Being introduced to the concept of the Holy Instant, when I started A Course in Miracles, I felt a bit uncertain about what it was. Certainly it felt peaceful to imagine the idea, and without question I wanted to understand what it symbolized. But the recognition of what the Holy Instant pointed to didn’t come into awareness until the openness of mind gently gave up trying to “make” it something that could understand intellectually. The Holy Instant can’t be understood, only experienced.
“The holy instant is nothing more than a special case, or an extreme example, of what every situation is meant to be.” – A Course in Miracles
Paradoxically the Course refers to the Holy Instant as a “special” case and extreme example, and in the same sentence suggests that it is what EVERY situation is meant to be. So on one level of perceiving, level of personhood or bodily identification, the Holy Instant is seen as out of the ordinary. This is because the ordinary that we’ve identified with, is the normalcy of (conscious or unconscious) pain and suffering. Therefore a glimpse of peace, in a mind that is typically identified with pain, IS extreme.
However, from the standpoint of what is truly True, which has nothing to do with thinking, perceiving or story telling, the Holy Instant IS no-thing… it’s EVERYTHING. It is the wholeness of experiencing. Beingness is it’s meaning and what EVERY situation is meant to be; itself…could anything be different than it is? Thinking that it can, is suffering.
Awareness (Spirit), being what we are, is overlooked by the ego (sense of personhood.) The embodiment of no-thingness dissolves all thoughts for which the ego clings to for its sense of existence. The objective of spiritual practices, such as meditation and prayer, aim to bring on the recognition of Awareness. Their seeming helpfulness comes as we become witness (aware) and recognize that what we are, is not the fleeting thoughts, situations and problems that arise in awareness but rather we are the ONE aware…no-thing more. That recognition, for a mind caught up in worldly thinking, appears at first, in glimpses…and indeed is a special case, Holy Instant (framed only by thinking).
Spiritual Awakening is the stabilization of perception…of awareness. In other words, when attention is completely given over to the reality of what doesn’t not change within (Holiness), we can say that perception stabilizes on what’s true. The fear to give oneself over to that, arises because of a deep rooted belief that we’re in charge. And if we were to give ourselves over, let go of the worldly thinking, then we would somehow be vulnerable, unprotected and abolished. “If I dwell in the unchanging how would my life take care of itself?” is often a thought of concern while on the preverbal spiritual path. But the question is built on the premise that we are in charge of our life, and know what’s good for us…but we’re NOT in charge (one of the hardest things to accept) and we don’t know what’s best for us (if we did there would be no need for healing of any kind). It is the belief that we are in charge that is cause for much if not all of our suffering.
“God is not the author of fear. You are.” – A Course in Miracles
The Awareness of Grace (God) at work, is witnessed by the mind as it becomes more and more willing to take its hands “off the wheel,” let go and let God…(in everything we seem to do.) That is the core teaching behind ACIM’s practice of consulting with the Holy Spirit first, before making any decision. This willingness is not something that happens in time, but rather right now and in each successive instant.
A Course in Miracles’ quote “The holy instant is the shining example, the clear and unequivocal demonstration of the meaning of every relationship and every situation, seen as a whole,” is another way of saying that when we’re grounded in what’s true, the unchanging and eternal reality of NOW, we can be witness to Love’s orchestration in all things. A Course in Miracles says “It is a situation of perfect peace, simply because you have let it be what it is.” The Holy Instant is an experience of allowing things to be as they are…as it is in THIS moment, here and now. The Holy Instant is closer than our next breath and unburdened by what we think we are, the stories we tell and think we know.
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