Purpose: To let go of the value we have placed on the things of the world, so that our mind is free to experience what is truly valuable—our home in God.
Longer: Three times, for ten minutes.
This practice is one of unchaining our mind so that it can fly home to God. We can see it as having two phases. In the first phase, we withdraw the value we have placed upon the world. We withdraw all the purposes we have given things in the world, the purpose of satisfying our personal interests (as Lesson 25 said). This is likened to taking the chains off our mind. Unchained, it will then be free to spread its wings and fly inward to where it belongs, to its home in God. The second phase of the practice period, then, is this process of our mind flying to its home. It is a process of stilling and opening our mind, and letting it be guided to its resting place in God. Throughout this process, we will need to be letting go of our wandering thoughts, which, of course, almost always relate to things we value in the world. To pull our minds back from these thoughts we can repeat the idea for the day.
Remarks: Every practice period will shift your whole perspective a little—it will withdraw some of the value you have placed upon the world.
Response to temptation: Whenever you feel yourself valuing something in the world.
Realize that doing so will lay a chain upon your mind. Instead, protect your mind by saying, with quiet certainty, "This will not tempt me to delay myself. The world I see holds nothing that I want." If you really watch your mind, you will find no shortage of subjects for practice. I also highly recommend taking some time to memorize these two lines. If you are really going to use them frequently, having them memorized is almost a requirement.
The general thought of this lesson is similar to the first three of Buddha's Four Noble Truths: that life is suffering; that the cause of suffering is tanha, or desire for self at the expense of others; and that the way out of suffering is through the relinquishment of such desires.
"Believe this thought, and you are saved from years of misery" (1:2). The lesson is asking us to give up all attachment to things of this world, to put an end to suffering by putting an end to craving anything the world offers. It can seem to be a harsh lesson, and yet it is eminently sensible: if you do not desire anything, you cannot be disappointed.
The things of the world act as chains when we value them (2:1). What is perhaps harder to grasp is that this is the purpose for which we made them: they "will serve no other end but this. For everything must serve the purpose you have given it, until you see a different purpose there (2:1-2). When we assign to the things of the world a purpose in time, usually some form of gratification or self-aggrandizement, we chain ourselves to this world. Inevitably, since everything in the world must have an end, this causes us untold pain. All our mistaken valuing accomplishes is to tie us to the world and to keep us from our final healing.
To the Holy Spirit, the only purpose of this world is the healing of God's Son (see T-24.VI.4:1). There is nothing in the world worth striving for. "The only purpose worthy of your mind this world contains is that you pass it by, without delaying to perceive some hope where there is none" (2:3). This is similar to this statement in the Text: "The Holy Spirit interprets time's purpose as rendering the need for time unnecessary" (T-13.IV.7:3). The Holy Spirit appropriates time, the world, and everything in the world for the purpose of salvation and the healing of our minds. To Him, nothing here has any other purpose.
Therefore, the world itself holds nothing that we want. All of it is, to borrow from the title of a book by Ram Dass, "grist for the mill." All of it becomes the means to an end—our awakening to life, our return to God. There is nothing in the world that is an end in itself.
When the lesson advises us, "Let nothing that relates to body thoughts delay your progress to salvation" (4:1), it is saying the same thing in other words. "Body thoughts" refers to our mistaken identification with our bodies. It is everything that stems from the idea that "I am a body, and to benefit and protect myself I must make taking care of my body a number one priority." Our cravings for bodily pleasure, bodily comfort, bodily protection, bodily longevity, and bodily beauty all fall into the category of body thoughts. Making such things our primary concern can only delay our progress.
The lesson is asking us to practice mentally letting go of all thoughts of values we have given to the world (5:1). We are asked to "loosen it [the world] from all we wish it were" (5:3). That is a tall order, isn't it? We spend so much of our time wishing things were different and trying to make them be that way. In fact, if we look at our lives honestly, wishing something or someone were different and trying to bring about that change is the activity that occupies most of our lives.
For the purposes of this lesson, then, practice taking a few minutes to let your mind rest from such activity: "Pause and be still a while, and see how far you rise above the world, when you release your mind from chains and let it seek the level where it finds itself at home" (6:1). Your mind, the lesson tells us, "knows where it belongs" (6:3). If you loosen the chains of your desires, it will "fly in sureness and in joy to join its holy purpose" (6:4). Each time you practice such an exercise for only ten minutes, "your whole perspective on the world will shift by just a little" (7:3). Let your mind rest, then, from its constant craving, and relax as its homing instinct takes over and brings you to where you really belong.
Throughout the day, the lesson is asking us to notice when we think we see some value in the world, and when we do, to mentally correct the notion with these words:
This will not tempt me to delay myself. The world I see holds nothing that I want. (8:3-4)