Letting Our Minds Spontaneously Apply the Lesson to Our Needs, Problems, and Concerns

Review I in the Workbook contains an extremely helpful and effective kind of practice, one that is virtually unknown among Course students. It takes the important practice of letting related thoughts come and uses it as a way to dispel our upsets.

In letting related thoughts come, we first repeat the idea for the day, and then lean back and relax and let our minds spontaneously come up with thoughts related to the idea. Thus, “God is the Love in which I forgive” (Lesson 46) can spark related thoughts like “God is the Love in which I am blessed” or “No fear is possible in a mind beloved of God” (both of these are examples given in Lesson 46).

Then in Review II (Lessons 81-90), this practice becomes modified. There, we are encouraged to come up with related thoughts that apply the idea to some specific upset. So, for instance, when reviewing “I am the light of the world” (Lesson 61), when we are upset by some external appearance, we might come up with the related thought, “Let the light of the world shine through this appearance” (W-pI.rII.81.2:3).

This new form of practice becomes more fully developed in the next review, Review III. Here are the instructions for practice in that review:

Read over the ideas and comments that are written down for each day’s exercise. And then begin to think about them, while letting your mind relate them to your needs, your seeming problems and all your concerns. (W-pI.rIII.In.5:2-3)

First, we read over the ideas (the lessons being reviewed) and comments about them. Then we begin to think about the ideas. And, as we do, we let our minds relate the ideas to our needs, problems and concerns. How do we “let” our minds do this? We are given special instruction for this:

Place the ideas within your mind, and let it use them as it chooses. Give it faith that it will use them wisely, being helped in its decisions by the One Who gave the thoughts to you. What can you trust but what is in your mind? Have faith, in these reviews, the means the Holy Spirit uses [your mind] will not fail. The wisdom of your mind will come to your assistance. Give direction at the outset; then lean back in quiet faith, and let the mind employ the thoughts you gave as they were given you for it to use. (W-pI.rIII.In.6)

We are supposed to simply place the ideas in our minds, having faith that our minds will use the ideas wisely, being aided by the Holy Spirit. Then we “lean back in quiet faith” and let our minds apply the ideas to our needs, problems, and concerns.

For an example, let me take a particular lesson and apply this technique to it. The lesson I’ll use is 272: “How can illusions satisfy God’s Son?” I will place it in my mind, then lean back and let my mind apply it to my needs, problems and concerns:

I think I can be satisfied by a delicious lunch or a hot shower, but I am God’s Son. I am satisfied only by my Father. Only infinity will satisfy me. I think that if I had fewer responsibilities today, if this book were not behind schedule, then I would be at peace. But my responsibilities are illusions. How can any way in which illusions are configured truly satisfy me? In thinking I am satisfied by such paltry things I am selling myself short. I am thinking I am something less than God’s boundless Son. I think that if various interpersonal frictions around me today were lessened, then I would be happy. But I know better. Only seeing past the frictions to Who these people really are will make me happy. I am God’s Son. No illusion will satisfy me.

You get the point. You just place an idea from the Course in your mind, and then let your mind creatively apply the idea to your current needs, problems and concerns. The thoughts that come out of you feel like they are genuinely your own, yet they often carry a wisdom that seems beyond you. This technique thus becomes a real meeting point of the Course’s ideas, the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, and your own thoughts. Here, these three become one.

Instructions

  • Read over the two ideas and the comments about them, so that the ideas are firmly placed in your mind.
  • Then close your eyes and begin to think about the ideas and also to let related thoughts come (you should remember both of these practices from earlier lessons). This time, however, there is an important twist. Let your mind search out various needs, problems, and concerns in your life. As each one arises, let your mind come up with thoughts related to the ideas, thoughts which apply the essence of those ideas to the need, problem, or concern. In other words, let your mind creatively apply the ideas so as to dispel your sense of need, problem, or concern. This is a more developed version of letting related thoughts come, in which it combines with response to temptation (there were hints of this in Review II—see my response to temptation comments there).
  • Remember your training in letting related thoughts come: place the ideas in your mind. Trust your mind’s inherent wisdom to generate related thoughts (this trust is a big theme in this review). Don’t strain—let your mind come up with thoughts. The thoughts need only be indirectly related to the ideas, though they should not be in conflict. If your mind wanders, or you draw a blank, repeat the ideas and try again.
  • If you try this and it is just too unstructured for you, I have found the following more structured version to be useful:

1.Let a need, problem or concern come to mind, and name it to yourself (for example, “I see this conflict with so-and-so as a problem”).

2.Repeat one or both of the ideas for the day (for instance, “I am spirit”).

3. While repeating the idea, watch your mind for any sparks of insight that arise which apply the idea to your need, problem or concern, and verbalize this insight to yourself (for example, “As spirit, I cannot be hurt. I am totally invulnerable”).

4.Either continue with more such related thoughts, or go on to the next need, problem or concern.

 

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