[A comment on Wednesday's post made me think more expansively on Lesson One of ACIM, and I wanted to share the comment and my response here. I hope to hear others' responses, too.]
"At what point does one's true identity or essence reveal itself, and how can we discover that essence if even one's experience with one's identity is mediated through the false action of thought?"
In some ways, I don't feel qualified to answer this question having really only touched the surface of the reading that I need to do. My response here is based on parts of Eckhart Tolle's _A New Earth_ and _The Power of Now_ as well as the very little bit I've read so far in _A Course in Miracles_. That said, I think that our essence can reveal itself when our thinking stops, or rather in that moment between thoughts. In that way, the essence circumvents the possibility for the "false action of thought," as you say. Another indication for me is when some idea comes into my head that I can't quite wrap my head around -- something that confounds my thinking. Here's an example:
A few years ago, I was having a difficult time with an acquaintance of mine, someone who I had pretty intensely disliked from the moment we met. No matter what this person said or did, I found fault with it. I was basically driving myself crazy, so consumed was I by my anger and hatred toward this person. I remember one morning in particular: fuming about a critical comment he had made, I muttered continually to no one in particular all of the cutting and yet brilliantly witty remarks I wanted to say to him but for which I didn't have the courage. I headed into the shower, and the process of shampooing, rinsing etc. allowed me to be fully present in the moment (i.e. I didn't have thoughts going through my head incessantly, but instead was focused on the process of showering, the sensations of the water, the scent of the shampoo etc.). While in that moment, an idea presented itself to me:
"Why don't you love him instead?"
The idea was unlike a thought in that there was no progression toward it. It was uttered in a voice different from the one that is constantly talking in my head (because it seemed wiser and more loving), and yet at the same time, it didn't feel foreign to me. And I wasn't hearing voices, either. I was presented with an idea that was able to transcend the limits of my own thinking. As soon as I heard/sensed/felt this alternative path, I burst into tears. I felt this incredible sense of calm and gratitude for the advice. It was as if I had been relieved of the immense weight that the feelings of dislike and hateful thoughts had been burdening me with for so long. It had honestly never occurred to me that I could just shed all the negativity and choose another way.
I believe that my essence revealed itself in the moment that I was presented with a way to express love. I could choose this path instead of remaining stuck in a cycle of constantly calling out for love. Because in disliking this person, I was actually just revealing a perceived lack in myself.
"In order to understand what thought is, we have to recognize that thought itself has substance and that it came into being after the separation [from God] took place. In wholeness, there is no thought. In the purity of silence, there is no thought. Silence, ever attentive and energetic, is a fire. We carry the light within. But it requires attention to be of the light.
. . . By seeing [thoughts'] limitations . . . we can use thought to transcend thought. This requires integrity. When thought is rightly used, it sees its own limitation because it touches upon another, purer energy -- the silent energy of awareness" (Tara Singh, _"Nothing Real Can Be Threatened": Exploring A Course in Miracles_