Purpose: To "take a stand against our anger" (1:1). To remove the fears we have projected onto our brothers and see the divine savior that they really are.
Morning/evening quiet time: At least five minutes; ideally, thirty or more.
- Select one brother as a symbol of all brothers. Through forgiving him, you forgive everyone.
- Visualize him as clearly as you can: his face, hands, feet, and clothing, his smile, his familiar gestures. Doing this gets you in touch with all the negative meanings you have projected onto him. As the lesson said earlier, the body of another is a great projection screen.
- Then realize that what you are seeing blocks the vision of your savior. Deep inside this person is a holy being who, like a great spiritual master, can enlighten you with his blessing, can free you from your self-imposed chains. If you saw him for Who he really is, you would be tempted to kneel at his feet.
- Ask this holy being to set you free. Say, "Give me your blessing, holy son of God. I would behold you with the eyes of Christ, and see my perfect sinlessness in you." Repeat these lines over and over, in the same spirit in which you would ask the blessing of an enlightened master.
- You have called on the Christ in him, and the Christ in him will answer you. The scales will fall off your eyes and you will realize that you have been completely wrong about who this person is. "Behold him now, whom you have seen as merely flesh and bone, and recognize that Christ has come to you" (12:3)—come to you to reveal the Christ in you.
Hourly remembrance: One or two minutes as the hour strikes (reduce if circumstances do not permit).
Repeat the idea, perhaps applying it to a particular person. Then thank God for the blessings He has given you in the hour gone by. And ask Him for His direction for the hour to come
Response to temptation: Whenever you are tempted to attack a brother.
Use the idea instantly. Let it help you see past the appearance of a devil (12:6), or a wild animal itching to rip you apart (8:2-4), to the reality that here before you is the Christ.
[Today's comments are something I wrote several years back while I was working as a computer consultant in New York City. On this particular day, I had expected to be able to work from home, via modem, but my client had insisted I come into the office. This threw off my plans for a long "quiet time." The comments that follow were what came to me as I read over the lesson.]
"Today we…take a stand against our anger, that our fears may disappear and offer room to love" (1:1). How "coincidental" that I begin this lesson with flares of anger at having to rush off to work! When a brother or a circumstance seems to cause anger in me, instead of listening to the ego and agreeing that the brother or circumstance is the cause of my anger, let me see that the brother is giving me a blessing by revealing to me that I am angry, that I have dropped the hand of Jesus.
Think about it logically for a moment. If I am totally connected to the Love of God in my heart, nothing will be able to disturb my peace. If something comes along that does (seemingly) disturb my peace, something must have happened beforehand. I must have disconnected from God's Love first, in order to react as I do. That something, then, instead of causing my upset, is merely revealing it to me. I can therefore see my brother's action, or the circumstance, as a blessing, a message from God, a lesson God would have me learn.
"Complete abstraction is the natural condition of the mind" (2:1). Abstraction is the concern with content rather than form. It separates the inherent qualities or properties of something from the actual physical object to which they belong. The natural state of mind considers content "apart from concrete existence" (American Heritage Dictionary).
Part of the mind, says Jesus here, has become concrete and specific rather than abstract. It sees fragments of the whole, rather than the whole. This is the only way we could see "the world." "The purpose of all seeing is to show you what you wish to see" (2:5). If I am seeing something that "makes me" angry or upset, it is because I wish to see it. The mind, dealing in the abstract, has already separated from the Love of God (or thinks it has, or wishes to, since that separation is inherently impossible). Therefore, it splinters reality, sees specific forms that seem to justify its separation, upset and anger. It creates illusions that seemingly give valid reasons for being upset.
It accomplishes this only by seeing fragments instead of the Whole. If I could see the whole picture, as God does, including things I cannot even imagine from my limited perspective, I would never be upset. I have made up those specifics. Since I have made them up, and am immersed in specifics that were made for the purpose of justifying my separation from God, "now it is specifics we must use in practicing" (3:2). The Holy Spirit will take the specific circumstances I have made as an attack on God and use them to bring me back. How?
We give them to the Holy Spirit, that He may employ them for a purpose which is different from the one we gave to them. Yet He can use but what we made… (3:3-4)
(In other words, all we have to work with are the specifics we've made up, so He will use them.)
…to teach us from a different point of view, so we can see a different use in everything. (3:4)
"The mind that taught itself to think specifically can no longer grasp abstraction in the sense that it is all-encompassing" (4:7). Ideas like "All minds are joined" and "One brother is every brother" mean absolutely nothing to us! We cannot grasp them. These abstract statements simply don't help us, immersed in the illusion as we are.
We cling to the specifics, to symbols like the body, because our egos want fear, and that is the only way fear can seem real. There is no reality to fear itself, but the symbol of fear can seem very real. So we focus on the symbols, the specifics, the body. We feel limited by our own body, and by other bodies; we see bodies as attacking us.
What I see, when I see a brother as a body attacking me, is my own fear external to myself, poised to attack (paragraph 8). We tend to think that when we project fear, we see people who are afraid; not so, what we see are people who seem to be making us afraid. We see a monster that "shrieks in wrath, and claws the air in frantic hope it can reach to its maker and devour him" (8:4). When I am upset and angry at my client for "forcing me" to come to in to the office, that external specific is actually revealing to me my own fear of God's Love! It is giving me the opportunity to see beyond the apparent attack and to ask him for a blessing, to show me my own perfect sinlessness.
If I allow the Holy Spirit to show me my brother as he is, instead of how my fear has made him, what I see will be so awesome that I will hardly be able to keep from kneeling at his feet in adoration (9:3). And yet what he is, I am, and so I will, instead of kneeling, take his hand (9:4).
I call upon the Christ in him [my client] to bless me. I am seeing only a symbol of my own fear of God. I bring that fear to the Holy Spirit now. And as I do, I begin to feel a spark of true gratitude to my brother for offering me this salvation from fear. I feel the resentment about having to commute into the city melting away. This, too, is a lesson, and a very good one. Thank you, Jesus, for this lesson. And thank you, my brother.