The irony of trying to understand the concepts in A Course in Miracles is that they eventually have to be dissolved. I remember, in the beginning, working so hard to understand concepts like forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Jesus and the Holy Instant. I thought “if I could just understand them, I’d “get it.” But understanding is a result of where they point, not the intellectual understanding of concepts. The experience of peace, for which the Course aims, lies beyond concepts.

“Salvation can be seen as nothing more than escape from concepts.” – A Course in Miracles

The dreamer’s existence is held together by concepts. The dreamer relates to nothing but concepts. In fact, that is how the self-concept finds definition for itself. How else could the self-concept take shape but to limit itself to ideas and comparisons? I am “this” or “that.” I believe I’m “pretty” relative to the concept of ugly, I’m happy relative to the concept of unhappiness and so on.

In the spiritual awakening “process,” concepts are tools. A Course in Miracles says that “Concepts are needed while perception lasts”. In other words, as long as we believe in concepts, they are what’s used for the purpose of awakening. This is the aim of forgiveness. It is a concept that can be used to undo concepts like fear, guilt, shame and hate.

However, if our heart’s desire is to come into the unified experience for which the Course aims, concepts must eventually be dissolved. We have to have the willingness to forgive forgiveness, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. All concepts, including that of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, dissolve in the presence for which they point. ACIM teaches us that Spiritual sight is wholly open minded and unclouded by concepts, and “prepared to look only on what the present holds.” 

The present doesn’t hold form, it proceeds the interpretation of form. It is the experience for which the Holy Instant symbolizes, but it is beyond the symbol. Where are concepts in the knowledge of what is definition-less?

ACIM - Forgive ConceptsBelief and attention on concepts, as a reality or having an independent source or existence, makes for the perception of separation and the experience of duality. Holding on to them as true, gives definition to both “me” and the concept. Who or what perceives concepts but the ego?

This isn’t judgement against concepts or to say there is anything wrong with concepts. This is, however, an invitation to take the investigation further and recognize that when our grip is held tight on a concept, as if the concept was Truth, we hold a block against direct experience OF Truth. And although concepts and symbols are helpful, attachments must dissolve if we are to reach the next rung on the latter. And just as I’d lay down a hammer after hanging a picture, or leave behind a canoe after crossing a stream, all concepts are left behind after their function has been fulfilled.