The measure of our progress

[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]

At the end of our Workbook class, one of my students asked me if there was an order in the Workbook. What she meant was, is there an order by which one learns this and then progresses to that and on and on until one is done. For the most part she was seeing each of the lessons as separate, as standing on its own, and didn’t have a good sense of what she was really learning as she went along. She was wondering if there were benchmarks along the way, which she could use to chart her progress. I reminded her of the idea of keeping a practice journal in which to write down her insights, learnings, related thoughts, etc. Looking back over it, she would be able to see her progress as she has worked our way through the Workbook.

Her question got me thinking, and as I reflected on it afterwards, I began to identify possible benchmarks all through the Workbook; for instance,

  • After you have been through all the response to temptation practices in Review II, you notice that you are responding to temptation more readily
  • At the end of all the “happiness” lessons (100-105), you realize that you are feeling happier, or that you are even relating more to the idea that you are meant to be happy
  • After the Review III motivational talk on practicing, you see yourself practicing more faithfully

I wasn’t entirely satisfied with this, and then something came up in my teacher-pupil meeting with Kathy that seemed directly related to my student’s question. We were talking about review lesson 119 (“Truth will correct all errors in my mind,” and “To give and to receive are one in truth”), and noticed that we had had very similar thoughts about truth and forgiveness. These review lessons have focused a lot on happiness and on that being our function here, and soon (in Lesson 121) we will see that “Forgiveness is the key to happiness.” Kathy and I had both spent time with the connections among truth, forgiveness, true perception (vision), and healing.

Then Kathy said that she wanted to learn how to cultivate vision, how to make it more automatic, and how to bring it to others so that she could be more helpful to them. We talked about the goal of the Workbook being the acquisition of true perception, or vision. That’s when I saw a connection with what my student had asked the previous evening.

If we want to chart our progress with the Workbook, a good way to do that would be to notice how far along the way to true perception we are. We could go through the lessons with the goal of vision in the back of our minds. As we practice each lesson, we could ask, “How does this lesson help me undo the way I see now?” “How will practicing this lesson help me develop vision?” “How does this lesson contribute to my seeing differently–with the eyes of Christ?” We could help vision become an automatic response by practicing it more. We could start by really dedicating ourselves in our practice periods (especially in the Part I lessons) to the undoing of the way we see now. Then we could ask for vision in our practice periods and in our daily life. Gaining vision would thus become the behind-the-scenes focus of every lesson and of our life. A benchmark for our progress with this would be much it has become a habit to stop to ask, “How can I see this differently?” whenever we feel a loss of peace in any form. It would also be a way to cultivate vision. If we want to become a champion swimmer, we have to practice, practice, practice. It’s no different if we want to cultivate vision.

Kathy and I got quite excited as we talked, and really saw that vision is within our reach. We imagined how our motivation would increase if we kept in mind that each and every lesson is there to help us acquire true perception, and that, by showing us the truth, true perception will allow us to forgive and that will bring us happiness and healing. It seems so simple and straightforward–and, as Kathy said, “cultivating vision is such an exciting process of growth; vision is a way out of the muck in which we find ourselves.”

We ended our exploration by reminding ourselves that to acquire true perception, to see truly, we need to hear truly; therefore, we need to stop listening to our own “feeble voice” telling us lies, and constantly turn to the Holy Spirit to “hear the mighty Voice for truth” (118.2:2) telling us the truth.

We then decided to join in bringing this approach to our practicing. We’ll be measuring our progress by paying attention to how much we’re listening to and hearing the Holy Spirit and seeing what and how He would have us see!