This Lesson contrasts truth and illusion and makes it clear we cannot really know truth in this world, but we can experience its reflection. The Lesson provides clarification on how living in this state of reflection of truth would feel compared to staying invested in the world of illusion. We are provided with a very clear perspective on the ego thought system, which is designed to keep us from seeing the guilt in our minds. The guilt in the mind shields us from the truth, and the world shields us from looking at the guilt. The world becomes a screen on which we project our guilt. Yet with courage to really look at our thoughts and take responsibility for them, they can be exposed and given over to be healed.
Jesus encourages us to see that the errors in our minds are not sins. They are simply mistakes to be corrected. Nothing we believe about ourselves can change the fact that truth is still in our minds, simply blocked by our resistance to its acceptance. It means if we want healing, we must look at how we misperceive everything. Our misperceptions keep us from experiencing the truth of our being as a child of Love. Our focus is kept on the body and the world, thus distracting us from looking within, where truth resides.
Jesus tells us when we withdraw belief from the error, from the illusion, and from this dream, it will all be gone, "because, without belief, they [our errors/illusions] have no life." (W.107.1.5) It is like turning on the light in a dark room. The darkness immediately disappears. The only power the illusion has is our belief in it.
We are not meant to suffer. The way out of suffering is to bring all our misperceptions to the truth. Remember that the errors in our minds are not flaws. They are only errors to be corrected. It requires vigilance on our part to look at our false beliefs. We see them when we take back our projections of the guilt we put onto others. We believe we are bodies, we can be hurt, we can be lonely, disconnected, unhappy, suffer and die, and others are responsible for how we feel. This is not the truth. The truth is we are eternal beings of light and love.
No matter how real and solid anything appears to be in the illusion, it is all nothing and will all disappear. "From dust to dust they come and go, for only truth remains," (W.107.1.7) which means when all illusions go, the only thing real that will remain is the truth of who we are. "Where truth has entered errors disappear." (W.107.1.3) Everything we currently see and believe in is then gone, and only the light remains.
We are asked to look at what this state without illusions would look like. We can perhaps, "Try to remember when there was a time---perhaps a minute, maybe even less---when nothing came to interrupt your peace; when you were certain you were loved and safe." (W.107.2.3) It may have been a time when you were a child, or perhaps with someone you really loved, or a time with yourself in meditation, or in nature, whatever the moment is for you, try to picture it. Then take some time to go back to the feelings you were experiencing at the time and try to imagine what it would be like to have this moment extended to the end of time. But wait. He tells us it goes far beyond what we can imagine, with the feeling multiplied a hundred times and then a hundred more. Any memory we hold of such a state of peace is only a minute glimmer of what Jesus is talking about here. It is a state impossible to describe, but must be experienced. Our Lessons are taking us to this kind of experience. These glimmers of peace give us a foretaste of what is to come. It is an experience of our true state. It is what the holy instant offers us. It is what Heaven is, and when we experience it, we will "return to the familiar world reluctantly." (W.107.9.6) It is like being in the world, yet not of it. It is to be in the world while knowing our reality is not here.
"Yet you will be glad to look again upon this world
." (W.107.10.1) We are glad because we bring the gifts we have received in the holy instant back to the world. Our function is to give what we have received. Thus, our practice periods are not merely for ourselves alone because we are one with our brothers. When our misery and suffering are brought forward for healing by the Holy Spirit, we become a demonstration of His love. Thus, we bring this changed perception to the world and receive the gifts we give. We demonstrate peace and joy are ours and the same choice can be made by everyone.
We all have times in our lives when we feel totally assaulted by the world, when we feel like victims of people and situations that seem to be assaulting us. Our thoughts about these people and events take us out of peace. These are precisely the thoughts we need to bring forward for correction. They are not the truth, yet we respond to them as if they were. When I feel lonely, I believe what I am feeling and I try to find ways to alleviate it. However, the thought 'I am lonely' is an illusion. I am responding to something that is not true. If we observe all our thoughts and emotions from outside this dream, we can see none of them are true. The observer is the one witnessing the dream figure we think we are.
We need not judge any of our experiences, only recognize their lack of reality. All of the thoughts and emotions come from one belief, which is the belief in separation. Now we have started to recognize we have been wrong about ourselves and the world, and with it comes a willingness to be taught.
It is clear Jesus is not talking about having no needs as long as we are here. We will still experience problems and challenges and pain will be part of our experience in the world. We are only being reminded that as we bring our needs, our problems and our issues to the truth, we experience the miracle. We may still need to address the issues and problems of the world by taking some kind of action, but we can approach the situation with peace and trust that all will be resolved. Through these situations, we are given an opportunity to learn the cause of our pain is nothing external. It is simply a decision we have made to listen to the wrong teacher in our minds. When we bring our pain to the light of truth, healing becomes available. It is the only way to heal from the difficulties we experience here.
We are asking Jesus/the Holy Spirit today to help us to remove our identification with the vulnerable self we think we are and bring all our weakness, helplessness, emptiness, anger, frustration, and fear to Him for His healing light. We can truly lean on Him for support and trust He is always there to remove the illusory demons that seem very real to us because we have given them reality. Yes, it does take effort to withdraw the belief in the illusion, but we have Mighty Help available to us. We just need to open to this Help with confidence and certainty that the only problem we have is the decision to forget who we really are.
This is about confidence. Jesus tells us we can depend on his help in every need and trust It. "It [truth] stays exactly as it always was, to be depended on in every need, and trusted with a perfect trust in all the seeming difficulties and the doubts that the appearances the world presents engender." (W.107.4.3) All our doubts and difficulties "will merely blow away, when truth corrects the errors in your mind." (W.107.4.4) The truth of his loving presence wants to reach us in our despair and sadness. "When truth has come it harbors in its wings the gift of perfect constancy, and love which does not falter in the face of pain, but looks beyond it, steadily and sure." (W.107.5.1) Now we can join with confidence, trusting the truth where our safety lies, where there is no need for defense, because no attack is possible. When the guilt and fear are gone from our minds, we know our own invulnerability, so there is nothing to protect and nothing to defend against.
Truth already belongs to us. There is nothing to ask for. It is within our minds and thus always accessible. Jesus says if we truly and sincerely seek it, we will find it. It is not elusive. God is not hiding from us. He is in plain sight. We just need to be confident and trust this is so. "Truth does not come and go nor shift nor change, in this appearance now and then in that, evading capture and escaping grasp. It does not hide. It stands in open light, in obvious accessibility. It is impossible anyone could seek it truly, and would not succeed." (W.107.6.1-4) If we believe we have truly sought the truth and not found it, perhaps we should really look at the lie we tell ourselves. Sometimes, we are more enamored by the steps we take in the journey than we are with the destination. Given a choice of a journey to God or the destination itself, we are still happier to choose the journey. This is because we still want the experience of living in this world and we still choose to invest in the self we are attached to, which is this illusory self. We made it and we like what it offers. This is what our resistance to the truth is all about.
I am aware of the resistance in my mind and how much I find distractions to occupy my time. I see my resistance when I forget to do the Lessons. We can't say we want truth more than anything, yet not do what is asked of us to recognize it. This is all about readiness and willingness to do this practice because discipline is called for, yet it is just there for us to notice the resistance, rather than fight ourselves and feel guilty. When we find resistance strong, we can always ask for help to know "The shaky and unsteady footsteps of illusion are not our approach today." (W.107.7.4) We can decide we want to be taken farther down this path to truth today, and know with confidence we cannot fail because what we are seeking we already have. With motivation and confidence, we can make great strides today. When we ask "Him Who goes with you upon this undertaking," (W.107.8.1) we are asking for our Guide to go with us into the day. We set the goal of our day, deciding on the kind of day we want and recognizing that the practice of the Lesson will support our goal.
I am struck with the Lesson practice instructions, how he emphasizes when we are calling on the Holy Spirit, we are really connecting to the Christ Self, which is Our true reality and totally unalterable. All my moods, my excitement, my boredom, my anger, my impatience, and my total identity as a body, as Sarah, as a woman, offer nothing but vulnerability, changeability, uncertainty, and ultimately death. When I think of my imperfection, it shows me I am thinking of myself in illusory terms. I am identifying with the ego. The ego is not who I am. This false identity is what needs to be brought to the truth. The presence of the Holy Spirit is in my mind.
When we merge with Self, it is indeed difficult to return to the world. A part of us will be reluctant because the experience of truth is so deep and powerful. By contrast, being in the world of limitation feels very constricted. Yet we are told we do have an important function in the world because we bring the promise of this unchangeable truth back with us. We bring back certainty and safety, knowing, as Jesus did, the certainty of resurrection. Ultimately, he is not telling us not to function in the world, but only to bring him with us in our awareness. We are integrating the truth in our minds with our functioning in the world.
We are asked to recognize our lives were really not happy before we undertook this spiritual journey. This was the motivation to start on this spiritual journey in the first place. We felt like victims of the world. Now we are undergoing a change. We look to this teaching and witness more peace and contentment in our lives, as we apply the Lessons to the events of the day. Thus, we demonstrate we are not the victims of external events and the things of the world no longer disrupt us to the same extent. We become examples of peace and happiness in this world, with our external lives reflecting the internal changes.