Purpose: To begin declaring your release.
Longer: Two times, morning and evening, for three to five minutes.
- Repeat the idea two or three times while looking slowly about you.
- Then close your eyes and apply the idea to your inner world, the level of cause. Let whatever thoughts that want to come arise, be noted, and then allowed to pass by. As with Lesson 10, it is important to stay detached from your stream of thoughts. Try seeing it as either a strange parade of disorganized, meaningless objects or as a series of leaves floating by on a stream. Let the stream keep moving; don’t stop it to dwell on a particular thought. As you watch it move by, repeat the idea as often as you want, with no hurry.
Frequent reminders: As often as possible (suggestion: several times per hour).
Repeat idea. While doing so, consciously remember that you are declaring your freedom from all outer causation, and freeing other minds in the process. Try a repetition now in that spirit—it will take you five seconds.
Response to temptation: When you feel like anything in the world is victimizing you.
Repeat the idea. You will get more from it if you say it as a declaration that you refuse to be slave to outer events and to your ego’s reactions.
Remarks: Today’s lesson marks an important development. The daily practice now begins to separate out into two levels: longer practice periods, which will generally be done morning and evening; and shorter, frequent practice throughout the day (this includes both frequent reminders and response to temptation). This is a major step toward the eventual fourfold structure of morning and evening practice periods, hourly remembrance, frequent reminders, and response to temptation.
As you must have noticed when you read today’s lesson, there isn’t a lot of metaphysical thought in it. In fact there is almost none, except in the lead thought quoted above. The rest of the lesson is practice instructions. So I’ll weight my comments in approximately the same way.
The one sentence that heads the lesson is plenty in itself, however. If you think about it, it is amazing how many ways we see ourselves as victims of the world. We go through life feeling like victims—of the weather, of the jerk who cuts you off in traffic or swerves into the parking space you were aiming for, of your computer disk when “it” loses your file, of your housemate who uses the last of the hot water just before your shower, of the slow service in the restaurant, of the traffic that makes you late for your appointment. Then, of course, there are the people who may deliberately and malevolently terrorize you in our cities (or perhaps in your home).
To assert that “I am not the victim of the world I see” can be liberating and empowering. It is remarkable how these simple words can cause feelings of weakness and helplessness to wash away. Try it! You’ll like it.
Oddly enough, we also feel victimized by unseen enemies and even our own thoughts. Ever have an anxiety attack? Or find yourself feeling gouged by the IRS? A victim of an unfair “system”? Plagued by self-doubt? You are not the victim of your inner world any more than of your outer world. “You will escape from both together, for the inner is cause of the outer” (2:5).
This lesson introduces what will become the basic practice outline for most of the Workbook, and for ongoing practice for Workbook graduates:
- Two longer practice periods, morning and evening, in which you apply the idea for the day on a sustained basis.
- Frequent repetitions through the day, as often as possible (a study of other references to this indicates that four or five times per hour is intended).
- Using the idea as a “response to temptation” whenever it arises.
The only element of Workbook practice not present in this lesson is specific hourly or half-hourly periods of shorter practice, in length somewhere in between #1 and #2 above. That appears as the Workbook goes along to build a habit of practice on the structure of the clock, and then is gradually phased out as the habit (presumably) has been established. The three elements presented here in Lesson 31 are retained in recommendations for post-Workbook practice given in the Manual for Teachers (see Section 16, “How Should the Teacher of God Spend His Day?”).
Make a point of taking those longer, three to five minute periods morning and evening. This is the first time for them. You wouldn’t practice the piano by playing only half the scales, so don’t stint here, either. From this point on in the Workbook the practice is going to intensify; like me, I’m sure you’ll find it more difficult to maintain and to actually carry out. Remember:
You are merely asked to apply the ideas as you are directed to do. You are not asked to judge them at all. You are asked only to use them. It is their use that will give them meaning to you, and will show you that they are true. (W-In.8:3-6, emphasis mine)