Longer practices from the Text

The Text contains a number of highly effective practices, which are nearly indistinguishable from the practices found in the Workbook. These practices often begin with a particular setting, such as “when anything threatens your peace of mind.” Then they instruct you to say a particular statement to yourself, a statement designed to shift you out of the state of mind that you are in.

What follows is, first, some suggestions for how to use these practices, and then a series of some of the longer practices from the Text. Most of these longer practices are accompanied by some commentary on what they mean and how to use them. I strongly encourage you to spend time using each of these practices, and do so repeatedly, for each one has a beauty and effectiveness all its own.

How to use the Text practices

  1. Use them, don’t just read them.
  2. It is crucial to understand them. To do so, you must see them in light of the teaching that has preceded them.
  3. Repeat them slowly, out loud if it helps you.
  4. When saying them, think about the meaning of the words.
  5. Apply them to a specific upset in your life (if asked to).
  6. It helps greatly to memorize them, or to carry them around on note cards.
  7. You can use the first line as a short version.
  8. When upset, repeat them over and over until you feel a sense of relief.
  9. Find which ones work best and for what kinds of problems.
  10. Over time, incorporate them into your problem-solving repertoire.

I am here only to be truly helpful

I am here only to be truly helpful.
I am here to represent Him Who sent me.
I do not have to worry about what to say or what to do,
because He Who sent me will direct me.
I am content to be wherever He wishes, knowing He goes there with me.
I will be healed as I let Him teach me to heal. (T-2.V(A)18:2-6)

Use this when you are in a situation…
in which you don’t know what your purpose is
in which you feel that your self-image is on the line
in which you are worried about what to say or do
in which you want to be somewhere else
which brings up your own fears and blocks

Original context

In January, 1966, Bill Thetford was asked by the medical center that he and Helen worked for to attend a conference on rehabilitation in Princeton, New Jersey. Jesus gave Bill this prayer to use at this conference.

Line-by-line comments:

I am here only to be truly helpful.

Normal “helpfulness”: Based on an attitude of identifying others with their damaged bodies, malfunctioning brains and dysfunctional egos, and looking down upon them as a result.

Truly helpful: seeing the perfection in others despite the condition of their bodies, brains or egos. Perceiving another as worthy of God’s infinite praise.

Only: We are not here for any other purpose, not here to satisfy our personal interests.

I am here to represent Him Who sent me.

I am here: I am here in this situation.

Sent: Jesus said, “I arranged for Bill to attend the rehabilitation meetings for very good reasons” (p. 299). If you thought that Jesus personally “arranged” for you to be somewhere “for very good reasons,” would that change your attitude about being there?

Him: Can be seen as meaning Christ or the Holy Spirit, but originally meant Jesus: “He will help you [Helen] more truly by going, if he can remember all the time he is there that his only reason for being there is to represent Me.”

Represent: You are not here to represent yourself, to put your own ego in the best light possible.

I do not have to worry about what to say or what to do, because He Who sent me will direct me.

I do not have to worry: “The presence of fear is a sure sign that you are trusting in your own strength” (W-pI.48.3:1). “You are perfectly safe as long as you are completely unconcerned about your readiness, but maintain a consistent trust in mine” (T-2.V.4:2).

I am content to be wherever He wishes,
knowing He goes there with me.

Wherever He wishes: Bill did not want to go to this conference. It did not suit his desires. This line gives a different perspective. Rather than only enjoying special places of our choosing, we are perfectly content to be “wherever He wishes.” It doesn’t really matter where we are. Why? Because we know that He goes there with us. Our enjoyment comes not from the setting, but from the company.

I will be healed as I let Him teach me to heal.

Teach me to heal: Bill was sent to the conference because he needed healing himself. He was afraid of broken bodies and damaged brains because they reminded him of his own vulnerability. This fear of those who needed his help kept him from extending help to them. He was therefore sent to the conference because he didn’t want to go, because the conference would confront him with his fears. Only if he could face those fears and see past them could he really extend healing. And only when he extended healing would he receive it for himself.

“I desire this Holy Instant for myself”
ACIM conflict resolution

How are we supposed to solve conflicts in our relationships? The universal tendency is to want to stay in the battleground and solve the problem from there. Perhaps you hope to solve it through winning the war, or maybe you will wave your white flag and surrender, or perhaps you will both sit down at the peace table and each agree to a series of conditions that will keep the other at bay.

The Course actually contains an exercise in resolving interpersonal conflicts, but it is not the kind of exercise we might expect. It is introduced with these words:

When you feel the holiness of your relationship is threatened by anything, stop instantly and offer the Holy Spirit your willingness, in spite of fear, to let Him exchange this instant for the holy one that you would rather have (T-18.V.VI.1).

We can boil this down into three steps:

  1. When you feel friction in your relationship
  2. Stop trying to solve it in your way
  3. And ask the Holy Spirit for a holy instant>

The passage continues, giving practical instruction on the third step:

Whoever is saner at the time the threat is perceived should remember how deep is his indebtedness to the other and how much gratitude is due him, and be glad that he can pay his debt by bringing happiness to both. Let him remember this, and say:

I desire this holy instant for myself,
that I may share it with my brother, whom I love.
It is not possible that I can have it without him,
or he without me.
Yet it is wholly possible for us to share it now.
And so I choose this instant as the one to offer to the Holy Spirit,
that His blessing may descend on us,
and keep us both in peace (T-18.V.7).

The Course is giving us here a concrete exercise in conflict resolution. I therefore suggest that we really do it. When we feel the holiness of our relationship threatened by anything, we can stop (we may need to excuse ourselves from the room) and use this prayer, saying each word with full awareness of its meaning, saying it again until we feel our anger lift and peace come over us. I see this as a radical and brilliant method of conflict resolution and would therefore like to draw out some of its aspects:

The conflict is not healed by solving it on its level

Whoever is saner stops instantly.

You stop trying to solve the conflict in the usual way, on its level.

Conflict is healed by letting go of the belief-system underlying the conflict

You forget about the conflict, its nature, its history, who did what, who thinks and feels what, etc.

You realize the conflict is not between yourself and the other person,

…that there is no threat or problem outside of you that requires your response in order to make yourself safe

…that the problem is in your own mind; that it is your own perception of conflict and outer threat that needs healing.

…and by entering the holy instant

Your perception of conflict and solution always places happiness in the future, at the end of a process.

Yet you can have happiness now by entering the holy instant.

A unilateral process

This process is undertaken by one person, “whoever is saner at the time.”

There is thus no demand for the other person to cooperate in the same process, and in fact no need for it.

One does it for both, as a gift to both

You do this, however, not only for yourself but for the other, recognizing that if one is in fear, both will be in fear; but if one accepts a holy instant, both will be healed.

So you accept a holy instant for yourself, not out of anger and withdrawal from the other, but out of love and gratitude for the other. You do it knowing that you can express your love and gratitude by bringing healing to both right now.

Thus, being saner is not seen as making one a righteous victim of the other’s insanity. It is seen as a gift one can bestow on the other, the other who is loved so much.

“This need not be”
T-4.IV.2-6

When your mood tells you that you have chosen wrongly,

and this is so whenever you are not joyous, then

know this need not be.

In every case you have thought wrongly about some brother God created….

Think honestly what you have thought that God would not have thought,

and what you have not thought that God would have you think.

Search sincerely for what you have done and left undone accordingly,

and then change your mind to think with God….

When you are sad,

know this need not be.

Depression comes from a sense of being deprived of something you want and do not have.

Remember that you are deprived of nothing except by your own decisions,

and then decide otherwise.

When you are anxious,

realize that anxiety comes from the capriciousness [willful, irrational impulsiveness] of the ego, and

know this need not be.

You can be as vigilant against the ego’s dictates as for them.

When you feel guilty,

remember that the ego has indeed violated the laws of God, but you have not.

Leave the “sins” of the ego to me.

That is what Atonement is for.

But until you change your mind about those whom your ego has hurt,

the Atonement cannot release you.

While you feel guilty your ego is in command, because only the ego can experience guilt.

This need not be.

Watch your mind for the temptations of the ego,

and do not be deceived by it.

It offers you nothing.

When you have given up this voluntary dis-spiriting,

you will see how your mind can focus and rise above fatigue and heal.

Yet you are not sufficiently vigilant against the demands of the ego to disengage yourself.

This need not be.

“I must have decided wrongly
Because I am not at peace”
from “The Decision for God” (T-5.VII)

This well-known practice (popularized by Marianne Williamson, who called it a “page 83”) is far more specific than it seems to be. What it specifically means is revealed by the discussion that leads up to the actual practice. To see what that discussion implies about the lines of the practice itself, consult the right column.


Prelude (5:1,5)

Whenever you are not wholly joyous, it is because you have reacted with a lack of love to one of God’s creations….If you allow yourself to feel guilty, you will reinforce the error rather than allow it to be undone for you.

Prelude (6:6)

Say this to yourself as sincerely as you can, remembering that the Holy Spirit will respond fully to your slightest invitation:

Clarification:
Process (6:1-5)

Decision cannot be difficult. This is obvious, if you realize that you must already have decided not to be wholly joyous if that is how you feel.

Process (6:7-11)

I must have decided wrongly,
because I am not at peace.

I must have decided to see this brother wrongly. I am not at peace because I feel guilty about that loveless perception.
Therefore, the first step in the undoing is to recognize that you actively decided wrongly, but can as actively decide otherwise. I made the decision myself,
but I can also decide otherwise.
I made the decision to see my brother lovelessly, but I can decide to see him differently.
Be very firm with yourself in this, I want to decide otherwise, because I want to be at peace. I want to decide to see him differently, because I want to get rid of my guilt and be at peace.
…and keep yourself fully aware that the undoing process, which does not come from you, is nevertheless within you because God placed it there. I do not feel guilty,
because the Holy Spirit will undo all the consequences of my wrong decision if I will let Him.
I have no need for the guilt I am feeling, because the Holy Spirit will undo all the effects that my loveless perception have had on my brother, if I will let Him change my perception.
Your part is merely to return your thinking to the point at which the error was made, and give it over to the Atonement in peace. I choose to let Him,
by allowing Him to decide
for God for me.
I choose to let Him change my perception of my brother, by allowing Him to decide on God’s behalf how I will see my brother.


“I do not know what anything,
including this, means”

When to use

When your peace is threatened or disturbed

Especially when you cannot imagine how you could see the situation differently

From “The Test of Truth”

Your part is very simple. You need only recognize that everything you learned you do not want. Ask to be taught, and do not use your experiences to confirm what you have learned. When your peace is threatened or disturbed in any way, say to yourself:

I do not know what anything, including this, means.
And so I do not know how to respond to it.
And I will not use my own past learning as the light to guide me now.

By this refusal to attempt to teach yourself what you do not know, the Guide Whom God has given you will speak to you. He will take His rightful place in your awareness the instant you abandon it, and offer it to Him. (T-14.XI.6)

Commentary

I do not know what anything, including this, means.

Our emotions come from the meaning we see in things. Therefore, if we truly admit that we don’t know what something means, we can have no emotions about it.

And so I do not know how to respond to it.

If I don’t know what it means, I have no idea how to respond to it either physically or emotionally.

And I will not use my own past learning as the light to guide me now.

Your past learning seems to know what everything means. So to truly admit that you don’t know what something means, you must also suspend your past learning, realizing that it did not deliver happiness.

You may believe that this will leave you powerless to do or feel anything, but the Course promises that the Holy Spirit will fill the empty place in your mind.

“I am not alone, and I would not
intrude the past upon my guest”
from “True Empathy” (T-16.I.3)

When to use: Someone has come to you in pain, asking for your empathy

You must realize that your empathy would

…join in their pain

…empathize with their weakness and vulnerability

…weaken them and so attack them

…implicitly attack the one who “caused” their pain

…strengthen your ego, which only empathizes with what is like itself

You must realize that you do not know what empathizing means.

You must instead allow the Holy Spirit to empathize through you.

He will empathize with strength (the truth in them), not with weakness (their ego).

Your part is only to remember this; you do not want anything you value to come of a relationship. You choose neither to hurt it nor to heal it in your own way. You do not know what healing is. All you have learned of empathy is from the past. And there is nothing from the past that you would share, for there is nothing from the past that you would keep. Do not use empathy to make the past real, and so perpetuate it. Step gently aside, and let healing be done for you. Keep but one thought in mind and do not lose sight of it, however tempted you may be to judge any situation, and to determine your response by judging it. Focus your mind only on this:

I am not alone,
and I would not intrude the past upon my Guest.
I have invited Him, and He is here.
I need do nothing except not to interfere.

I am not alone: The Holy Spirit is with me

My Guest: The Holy Spirit

Intrude the past upon: to thrust my uninvited ideas about empathy, learned from the past, upon the Holy Spirit

I have invited Him: through my answering of God’s Call—putting my feet on the path

I need do nothing: The Holy Spirit will come through me and heal this person.

Except not to interfere: I need only step aside, realizing I don’t want what I value to come of the relationship, realizing I don’t know what healing is, realizing I don’t know what empathy is.

“I who am host to god am worthy of Him”
from “The Little Willingness” (T-18.IV.5)

You try to prepare for the holy instant by making yourself worthy of it

Your difficulty with the holy instant arises from your fixed conviction that you are not worthy of it. And what is this but the determination to be as you would make yourself? God did not create His dwelling place unworthy of Him. And if you believe He cannot enter where He wills to be, you must be interfering with His Will. (IV.3)

Instructions for entering the holy instant without preparation

Rather than seek to prepare yourself for Him, try to think thus:

I who am host to God am worthy of Him.
He Who established His dwelling place in me
created it as He would have it be.
It is not needful that I make it ready for Him,
but only that I do not interfere with His plan
to restore to me my own awareness of my readiness,
which is eternal.
I need add nothing to His plan.
But to receive it, I must be willing
not to substitute my own in place of it.

And that is all. Add more, and you will merely take away the little that is asked. (IV.5-6)

I who am Host to God: I am the dwelling place of God.

Am worthy of Him: I am worthy of experiencing Him—after all, I am His host.

Created it as He would have it be: If he established His dwelling place in me, I have no say in how that dwelling place functions. “When God gave Himself to you in your creation, He established you as host to Him forever. He has not left you, and you have not left Him.” (T-15.III.5:4-5)

Not needful that I make it ready for Him: I needn’t try to make myself holy and good, so that I am worthy for Him to enter His dwelling place in me.

Not interfere with His plan: My plan to make myself ready for Him is what blocks His plan to reveal to me that I am eternally ready.

I need add nothing to His plan: I need not superimpose my plan to make myself holy, worthy, pure, good—deserving of the holy instant.

Must be willing not to substitute my own—plan to make myself worthy. His plan will simply grant me the holy instant, unless I enact my plan for earning it.

Suggestion: Spend time with this, going through it over and over. It is a perfect means for opening your mind to God, one that takes you progressively deeper.

Take this from me and look upon it, judging it for me
from “The Obstacles to Peace” (T-19.IV(C).11)

When to use:

When anything seems to be a source of fear

Especially when you seem unable to change your mind about it

The practice

When anything seems to you to be a source of fear, when any situation strikes you with terror and makes your body tremble and the cold sweat of fear comes over it, remember it is always for one reason; the ego has perceived [that situation] as a symbol of fear, a sign of sin and death. Remember, then, that neither sign nor symbol should be confused with source, for they must stand for something other than themselves [signs and symbols stand for an idea—their source]. Their meaning cannot lie in them, but must be sought in what they represent. And they may thus mean everything or nothing, according to the truth or falsity of the idea which they reflect [if what they stand for fear and fear means nothing, then they mean nothing]. Confronted with such seeming uncertainty of meaning, judge it not. Remember the holy presence of the One given to you to be the Source of judgment. Give it to Him to judge for you, and say:

Take this from me and look upon it, judging it for me.
Let me not see it as a sign of sin and death,
nor use it for destruction.
Teach me how not to make of it an obstacle to peace,
but let You use it for me, to facilitate its coming.

Take this from me: I am not even going to try to judge what it means.

A sign of sin and death: Let me not see this situation as standing for sin and death, as carrying a sinful, deadly meaning.

Nor use it for destruction: If I see this situation as having a sinful, deadly meaning, then I am using it to justify destruction.

How not to make of it an obstacle to peace: My interpretation of this situation will block peace.

Let You use it for me, to facilitate its coming: Teach me how to let You interpret this situation on my behalf, in order to facilitate the coming of peace. This is amazing—the very situation that, in my hands, was a block to peace, can be used by the Holy Spirit to >facilitate peace.

“This is the lesson God would have you learn: There is a way to look on everything that lets it be to you another step to Him, and to salvation of the world.” (W-pI.193.13:1)

“I have overcome the world”
from “Right Teaching and Right Learning” (T-4.I.13)

The context

I will substitute for your ego if you wish, but never for your spirit. A father can safely leave a child with an elder brother who has shown himself responsible, but this involves no confusion about the child’s origin. The brother can protect the child’s body and his ego, but he does not confuse himself with the father because he does this. I can be entrusted with your body and your ego only because this enables you not to be concerned with them, and lets me teach you their unimportance. I could not understand their importance to you if I had not once been tempted to believe in them myself. Let us undertake to learn this lesson together so we can be free of them together. I need devoted teachers who share my aim of healing the mind. Spirit is far beyond the need of your protection or mine.

The practice

Remember this:

In this world you need not have tribulation
because I have overcome the world.
That is why you should be of good cheer. (T-4.I.13:1-11)

What the practice means in light of its preceding context

“In this world you seem imprisoned in a vulnerable body and fragile ego. The threats to your body and ego cause you constant tribulation. I understand how important they are to you, for I was once in the same condition you are. But I have overcome that condition. Now, as an elder brother, I can take care of your body and ego for you, making sure they are safe. Because someone else is taking care of them for you, you can be less anxious and concerned about them. This lets me teach you their unimportance. And realizing their unimportance frees you from their shackles. Join me in learning this lesson. Place your body and ego in my hands. In this way, my overcoming of the world becomes your overcoming of the world. That is why you should be of good cheer.”

“By this do I deny the presence
of the Father and the Son”
from “The End of Injustice” (T-26.X.6)

When to use this

Whenever you feel that you are being unfairly treated

The introduction

What this injustice does to you who judge unfairly, and who see as you have judged, you cannot calculate. The world grows dim and threatening, not a trace of all the happy sparkle that salvation brings can you perceive to lighten up your way. And so you see yourself deprived of light, abandoned to the dark, unfairly left without a purpose in a futile world. The world is fair because the Holy Spirit has brought injustice to the light within, and there has all unfairness been resolved and been replaced with justice and with love.

The practice

If you perceive injustice anywhere, you need but say:

By this do I deny the Presence of the Father and the Son.
And I would rather know of Them than see injustice,
which Their Presence shines away. (T-26.X.6)

By this: By perceiving that someone has been unjust to me.

The Presence of the Father and the Son: The previous section spoke movingly of Their Presence: “Because of Them have miracles sprung up as grass and flowers on the barren ground that hate had scorched and rendered desolate. What hate has wrought have They undone. And now you stand on ground so holy Heaven leans to join with it, and make it like itself. The shadow of an ancient hate has gone, and all the blight and withering have passed forever from the land where They have come.” (T-26.IX.3:5-8)

See injustice: This section explained that I am deprived only by myself. I then project the cause of this deprivation onto someone else. I do so in order to make myself look innocent by making them the guilty party.

Which Their Presence shines away: I have a choice: I can see injustice, be deprived of Their Presence, and try to solve the injustice on my own. Or I can choose to see Their beautiful Presence, which will shine away all of my perception of injustice.

Practices that may not look like practices

There is no clear line between practices and straight teaching in the Course. Teaching slides into injunctions (in which the author directs us to apply his teaching) which in turn slide into practices (in which the author gives us something specific to do in our minds, such as specific words to repeat). The result is that nothing in the Text is that far away from being a practice, or being turned into one by the reader.

As you read, then, try to be aware of when the author is asking you to do something, to apply his teaching, to remind yourself of his ideas, to pause and think upon certain things. You can easily miss a great deal of practical application unless you look for it. Below are two practices that are easily missed as such:

The real world is not like this

Sit quietly and look upon the world you see, and tell yourself:

“The real world is not like this.

It has no buildings and there are no streets where people
walk alone and separate.
There are no stores where people buy an endless list of things
they do not need.
It is not lit with artificial light, and night comes not upon it.
There is no day that brightens and grows dim.
There is no loss.
Nothing is there but shines, and shines forever.” (T-13.VII.1:1-7)

The holy encounter

When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter.

As you see him you will see yourself.

As you treat him you will treat yourself.

As you think of him you will think of yourself.

Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself.

Whenever two Sons of God meet, they are given another chance at salvation.

Do not leave anyone without giving salvation to him and receiving it yourself.

For I am always there with you, in remembrance of you. (T-8.III.4:1-8)

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