In Lesson 20, we proclaimed,
"I am determined to see."
(W.20) Today, we are expressing something stronger.
"Above all else I want to see."
(W.27) With this, we are saying that having vision is more important than our worldly attachments. It makes waking up from this dream and remembering who we are our primary goal. It means recognizing that we no longer wish to put the ego in charge of our lives. It puts our desire for awakening from this dream in first place.
"It gives vision priority among your desires."
Clearly, we still have other desires, and Jesus has no intention in making us feel guilty about them. In fact, he says that it does not matter if this is not the absolute truth for us. He acknowledges that he does not expect that we are entirely sincere yet in affirming our desire for vision.
"The purpose of today's exercises is to bring the time when the idea will be wholly true a little nearer."
(W.27.1.5) Our motivation is not yet sufficiently strong. We are still defended against the truth.
"There may be a great temptation to believe that some sort of sacrifice is being asked of you when you say you want to see above all else."
(W.27.2.1) We still believe that we have to pay for our sins, atone for our mistakes, give up something we value, and become such serious students that we give up our idea of happiness and what we deem as our best interests. We really believe that God demands something from us, and so we keep Him out of parts of our lives, even if that brings more suffering. Until we see that God's Will for us is only happiness and we recognize that the ego is attached to suffering, we will resist these Lessons. Jesus wants happiness for us.
He is trying to motivate us to see that our happiness depends on vision, not on reliance on the ego. Happiness is mentioned in the Course almost as many times as forgiveness so it is literally synonymous. It is our own thinking and analyzing that keep us locked into the ego. Doing these Lessons is about surrendering our ideas and letting the thoughts presented here wash over us. It is about opening our minds and our hearts to the truth that is already in us. There is nothing to seek, only to allow.
As Jesus says in the introduction to the Workbook, it does not matter if we currently do not accept these thoughts. We don't need to believe the ideas nor accept or welcome them for the Lessons to have value for us. In fact, he says that we may even resist them; but he says, that will not decrease their efficacy. Practicing them and applying them will bring us closer to the day when this is completely true for us.
The purpose of this Lesson is to strengthen our motivation and our desire for the truth. We have to want to learn what Jesus is teaching us, at least to some extent, or his efforts will fail. It is all about readiness and willingness to learn. Jesus is helping us with this by showing us that our way has not brought the happiness that we have longed for. When we see that our own strategies don't work to bring us the peace and joy we had hoped for, we become more motivated to learn the Lessons that Jesus gives us. However, he knows we have resistance to his teaching, so he keeps reminding us that the reason to learn what he is teaching us is that it will make us blissfully happy.
Jesus tells us,
"The Holy Spirit needs a happy learner, in whom His mission can be happily accomplished. You who are steadfastly devoted to misery must first recognize that you are miserable and not happy. The Holy Spirit cannot teach without this contrast, for you believe that misery is happiness. This has so confused you that you have undertaken to learn to do what you can never do, believing that unless you learn it you will not be happy."
(T.14.II.1.1-4) (ACIM OE T.13.VII.54) It is a process. We will not immediately take this to heart. We still think that we will be sacrificing our own best interests, as we define them, and we still need to be convinced that this journey entails only gain, not loss for us.
We still experience fear in the belief that if we learn his Lessons, we will have to give up something we value. We don't yet recognize that there is nothing in the illusion to value because it is nothing.
"Nothing real can be threatened."
(T.IN.2.2-3) (ACIM OE T.IN.4) If fear comes up and resistance is strong, don't fight yourself. We can simply remind ourselves,
"Vision has no cost to anyone."
(W.27.2.3) And if that is not enough to allay our fears, we are reminded,
"It can only bless."
Today, we affirm that vision is a gift that will allow us to see beyond the forms of this world to the holiness that is forever shining there as a reflection of the holiness in our minds.
"The desire and the willingness to let it
[the holy instant]
come precede its coming. You prepare your mind for it only to the extent of recognizing that you want it above all else. It is not necessary that you do more; indeed, it is necessary that you realize that you cannot do more."
(T.18.IV.1.3-5) (ACIM OE T.18.V.32) All that is asked is that we practice the Lesson with some degree of willingness and as much sincerity as possible at least every half hour.
Set your intention on the frequency of practice for yourself so that the pressures and demands of the day don't just wash out the Lesson from your awareness. We want to do the practice to the extent that we want vision. Set your goal so that you have a way of assessing the extent of your resistance. Jesus knows that we will likely not stick entirely to our intention, and he does not want us to feel guilty about that. He does not chastise us for forgetting because he already knows we probably will. Beating up on ourselves is not helpful and will probably result in our giving up on the Course. It can also just serve to increase our guilt, which is the last thing we need. Be gentle, but be firm with yourself in the practice. Looking at how much we stayed with our intention is helpful to assess our level of resistance.
"The real question is, how often will you remember? How much do you want today's idea to be true?"
Love and blessings, Sarah