Purpose: To go past your self—perception as weak, frail, and afraid—which comes from the denial of your Identity—and remember that you are the holy Son of God Himself. This will release you and will save the world from suffering.
Morning/evening quiet time: At least five minutes; ideally, thirty or more.
There are no specific instructions for the longer practice periods, just a strong focus on the use of these lines: “I am the holy Son of God Himself [“Himself,” by the way, refers to God]. I cannot suffer, cannot be in pain; I cannot suffer loss, nor fail to do all that salvation asks.” By saying and meaning these lines, you reverse your denial of your Identity. You accept the power and glory that is your true nature. You typically see the world as your jailer, filled with enemies massed against you. Yet this role is not inherent in the world. Rather, your denial of your Identity turns the world into this in order to support your false identity. Your denial imprisons the world. Thus, when you reverse that denial (through the words of today’s practice), you set the world free. By unveiling your glory as God’s Son, you release those in chains, those who see no mercy in the world, those who suffer pain, and even those who die. This is your motivation to practice today—their release and your release.
Beyond devoting some time to repeating these words, with as much certainty and sincerity as possible, the rest of the practice period is up to you—to your inspiration and your guidance from the Holy Spirit. You can’t go wrong with meditation, especially since nine of the last eleven lessons have been devoted to it.
Hourly remembrance: One or two minutes as the hour strikes (reduce if circumstances do not permit).
Do a short version of the morning/evening exercise. Close by asking for God’s guidance for the coming hour and thanking Him for His gifts in the past hour.
Once again the Course sounds its keynote: You are as God created you. Anything God creates is like Himself—holy, sinless, guiltless, an endless spring of love, and immortal. To put a different twist on a familiar saying, we are not human beings seeking a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings who think we are having a human experience. We did not suddenly spring into existence at birth, and we do not pass out of existence when the body stops functioning. We are aspects of an immortal being, existing entirely outside of time. “I am the holy Son of God Himself.”
How we see ourselves determines how we see the world. It may not be obvious at first, but if we see ourselves as other than the holy Son of God, we are “giving to the world the role of jailer to the Son of God” (1:3). If we see ourselves as separate, isolated beings, we are inevitably cast in the role of victim. We become a mote of dust in a hurricane, whirled about by the universe without any consideration for our wellbeing (3:2).
The world then takes on an appearance that reflects this mistaken identity we have assumed. The whole world witnesses to our frailty; all our experience here seems to testify that death is certain, and loss inevitable (2:5-6). That is what projection does. The world becomes our jailer, our victimizer. If we deny our Identity as the holy Son of God, as God created us, we make the world into a place of chaos, evil, sin, and death. We then resent the world for it, although we have laid this role on the world! As I look at the world today, let me ask myself, “What have I done that this should be my world?” And let me answer myself, “I have denied my Identity as God’s Son.” Thus, to accept my Identity is to forgive the world for what it did not do to me.
Rectify that single mistake, and we have changed the world we see. The world cannot truly be as we see it, because Identity cannot truly be denied. Our imagined identity as not-the-Son-of-God is no more than a silly game, with no real effects and no real consequences. If we can begin to accept our Identity, all illusions that derive from this error disappear (4:1-6).
Again we are asked to “practice” recognizing our Identity in the holy instant. For a brief time, we “let today’s idea find a place among [our] thoughts” (5:1). In that holy instant we rise far above the world (5:1) into a place of safety, where we recognize the impossibility of the world’s victimizing us, because we see our own eternal, invulnerable nature. And from that place of safety we return to the world and set it free (5:2). Notice the similarity of this description to the earlier one in Lesson 184 (paragraph 10). In the holy instant we accept Atonement for ourselves, we recognize our true Identity. And then we return to bring the message of this shared Identity to all the world, that it may be free with us.
The realization of our Identity is enough to free us from every problem forever, and to free the world with us. To cling to our little, individual identity is to perpetuate “a devastating image of yourself walking the world in terror, with the world twisting in agony because your fears have laid the mark of death upon its heart” (6:5). Do I really want to go on playing this silly, tragic game? Do I want to continue to hold the world to task because it has not met my needs, but has denied me what is my right? Or will I recognize today that I have done this, I have denied my Self and blamed the world for it?
In the latter part of this lesson it speaks in glowing terms of “the Son of God” Who “has come in glory to redeem the lost” (8:3). Who is this “Son of God”? It is not speaking of Jesus. It is speaking of you and me. It appeals to us to realize that our glory is the light that saves the world, and asks us not to withhold it (10:5-6). It asks us to see the suffering in the world (not to brush over it, saying, “It’s only an illusion!”), and to find it in our hearts to respond to it (10:7-8).
How can we release our brothers from suffering? By accepting our own release, by finding our own Identity (11:1-5).
You are the holy Son of God Himself. Remember this, and all the world is free. Remember this, and earth and Heaven are one. (11:6-8)