Review V: God is but Love, and therefore so am I.
Paragraph 11 of the review introduction:
The paragraph is once again about specifics of Workbook practice. I don’t mean to belabor this point, but since I am simply following the content of this introduction, the emphasis is really not mine but that of the Course itself.
The Workbook places a great emphasis on repetition of the ideas it presents. Repetition is one of the primary techniques for mind training that it encourages. If we are doing it as directed—and I am the first to admit that I am still far short of doing so—we will be meditating on this theme thought for a minimum of five minutes in the morning and evening, with up to half an hour each time being even better. We will be recalling it every hour, and using the theme idea, “God is but Love, and therefore so am I,” to frame the two additional thoughts we are reviewing for the day.
This is not a radical or strange idea. Repetition of spiritual thoughts is common in many religions. I even ran into it in fundamentalist Christianity. A teacher at an evening class I once attended at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, in 1959, taught his students what he called Bible meditation. The general idea was to memorize verses from the Bible so as to have them handy in one’s mind, and to meditate on them all during the day—upon arising, as you walked from place to place, whenever you sat waiting for anything, riding the bus or the train, and again at night just before sleeping. He defined meditation as “Sharing with the Lord His own Word, prayerfully, and with personal application.” This teacher claimed that such meditation had revolutionized his life.
It revolutionized my life as well. In time I memorized more than a thousand Bible verses. I knew entire chapters by heart, word for word. I’m sure that the practice is a good part of what took me, eventually, beyond the confines of fundamentalism.
I still remember one of the first times that I set aside time right before sleeping to meditate. I sat up for five or ten minutes, ruminating on the verses for that day, turning them into prayer, communing with God over them, applying them to my life. Then I fell asleep with the words still going through my mind.
The next morning, I woke up and lay in that half-awake state just before you open your eyes. And there in my mind, like a mantra, the words were still being repeated. I believed then, and do now, that they had been playing over and over like a tape loop in my mind all during the night. I woke that morning with a joyful burst of faith, realizing that I was truly feeding my mind with nourishing thoughts.
It is a wonderful thing to find the words of the Course springing into your mind spontaneously during the day, or as you wake up. But that doesn’t happen without a lot of repetition. Without practice of these thoughts, the tape loops running in our minds are something very different, because we have already trained our minds very well, but with the wrong thoughts. It takes a conscious effort, repeated choices to remember the thoughts for the day and to repeat them, to meditate on them, and to apply them to our lives. This is a course in mind training, and “training” means “training.”
When we enter wholeheartedly into the training, there will be results. “We will have recognized the words we speak are true” (11:5). So let us remember today, and often, that “there is one life, and that I share with God.” Let us affirm to ourselves, constantly, every time we can, “Your grace is given me. I claim it now.”
Don’t be discouraged if you forget. I still forget often. But I remember more often than I used to. If you have done nothing more before today than read over the lesson in the morning, then if today you remember just one time during the day, or take a few minutes before sleeping, thank God. Try to remember today just one more time than yesterday. If, yesterday, you forgot entirely, then resolve today to remember at least once. Every time you remember is a great step forward.
The paragraph we will cover tomorrow reminds us that the words are only aids, and the practice is just a means to produce an experience. Don’t make a ritual out of the practice; the experience is what counts.