Kind and nice: these are two similar ideas, but they are vastly different. Last night, I went to dinner with a friend of mine and we ended up in a discussion about the difference between “kind” and “nice.” Kind is something I endeavor to be always; nice, not so much. I don’t have anything against nice, but as someone who has had a history of being “too nice” (think doormat), there is a complacent quality about the word that rubs me the wrong way.
It got me thinking — “nice” is not a word that A Course in Miracles uses with any frequency. I confirmed my suspicions and discovered it shows up exactly once, in today’s lesson (of course!), which tells us that the reason we are upset is that we see a meaningless world. “You think that what upsets you is a frightening world, or a sad world, or a violent world, or an insane world. All these attributes are given it by you. The world is meaningless in itself.”
Oops. There we go again, trying to attribute the qualities we think we see to the world, as if the world had originated them. But that’s not the case. We are making it up. What we think we see is simply a reflection of our own thought process; a reflection of our language about the world.
The place where “nice” arises is the part of this lesson where we are dissuaded from excluding “negative” things. Today’s lesson says, “If terms which seem positive rather than negative occur to you, include them.” After giving a few examples of “nice” perceptions, it says, “You may not yet understand why these ‘nice’ adjectives belong in these exercises but remember that a ‘good world’ implies a ‘bad’ one, and a ‘satisfying world’ implies an ‘unsatisfying’ one.”
That’s the rub of duality. When it finally dawns on us that we are responsible for the interpretation of what we are witnessing, then we have the opportunity to see the “better way” the Course refers to (“Eventually everyone begins to recognize, however dimly, that there must be a better way”). This lessons tells us, “If you could accept the world as meaningless and let the truth be written upon it for you, it would make you indescribably happy. But because it is meaningless, you are impelled to write upon it what you would have it be. It is this you see in it. It is this that is meaningless in truth. Beneath your words is written the Word of God.”
So, yes, I see a meaningless world, but the “real world” is still available to me once I give up my judgments.
Language matters. The words I use to describe my world color it for me. Multiple times a day, I witness people saying things like, “People are just horrible” or “my lungs are crap” or “I can’t ever get ahead,” and my knee-jerk reaction is always to look up and they, “Not affirming that, Lord.”
Cancel. Cancel. That’s NOT the world I want to see.
Last night, Jay and I watched Young Sheldon, a spin-off from The Big Bang Theory about the early years of one of its main characters, Sheldon Cooper. In it, Sheldon has a dream about the nature of God, and discovers It is binary.
So while young Sheldon doesn’t believe in God, only science, there is an element of truth in the perception of duality as a binary experience, because in effect, God, being Oneness, always says “yes.” The “negative” experiences are the “off” position – us denying what is always present. “Off” (negative) doesn’t eliminate the presence of Love, but it does erect blocks to the awareness of Its presence.
Thus, why in today’s lesson, we include all seemingly “positive” and seemingly “negative” perceptions. We are seeing the meaning that WE gave to the world, not what God is. “What is all-encompassing can have no opposite.”
So, while I will continue to embrace language that colors my world as kind (though not necessarily “nice”), my real goal is to eliminate the impulse to judge any of it. My real goal is to see through the eyes of Christ, where “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.” Where all I see is the Peace of God.
Namaste, my friends, Namaste.