I was reading Helen’s original notes for Chapter 2 yesterday and something really hit me. Here is the passage:
There is no doubt that the spiritual eye does produce extreme discomfort by what it sees. The thing that man forgets is that the discomfort is not the final outcome of its perception. When the spiritual eye is permitted to look upon the defilement of the altar, it also looks immediately toward Atonement. Nothing which the spiritual eye perceives can induce fear. Everything that results from accurate spiritual awareness merely is channelized toward correction. Discomfort is aroused only to bring the need to correct forcibly into awareness.
So, I thought, the spiritual eye looks upon my defiled altar and this arouses discomfort. That makes sense. But at the same time, it does not induce fear? That seemed odd. I would think looking at your defiled altar would induce discomfort that was naturally shot through with fear. Wouldn’t it be scary to look upon one’s inner defilement? A few sentences later, however, came this passage:
But since the altar has been defiled, this fact becomes doubly dangerous unless it is perceived. This perception is totally nonthreatening because of the Atonement. The fear of healing arises in the end from an unwillingness to accept the unequivocal fact that healing is necessary. The fear arises because of the necessary willingness to look at what man has done to himself.
This clarified it. Looking upon our defiled altar can be extremely uncomfortable but totally nonthreatening, totally without fear—as long as we can just accept that healing is necessary.
This struck me as very powerful. I can look at how I’ve warped my mind with the ego, and this will naturally make me acutely uncomfortable. But the discomfort need only take the form of “I’m not comfortable being this way. This needs to change now.” There doesn’t need to be any fear involved at all.
If, for example, I have my hand in icewater and it begins to get very uncomfortable, I don’t need to be afraid about acknowledging that. I just need to let that discomfort motivate me to pull my hand out. Fear doesn’t need to enter into the picture. Just motivation for change.
As a result of this, I picked a lesson for the day that was a combination of these two lines: “The only way out is to stop miscreating now, and accept the Atonement for miscreations of the past,” and “accept the error temporarily, but only as an indication that immediate correction is mandatory.” The lesson I did, then, was this:
I will stop miscreating now, because I accept that immediate correction is mandatory.
This is quite frankly not a lesson I would have picked before. I don’t think I ever have picked one like this before, and I’ve chosen hundreds of lessons for myself. I’m one of those “baby steps” kind of guys. I like to take it slow and easy, and a lesson like this would strike me as too harsh.
But in light of the idea that looking at what I’ve done to myself can be uncomfortable but free of fear, this lesson was liberating, like few lessons that I can remember. All day long it just snapped my mind back in place, instantly. It felt great. It felt like I had an ability to control my mind that normally eludes me.
I really think I’ve been too easy on myself. There’s nothing wrong with letting yourself feel the discomfort that will motivate you to change. I’ve gotten a little glimpse that it can actually be the safest option.