I trust my brothers, who are one with me.
Purpose: To go past the special block of focusing on the mistakes of others, and so experience your own sinlessness. This experience will intensify your motivation and strengthen your commitment.
Morning/evening quiet time: At least five minutes; ideally, thirty or more.
The practice is a meditation aimed at experiencing the sinlessness in you. Close your eyes and hold in mind nothing but your great desire to see your own sinlessness, to experience the pure goodness that is your reality. Make this focus your only intent.
To do this, you will need to set aside your focus on the mistakes of others. This focus has been disastrous. It has caused those mistakes to fill your vision and show you a sinful world. This sinful world has then acted as a constant witness to the sinfulness in you. To see the sinlessness in you, then, you will have to banish from your mind any thought of the errors of others. If, during your meditation, your mind starts dwelling on someone’s wrongdoing, quickly repeat, “It is not this that I would look upon. I trust my brothers, who are one with me.”
You will also need to set aside all concerns about past and future. Don’t let your ego tell you that the goal of seeing your sinlessness is just too different from your past goals and that this new goal, by eclipsing your old goals, will threaten your happiness. Don’t let it tell you that, even if you should gain a glimpse of your holiness, “you will inevitably lose your way again” (4:3). Such concerns about past and future are really just subtle defenses against “present change” (5:3).
Refuse to let your mind be drawn off into these defenses. Hold an absolutely single focus. “We enter in the time of practicing with one intent: to look upon the sinlessness within” (5:7).
Hourly remembrance: One or two minutes as the hour strikes (reduce if circumstances do not permit).
Do a short version of morning/evening meditation, aimed at experiencing the sinlessness in you. Then thank God for His gifts in the previous hour and ask Him for His guidance in the coming hour.
Response to temptation: Whenever you want to focus on someone’s mistakes.
Repeat, “It is not this that I would look upon. I trust my brothers, who are one with me.” Realize that your focus on his mistakes is an obstruction blocking the vision of your own sinlessness (7:3). Dispel this obstruction not for any long-range purpose, but simply to relieve the misery that comes from focusing on sin.
This lesson is not encouraging naive blindness to people’s flaws. It isn’t saying that you should unlock your house and car and leave your money lying in the street, trusting no one will steal it. It is talking about looking beyond others’ errors and mistakes (their egos) to see their sinlessness. It is speaking of being aware of a person’s mistakes (and taking them into practical account), while at the same time looking past them to their perfect innocence. Not seeing the mistakes as sins to be condemned and punished. As my friend Lynne once said of a man who had previously been abusive to her, “I may love a rattlesnake, but that doesn’t mean I sleep with it.”
The “block” this lesson is helping us to lift (however briefly) is our focus on the sins of our brothers and sisters. The lesson is telling us not to look for what is wrong in people, but what is right. The point behind this is that by focusing on the sins of others, we block their true Self from our sight, and thereby block the Self within us from our sight as well. If I cannot overlook the mistakes of my brothers, I cannot overlook my own. “Perception has a focus” (2:1). We need to change our focus. “Remove your focus on your brother’s sins, and you experience the peace that comes from faith in sinlessness” (2:5). Remember the aim of these twenty lessons: to remove a block and thus experience something different; in this case, “faith in sinlessness.”
As the introduction said, we are not trying to do this for all time! (Not yet anyhow.) Not even for all day; just for a brief period. Do you have someone you feel you cannot forgive? How about trying to “practice” forgiving them, just for five minutes? Just for a brief period, be willing to let go of your judgments about them, to forget the past and to forget the future, and to look for the innocence in them, to see them as a holy child of God, deserving of His Love. How about trying, even for five minutes, just to be willing for this kind of experience? Don’t worry about the fact that for the last month, or year, or however long, you’ve wanted to kill them; don’t worry about the fact that ten minutes from now you will be fantasizing about how they will get what is coming to them. Maybe so. “How can this matter?” (5:1). The concerns we have about the past or the future “are but defenses against present change of focus in perception” (5:3). If we can let ourselves experience, even for a brief moment, what it feels like to see past their sins to innocence, that experience will be enough to motivate us to go all the way.
I encourage us all to bear these instructions in mind, not just for today’s lesson, but for all the rest of the Workbook. When you sit down for a quiet time, put aside how you felt just before, and don’t worry about how you will feel afterwards. “We do not seek for long-range goals” (7:2). All we are looking for is the experience of an instant of release, because that is all that is needed. At any moment during the day we can stop and say, “This instant is our willing one with His” (9:8). That instant is all we need.
Somehow, we seem to think that we can shift from total egoity to immediate spirituality. We think that if we spend five minutes with God in the morning, the rest of the day ought to be totally transformed, immediately. Our resistance is simply too great for that to happen; we have overlearned the ego’s lessons, and unlearning them will take some effort. The ego tells us, “It isn’t working,” because we “forgave” our brother in those five minutes in the morning and spent half the rest of the day dreaming up ways to make him, or her, suffer. But something is happening; the ego is trying to make us guilty because it knows something is happening. Those five minutes when we lay our judgment aside bring us an experience of inner peace that we have never known before, and we know a good thing when we see it. Our motivation to forgive will grow, and grow, and grow. The experience of “surcease an instant from the misery the focus upon sin will bring” (7:3) will be such a relief that we will seek it again and again, until it grows to encompass our entire mind, all the time. All it takes is the willingness to practice.