I posted this on the Circle homepage. It is my answer to the title question, but also to another question: Have you ever tried to really internalize a Course teaching and it just seemed impossible?
I have been pondering this question since early in my time with the Course. If healing our minds just comes down to learning the truth, why can’t we heal our minds ourselves? Why do we need the Holy Spirit to do that for us?
In recent years, my answer has been based on Lesson 126, “All that I give is given to myself.” The goal for that day is to “understand the truth that giver and receiver are the same” (W-pI.126.8:1). But then it says, “You will need help to make this meaningful, because it is so alien to the thoughts to which you are accustomed. But the Help you need is there” (8:2-3). Then it guides you into a meditation aimed at allowing the Holy Spirit to implant in you the understanding that you yourself receive the gifts you give.
So here we need His help because this idea (“All that I give is given to myself”) is “so alien” to our normal thoughts. That, I believe, is the key. And I think “alien” here primarily means two things.
First, “alien” means that this thought stands in contrast to thoughts to which we are deeply committed. That this idea threatens our prior commitment means we have incredible difficulty throwing the full weight of our mind behind it.
Second, the idea (“All that I give is given to myself”) is “alien” because it is simply bigger than our normal thoughts. Our normal thoughts revolve around our separate self. They see everything from that tiny vantage point. This idea, however, sees things from a far larger vantage point. It expands our interests to include the interests of someone else, seeing that person’s interests as part of our own.
As an analogy, imagine trying to teach a dog to actually like the big horse pill that the vet wants you to give him. Swallowing that pill is alien to what he would normally eat. And the understanding that doing so will in the future make him well is also alien, because an idea like that is beyond his little brain. It’s bigger than what his brain can process.
So how can the dog truly understand that this pill is a good thing, even a great thing, so that he acquires his own happy commitment to swallowing it? If it could happen (and normally we have no hope of this actually happening with our dogs), it would require a larger mind to actually shine into the dog’s mind and place in there that larger thought. Otherwise, forget it. It’s not going to happen. There is no other way for the dog’s little mind to actually embrace that larger thought.
It’s the same with us. The little minds we currently have are too small for the thoughts we need to take in, and too dead set against those thoughts. We need a bigger Mind to shine into ours, a Mind that fully understands those thoughts and is totally unconflicted about them.
The amazing thing is that, of course, this really happens. Occasionally, the light breaks through and we suddenly have taken in an idea that before seemed impossibly out of reach. An idea that seemed forever outside we now get from the inside. It’s like a ray of grace when that happens. And the Course assures us it can happen as often as we will let it.