Purpose: To contact the light within that allows you to see with true vision.
Longer: At least three times, for three to five minutes (longer is highly recommended if not a strain).
- Repeat the idea, then close your eyes slowly, repeating the idea several more times.
- The rest of the practice involves a single motion of sinking into your mind. I find it helpful to think of this motion as having three aspects:
- Sink down and inward, past your surface thoughts and toward the light of God deep within your mind. As you do this, “try to think of light, formless and without limit” (10:2). If your meditation is successful, you will experience a feeling of approaching or even entering light.
- Do not allow yourself to get sidetracked. This is crucial. As you pass by your thoughts, observe them dispassionately, “and slip quietly by them” (7:5). They have no power to hold you back. If resistance arises, repeat the idea. If actual fear arises, open your eyes briefly and repeat the idea. Then return to the exercise.
- Hold in mind a heightened attitude about what you are doing, a sense that it has great importance, untold value, and is very holy. This attitude is more important than details of technique.
Remarks: This is the Workbook’s second meditation exercise (the first was Lesson 41), and you can see the immense importance given it here, especially in paragraphs 3-5. We may resist this practice, because it requires discipline our minds don’t yet have, and because it means leaving our ego’s thoughts and beliefs behind. But these are the very reasons why this practice is so important.
Frequent reminders: Often-be determined not to forget.
Repeat the idea with eyes open or closed, as seems best.
The first paragraph presents a rather amazing picture of what this world we see is. It says we made darkness, and then we thought we could see in it. What we call “seeing,” then, is simply imagining that we can see in darkness. “In order to see, you must recognize that light is within, not without. You do not see outside yourself, nor is the equipment for seeing outside you” (2:1-2). What we call light is not true light. Light is not outside of us; it is within us. It is not physical, it is spiritual. And we do not see truly with external eyes but with inner vision.
The light for true seeing is within us, and the goal of today’s lesson is to reach that light. Once again the Workbook takes us into an experiential exercise of meditation. This kind of meditation, and the experience it seeks to produce, is clearly a major component of Course practice. The emphasis placed on it is nothing short of amazing.
We are told that it is a form of exercise that “we will utilize increasingly” (3:2). It “represents a major goal of mind training” (3:3). Longer times are “highly recommended” (4:2). We are urged to persist despite “strong resistance” (5:2). It represents a “release from hell” (5:5). We are reminded of “the importance of what you are doing; its inestimable value to you” (8:1), and that “you are attempting something very holy” (8:1). The lesson closes with these words: “But do not forget. Above all, be determined not to forget today” (11:2-3). There is no mistaking the awareness that Jesus, as the author, considers this kind of meditation practice exceptionally important.
Why is that? There are a few indications within the lesson. In the third paragraph, the lesson notes that this kind of practice-sitting quietly, sinking inward, slipping by our thoughts without being involved in them-“is a particularly difficult form for the undisciplined mind” (3:3). It is difficult because it “requires precisely what the untrained mind lacks” (3:4). It is the very difficulty that proves our need of it, just as getting out of breath when you jog for fifty yards proves that you need aerobic exercise. “This training must be accomplished if you are to see” (3:5). In other words, meditation practice is a requirement for developing inner vision. How can we see with inner vision if we do not know how to find the inner light?
These are training exercises. We will find it difficult at first. We will encounter resistance. The exercise is clearly labeled an “attempt” (3:1) at reaching the light, indicating an understanding that we may not do so all at once, any more than we will run a marathon the first few times we begin jogging. It is a goal of our mind training to reach the light, and we will likely not reach the goal right away, although it is “the most natural and easy [form of practice] for the trained mind” (4:3). We are in the process of acquiring the training that will make reaching the light seem easy and natural, but it is not that way now because our minds are still undisciplined.
We are “no longer wholly untrained” (5:1). If we have been following the instructions we have had forty-three days of practice leading up to this day. Still, we may “encounter strong resistance” (5:2). To the ego what we are doing seems like “loss of identity and a descent into hell” (5:6). But we are attempting to reach God, Who is the light in which we can see; that is not a loss. It is escape from darkness.
When we begin to build up a history of experiences with the light, of feeling relaxation, sensing our approach to it, and even being aware of entering into it, we will know what the Course is talking about. And we will crave more. There is nothing like the experience. These holy instants are foretastes of Heaven, glimpses of reality. They will motivate us in our journey like nothing else. There is a sense of reality so real that what seemed real before pales into insubstantial shadows by comparison. When we have entered the light we will recognize that we have been in darkness, thinking it was light. That is what gives these experiences their “inestimable value.”