We have spent our last twenty Lessons continuing to address the blocks to true perception. Now we review these twenty Lessons to establish them firmly in our minds by practicing each one as often as possible throughout the day. Each Review has been about reminding us of the importance of deeply understanding each Lesson and establishing it firmly in our minds. In the introduction to this Review, Jesus tells us the whole curriculum is in each idea ". . . if understood, practiced, accepted, and applied to all the seeming happenings throughout the day." (W.RVI.IN.2.2) If we get any idea for the day fully and really truly accept it into our minds, it can be the only lesson we need to release us from the bondage of the world. All we need is just one idea, but that idea must be applied without exception.
This tells me how resistant the ego mind really is when it comes to getting each idea fully. But this need not be, as we are the creators of our own experience. We don't need to wait in helplessness to realize spiritual freedom. We must take an active part in this process. It means it is impossible to be a victim if we accept we are an infinite creator of our reality. When we are tempted to blame anyone, we can choose, in that instance, to stop and to remember we don't have to wait to choose our freedom.
The Lessons address so many aspects of the ego mind until there is recognition and acceptance that we have been wrong about everything and the willingness to surrender our misguided perceptions. The ego offers up all kinds of blocks to keep the truth from entering fully into our minds, but the ego has no power except for what we give it. We justify our anger and attacks and defend our positions as correct. We stubbornly hold onto our "truth," as we perceive it. Why would we want to do so when our perception brings us more guilt, pain, and suffering? Yet we don't always recognize what we are doing. Jesus shows us how we hold onto our perceptions in order to hold onto the self we think we are, since part of this self needs to see itself as victimized by others. This means we actually revel in being unfairly treated. It is our way of escaping our responsibility for our condition and our situation. It gives us the justification we need in order to blame others for how we feel. It allows us to cling to our specialness and self-concepts and require our "evil" brothers to pay the cost for our sin.
This is why we need the Holy Spirit as the Answer to the ego's persistent hold on our minds. The Answer is already in our minds. We just need to open ourselves to it by recognizing we are wrong in the way we currently perceive. We need to be willing to surrender to His Answer. For now, we seem to need the combination of Lessons, until they can ultimately blend as one. Because the process of undoing what we have made of ourselves will create resistance in the mind, the answer must come from outside the thought system of the ego. In other words, the ego will never undo itself.
The Lessons in Part II of the Workbook are much shorter, with no more detailed practice instructions. As a result, we will be left to follow the discipline we have established for ourselves until now. Lesson 153 gave us a very good overall approach to our practice, which will continue to serve us well for Part II of the workbook. We are urged not to take less than fifteen minutes in our morning and evening meditation, and hourly remembrances during the day are encouraged. In addition, Jesus asks us to think of the Lesson as often as we can in between the hourly practice. This involves doing frequent reminders throughout each hour, but they should not be rote in nature. We continue, as well, with the response to temptation practice, which includes how we use the Lesson to address any situation, event, or person that takes us out of our peace. Having said that, Jesus never wants us to feel guilty if we are not ready for this kind of discipline. We do the best we can without feeling like we are being coerced into something we are not ready to do. It is an opportunity to take our awakening into our own hands, recognizing the value to us of rising above the clouds of distress, anger, depression, or whatever else we are feeling. Above all, we are invited to be gentle, yet firm, with ourselves in the process.
Whenever we feel anxious, unfairly treated, or experience any kind of emotional or physical pain, or fear of any kind, we can turn to the Holy Spirit for help. Applying the Lesson will help us release the blocks to peace that we experience in those seemingly difficult situations. When this happens, we affirm "This thought I do not want. I choose instead_____." (Lesson for the day). (W.RVI.IN.6.2) We replace our ego thoughts with the thought for the day. I know for me, when I experience anger, frustration, impatience, worry, or whatever other feelings that show up, the Lesson becomes like a life raft and brings my mind back from the ego's hell to the peace of God. I remind myself I can rise above the difficult situation, above the battleground. I am not a victim of any situation, as it is all my creation.
Daily, we start and end each Lesson with the thought, "I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me." (W.RVI.IN.3.3-5) This becomes our central theme repeated throughout the day. It is an important thought to undo the belief our identity is that of a body. We do think we are the body because we have aligned ourselves with the ego, which is our wrong mind. We affirm this daily by saying things like "I am tired" instead of "My body seems to be tired" or "I am in a car" when my body seems to be in the car. I can put my body to bed, but my mind can wander freely.
It seems I am united with my body and it is my home, but this is just an illusion. We hold onto this illusion because we hold onto a self that is separate, unique, and special. When we declare our innocence and experience a holy instant, we experience freedom from the body. It disappears for a moment of timelessness.
While we feed, pamper, exercise, and put energy into its care, and while we try to hold onto it, we are reminded of our limited and bound existence. As we distance ourselves from our body through forgiveness, and remind ourselves our reality is outside of this dream, the body can be put to a holy purpose. It can be used as a communication tool for the Holy Spirit.
The idea "I am not a body" is a big stretch for us, which is why the idea is repeated over and over in the Review Lessons. "It is essential for your progress in this course that you accept today's idea, and hold it very dear." (W.199.3.1) It is a process of recognizing we have been wrong about everything we perceive, and we can make another choice.
We are aiming in these practices for "deep relinquishment." (W.RVI.IN.3.8) We allow each ego thought that comes to our minds to be brought to awareness and released to the Holy Spirit. We acknowledge we do not know anything and thus are willing to be taught. To say "I do not know" is deeply threatening to the ego, yet it is the beginning of the undoing process.
The process is rigorous and takes effort. It requires vigilance to watch our thoughts. Our minds will wander, but we do these Lessons to achieve greater awareness, focus, and discipline. Be willing to release your "idle thoughts" for healing by paying attention to what you think about. These ego thoughts are not the truth of who you are. They are the chatter of the ego that keeps us from hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit, which is constantly there, reminding us of the truth. Our idle thoughts keep us from recognizing our reality. It is not about stopping these thoughts, but only about releasing interest in them. We need not give them our attention.
Our efforts are now focused on truth, and less of our attention goes to what previously distracted us. Distractions are of the ego. We are not bad for following the ego's dictates, but we must recognize they will not lead us to peace. In Mathew 6.33, Jesus says, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added onto you." In other words, our freedom is in the kingdom of God and not in the things of this world we strive for. When we put our priority on the truth, our bodily needs will be taken care of. We learn to take our hands off the steering wheel of our lives and to trust. Our focus is on the practice of forgiveness. Every difficult relationship and every challenging situation is another opportunity to see how everything is orchestrated for us, and by us, for our healing.
We are reminded that the cause is never out there. The world is not acting on us. It is our thoughts projected onto the world that we see; it is only our own internal decision for the ego or the Holy Spirit. When forgiveness becomes our main function with regard to anything that shows up in our lives, we bring responsibility for our lack of peace back into our own minds. Now the events of the world just become a backdrop. Against this backdrop, we can see the choices we have made being played out. They reflect what is in the mind. Whether our roles seem to be of a housewife, a photographer, a taxi driver, a stockbroker, or a psychologist, they simply become the backdrop for the healing work of accepting Atonement for ourselves. What matters is doing the forgiveness work of releasing our judgments with those who come on our stage or those we bring to mind. There are no accidents. All has been ordained in our script, outside the dream. All of our encounters are part of this script and perfect for our awakening. Nothing is ever wrong.
We start the day remembering our brothers are one with us. You are me. We are part of one Self. There is only one Mind. "I trust my brothers who are one with me." (W.201.1) We take our focus off of our brothers' mistakes, remembering we are not different from them, and what we judge and condemn in them, is what we attack ourselves for. We remind ourselves to put our focus on who they really are, the same as ourselves. "No one but is my brother. I am blessed with oneness with the universe and God, my Father, one Creator of the whole that is my Self, forever one with me." (W.201.2-3)
Dedicate your day to truth. Dedicate your practice to God. Jesus says he is placing us in God's charge and asks that we let Him teach us ". . . what to do and say and think, each time you turn to Him." (W.RVI.IN.7.2) When we release our interfering thoughts, we learn to listen to His Voice. He guides us very naturally in everything we do and say and think. We are reminded to keep watching our thoughts, step out of the way, and walk in trust. As we develop this deep trust in Him, we will be guided more and more in mind training. Today, we dedicate ourselves to the practice as described here. It requires deep relinquishment of everything cluttering up our minds, which is making us deaf to reason, to sanity and to simple truth.
Love and Blessings, Sarah