Morning/evening quiet time: At least five minutes; ideally, thirty or more.
Although we are not given specific instructions for particular practice periods, we are told how to practice generally today. Before we set our feet on the path, we walked around unconsciously believing that we walked alone, accompanied only by our sinfulness. We carried the weight of what we thought we had done like a heavy rock on our shoulders. Once we stepped onto the path, we opened our mind to the idea that God was walking with us, that His Being was inseparable from our being, and that therefore we carried holiness with us, not sinfulness. Now we are of two minds, at times believing we walk alone in sinfulness, at times believing we walk with God in holiness.
Our practice, then, consists in asking ourselves, "Who walks with me?" Meaning, is it God or sin? As we ask, we need to realize this is a genuine question; we are really not sure yet what the answer is. And then we need to answer with these words: "I walk with God in perfect holiness. I light the world, I light my mind and all the minds which God created one with me." As we say these words, we need to realize that they are not just our own words trying to answer our question. They are the words that God has given us; they are Him answering for us (8:4).
If we can truly embrace this answer, then our holiness will shine forth for all to see. As paragraph 4 says, even the waves, flowers, trees, and wind will respond to us as if we are visiting royalty (bowing down in front of us, laying a carpet before us, shielding our head from the heat, filling the air with sweet—smelling incense), for they will innately sense the heavenly King walking with us.
Hourly remembrance: One or two minutes as the hour strikes (reduce if circumstances do not permit).
- Ask the question: "Who walks with me [God or sin]?" And then answer with the lines, "I walk with God in perfect holiness. I light the world, I light my mind and all the minds which God created one with me."
- Then thank God for walking with you in the hour gone by. You might even think of events from that hour that were evidence of Him walking with you.
- And finally, ask Him for guidance for the coming hour: where He wants you to walk and what He wants you to do.
Suggestion: You may want to do this practice of asking the question ("Who walks with me?") and repeating the response ("I walk with God…") many times during each hour. The lesson mentions doing it a thousand times a day, or approximately once every waking minute. This remarkable frequency is perhaps a bit beyond our current level of discipline. We will experience powerful benefits even if we do it a few times each hour.
"Ideas leave not their source" (1:3). When a mind thinks an idea, that idea stays in the mind; it does not become a separate thing, apart from the mind that thought it. And I am a Thought of God; therefore, I cannot possibly be apart from Him. I have thought I was separate. Indeed, much of the time I still think and behave as though I were separate from God. But I am not; I cannot be.
To be apart from God is impossible. God is Being; He is Existence. Whatever exists is in Him. He is Life; whatever lives, lives in Him. "He is what your life is. Where you are He is. There is one life. That life you share with Him. Nothing can be apart from Him and live" (2:5-9).
God is also holy. If God is holy, and I am in him, I am holy, too. "What lives is holy as Himself" (3:3). Therefore, "I walk with God in perfect holiness." I could "no more be sinful than the sun could choose to be of ice" (3:3). This is not a feeble hope; it is a fact. It is the truth about me, and about you, and about everyone who lives.
Yet we have taught ourselves that this truth is not true. It fascinates me to see what contradictory ideas arise in my mind when I repeat this statement. It would be a useful exercise to write today's idea as an affirmation, ten times or more, and in a second column, write down the response of the mind to this idea. You might get things like this:
"I walk with God in perfect holiness." "I'm not so holy." "I walk with God in perfect holiness." "I have a long way to go to be holy." "I walk with God in perfect holiness." "I don't like being called holy." "I walk with God in perfect holiness." "Most of the time I walk alone."
And so on. What's interesting about such an exercise is that it reveals the train of thought that dominates my mind, that opposes today's idea and constantly counteracts it. It is this chain of negative thought that blocks the light in me. All the responses are some form of the idea "I am a sinner," which I would probably vehemently deny that I believe, if anyone asked me. And yet, faced with the affirmation that I walk with God in perfect holiness, these forms of that idea arise "spontaneously." Where are they coming from? Obviously from a backlog of very careful mind training by the ego, very effective brainwashing, so well done that I don't even realize my mind has been programmed.
Do I believe I am a sinner? "You have wasted many, many years on just this foolish thought" says the lesson (7:1). Yes, indeed I do. But when I am made aware of these negative thoughts about myself, I can let them go. I can "step back," and stop accusing myself. When I do, "the light in you steps forward and encompasses the world" (6:2).
How can we counter the programming of the ego? One way, clearly recommended by this lesson, is explicit counter-programming. It recommends that a thousand times a day we ask ourselves the question "Who walks with me?" And then, that we answer it by hearing the Voice for God, saying for us:
I walk with God in perfect holiness. I light the world, I light my mind and all the minds which God created one with me. (8:5-6)
Certainty of our holiness does not come with a single repetition of today's idea. We need thousands of repetitions. We need to keep repeating it until we are certain of it. If we took this literally, repeating the idea a thousand times would mean repeating it a little more often than once per minute, all day long, assuming we are awake sixteen hours. That's a lot of repetition!
Let me today see the "quaint absurdity" (6:4) of the idea of sin, and laugh at the thought. Let me begin to absorb the wonderful teaching of the Course that sin "is a foolish thought, a silly dream, not frightening, ridiculous perhaps" (6:5). And let the wonder of it steal over me: "I walk with God in perfect holiness."