Workin’ the Workbook

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.

W-16: I have no neutral thoughts.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

This lesson says everything that I see is the result of my thoughts without exception.  There are only true or false thoughts — there is no such thing as powerful/weak thoughts.  There is no such thing as idle thoughts … because thoughts have given rise to the dream of the world, and every thought we have makes something happen … in our mind … which seem to appear here, in the “world.”

I might consider daydreaming idle thinking … laying on my back in a meadow on a spring day gazing up at the clouds.  This kind of thinking can be aligned with the Holy Spirit and used to extend the truth, or aligned with the ego thought system and multiply illusions.

Photo: Scott Johnson

Every thought I have contributes to my belief in God’s Truth or the illusion of the world.  Salvation requires that I become aware that every thought I have brings either peace or war, love or fear.

Fear thoughts, those that make me uncomfortable enough that I minimize them, dismiss them, deny them, sweep them under the rug … those are the thoughts that need scrutiny.  I need to understand that fear thoughts are all equally destructive no matter how “big” or “small” because they choose for the ego.

Thankfully they are also equally unreal, but that takes time to fully believe.  That is the right use of time — to use it to unwind the dreaming mind, which leads naturally to awakening.

It will be hard at first to avoid making “artificial distinctions,” meaning I am so used to prioritizing some needs over others that what is obvious to me, e.g., not having a job is much worse and bigger than breaking a coffee cup, is going to have be undone in my mind.  Both are equally fearful in that they indicate the ego is doing the thinking when accompanied by distress at any level.  Here goes:

This thought about what am I going to eat for breakfast is not a neutral thought.
This thought about it being cold outside today is not a neutral thought.
This thought about having a vet give my cat an annual checkup is not a neutral thought.
This thought about getting all my work done by deadline is not a neutral thought because there are no neutral thoughts.

LESSON 16

I have no neutral thoughts.

The idea for today is a beginning step in dispelling the belief that your thoughts have no effect.  Everything you see is the result of your thoughts.  There is no exception to this fact.  Thoughts are not big or little; powerful or weak.  They are merely true or false.  Those that are true create their own likeness.  Those that are false make theirs.

There is no more self-contradictory concept than that of “idle thoughts.”  What gives rise to the perception  of a whole world can hardly be called idle.  Every thought you have contributes to truth or to illusion; either it extends the truth or it multiplies illusions.  You can indeed multiply nothing, but you will not extend it by doing so.

Besides your recognizing that thoughts are never idle, salvation requires that you also recognize that every thought you have brings either peace or war, either love or fear.  A neutral result is impossible because a neutral thought is impossible.  There is such a temptation to dismiss fear thoughts as unimportant, trivial and not worth bothering about that it is essential you recognize them all as equally destructive, but equally unreal.  We will practice this idea in many forms before you really understand it.

In applying the idea for today, search your mind for a minute or so with eyes closed, and actively seek not to overlook any “little” thought that may tend to elude the search.  This is quite difficult until you get used to it.  You will find that it is still hard for you not to make artificial distinctions.  Every thought that occurs to you, regardless of the qualities that you assign to it, is a suitable subject for applying today’s idea.

In the practice periods, first repeat the idea to yourself, and then as each one crosses your mind hold it in awareness while you tell yourself:

This thought about ______________ is not a neutral thought.
This thought about ______________ is not a neutral thought.

As usual, use today’s idea whenever you are aware of a particular thought that arouses uneasiness.  The following form is suggested for this purpose:

This thought about _____________ is not a neutral thought, because I have no neutral thoughts.

Four or five practice periods are recommended if you find them relatively effortless.  If strain is experienced, three will be enough.  The length of the exercise period should also be reduced if there is discomfort.

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-15: My thoughts are images that I have made.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

This lesson tells me that I think that I am thinking, therefore the truth is that I am not thinking.  What I call thinking is actually not-thinking.

Because I think I am thinking, I think I see what I’m “thinking” about.  This is what eyesight is for: to witness to the ego that it exists through false visuals.

eye clockLesson 15 goes on to say it is teaching us an  “introductory idea to the process of image making” [bold mine].  This was said to Helen and Bill in the 1970s before the mainstream popularity of New Age ideas about creating your reality, visualizing your future and positive affirmations.  I’ve come to understand that positive affirmations, vision boards, setting intention, etc, are methods of manipulating the ego dream — which is okay for a while, but at some point this is no longer gratifying.

Discovering the power of the mind, even in the ego dream, is very useful.  The belief in ego mind has miscreated powerfully with the use of imagination:  galaxies, planets, the elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether, humans — yet, none of this is real.  You can think of it as virtual reality.

Lesson 15 says that we will begin to understand the process of image making when we see little edges of light around the same familiar objects which we see now, and that that is the beginning of real vision.  Jesus says once this happens we can be certain that real vision will come quickly–of course, we don’t know what Jesus means by quickly, lol.  Billions of years are nothing to him, and anything can happen in a holy instant.  We are also told that as we go along we may have many light episodes.  I’ve had some, and many others have as well.

Although light episodes can seem dramatic, they are, as my first yoga teacher Dharma Mittra used to say, “just another experience.”  Yogic practices can lead to light experiences, just as Course practices can.  As the Course says in the Text, there are many legitimate paths and A Course in Miracles is but one of them.  But if the Course does turn out to be your path, as it is mine, there is a satisfaction in acknowledging that the world has been a terrifying, unjust and vicious place.  In my experience it is also depleting, unsatisfying, perversely uncooperative, unreasonable and irrational place.  In recent years, since I found the Course, the world and my relationships have become much more gratifying.  Everything is much simpler now that I can remind myself that everything is a call for love, or Love Itself, and the only response is Love.  Now I can let go of the ego thought system with Love and return Home.

Some students of the Course take this information about light episodes literally.  I have had many experiences of seeing what Gurumayi and others call the “blue pearl.”   And I have also had a series of ocular migraines that, as I stopped feeling afraid of them and relaxed into them, have had a softening and opening effect on my mind.  They are a painless light show, jewel-like, kaleidoscopic-ish, and give me a strong demonstration of how “eyesight” is actually “brainsight” …

In the ACIM Preface, Jesus says, “The opposite of seeing through the body’s eyes is the vision of Christ, which reflects strength rather than weakness, unity rather than separation, and love rather than fear.”  This third part of the Preface, “What It Says” is written by Jesus and is an excellent synopsis of the entire ACIM teaching.

LESSON 15

My thoughts are images that I have made.

It is because the thoughts you think you think appear as images that you do not recognize them as nothing.  You think you think them, and so you think you see them.  This is how your “seeing” was made.  This is the function you have given your body’s eyes.  It is not seeing.  It is image making.  It takes the place of seeing, replacing vision with illusions.

This introductory idea to the process of image making that you call seeing will not have much meaning for you.  You will begin to understand it when you have seen little edges of light around the same familiar objects which you see now.  That is the beginning of real vision.  You can be certain that real vision will come quickly when this has occurred.

As we go along, you may have many “light episodes.”  They may take many different forms, some of them quite unexpected.  Do not be afraid of them.  They are signs that you are opening your eyes at last.  They will not persist, because they merely symbolize true perception, and they are not related to knowledge.  These exercises will not reveal knowledge to you.  But they will prepare the way to it.

In practicing the idea for today, repeat it first to yourself, and then apply it to whatever you see around you, using its name and letting your eyes rest on it as you say:

This _______________ is an image that I have made.
This _______________ is an image that I have made.

It is not necessary to include a large number of specific subjects for the application of today’s idea.  It is necessary, however, to continue to look at each subject while you repeat the idea to yourself.  The idea should be repeated quite slowly each time.

Although you will obviously not be able to apply the idea to very many things during the minute or so of practice that is recommended, try to make the selection as random as possible.  Less than a minute will do for the practice periods, if you begin to feel uneasy.  Do not have more than three application periods for today’s idea unless you feel completely comfortable with it, and do not exceed four.  However, the idea can be applied as needed throughout the day.

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-14: God did not create a meaningless world.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

One of my favorite lessons!  I get a big kick out of facing my “personal repertory of horrors”.  When you’ve worked with the Course enough, the savagery of the ego is reduced to a “quaint absurdity”.

What God creates is not the world as we know it.  In the undoing process A Course in Miracles offers us, we get to see the story we have made up about the world and unwrite this story, revealing God’s Word underneath our make-believe.

We learn to let go of the thoughts we have written on the world … salvation is the exchange of our thoughts for God’s Thought.  The process leading to salvation can be difficult, painful and lead us directly into fear BUT this fear that seems so real is eclipsed in a holy instant with perfect safety and perfect peace.

We are given a powerful exercise to address the “horrors in the world” and our “personal repertory of horrors.”  We name each one and state that it is not real because the horror was not created by God–it was made up by us.  This can seem outrageous, absurd, indifferent and cruel.

How can Jesus ask us to deny the obvious horrors and the pain they cause when we are convinced that they are having a profound effect on the world (“some of them are shared illusions”) and ourselves personally (“others are part of your personal hell”)?  No matter how depraved this attitude seems to us, we are told, “It does not matter.  What God did not create can only be in your own mind apart from His.  Therefore, it has no meaning.”

In the text there is a line, “Seek not to change the world, choose to change your mind about the world.”  This lesson is training us to detach from the ego mind’s obsessive/compulsive thought that pain and suffering are real, and to allow the mind to telescope to a longer, wider perspective from which vantage point we suddenly see that the body is not real, therefore nothing the body seems to suffer from is real.

This is a process of dis-identification with the ego thought system which instantly restores Identification with God’s Mind.

Lesson 14
God did not create a meaningless world.

The idea for today is, of course, the reason why a meaningless world is impossible.  What God did not create does not exist.  And everything that does exist exists as He created it.  The world you see has nothing to do with reality.  It is of your own making, and it does not exist.

The exercises for today are to be practiced with eyes closed throughout.  The mind-searching period should be short, a minute at most.  Do not have more than three practice periods with today’s idea unless you find them comfortable.  If you do, it will be because you really understand what they are for.

The idea for today is another step in learning to let go the thoughts that you have written on the world, and see the Word of God in their place.  The early steps in this exchange, which can truly be called salvation, can be quite difficult and even quite painful.  Some of them will lead you directly into fear.  You will not be left there.  You will go far beyond it.  Our direction is toward perfect safety and perfect peace.

With eyes closed, think of all the horrors in the world that cross your mind.  Name each one as it occurs to you, and then deny its reality.  God did not create it, and so it is not real.  Say, for example:

God did not create that war, and it is not real.
God did not create that airplane crash, and so it is not real.
God did not create that disaster [specify], and so it is not real.

Suitable subjects for the application of today’s idea also include anything you are afraid might happen to you, or to anyone about whom you are concerned.  In each case, name the “disaster” quite specifically.  Do not use general terms.  For example, do not say, “God did not create illness,” but, “God did not create cancer,” or heart attacks, or whatever may arouse fear in you.

This is your personal repertory of horrors at which you are looking.  These things are part of the world you see.  Some of them are shared illusions, and others are part of your personal hell.  It does not matter.  What God did not create can only be in your own mind apart from His.  Therefore, it has no meaning.  In recognition of this fact, conclude the practice periods by repeating today’s idea:

God did not create a meaningless world.

The idea for today can, of course, be applied to anything that disturbs you during the day, aside from the practice periods.  Be very specific in applying it.  Say:

God did not create a meaningless world.
He did not create [specify the situation which is disturbing you], and so it is not real.

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-13: A meaningless world engenders fear.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

We are chopping up God’s Thought into languages and words.  This prevents us from having the Whole Concept in our mind.  Words are like letters on the Scrabble board–they do not mean anything in and of themselves until they are put together.  Or we might liken the chopping of up God’s Thought to a jigsaw puzzle–we cannot see the whole picture until we bring the pieces back together into the Whole.  This occurred to me after re-reading the first paragraph of the lesson and I’m just blurting it out before I lose it.

The lesson says, “Recognition of meaninglessness arouses intense anxiety in all the separated ones.” [bold mine]  This touches my heart.  To be referred to as a “separated one” stirs a sense of being Loved inside of me.  Jesus knows about our intense anxiety, loneliness, and helplessness.  It is so comforting to sit with Our Mutual Friend (Holy Spirit) and just be together.

Next it says, “It represents a situation in which God and the ego “challenge” each other as to whose meaning is to be written in the empty space that meaninglessness provides.”  Ram Butler said many years ago in the Siddha Yoga Correspondence Course that “God is in the space between the thoughts.”

He may have been quoting Gurumayi, who, perhaps, was quoting Baba Muktananda.  Meaninglessness provides an empty space … if we choose not to pay attention to the ego’s scrawls and decide for the Holy Spirit … my heart feels a scroll-like design written upon it as I feel my way into this …

“It is essential, therefore, that you learn to recognize the meaningless, and accept it without fear.” [bold mine]   Develop awareness without judgment, just with an ability to observe with interest and enjoy the outcome of That.  As we’re able to recognize the meaningless, We are Undone.  Meaninglessness changes back to Fearlessness.  Fearlessness, guiltlessness, sinlessness, Innocence 🙂

The lesson says that to the ego, illusions are safety devices, used to endow the world with attributes it does not have and images that do not exist.  Why would the ego need a safety device?  Because it is afraid of God.

Why is the ego afraid of God?  Because once we rediscover of our awareness of God, the ego instantly evaporates.  The ego is simply an idea that is trying to block God out, as it plays at being God, so that it can believe it has succeeded at replacing God.

By the way, there is nothing offensive to God about the idea that the ego could replace Him, just as a father would simply be amused if he found his son dressed up in his oversized clothes playing “Daddy.”  We have simply psyched ourselves out and are paranoid about nothing.  There will be no punishment.  Through the undoing process of these lessons, you will find that out for yourself.

LESSON 13

A meaningless world engenders fear.

Today’s idea is really another form of the preceding one, except that it is more specific as to the emotion aroused.  Actually, a meaningless world is impossible.  Nothing without meaning exists.  However, it does follow that you will not think you perceive something that has no meaning.  On the contrary, you will be particularly likely to think you do perceive it.

Recognition of meaninglessness arouses intense anxiety in all the separated ones.  It represents a situation in which God and the ego “challenge” each other as to whose meaning is to be written in the empty space that meaninglessness provides.  The ego rushes in frantically to establish its own ideas there, fearful that the void may otherwise be used to demonstrate its own impotence and unreality.  And on this alone it is correct.

It is essential, therefore, that you learn to recognize the meaningless, and accept it without fear.  If you are fearful, it is certain that you will endow the world with attributes that it does not possess, and crowd it with images that do not exist.  To the ego illusions are safety devices, as they must also be to you who equate yourself with the ego.

The exercises for today, which should be done about three or four times for not more than a minute or so at most each time, are to be practiced in a somewhat different way from the preceding ones.  With eyes closed, repeat today’s idea to yourself.  Then open your eyes, and look about you slowly, saying:

I am looking at a meaningless world.

Repeat this statement to yourself as you look about.  Then close your eyes, and conclude with:

A meaningless world engenders fear because I think I am in competition with God.

You may find it difficult to avoid resistance, in one form or another, to this concluding statement.  Whatever form such resistance may take, remind yourself that you really are afraid of such a thought because of the “vengeance” of the “enemy.”  You are not expected to believe the statement at this point, and will probably dismiss it as preposterous.  Note carefully, however, any signs of overt or covert fear which is may arouse.

This is our first attempt at stating an explicit cause and effect relationship of a kind which you are very inexperienced in recognizing.  Do not dwell on the concluding statement, and try not even to think of it except during the practice periods.  That will suffice at present.

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-12: I am upset because I see a meaningless world.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

We, humanity, are experiencing a major perceptual distortion.  We have given the world all the attributes it has for us, whereas the world is actually completely meaningless.  The exercises are specifically instructing us to use our eyes to look around … and, occasionally, to close our eyes to better become aware of our thoughts.  Eyesight is not Vision.  But eyes, the windows to the soul, can be used for Vision’s Message to be communicated through us.

We are instructed to  find a measured rhythm as we look around in this lesson … again, as in Lesson 11, this reminds me of the Sufi turn, the spiritual practice of Rumi and, after him, the whirling dervishes.

Amy Whirling at Sufi Retreat. Photo: Scott Johnson

Being in a rhythm quiets thinking.   Even a frenetic rock’n’roll drummer has a quiet mind as his body clicks into a groove of rhythm from his head through his heart, ears, arms, hands, legs, feet.

Internally his visceral organs must become, what is called in heart rhythm meditation, “coherent” or, in layman’s language, harmonized.  Good percussionists are unhurried, deep in their felt sense of the beat, be it fast or slow.

Then it goes on to say, a bad world, a good world, it’s all the same.  We may not understand how a good world experience could be the same as a bad one, but at least we can comprehend that “bad” suggests “good,” in another words, a dualistic experience.  God is beyond dual and non-dual … He simply Is.

And then, Lesson 12 says, “What is meaningless is neither good nor bad.  Why, then, should a meaningless world upset you?  If you could accept the world as meaningless and let the truth be written upon it for you, it would make you indescribably happy. But because it is meaningless, you are impelled to write upon it what you would have it be.  It is this you see in it.  It is this that is meaningless in truth.

Beneath your words is written the Word of God. The truth upsets you now, but when the words have been erased, you will see His.  That is the ultimate purpose of these exercises.” [bold mine]  How comforting!  A click of recognition is felt within — Truth has true authority and feel liberating, not oppressive.  Beneath the meaning I have given the world is Real Meaning Itself.  As the Workbook works its undoing within us, God’s Message becomes clear.  Amen.

It occurs to me that in that tiny, mad moment when we thought we could separate from God’s mind, we made a blank canvas for ourselves.  A previous lesson has said our mind is actually blank.  Then we paint “meaning” onto this blank canvas “mind”  …  The blank canvas “mind” isn’t real–it’s just an unachievable idea.  The meaning we paint onto the blank canvas is not truly meaningful, it’s just a bunch of defensive ideas sprouting forth from  the first tiny, mad idea that we could separate and be an autonomous god-self, encased in individual bodies …

LESSON 12

I am upset because I see a meaningless world.

The importance of this idea lies in the fact that it contains a correction for a major perceptual distortion.  You think that what upsets you is a frightening world, or a sad world, or a violent world, or an insane world.  All these attributes are given it by you.  The world is meaningless in itself.

These exercises are done with eyes open.  Look around you, this time quite slowly.  Try to pace yourself so that the slow shifting of your glance from one thing to another involves a fairly constant time interval.  Do not allow the time of the shift to become markedly longer or shorter, but try, instead, to keep a measure, even tempo throughout.  What you see does not matter.  You teach yourself this as you give whatever your glance rests on equal attention and equal time.  This is a beginning step in learning to give them all equal value.

As you look about you, say to yourself:

I think I see a fearful world, a dangerous world, a hostile world, a sad world, a wicked world, a crazy world,

and so on, using whatever descriptive terms happen to occur to you.  If terms which seem positive rather than negative occur to you, include them.  For example, you might think of “a good world,” or “a satisfying world.”  If such terms occur to you, use them along with the rest.  You may not yet understand why these “nice” adjectives belong in these exercises but remember that a “good world” implies a “bad” one, and “a satisfying world” implies an “unsatisfying” one.  All terms which cross your mind are suitable subjects for today’s exercises.  Their seeming quality does not matter.

Be sure that you do not alter the time intervals between applying today’s idea to what you think is pleasant and what you think is unpleasant.  For the purposes of these exercises, there is no difference between them.  At the end of the practice period, add:

But I am upset because I see a meaningless world.

What is meaningless is neither good nor bad.  Why, then, should a meaningless world upset you?  If you could accept the world as meaningless and let the truth be written upon it for you, it would make you indescribably happy.  But because it is meaningless, you are impelled to write upon it what you would have it be.  It is this you see in it.  It is this that is meaningless in truth.  Beneath your words is written the Word of God.  The truth upsets you now, but when the words have been erased, you will see His.  That is the ultimate purpose of these exercises.

Three or four times is enough for practicing the idea for today.  Nor should the practice periods exceed a minute.  You may find even this is too long.  Terminate the exercises whenever you experience a sense of strain.

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-11: My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

My personal thoughts are meaningless.  The previous lessons have systematically been showing me that.  My meaningless thoughts would, therefore, have to produce a meaningless outcome: world, people, beliefs.  A world without meaning could seem very scary at a certain point in our lives.  When we’re still interested in actualizing our personal potential, when we’re still raising children … these are periods of life when the world is obviously meaningful to us.  We might experience this lesson with feelings of despair, disorientation, anxiety.  We might believe we’re being told to abandon our lives, though we are not.   Keep reading, I like to say.  There is more to be revealed and it is all filled with Love.

Then there comes a time when we’re satisfied enough with our accomplishments and have fulfilled our responsibilities that we’re ready to move into spiritual vision.  OR, we’re desperate enough, lonely enough, defeated enough that we’re willing to see another way.  Still, we may fight.  How can my thoughts determine the world I see?  I’m not that powerful.  And I don’t want that much responsibility.  Even so, we are invited to do the exercises if we feel Called, despite resistance, disbelief, lack of comprehension, etc.

sufi light swirls turquoiseFor maximum benefit, we are told, the eyes should move from one thing to another fairly rapidly, not lingering on anything and the words should be unhurried, even leisurely.  This reminds me of the Sufi turn.  The turn of Rumi and the whirling dervishes.  Leaving the eyes softly open and at gazing outward at eye level, the feet do not move until God gently pushes us, as children on a swing.  And when we do start to turn, the eyes report a rapidity of motion, a pleasant vaguely stripe-y blur  that appears much faster than the pace of the body and feet.  The effort trains us to coordinate our thinking process with our eyesight process which leads us to true perception under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit.

Oh how liberating to realize that my thoughts are meaningless but I am Guided and no longer have to think.  It would be best to be open to Thought pouring through me at all times.  Contrary to how that seems to the ego–that I am just a puppet, a slave to the Master’s Mind, it turns out that I’ve plugged in to my Original Source and have restored power to my seemingly human system.  This does override the ego, but that turns out to be of no concern.  I feel more alive, at peace, happier, unafraid, and relaxed than ever before.

LESSON 11

My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world.

This is the first idea we have had that is related to a major phase of the correction process; the reversal of the thinking of the world.  It seems as if the world determines what you perceive.  Today’s idea introduces the concept that your thoughts determine the world you see.  Be glad indeed to practice the idea in its initial form, for in this idea is your release made sure.  The key to forgiveness lies in it.

The practice periods for today’s idea are to be undertaken somewhat differently from the previous ones.  Begin with your eyes closed, and repeat the idea slowly to yourself.  Then open your eyes, and look about, near and far, up and down,–anywhere.  During the minute or so to be spent in using the idea merely repeat it to yourself, being sure to do so without haste, and with no sense of urgency or effort.

To do these exercises for maximum benefit, the eyes should move from one thing to another fairly rapidly, since they should not linger on anything in particular.  The words, however, should be used in an unhurried, even leisurely fashion.  The introduction to this idea, in particular, should be practiced as casually as possible.  It contains the foundation for the peace, relaxation and freedom from worry that we are trying to achieve.  On concluding the exercises, close your eyes and repeat the idea once more slowly to yourself.

Three practice periods today will be sufficient.  However, if there is little or no uneasiness and an inclination to do more, as many as five may be undertaken.  More than this is not 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.