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.
The whole idea of loss or sacrifice is foreign to the Course. It tells us, “Sacrifice is a notion totally unknown to God” (T-3.I.4:1). As the first line of the lesson points out, how could ending suffering be a loss? How can happiness be gained by sacrificing? It’s ridiculous when you look at it, and yet for centuries many religions have believed that in order to find God’s mercy you have to give up something, usually something really valuable. You have to suffer to attain Heaven. You have to pay for your mistakes.
Heaven, or salvation, must be only gain. How could it be a loss and still be Heaven? Let me affirm to my Father:
You only give. You never take away. And You created me to be like You, so sacrifice becomes impossible for me as well as You. I, too, must give. (1:3-6)
Someone just today was telling me how they got trapped in a mental loop of feeling as though God had given them a dirty deal by creating them capable of experiencing this dream of suffering; it was as if God was putting us through all this for selfish reasons, or at least allowing us to go through this for selfish reasons, for what He can get out of it. But God only gives; He does not take away. Let me not think otherwise.
And what God gives is given forever:
As I was created I remain. Your Son can make no sacrifice, for he must be complete, having the function of completing You. (1:8-9)
I can’t lose what I am; I can’t sacrifice something of value and become incomplete, because that would be contrary to my function of completing God. For God to be complete (which of course He must be, being God), I must be complete, for He created me to complete Himself! Therefore, I cannot sacrifice; I must remain complete.
We are beset with the notion that somehow we have to earn the mercy and the peace of God. Especially when I’ve been off on some ego detour, I always feel as if I have to “go through” something to find my way back. I need to have a proper period of remorse and feeling guilty. At least I have to sleep it off! It just doesn’t seem right to snap instantly from ego madness to a state of peace and joy without paying some kind of penalty first. Yet:
The mercy and the peace of God are free. Salvation has no cost. It is a gift that must be freely given and received. And it is this that we would learn today. (2:1-4)
Because they have no cost, mercy and peace are immediately available in every instant. I need only to be willing to freely give them and receive them.
In this instant, right now, let me give mercy to myself. Let me see my childish heart in pain over what it thinks it has done, and let me spread mercy across it like a warm blanket. Let me embrace myself with love and affirm my own innocence again. Have I forgotten who I am? That’s okay. Have I been angry at a brother? I still merit mercy and peace. Have I betrayed a friend? God still counts me as His own. No sacrifice is asked; no penance; no “decent” period of mourning. I can simply, trustingly open my mind to my Friend and find welcome. I can come home to God. What am I waiting for? Let me come to Him now.