Purpose: To stop denying the Thought of God; to experience it and then abandon all else as worthless in comparison.
Morning/evening quiet time: At least five minutes; ideally, thirty or more.
Practice in whatever way the Holy Spirit inspires you to, but the essence of it should be undoing your denial of the Thought that created you and sustains you, and asking to know that Thought. Thus, there should be both a negative focus on letting go of your denial, your resistance, and a positive focus on asking for the experience of the Thought of God, the experience of Heaven. “Ask with desire” (5:1) and with hope (7:1). It is all right if you doubt how much you want this. Certainty will only come through experiencing what you ask for. This will carry you past all your doubts, to where you know that this experience is indeed the only thing you want.
Hourly remembrance: One or two minutes as the hour strikes (reduce if circumstances do not permit).
Repeat the idea, trying to let go of your denial and inviting the awareness of Heaven. Then thank God for His gifts in the hour gone by, and ask for His guidance for the hour to come.
Today’s lesson, tomorrow’s, and those just before and after, are a strong encouragement to move forward. The Course, in these days, is trying to draw us past the point of hesitation and into a firm commitment.
What makes this world seem real except your own denial of the truth that lies beyond?…What could keep from you what you already have except your choice to see it not, denying it is there? (1:1, 4)
Ken Wilber, the author of many books on transpersonal psychology and spiritual growth, points out that, viewed as evolution, spiritual growth proceeds to the degree we are willing to die to the lower level of life in order to transcend it and remember (or re-member) the higher level. The fact that our experience is on an ego level is not because the higher is not already here, it is because we have chosen the lower as a substitute for the higher, and we do so in every instant. It is not until the lower level is lived out, tried to the fullest, in a sense, and found lacking, that motivation exists to move us higher.
We need to become disillusioned with the ego to the point that we begin to see through its illusions. The degree to which the ego seems real to us is the measure of our denial of “the truth that lies beyond” (1:1). We can’t see the real world because we don’t want to. We are actively denying it. The reality of the real world, if perceived and accepted, will mean the end of reality as we now know it. Heaven appears to us as a threat to our imagined comfort on the ego level.
Jesus appeals to us,
Deny not Heaven. It is yours today, but for the asking. Nor need you perceive how great the gift, how changed your mind will be before it comes to you. Ask to receive, and it is given you. Conviction lies within it. Till you welcome it as yours, uncertainty remains. Yet God is fair. Sureness is not required to receive what only your acceptance can bestow. (4:1-8)
You don’t have to be sure before asking for Heaven. You don’t have to be certain. “Sureness is not required” (4:8). In fact, you cannot be sure or certain before asking because “conviction lies within it” (4:5); that is, you don’t find the conviction, the sureness, the certainty until you have Heaven, and you can’t know you have it until you ask.
As we live thinking we are egos, considering moving forward, considering leaving the ego behind, the ego fights for its own existence. “You don’t know what you are getting into here,” it tells us. “How can you be sure you’d like it? You’d better make sure before you make a move.”
Certainty, sureness, and conviction come from experience. When you have experienced the real world, even a glimpse, you will know you want it, you will know it is what you want and what you have mistakenly been seeking in the shadow world of the ego’s illusions. So ask for Heaven.
Another comfort is that we don’t have to understand all that Heaven, or the real world, is, before we experience it. You don’t have to have a clear idea of what you’re asking for, of “how changed your mind will be” (4:3). That change of mind does not precede the decision to ask, it follows it. It is the desire that allows it to come.
You don’t even need to be sure that Heaven is the only thing you want!
You need not be sure that you request the only thing you want. But when you have received, you will be sure you have the treasure you have always sought. (5:2-3)
It’s all right to go into this with reservations, such as “Maybe I can have the real world and still hold onto my special relationships. Or maybe I can have inner peace and still enjoy my little pleasures.” Those reservations will vanish once you taste the real thing. A very poor analogy, but one that makes the point: “How can you keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen Paris?” Once you taste “the treasure you have always sought” why would you go back to lesser things?
We already have the certainty within ourselves, in reality. That’s part of what we’ve covered over with ego illusions. When we find the Self, we find it complete with certainty. The process of the Course, of “removing blocks to the awareness of love’s presence” (T-In.1:7), is restated here in terms of that inner certainty: “This course removes all doubts which you have interposed between Him and your certainty of Him” (7:6).
The process consists of becoming aware of our doubts, owning them, acknowledging them, and then not taking them seriously. This is exactly the same process we go through with other such blocks, like anger and sadness and pain. See them clearly so you can see that the doubts, too, are part of the illusion. They are “meaningless, for God is certain” (7:3). “His sureness lies beyond our every doubt” (8:3).
Certainty is not something we can generate for ourselves. “We count on God, and not upon ourselves, to give us certainty” (8:1). But for that to happen, we must be willing to move forward, to be willing to “die” to the level of life we know now and to ask for something more, a different way of seeing, a different kind of vision. We need to be willing to ask that “the Thought of God” enter our minds and displace the distorted thinking we have been doing. We need to “follow the instructions,” so to speak, given in the Course; if we do, certainty is sure to come to us.