primary practice of the Course. Though these thoughts fall short of true meaning, they nonetheless reflect true meaning. Therefore, they provide an essential bridge back to the meaning that can only be found in the eternal thoughts we share in Heaven with God.

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