The other day I was practicing as my lesson for the day a prayer that Helen received from Jesus. Here is her account of receiving it in the Urtext (with some formatting and spelling corrections done by me):
On Wednesday evening, November 24, Helen had sudden flash of illumination and very much wanted to offer prayer for Bill, which she did as follows:
Jesus, help me see my brother (Bill) as he really is, and thus release both him and me.”
Helen also thought later: Every time there is anything unlovable that crosses one’s mind (re sex, possession, etc.) you should immediately recognize that you do not want to hurt your brother. On Thursday morning, the prayer for the miracle occurred as stated above.
It’s a lovely prayer, one that feels quite important, too, given that it’s called “the prayer for the miracle.” I also really like Helen’s commentary afterwards, about how whenever anything unlovable crosses your mind, you should realize you don’t want to hurt your brother. This is what the prayer implies, too, with its implication that seeing your brother not as he is imprisons him.
But as I started to practice it and apply it to people that I interacted with or thought about, I noticed it was falling flat. I’m sure we’ve all had this experience, where the idea that we are repeating, rather than liberating us, feels like an empty chore. I thought, “Well, it is kind of standard Course fare. I see my brother as he is. I release us both. There’s nothing particularly new or interesting there.”
But then I tried to look more deeply into why the lesson was falling flat for me. It turns out that it wasn’t the “nothing new or interesting” angle at all. It was that I was reinterpreting the words. Once I said them in my mind, what I actually “heard” was this: “Jesus, help me see my brother [name] as you say he is, even though he clearly isn’t that, and thus release him and imprison me.”
What I experienced as the lesson falling flat, then, was really my mind rejecting the lesson. It was really me interpreting the lesson as a blatant contradiction that I couldn’t honestly embrace. Why would I want to see my brother the way Jesus does if that’s not the way my brother really is? Why would I want to set my brother free by wrapping myself in the straightjacket of Jesus’ pious fantasy?
Once I made all this conscious, I could approach the lesson very differently. Now I “heard” the lesson in a whole new way: “Oh I get it—I am really not seeing my brother. I’m really, truly seeing him as he is not. That is why I give him only a penny’s worth of my love. And that lack of love on my part imprisons both of us. If only I could see him as he is, I would genuinely and unconditionally love him, and that would release him and would release me too.”
It was humbling to see how deeply I assume that other people really are the way I happen to see them at that particular moment. But the nice thing was that then the prayer could become a sincere prayer to be freed from this bigoted assumption.