See complete instructions in separate document. A short summary:
- Read the commentary paragraph slowly and personally.
- Pray the prayer, perhaps several times.
- Morning and evening: Repeat the idea and then spend time in Open Mind Meditation.
- Hourly remembrance: Repeat the idea and then spend time in Open Mind Meditation.
- Frequent reminders: Repeat the idea and then spend a quiet moment in meditation.
- Response to temptation: Repeat the idea whenever upset, to restore peace.
- Read the "What Is" section slowly and thoughtfully once during the day.
Practice suggestions: The first paragraph of this lesson is one of my favorites in the entire Course. I have memorized it and enjoy repeating it to myself from time to time. You may want to do the same (if memorizing it would be too much, you can write it out on a card and carry it with you).
For response to temptation, I suggest identifying the unmet need that is behind your upset and saying, "I think I need [specify the need], but I am in need of nothing but the truth."
Any one of us could, if asked, sit down right now and write a fairly long list of things we think we need. Even if we restrict ourselves to things we don't presently have, the list would be fairly extensive. For instance, I need more memory on my computer (what computer owner doesn't?); I need new pajamas; I need some dental work; I need a new bookcase; I need a new mattress and box spring; I need a new pair of jeans; I need a better guitar.
At various times in my life, I've believed that I needed to be married, or needed to be divorced. I needed a better job. I needed a brand new car, one that would not break down all the time. I needed to move. "I sought for many things, and found despair" (1:1). I got most of what I was looking for (never got quite all the money I wanted), but none of it made me happy. And I know, with all the lists I can make of things I now "need," none of them will make me happy, either.
Happiness is a choice I make. Nothing more, nothing less.
I think the reason why the Course appeals to me so much is that I can relate to things like this lesson so well. Oh, I still make the mistake of thinking something I "need" will bring happiness, but when I find myself thinking that way, at least now I know I'm just kidding myself. I can honestly say, when I pause to reflect, "Now do I seek but one, for in that one is all I need, and only what I need" (1:2). I wander from that single direction sometimes, I get suckered into going after something else, but I keep on coming back to this one, central need, which is really the only need I have: the truth. The truth about myself, about God, about the universe. That which is real and everlasting.
Some of the things I sought before "I needed not, and did not even want" (1:3). I usually found that out after I had them. I recall one night, several years ago, when I was sitting home, alone, watching TV. I got the munchies, so I got up to get something. I looked at the ice cream in the fridge and thought, "No, that's not what I want." I looked at fruit, at crackers and cheese, at popcorn, and with each one found myself saying, "No, that's not what I want." Finally, literally scratching my head, I stood in the middle of the kitchen and said aloud, "What is it I really want?" And it hit me like a ton of bricks. What I really wanted was God. I was feeling some kind of emptiness inside, and my little mind was translating that into physical craving of some sort, trying to find a way to fill the emptiness by means of my body. I actually laughed out loud! I suddenly realized that all my "needs" and "wants" were substitutes for that one thing I really needed, which was something I always had, only waiting for me to choose to recognize it.
How can we ever be at peace when all our lives are filled with an endless list of cravings? Can we not begin to see that the craving itself is a form of unhappiness? That each thing I think I need that I do not have is a burden, a nagging pain in the back of my mind, keeping me from peace? What I really want is the peace. What I really want is to be at peace within myself, content with Who I am. I want fulfillment. I want completion. And these things are instantly available, whenever I choose them. They are granted or withheld not by anything external, but only by my own choice.
And now at last I find myself at peace.
And for that peace, our Father, we give thanks. What we denied ourselves You have restored, and only that is what we really want. (1:9-2:2)