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: Today the ideas for the day go from two lines to three lines, which means they have tripled in length since just seven lessons ago. I confess that I find it harder to repeat these longer ideas throughout the day. If you’re the same, here are some suggestions that might make it easier:
- Write the idea down on a notecard and pull the card out for practice periods.
- Find a part of the idea that speaks the most to you, and focus on repeating that part.
- Spend time in the morning memorizing the idea so fully that it just rolls off your tongue the rest of the day.
- Reword the idea in a way that captures the gist of it but is shorter and speaks to you personally.
On that last point, don’t be afraid to reword the idea, as long as you stay reasonably faithful to the meaning. The Course reminds us of this more than once, saying, “You need not use these exact words” (W-pI.65.6:5) and “It is not the particular words you use that matter” (W-pI.RI.In.6:4).
From the sublime heights of yesterday’s lesson (“I would forget all things except Your Love”), we return to the level of our split mind, in which we attack ourselves, keeping away the miracle with judgment and attack. The previous lesson was miracle-mindedness; here we see why we do not always experience that state of mind: We actively keep it away from ourselves with judgment and attack. The process of the Course involves learning complete honesty with ourselves. We learn to recognize and admit the duplicity of our own minds:
Father, I want what goes against my will, and do not want what is my will to have. (1:1)
“My will” is my right-mindedness, forgetting everything except God’s Love. And yet we seem to want something else, and to actively resist having the Love of God flooding our minds.
I love the next couple of lines:
Straighten my mind, my Father. It is sick. (1:2-3)
I love those lines because of their stark simplicity, and because of the contrast they offer to the frothy denial of our inner darkness that is prevalent in so many circles. The Course does not pull any punches. It does not whitewash our problems. There are times when no other assessment fits: Our minds are sick! It is sick to want what goes against my true will, and to actively resist my own well-being. Self-destruction is always pathological. When we look honestly at the fact that we are literally pushing away our own peace of mind, by active choices we make, it ought to be repugnant. When we see what we have been doing, our saner self will say, “This is sick!”
And so we ask the Father to “straighten my mind.” That always reminds me of a science fiction book by Zenna Henderson that I read as a young man, called The People: No Different Flesh. 1 In it there were certain persons who could telepathically enter into another person’s mind and “sort” their thoughts, soothing their inner turmoil and pain. The idea appealed to me so much that I used to pray, “Sort me, Father,” when I felt my thoughts in chaos and confusion. And it seemed to work! I was pleasantly surprised to see this similar phrase here, validating my early experience. “Straighten my mind.”
We enable the straightening of our minds by giving all our judgment to the Holy Spirit and asking Him to judge for us (1:5). He sees what we see, “and yet He knows the truth” (1:6). He is looking at the same evidence I am looking at, but He knows the pain is not real; the evidence means something entirely different to Him. To me, the evidence of my eyes seems to prove that separation, pain, loss, and death are real. When I bring all this to Him and ask Him to straighten my mind, He will show me that what I see does not mean what I think it means; He will use what I thought proved my guilt to reveal my innocence.
He gives the miracles my dreams would hide from my awareness. (1:8)
Listen today. Be very still, and hear the gentle Voice for God assuring you that He has judged you as the Son He loves. (2:1-2)