Undoing the Ego

W-26: My attack thoughts are attacking my invulnerability.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

mauve-sky-with-lightningThis is one of those lessons that is thunderous.  It reverberates through my mind with powerful claps because my memory of God is sparked by it.  It says, “The idea for today introduces the thought that you always attack yourself first.”

The ego mind scared itself into believing that we had separated from God’s mind and that in order to alleviate that fear we lashed out at God as if He had done something wrong (first projection).  This led to us believing that now we could be attacked in return.

First we believed we could be attacked by God–before we were even in a form.  We believed this while just an ego thought without the coverings and the veils of space and time and worlds and bodies.  Next we believed that our brothers could attack us … we were so delusional we thought our brothers were separate entities.  As if the fingers on our hand were separate entities independent of our hand, arm and body.

Every person we see “out there” is a piece of us.  We are all aspects of the same ego mind.  One aspect may be homeless and in the gutter, another may be English royalty, but both are facets of the same One.

This lesson helps us really comprehend that.  “And what would have effects through you must also have effects on you.  It is this law that will ultimately save you, but you are misusing it now.  You must therefore learn how it can be used for your own best interests, rather than against them.”

The practice today is worth writing out on paper.  Very deep and powerful.  We are asked to be specific in recounting what concerns us, what we fear could happen, and then to tell ourselves, “This thought is an attack on myself.”  What a relief!

If this is not the first time you’ve done the ACIM Workbook, you might want to partner W-26 with W-38 which provides a further antidote.  In 12-step they say the only person you can change is yourself.  ACIM goes beyond the person entirely and shows us that with God’s help, little “me” is naturally absorbed back into my True Self once and for all.

LESSON 26

My attack thoughts are attacking my invulnerability.

It is surely obvious that if you can be attacked you are not invulnerable.  You see attack as a real threat.  That is because you believe that you can really attack.  And what would have effects through you must also have effects on you.  It is this law that will ultimately save you, but you are misusing it now.  You must therefore learn how it can be used for your own best interests, rather than against them.

Because your attack thoughts will be projected, you will fear attack.  And if you fear attack, you must believe that you are not invulnerable.  Attack thoughts therefore make you vulnerable in your own mind, which is where the attack thoughts are.  Attack thoughts and invulnerability cannot be accepted together.  They contradict each other.

The idea for today introduces the thought that you always attack yourself first.  If attack thoughts must entail the belief that you are vulnerable, their effect is to weaken you in your own eyes.  Thus they have attacked your perception of yourself.  And because you believe in them, you can no longer believe in yourself.  A false image of yourself has come to take the place of what you are.

Practice with today’s idea will help you to understand that vulnerability or invulnerability is the result of your own thoughts.  Nothing except your thoughts can attack you.  Nothing except your thoughts can make you think you are vulnerable.  And nothing except your thoughts can prove to you this is not so.

Six practice periods are required in applying today’s idea.  A full two minutes should be attempted for each of them, although the time may be reduced to a minute if the discomfort is too great.  Do not reduce it further.

The practice period should begin with repeating the idea for today, then closing your eyes and reviewing the unresolved questions whose outcomes are causing you concern.  The concern may take the form of depression, worry, anger, a sense of imposition, fear, foreboding or preoccupation.  Any problem as yet unsettled that tends to recur in your thoughts during the day is a suitable subject.  You will not be able to use very many for any one practice period, because a longer time than usual should be spent with each one.  Today’s idea should be applied as follows:

First, name the situation:

I am concerned about _____________.

Then go over every possible outcome that has occurred to you in that connection and which has caused you concern, referring to each one quite specifically, saying:

I am afraid _____________ will happen.

If you are doing the exercises properly, you should have some five or six distressing possibilities available for each situation you use, and quite possibly more.  It is much more helpful to cover a few situations thoroughly than to touch on a larger number.  As the list of anticipated outcomes for each situation continues, you will probably find some of them, especially those that occur to you toward the end, less acceptable to you.  Try, however, to treat them all alike to whatever extent you can.

After you have named each outcome of which you are afraid, tell yourself:

That thought is an attack upon myself.

Conclude each practice period by repeating today’s idea to yourself once more.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.

 

W-25: I do not know what anything is for.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

hands_making_love_heart_with_shining_lightJesus tells us in Lesson 25, “… the ego is not you.”  This means you are not the ego; you are not your body; you are not your personality; you are not a person.  In Chapter 6, we learn “When God created you He made you part of Him.”

Our goals have been centered around the person and the body, not our Self.  When we begin to experience clicks of recognition that we are not the person, but God’s Child (One Self), we want to withdraw our interest in worldly goals.  At first there is some inner conflict, but then it becomes clear that to Love and Be Loved because we are Love is our sole purpose and meaning.

We understand the purpose of worldly things, like a cell phone is used to make contact with another person.  But that contact is not true Communication.  Communication is what the ego has tried to usurp, and Communication is what the Holy Spirit helps us restore.

Lesson 25 is a step in the direction of being willing to give up the goals we have established for everything.

“You cannot know the conflict until you fully understand the basic fact that the ego cannot know anything.  The Holy Spirit does not speak first, but He always answers.” (T-6.VI.3:1-2)

My practice today goes like this:

“I do not know what that door is for.  I do not know what this cat is for.  … I do not know what that machine-thing is for. … I do not know what that square is … I do not know what anything is for … because I do not know anything.”  There is a bit of irritation in the stomach … and then a long, full exhale of relief.

How relaxing to give up all my goals.  All my goals.   Life is now–not the ego’s version of the present, but the Timeless-Always-Now.  I do not know what anything is for when I’m looking with the ego’s eyes.  But place myself in Spirit’s hands and golden vision filters through the dream while “I” still seem to be a bit groggy.

LESSON 25

I do not know what anything is for.

Purpose is meaning.  Today’s idea explains why nothing you see means anything.  You do not know what it is for.  Therefore, it is meaningless to you.  Everything is for your own best interests.  That is what it is for; that is its purpose; that is what it means.  It is in recognizing this that your goals become unified.  It is in recognizing this that what you see is given meaning.

You perceive the world and everything in it as meaningful in terms of ego goals.  These goals have nothing to do with your own best interests, because the ego is not you.  This false identification makes you incapable of understanding what anything is for.  As a result, you are bound to misuse it.  When you believe this, you will try to withdraw the goals you have assigned to the world, instead of attempting to reinforce them.

Another way of describing the goals you now perceive is to say that they are all concerned with “personal” interests.  Since you have no personal interests, your goals are really concerned with nothing.  In cherishing them, therefore, you have no goals at all.  And thus you do not know what anything is for.

Before you  can make sense out of the exercises for today, one more thought is necessary.  At the most superficial levels, you do recognize purpose.  Yet purpose cannot be understood at these levels.  For example, you do understand that a telephone is for the purpose of talking to someone who is not physically in your immediate vicinity.  What you do not understand is what you want to reach him for.  And it is this that makes your contact with him meaningful or not.

It is crucial to your learning to be willing to give up the goals you have established for everything.  The recognition that they are meaningless, rather than “good” or “bad,” is the only way to accomplish this.  The idea for today is a step in this direction.

Six practice periods, each of two-minutes duration, are required.   Each practice period should begin with a slow repetition of the idea for today, followed by looking about you and letting your glance rest on whatever happens to catch your eye, near or far, “important” or “unimportant,” “human” or “nonhuman.”  With your eyes resting on each subject you so select, say, for example:

I do not know what this chair is for.
I do not know what this pencil is for.
I do not know what this hand is for.

Say this quite slowly, without shifting your eyes from the subject until you have completed the statement about it.  Then move on to the next subject, and apply today’s idea as before.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.

W-23: I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

This lesson is riveting.  We are given the “only way out of fear that will ever succeed.”  And it cannot fail.  The cause of the world I see is my attack thoughts.  Period.  If I give up my attack thoughts, my perception of the world will change–this is the happy dream which the Course talks about in the Text.

First, we need to identify what has caused the world–choosing the ego thought system.  Second, we need to be willing to let go of our attachment to the ego thought system.  Third, God takes the final step for us and reveals the Light and Love which we already are.

One tricky point is that our thoughts of attacking someone or something else are exactly the same as our thoughts that someone or something (e.g., a tsunami) is attacking us.  We have to get the hang of understanding that an attack thought is an attack thought no matter which direction it is going … it still indicates we have chosen the ego.

And now, here comes one of the many Course definitions of “salvation.”  Salvation is escaping from the cause of the world.  Salvation is that moment of decision when we opt for the Holy Spirit’s Vision rather than ego-seeing, eyesight.  Then loveliness can light all of our images. 

Now get this:  “There is no point in lamenting the world.  There is no point in trying to change the world.  It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect. [emphasis mine]”   What a huge relief.  I no longer have to lament the world.  I do not have to worry about Mother Nature and the countless ways we defile Her.  I do not have to hate myself for not being an organ donor, for not adopting every orphan child and animal out there, for not always recycling!

What’s more, I need to grasp that the world is an effect of my choice to think through the ego mind.  It is a narrow mind, filled with guilt and fear, and it believes it has separated from God. That’s what’s happening.  That is the cause of me picturing a world.  I am outpicturing, projecting an image outwards … an image of attack, hatred, fear, retribution, vengeance.  And the world I see is the effect of my thoughts.

So Jesus says if I change my thoughts I will change my mind.  I will literally switch over from the limited edition ego mind 🙂 to the Full Edition.  We see a world but we don’t see ourselves as the image maker of the world.  We call that arrogance, to claim we could make a world–isn’t that a brilliant way of avoiding the Truth?

This led to a discussion between me and Scott about the law of attraction.  Scott said that he read a book on the subject a while back and found that “there was no traction in the law of attraction” for him.  He didn’t feel drawn to the teachings–he had an innate sense of this lesson: I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts, which originated during his 12-year-old lacrosse experience (see blogpost “W-21: I am determined to see things differently” posted on Jan 21, 2015).

There’s been some public concern about the law of attraction being used for greedy manifestation without spirituality.  True law of attraction taps into a higher vibration that guarantees the highest good of all.

My sense of the law of attraction is that the undoing process can bring us to the point when a piece of God’s mind said, “Let’s try being separate from God.  Let’s try duality.  Let’s try felt experience and gross form” and that this pure moment was free of fear, attack, hatred, guilt, death, etc.  This was still within eternity and could be achieved playfully in endless ways … this is my sense of what the law of attraction provides: a way to write our dream script in all variety of gorgeous, abundant, brilliant, peaceful, harmonious ways, just for the fun of it.

Playing at God’s feet, so to speak, and awakening refreshed when we feel like it.  Some of us want to pause here and have some fun in the world.  Some of us are ready to go Home.  What’s interesting to me is that Helen wasn’t thinking about the law of attraction when she scribed the Course–Jesus didn’t offer her an alternative to living in the world for manifestation purposes.  He offered her an alternative thought system–a doorway Home because that must be what she asked for whether she always knew it consciously or not.

LESSON 23

I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.

The idea for today contains the only way out of fear that will ever succeed.  Nothing else will work; everything else is meaningless.  But this way cannot fail.  Every thought you have makes up some segment of the world you see.  It is with your thoughts, then, that we must work, if your perception of the world is to be changed.

If the cause of the world you see is attack thoughts, you must learn that it is these thoughts which you do  not want.  There is no point in lamenting the world.  There is no point in trying to change the world.  It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect.  But there is indeed a point in changing your thoughts about the world.  Here you are changing the cause.  The effect will change automatically.

The world you see is a vengeful world, and everything in it is a symbol of vengeance.  Each of your perceptions of  “external reality” is a pictorial representation of your own attack thoughts.  One can well ask if this can be called seeing.  Is not fantasy a better word for such a process, and hallucination a more appropriate term for the result?

You see the world that you have made, but you do not see yourself as the image maker.  You cannot be saved from the world, but you can escape from its cause.  This is what salvation means, for where is the world you see when its cause is gone?  Vision already holds a replacement for everything you think you see now.  Loveliness can light your images, and so transform them that you will love them, even though they were made of hate.  For you will not be making them alone.

The idea for today introduces the thought that you are not trapped in the world you see, because its cause can be changed.  This change requires, first, that the cause be identified and then let go, so that it can be replaced.  The first two steps in this process require your cooperation.  The final one does not.  Your images have already been replaced.  By taking the first two steps, you will see that this is so.

Besides using it throughout the day as the need arises, five practice periods are required in applying today’s idea.  As you look about you, repeat the idea slowly to yourself first, and then close your eyes and devote about a minute to searching your mind for as many attack thoughts as occur to you.  As each one crosses your mind say:

I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts about _________.

Hold each attack thought in mind as you say this, and then dismiss that thought and go on to the next.

In the practice periods, be sure to include both your thoughts of attacking and of being attacked.  Their effects are exactly the same because they are exactly the same.  You do not recognize this as yet, and you are asked at this time only to treat them as the same in today’s practice periods.  We are still at the stage of identifying the cause of the world you see.  When you finally learn that thoughts of attack and of being attacked are not different, you will be ready to let the cause go.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.

 

Why Subscribe to Workin’ the Workbook?

WtW verticalWorkin’ the Workbook (WtW) is an online class that helps structure, clarify and support your Course in Miracles Workbook practice.  WtW also helps you persevere and stick with all 365 lessons. Many people quit before completing the Workbook and don’t get to experience the rewards of choosing the Holy Spirit rather than the ego.

You can begin at any lesson — start with Lesson 1 or resume where you left off.  The price is $37 a month (just a bit more than a dollar a day) and no one is turned away due to lack of funds (email me at miracles@amytorresacim.com to ask about scholarships).  The classroom is open to you for as long as it takes to finish all 365 lessons.

Most importantly, WtW encourages you to trust your personal experience. Messages and signs that you might overlook will be illuminated as WtW helps you recognize symbols of God’s Love and Light.

As you do the workbook practice, you will find it easier to connect with your Internal Teacher, the Holy Spirit, and recognize His guidance. You will develop more focus, faith and trust as your own experience strengthens the Truth which is already in your mind.  Here are some basic recommendations from the Holy Spirit as given by Jesus in ACIM:

Recommendations from the Holy Spirit

★ Develop the good habit of practicing your workbook lesson as close to awakening, and going to sleep, as possible.

★ All the workbook lessons should be done in an unhurried manner. A comfortable sense of leisure is essential.

★ As you practice the idea for the day, use it totally indiscriminately. Do not attempt to apply it to everything you see, for these exercises should not become ritualistic. Only be sure that nothing you see is specifically excluded. One thing is like another as far as the application of the idea is concerned. This is important because it impresses on the mind the first miracle principle: “There is no order of difficulty in miracles.” When this becomes real to us, there is nothing else to do but naturally and effortlessly spend our lives extending miracles.

★ “The curriculum is highly individualized, and all aspects are under the Holy Spirit’s particular care and guidance.” ACIM, M-29. Isn’t it comforting and inspiring to know that the Holy Spirit is working with you individually?*

★ Open to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and feel His power surging Life and Love into you. Doing the workbook practice is like plugging in your cell phone–a powerful energy is charging you up! And there will be signs to boost your confidence along the way.

★ There is also a purification process involved, so it’s natural to experience unpleasant side effects at times. But remember, when swimming pools are disinfected, first the muddy, murky sludge that has gathered at the bottom is churned up to the surface. Only after the filter has been going for a while does the water become clear. In the same way, you are cleansed and purified through the workbook practice. After a while fear and darkness dissolve, and all that remains is the loving light You Really Are.

* There will come a day when you realize that you were working with the Holy Spirit, not He with you.  He helps you awaken to Reality, not dream a better dream.  When you choose His guidance, you are choosing against illusions and enlightenment is recognized as always here, always true. “The Holy Spirit must work through you to teach you He is in you.  This is an intermediary step towards the knowledge that you are in God because you are part of Him.” (T-7.IV.2:1-2)

For a long time, it seems as if your path is your own–very personal and filled with unique experiences. It is your particular set of experiences, relationships and understandings. This is because first you must become your self, and that readies you to realize your Self.

Imagine you are climbing a ladder to Heaven, rung by rung. Each rung is brightened with more and more light, as you draw nearer and nearer to Heavenly Light. The Holy Spirit is not shining brighter – you are drawing nearer. And when you reach the top you realize there is no individual “you”– there is one unified Us 🙂

WtW Lauren crisp n clear

Let’s practice together!  Click here for more information and to sign-up for Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.  

W-22: What I see is a form of vengeance.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

In 1998, there was great resistance to this lesson because I took it personally.  I thought Jesus was not acknowledging how far I had come in not judging people and being open-minded.

Now it is clear that Jesus is not speaking to little ego-fragment “me, Amy”, as a person.  He is simply stating that ego eyesight shows us forms and forms were made to obscure the Formless God-Self we truly are.

Forms can be transformed–the undoing process is an unforming, which these early lessons initiate.  Forms do not stop at material objects–forms begin with thought-form.

If I have attack thoughts, criticisms and judgments of myself or others, then I must see the world as vengeful.  The Course says I’ve projected my own anger out at the world and I expect revenge in return; I expect to be attacked.  Expecting attack, I lash out (and often lie to myself and say I’m being nice, or that I wouldn’t have lashed out if you hadn’t started “it”) and call it self defense.

“Why’d you have to make me do it?”

And so there is a vicious cycle of fear of attack leading to attack over and over again.  All the forms I see are a testament to my belief that I’ve separated from God and that I’m afraid I’ll be punished, so my best defense is an offensive strike.

Another way of putting it is that every form I see is a curtain I’ve drawn between myself and God.  This curtain obscures my Source so that I won’t remember God exists.  I don’t realize that I’m the dreamer dreaming an unreal dream which will end, and I with it, when “I” awaken … awakening is the opposite of condensation … a spreading back into Wholeness where All is the same One.

Jesus assures us that none of this is real; it is a savage fantasy from which we can “escape.”   There is a trans-formation process where we ask the Holy Spirit to use the forms we made for His Purpose of Love and Unification.  For a while we still see forms but from a Unifying Perspective.We made up the whole story of the world and humanity, because we dreamed we separated from God, and we dreamed up the hatred and murder with which we live.  But actually we are seeing “only the perishable,” “nothing that will last,” because what we see is not real–what we see is a form of vengeance.  Vengeance can be transformed with the Holy Spirit’s Vision … to help ourselves look with Him, we ask ourselves, “Is this the world I really want to see?”

LESSON 22

What I see is a form of vengeance.

Today’s idea accurately describes the way anyone who holds attack thoughts in his mind must see the world.  Having projected his anger onto the world, he sees vengeance about to strike at him.  His own attack is thus perceived as self defense.  This becomes an increasingly vicious circle until he is willing to change how he sees.  Otherwise, thoughts of attack and counter-attack will preoccupy him and people his entire world.  What peace of mind is possible to him then?

It is from this savage fantasy that you want to escape.  Is it not joyous news to hear that it is not real?  Is it not a happy discovery to find that you can escape?  You made what you would destroy; everything that you hate and would attack and kill.  All that you fear does not exist.  Look at the world about you at least five times today, for at least a minute each time.  As your eyes move slowly from one object to another, from one body to another, say to yourself:

I see only the perishable.
I see nothing that will last.
What I see is not real.
What I see is a form of vengeance.

At the end of each practice period, ask yourself:

Is this the world I really want to see?

The answer is surely obvious.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.

 

W-21: I am determined to see things differently.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

This is the lesson that tells us that “a slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury.”

Anger is anger no matter what gradation we experience.  Most of us are very uncomfortable with anger anyway, and cannot permit ourselves to know how angry we are–the consequences of our anger are too threatening to us.

In the kind of psychotherapy work I used to do, we are invited to fully feel our emotions in the safety of the therapy room, and find out that they can run their course, be released, and we can feel relieved, re-balanced, and transformed from that process.

For example, if I allow myself to yell at someone who’s not actually there using Gestalt chairwork, and express that energy through my voice, body language, eyes, etc., then I will find out more.  I may grow angrier and feel the effects in my body: shaking hands, heat rising through my torso into my face, etc.

I may feel impotent as the person I am angry at ignores me or mocks me.  I may feel satisfied that I’ve said my piece.  I may feel frightened that I could hurt the other person, or myself through a violent gesture, or by internal bursting–a stroke or a heart attack.

Eventually, if I practice this technique and use it well, I will learn that strong feelings are energy in motion, e-motion, and that at the other side of this swell of anger is peace.  Underneath every human emotion is peace, joy and love … if we are willing to plumb the depths.  At the depth we discover our truth: we are all the same and we are just frightened that we are alone, misunderstood and deserving of punishment.

“I’d rather go fishin’.”

Scott told me that he learned this lesson when he was 12 years old and was on a lacrosse team.  It became clear to him that if he faced his opponent down by running straight at him,  penetrating him with a look that said, “I’m going to kill you” and wielding his lacrosse stick with fury, that he would win the game.  He fully grasped in that moment that under the veils of learning lacrosse technique and back-slapping team camaraderie was simply “kill or be killed.”  And he never went back to lacrosse.  He may not have known it at the time, but he was determined to see things differently 🙂

Yesterday’s lesson, morphed into, “I will not be deterred…”  Today I feel confident that I will not be blinded by the ego because my willingness is Greater than ego objections.  Willingness adheres to the Truth, my true Will Power, my Source.  Let the ego hypnotize and swirl and makes its magic.  Magic disappears in a poof of smoke when Light pours through.  And I am able to see … things … differently.

Ramana Maharshi

Ramana Maharshi offers the mantra, “I am that I am.”  I am that I am clears away debris and ego darkness.  I am that I am sweeps obstructions away.  Enough I am that I am clears space for the Light.  Seems similar.

LESSON 21

I am determined to see things differently.

The idea for today is obviously a continuation and extension of the preceding one.  This time, however, specific mind-searching periods are necessary, in addition to applying the idea to particular situations as they may arise.  Five practice periods are urged, allowing a full minute for each.

In the practice periods, begin by repeating the idea to yourself.  Then close your eyes and search your mind carefully for situations past, present or anticipated that arouse anger in you.  The anger may take the form of any reaction ranging from mild irritation to rage.  The degree of the emotion you experience does not matter.  You will become increasingly aware that a slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury.

Try, therefore, not to let the “little” thoughts of anger escape you in the practice periods.  Remember that you do not really recognize what arouses anger in you, and nothing that you believe in this connection means anything.  You will probably be tempted to dwell more on some situations or persons more than others, on the fallacious grounds that they are more “obvious.”  This is not so.  It is merely an example of the belief that some forms of attack are more justified than others.

As you search your mind for all the forms in which attack thoughts present themselves, hold each one in mind while you tell yourself:

I am determined to see __________ [name of person] differently.
I am determined to see __________ [specify the situation] differently.

Try to be as specific as possible.  You may, for example, focus your anger on a particular attribute of a particular person, believing that the anger is limited to this aspect.  If your perception is suffering from this form of distortion, say:

I am determined to see _____________ [specify the attribute] in _____________ [name of person] differently.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.

 

W-20: I am determined to see.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

Determination has not been my strong suit, and I’ve learned it’s because the ego’s willpower is capricious and not in my best interests.

However, it occurs to me that determination, as Jesus is using it, can be seen as “not to be deterred or detoured” and I relax into the lesson.  I will not be deterred or detoured from following (and relaxing into) the Holy Spirit’s Vision.

Grace is actually the determining factor in my life and clearly a firm decision, which I am resolved not to change, has already been made for me by Spirit.  The unplanned openness of this life of “mine” is a testament to That.

Lesson 20 spontaneously crystallizes for me as a line from Chapter 2 comes to mind: “You are much too tolerant of mind wandering, and are passively condoning your mind’s miscreations.”  No interest in mind wandering anymore.  Resting in God and knowing the Source of Guidance is Where I truly am, is all that is important now.

Four years earlier, when I practiced Lesson 20, this is what I wrote:  Jesus starts off this lesson with the word “We.”  “We have been quite casual about our practice periods thus far.”  It’s as if he’s put his arm around my shoulder in a friendly way, and yet somehow I get the feeling he’s scolding me.

Maybe he’s been quite casual, but it seems to me I’ve been quite dedicated.  He’s telling me that we’ve barely done any work in practicing the lessons so far because if I felt coerced in any way I might give in to resentment and opposition and that wouldn’t be useful in the path to Oneness.

Still, I feel the effort I have put in is going unappreciated and I also have no idea how I’m going to put more discipline into the Workbook since just the word “discipline” brings up my uneasiness on whether I’ll follow through or not.

Also, Jesus is candid about his strategy to allow us to feel whatever we feel and believe whatever we believe in order that we do the exercises and be influenced by our own experience.  (This is very much what I did as a psychotherapist and a yoga teacher.  “Don’t change anything — observe and get to know yourself. Then you’ll have the ability to make real choices.”  This applies to emotions, body tension, breath constriction, and, spiritually, undoing the ego.)

He comes out and says that his approach so far has been intentional and “very carefully planned.”  Why is Jesus revealing that?  Maybe Helen needed to hear that.  Honestly, I’m having trouble fulfilling the loose schedule with minimal effort required as it is.  Well, at least it’s obvious to me that this is the voice of the ego, railing against the invitation to return Home.  Interestingly, Scott (we’re doing the Workbook together this year) finds these words of Jesus comforting–he’s glad that Jesus understands not to expect too much at first.

Still, a lot of annoyance is coming up for me.  All of my nitpicky perfectionistic tendencies are affronted by Jesus saying, “This is our first attempt to introduce structure.”  Up until now he’s recommended morning and evening readings of the lesson with practice periods throughout the day.  And he has expressly said not to get ritualistic about practicing the lesson.  My days have felt pretty structured around the Workbook, while not compulsive.  Don’t I get good marks for that?  Grrrrrrr.

And then the actual instructions for today’s lesson turn out to be the easiest of all.  Just repeat today’s idea, “I am determined to see” every half hour (as much as I can remember to do so).  Many Course students start setting their wristwatches at this point.  Ken Wapnick says they are missing the point–it’s a process of remembering, not following instructions to the tee.

Dipping back into the lesson, we are told that we don’t have happiness and peace now because our mind is totally undisciplined.  Sigh.  I have to agree with that.  Often my mind is racing around like a wild horse and it’s hit or miss whether I take hold of the reins and hang onto them — and I’m so much better than I used to be before I was on a spiritual path!  Right now, Jesus says, we don’t even know the difference between joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, love and fear.  We have them mixed up and actually mistake them for each other.  But “great indeed” will be our reward once we learn how to tell them apart.  Okay, I’m excited about the great-indeed-reward.  But why do you have to take that lofty tone?

Even with my cranky feelings about this lesson, I am still quite motivated :).  Yep, because I am determined to see.  And one thing I see right now, is that the ego is all stirred up, but I can observe it and its seeming effects of irritation and critical assessment and still be quite unmoved mentally.  Because the mind training is working nicely and my state of mind can observe my emotions with a gentle smile.  Mentally, I am determined to see.  I am committed to the undoing process the Course offers me.  I am quite pleased that Jesus is pushing me, despite his tone :).

Revisiting this lesson the next day, I want to add that I am determined to see has many possible inferences.  I AM determined to see.  I am DETERMINED to see.  I am determined to SEE. I am determined to see (particularly ego driven).  Where I come out is a softer, more surrendered, “I am willing to see” which, for me, feels like what Jesus is asking … when I’m determined I’m too much on my own, trying too hard, making too much of a personal effort.  So this lesson has morphed from “I am determined to see” to “I am willing to see” for me.

LESSON 20

I am determined to see.

We have been quite casual about our practice periods thus far.  There has been virtually no attempt to direct the time for understanding them, minimal effort has been required, and not even active cooperation and interest have been asked.  This approach has been intentional, and very carefully planned.  We have not lost sight of the crucial importance of the reversal of your thinking.  The salvation of the world depends on it.  Yet you will not see if you regard yourself as being coerced, and if you give in to resentment and opposition.

This is our first attempt to introduce structure.  Do not misconstrue it as an effort to exert force or pressure.  You want salvation.  You want to be happy.  You want peace.  You do not have them now, because your mind is totally undisciplined, and you cannot distinguish between joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, love and fear.  You are now learning how to tell them apart.  And great indeed will be your reward.

Your decision to see is all that vision requires.  What you want is yours.  Do not mistake the little effort that is asked of you for an indication that our goal is of little worth.  Can the salvation of the world be a trivial purpose?  And can the world be saved if you are not?  God has one Son, and he is the resurrection and the life.  His will is done because all power is given him in Heaven and on earth.  In your determination to see is vision given you.

The exercises for today consist in reminding yourself throughout the day that you want to see.  Today’s idea also tacitly implies the recognition that  you do not see now.  Therefore, as you repeat the idea, you are stating that you are determined to change your present state for a better one, and one you really want.

Repeat today’s idea slowly and positively at least twice an hour today, attempting to do so every half hour.  Do not be distressed if you forget to do so, but make a real effort to remember.  The extra repetitions should be applied to any situation, person or event that upsets you.  You can see them differently, and you will.  What you desire you will see.  Such is the real law of cause and effect as it operates in the world.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.

 

W-19: I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my thoughts.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

Uh oh, Jesus says the idea for today is obvious.  That could make a girl feel stupid.  But since I’m sure he doesn’t mean it that way, lol, let’s consider what he’s saying.  It is obvious that my seeing does not affect me alone.  Therefore, it is obvious that my thinking doesn’t affect me alone.  Actually, thinking and its results happen at the same time because cause and effect are never separate. Hmmmm.

Minds are joined.  Minds are joined, like it or not.  Whether that makes me feel a great sense of responsibility, or a horrible lack of privacy, doesn’t matter.  Minds are joined.

A student related this story:

“I had an experience several years ago of receiving a message from the Holy Spirit that ‘love is not a private matter.’ I was visiting family and though I arrived in great spirits, their bickering chipped away at me until I felt deeply depressed in a way that is unusual for me.  I prayed incessantly.  What made the situation more painful and confusing for me was that my family members said nice things but their energy and the atmosphere in their home made it unbearable to be with them.   Finally, when asked if something was wrong, I blurted out, ‘There is no love in this house’ and was surprised to hear what I had said, though it felt true and didn’t directly attack anyone.

I was told by one family member that their love took place behind closed doors and the Words came to me: Love is not a private matter. I felt a sense of certainty and peace come over me at being reminded of Truth.”

Love can’t be parceled out at certain times, in certain places, and only to certain people.  Minds are joined and either Love or fear is rippling through, depending on which station we tune in.  The static can be so strong, that we can be mightily challenged to stay tuned to God’s Wavelength.  That is our commitment though, and so we keep coming back to the Holy Spirit and asking to be aware of What I Already Am that I may shine that Light all the time. 

So, minds are joined and that is a good thing.  Woody Allen said, “Even though I may be paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me.”  From the ego’s perspective, minds being joined is threatening.  From God’s perspective, minds being joined is a constant outpouring of radiant Love.

LESSON 19

I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my thoughts.

The idea for today is obviously the reason why your seeing does not affect you alone.  You will notice at times the ideas related to thinking precede those related to perceiving, while at other times the order is reversed.  The reason is that the order does not matter.  Thinking and its results are really simultaneous, for cause and effect are never separate.

Today we are again emphasizing the fact that minds are joined.  This is rarely a wholly welcome idea at first, since it seems to carry with it an enormous sense of responsibility, and may even be regarded as an “invasion of privacy.”  Yet it is a fact that there are no private thoughts.  Despite your initial resistance to this idea, you will yet understand that it must be true if salvation is possible at all.  And salvation must be possible because it is the Will of God.

The minute or so of mind searching which today’s exercises require is to be undertaken with eyes closed.  The idea for today is to be repeated first, and then the mind should be carefully searched for the thoughts it contains at that time.  As you consider each one, name it in terms of the central person or theme it contains, and holding it in your mind as you do so, say:

I am not alone in experiencing the effects of this thought about ______________.

The requirement of as much indiscriminateness as possible in selecting subjects for the practice periods should be quite familiar to you by now, and will no longer be repeated each day, although it will occasionally be included as a reminder.  Do not forget, however, that random selection of subjects for all practice periods remains essential throughout.  Lack of order in this connection will ultimately make the recognition of lack of order in miracles meaningful to you.

Apart from the “as needed” application of today’s idea, at least three practice periods are required, shortening the length of time involved, if necessary.  Do not attempt more than four.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.

W-18: I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my seeing.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

Water Shadow by Scott Johnson

Water Shadow by Scott Johnson

The thoughts which give rise to what I see are never neutral and are always important.
Minds are joined.
Today’s idea is not so much about what we see as how we see it.

I can see Love or fear … whatever I’m looking at can be seen through eyesight or Vision.  Eyesight produces fearful effects.  Vision produces loving effects.  If I see my brothers  and the world with the ego’s eyesight, then I see them with a sense of separation, guilt and fear.

If I see my brothers and the world with the Holy Spirit’s guidance and vision, then I see them with Love which joins us.  I can only choose one or the other (ego cause and its effects, or God cause and Its effects)–there is no neutral limbo.  And which thought system I choose affects the effects of my seeing.

I am not alone in experiencing the effects of how I see this cup of hot milk.
I am not alone in experiencing the effects of how I see this body on the sofa.
I am not alone in experiencing how I see this lamp on my desk.

Together or separate?  Peaceful or fearful?  If I don’t think this through, if I leave it alone and don’t try to understand, if I stay in the present moment and forget about referencing what I’ve learned from the text, I don’t know what this means, but I feel good.  I feel solid and peaceful and happy … I just do.

LESSON 18

I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my seeing.

The idea for today is another step in learning that the thoughts which give rise to what you see are never neutral or unimportant.  It also emphasizes the idea that minds are joined, which will be given increasing stress later on.

Today’s idea does not refer to what you see as much as how you see it.  Therefore, the exercises for today emphasize this aspect of your perception.  The three or four practice periods which are recommended should be done as follows:

Look about you, selecting subjects for the application of the idea for today as randomly as possible, and keeping your eyes on each one long enough to say:

I am not alone in experiencing the effects of how I see ____________.

Conclude each practice period by repeating the more general statement:

I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my seeing.

A minute or so, or even less, will be sufficient for each practice period.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.

 

W-17: I see no neutral things.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

Perception is not the cause of reality, although we think it is.

Perception is the effect of our thinking.  Our thinking is really not-thinking, and perception is really effect.  Not-thinking produces perception so that we don’t Think.  Perception is the MacGuffin … perception is the grand distraction, the best the ego can do to maintain its sprint away from Heaven.

Then, with dry humor, Jesus concludes, “In view of [perception’s]  highly variable nature, this is hardly likely. (that perception is cause)”

The lesson tells us that no matter what we believe, we do not see anything that is really alive or really joyous … and this is because we are not yet aware of a thought that is really true and therefore really happy.

I see no neutral things because I think no neutral thoughts because I’m using thinking to obscure Thought.  I’m actually not-thinking and calling it Thinking, but now I can’t be fooled by that anymore.  This is the awakening process.

 

LESSON 17

I see no neutral things.

This idea is another step in the direction of identifying cause and effect as it really operates in the world.  You see no neutral things because you have no neutral thoughts.  It is always the thought that comes first, despite the temptation to believe that it is the other way around.  This is not the way the world thinks, but you must learn that it is the way you think.  If it were not so, perception would have no cause, and would itself be the cause of reality.  In view of its highly variable nature, this is hardly likely.

In applying today’s idea, say to yourself, with eyes open:

I see no neutral things because I have no neutral thoughts.

Then look about you, resting your glance on each thing you note long enough to say:

I do not see a neutral _____________, because my thoughts about ___________ are not neutral.

For example, you might say:

I do not see a neutral wall, because my thoughts about walls are not neutral.
I do not see a neutral body, because my thoughts about bodies are not neutral.

As usual, it is essential to make no distinctions between what you believe to be animate or inanimate; pleasant or unpleasant.  Regardless of what you may believe, you do not see anything that is really alive or really joyous.  That is because you are unaware as yet of any thought that is really true, and therefore really happy.

Three or four specific practice periods are recommended, and no less than three are required for maximum benefit, even if you experience resistance.  However, if you do, the length of the practice period may be reduced to less than the minute or so that is otherwise recommended.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.