This thought follows on yesterday's Lesson, which reminds us that we have not and cannot change ourselves as we were created. We were created by God as love because that is what He is, and we are as His Son. We are a thought in the mind of God.
"Love created me like Itself,"
"is a complete and accurate statement of what you are."
(W.67.1.1) How more clear can a statement be about who we are as the light of the world? It is not something we can change about ourselves. We can't change the truth of who we are.
"Truth is beyond your ability to destroy, but entirely within your ability to accept. It belongs to you because, as an extension of God, you created it with Him. It is yours because it is part of you, just as you are part of God because He created you."
(T.5.IV.1.4-6) (ACIM OE T.5.VI.46)
We don't regard ourselves as holy, as a savior of the world, or as the light of the world. That is why there are so many Lessons where we are reminded of our true identity. We are told this in the daily reminders in Review V and Review VI, in Lessons 94, 110, 162, as well as in many other Lessons and throughout the Text. This is not about simply affirming the truth by "shouting down our ego," as Ken Wapnick puts it. To know we are as God created us is to undertake the mind training by bringing our dark thoughts to awareness. Jesus is constantly reminding us of the truth so we stay focused on what we really are and we stay motivated in working with him to undo the false.
Our false self-concepts can only be undone by seeing them for what they are. That is our part in the forgiveness process, which is to look at the beliefs and concepts we hold and give them over to the Truth in us. We don’t fix ourselves; that is the job of the Holy Spirit in our minds. He is the healer. The ego will never undo itself. When we do our part, we need to trust that the undoing of the false is in good hands. All that is required of us is the willingness to be wrong about the way we think about ourselves and others when we are thinking with the ego. We are asked today to make every effort to reach the truth of who we are. What is required is not just to affirm the truth, but to be willing to keep looking at the blocks we have set up against it so the truth of who we really are is revealed.
In today's Lesson, we are asked to remind ourselves at least four or five times an hour, if not more, so we can
"Hear the truth about yourself in this."
(W.67.5.4) Jesus also asks us to
"try to reach past all of your images and preconceptions about yourself to the truth in you."
"In the longer practice period, we will think about your reality and its wholly unchanged and unchangeable nature."
(W.67.2.1) Include related thoughts like,
"Holiness created me holy. Kindness created me kind. Helpfulness created me helpful. Perfection created me perfect."
(W.67.2.3-6) Just keep adding relevant thoughts.
Why is there so much focus on talking to ourselves about who we are? It is because we don't believe this about ourselves. In fact, we spend most of our time listening to the voice of our ego, which is constantly reinforcing our preconceived notions of who and what we think we are. We are listening to the dirge we constantly sing to ourselves.
"Healing occurs as a patient begins to hear the dirge he sings, and questions its validity."
(Psychotherapy Pamphlet 3.G.1) These are the false ideas that occupy our minds and keep the truth at bay. It is our defense against the truth because truth will only come to the quiet mind. Whenever we are not forgiving, we are defending the image we have made of ourselves.
We think of ourselves as sometimes loving but often impatient, demanding, controlling, manipulating, fearful, angry, and yes some "nice" attributes, but all of them are of our making and all changeable. They change with the issues, circumstances, and events of the day. Our emotions, feelings, and self-concepts are being reinforced all day, except when we watch our minds and allow forgiveness to wash away the false thoughts. I am always trying to improve myself, but what is this self I am trying to improve? It is my ego, my false self, which is the persona or image I have made of myself. That is the reason we remind ourselves of the truth as often as we can today.
"You need to hear the truth about yourself as frequently as possible, because your mind is so preoccupied with false self-images."
When the false self takes precedence in the mind, we need to take notice of what we are holding as the truth of who we are. "This thought I do not want," I tell myself. I am, instead, willing to bring it to the truth, so I can truly know that
"Love created me like itself."
(W.67) If I am willing to take the false thoughts and misinterpretations of everything and everyone that I hold in my mind to the Holy Spirit, He will give me His interpretation. What is that? It is that I have not changed myself; what I am seeing is not true; my brother is my Self; everything is either love or a call for love, and Love created me, and everyone else, like Itself.
We tend to think we have some love in us, but we don't think it is all we have and are. The truth is that we are only love and nothing else. Through our work with the Course, the way we have defined ourselves is brought to awareness so our misconceptions of ourselves can be replaced with what we are in truth. Our nature is unchangeable regardless of how much we think we have changed ourselves.
"What fear has hidden
[our magnificent Self]
still is part of you. Joining the Atonement
[the correction of errors]
is the way out of fear."
(T.5.IV.1.1‑2) (ACIM OE T.5.VI.45) The Atonement Principle is the assurance from God that we can't change what we are in truth, but we can be, and are, unaware of the truth about ourselves. Thus, we need to hear this truth over and over again. It is not our familiar ego voice that talks incessantly that lets us know this. It is the Voice for God, the Voice for Truth, which is in our right minds. When we affirm the truth with great conviction and take it to heart, we are remembering who we are while forgetting the self we have constructed.
"The Holy Spirit calls you both to remember and forget."
(T.5.II.6.1) (ACIM OE T.5.IV.22)
Just like Jesus, who brought light to the world and is recognized as the savior of the world, we are to be teachers of love in the same way. He is our example and our teacher, and we have a Guide in the Holy Spirit, Who is in our right minds. When we open to healing, we bring light to the world by being a demonstration of that light that shines through us. The key is to keep watching the mind and to bring to awareness the darkness of the ego. It is the only way that we can come to know the Self that we are. Looking at the egoic thoughts and perceptions without judgment is to see our fear without being afraid of it, to see our anger without being angry at ourselves for it, to take note of our judgments without judging ourselves for them, to see our distress without being distressed by it, and to notice our guilt without feeling guilty about it. In other words, we are looking at our self-concepts with the Holy Spirit from outside of this dream, seeing that they are false, meaningless, and without value but not judging any of our thoughts and emotions as bad. On the contrary, we are happy to see our ego for what it is. That is what it means to be a happy learner.
What we need to do is look at all the thoughts that get in the way of our true nature, and to be willing not to justify them or weave them into stories. We simply put them on the inner altar where they can be released. Remember in Lesson 65 where we were asked to look dispassionately at each interfering thought and let it go until we reach a place of peace. It is from this place of peace that we get a glimpse of our true nature. It is from this place that we experience the holy instant, and that is where this Lesson is taking us---to the experience of the holy instant.
It is a place of peace, a place of healing, a place of deep calm, and a place where we can truly feel protected in the loving arms of our Father. We can totally relax there. We rest in God. We bring all our fears there and let them dissipate in His healing light. As our inner knowing is strengthened, our need for acceptance and approval dissipate. We release our inclination for people pleasing. There is no guilt, no self-condemnation, and no tension in our true Self. As we emerge into the world, we bring this light of acceptance to everyone we meet. Every meeting becomes a holy encounter. We become invulnerable to attack. What can hurt a Child of God? What can bring guilt to an innocent mind? What can bring attack when we remember that every "negative" behavior is a call for love?
"This is why God appointed you as the world's savior. This is why the Son of God looks to you for his salvation."
(W.67.1.3-4) While we can have moments of such an illuminating experience, this is a process, and we are being led to where this becomes more and more available to us. The memory of who we are is already in our minds. It is about clearing away the ego debris by bringing our awareness to it. We must look at what the ego is up to in every encounter and every relationship. The Holy Spirit can't replace the ego with His truth unless I bring that ego thought system to Him.
"We are trying today to undo your definition of God and replace it with His Own. We are also trying to emphasize that you are part of His definition of Himself."
(W.67.2.8‑9) Our definition of God is one of duality. If we exist, He cannot. Thus, He becomes our enemy, someone we can't trust. He is the God that the ego made, and having made Him, we tell Him who He is.
I was listening to Sean Penn today in an interview he did about his work in Haiti where he said that God had put his heavy hand on the people of Haiti and suppressed them. That is the consciousness a lot of us hold about God in our minds. It is a God that seems to bring difficulties to our lives. This is the God we have projected our split mind onto, believing that He is like us only more powerful and somehow out of reach. The truth is that there is no duality. We have all the characteristics of God. We have the same power and glory as God, and we share it with all our brothers as One.
We can make a difference in ways we can't even conceive of when we let His love shine through us. It is not something we try to do. It is something we are and know when we get out of our own way. Let's commit today to let Him lead us. Let us be willing to do this practice on behalf of our own peace and happiness. Let's not worry today about outcomes or become impatient with ourselves because ego thoughts show up. Let's remember that we can afford to be confident today because of the Mighty Companion that is always with us and is there for us to reinforce every step in our journey home.
"Be confident that you will do much today to bring that awareness nearer, whether you feel you have succeeded or not
(W.67.4.4) In other words, we will have wandering thoughts, and we may not have the experience that is the goal for this practice, but we are being encouraged to keep doing the Lessons. Changes will come as we keep doing the mind training and staying vigilant and disciplined in our practice. With the application of these lessons, we bring the time closer to when we will experience more consistent, deep inner peace.
"Now you must learn that only infinite patience produces immediate effects
(T.5.VI.12.1) (ACIM OE T.5.VIII.81)
Love and blessings, Sarah