This instant is the only time there is.
See complete instructions in a 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 suggestion: The following exercise may help you apply the essence of today’s lesson.
First, get in touch with the part of you that feels you’re more or less always right, that you’re always justified, always doing your best, that the problem always lies in external forces putting too much pressure on you.
Then go the next level down. Try to get in touch with how much you mistrust your own will, how you wish it would naturally and consistently reach for the highest, the most loving, but how instead it often drags you down into the mud.
Now try to get in touch with how defiled you believe this wayward will of yours has made you. It has defined you in your eyes as a petty, self-centered, superficial, and ultimately self-destructive person. A medieval mystic spoke of the “foul, stinking lump” of self. Try to get in touch with that kind of self-loathing within you.
Then realize that all of the above is the voice of your ego, telling you who you are when it doesn’t even know. Accept that God’s Voice tells you otherwise. He tells you that you are His holy Son, forever and forever. Place your trust in His Voice, recognizing that He knows who you are even if you don’t. Let His view of you sink in. Let it draw you down to that deep place in your mind where God’s holiness dwells, and where His holiness is yours.
Spend the rest of the time in quiet meditation, abiding in that place of holiness, where you can look on yourself with love, not with fear.
I find that often I am very suspicious of my own motives. I am so aware that in the past I have done a masterful job of hiding my own thoughts and feelings from myself that even when I am not knowingly aware of anything being “off,” when my motives on the surface seem pure, I find myself wondering what lurks underneath the rock, and hesitating to look.
For example, I have, in the past, distanced myself from a close friend while convinced the whole time that she was distancing herself from me. It took three hours of intense argument-I can’t call it anything better than that-before I finally got in touch with my own fear and anger that was causing me to push her away. I denied vehemently that I was doing so; I claimed that I had been longing for more closeness and that she was not responding.
When you are conversant with the ego’s deceptions it seems hard to trust yourself. It always seems to me as if there might be something sneaky going on in my mind that somehow I have been hiding with denial and dissociation.
So, how can I not fear to look within? What ugly, grungy thing will I uncover this time, if I do?
“I fear to look within because I think I made another will that is not true, and made it real” (1:5). If I do look within, often the first things I will see are these ugly, grungy things- “another will that is not true.” I will see them, but the good news is that they are not true. I did not succeed in making this other will real. All I succeeded in making were illusions. The ugliness is a smoke screen, a mask, a facade the ego has erected over the eternal innocence of my mind. If I will look at those thoughts with the Holy Spirit, I will find that they are not as terrible as I have feared. He will translate them into truth for me; He will help me see in them the call for love, the unconscious affirmation of the love which lies buried beneath them, the distorted reflection of the innocence I have never lost.
For instance, in the case I mentioned above, I was pushing my friend away, distancing myself from her. Why? Because I was afraid of losing her love. Because I felt terrified that she did not find me worthy of her time and company, and I was not going to give her the chance to prove my fears correct. I would withdraw before she could push me out. I would punish her for her (imagined) betrayal by taking myself away from her. I was mistaken, both in my own self-evaluation and in my assessment of her evaluation of me. And the Course was demonstrated to me so very clearly that night. She got angry at me. She got furious, and once got up to walk out of the restaurant, saying she would never want anything to do with me again because I was so massively in denial that she couldn’t deal with it.
It wasn’t until a miracle happened that the impasse was resolved. Suddenly my perception of her shifted. I saw her anger as what it actually was-a call for love. She was furious with me because I was withholding my love, and she was in pain over the thought of losing it. Her anger was no longer attack in my perception; it was a cry for help. It was her love for me, mistakenly trying to find what it wanted through anger and attack. And as I forgave her, I saw the same dynamic in myself. In that moment, I was no longer afraid to look within. I saw the twisted motives that had been running me. I saw my fear. I saw my icy distancing. And behind it all I discovered my love and my innocence, waiting to meet hers.
We need never fear to look within. All that is there is “my will as God created it, and as it is” (1:4). What I made, all those ugly ego thoughts, had no effects at all. There is no reason to fear them; they are meaningless. I can look at them, with the Holy Spirit beside me, and laugh; I can say, “How foolish! These thoughts do not mean anything.” Beneath that is the frightened mind, in pain over what it thinks it has done. And past that, far deeper, is the holiness of God, the memory of God. This beneficent mind, this kind and gentle mind, so spacious and open and magnanimous, so all-encompassing-this is my true Identity. This is Who I am.