Lesson 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.  Grace is clearly a firm decision, which I am resolved not to change, which 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.  Despite that, the mind does wander. I just catch it sooner and choose the Holy Spirit, again. And again. And again.

Eleven years ago, 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.  Some people find these words of Jesus comforting — they are glad that Jesus understands not to expect too much of them, especially 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. On the other hand, a reminder to practice your lesson is not a sin!

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 jumpity and squawking. It’s an ongoing process to catch this distractedness and choose again all day.  I’m no Eckhart Tolle (master of no thought).

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.


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.