Purpose: To remind yourself to constantly choose your happiness by choosing to fulfill your function. To resist the temptation to let the world you see lull you into forgetting your function.
Longer: At least one, for ten to fifteen minutes.
- Close your eyes and repeat these thoughts: "Let me not forget my function. Let me not try to substitute mine for God's. Let me forgive and be happy."
- Then do again the recent practice of reflecting on these statements. Think about them. Let related thoughts come (it will help if you remember how important your function is to you and others).
Remarks: It is easy for lengthy reflection like this to turn into a big mind wandering-fest, for the simple reason that "you are not proficient in the mind discipline that it requires" (7:2). So be on the lookout for irrelevant thoughts. When they come, repeat the idea (you might even want to repeat all three statements). Even if you have to do so twenty times, that is better than just letting your mind float off into never-never land.
Frequent reminders: Frequently, for several minutes.
At different times, use one or the other of the following:
1. A shorter version of the longer practice. Repeat the three "let me" statements and then think only about them. Your mind will wander; when it does, repeat the idea to bring it back.
2. Repeat the same statements, then look slowly and unselectively about you, saying, "This is the world it is my function to save."
Lesson 62 told me that forgiveness is my function, so this lesson expresses a determination not to forget what I am here for: to forgive the world, bringing peace to every mind.
What causes me to forget? The entire world. Everything my body's eyes see is "a form of temptation, since this was the purpose of the body itself" (2:1). The ego made the world and the body with a certain purpose in mind:
1. To obscure my function of forgiveness
2. To justify my forgetting my function
3. To entice me to abandon God and His Son by taking form in a body
The ego's continuation depends on my identifying with a bodily form. The "wickedness" and "incompletion" of the world around me justify my unwillingness to forgive. My involvement in the world, making it the scope of my goals and even my life, obscures my true function (in Heaven, creating; here, forgiving). The ego's plan seems to have worked pretty well.
The Course's cosmology is fairly unusual and extreme. As it says later in the Workbook, the Course's teaching is that "the world was made as an attack on God" (W-pII.3.2:1). It was not created by God but made by the ego to abandon God, taking on physical form to obscure our spiritual reality.
If it seems difficult for me to accept this understanding, I am not alone. The Course is quite aware this is a difficult concept. But when I begin to detect the way my mind works, it becomes a little easier to accept, because I begin to notice ways in which my mind uses the world, and uses everything I see with my eyes, to maintain the illusion of separation. As I am moved to forgive, I also find something in my mind resisting with tooth and nail, trying to justify withholding forgiveness, trying to get me simply to forget forgiveness entirely. And I begin to recognize that what the Course is saying here bears a curious similarity to what is going on within my mind. Perhaps what it is saying, then, expresses truth; a truth I am perhaps reluctant to accept, but which seems to be borne out by my own experience.
The Holy Spirit has another purpose, however, for everything in the world. "To the Holy Spirit, the world is a place where you learn to forgive yourself what you think of as your sins" (2:3). That's what we're doing as we forgive "others." Fulfilling this function is what brings us happiness (I can testify to that!).
The connection between forgiveness and happiness is interesting. If you think about it for a moment, you'll realize that when you are unforgiving, you are unhappy about something. To say, "I'm not happy about the way you are acting in our relationship," for instance, is equivalent to saying, "I have judged you and found you wanting; I am unforgiving." To forgive someone is to be happy with them. To forgive means to let go of your justification for being unhappy. When you forgive, "happiness becomes inevitable" (4:2). And "there is no other way" (4:3). Unforgiveness is precisely a choice to remain unhappy; without forgiveness you cannot be truly happy. That is the reasoning behind this statement: "Therefore, every time you choose whether or not to fulfill your function [that is, to forgive], you are really choosing whether or not to be happy" (4:4).
The lesson then goes on to point out that every single decision we make in a day can all be boiled down to this simple choice: Will I be happy, or unhappy? When you can begin to view your choices in life from this perspective, the choice becomes no choice at all. Who would knowingly choose unhappiness? When you begin to notice yourself actually doing that, you begin to understand why the Course refers to us so often as "insane."
Let me not forget my function.
Let me not try to substitute mine for God's.
Let me forgive and be happy. (6:2-4)
Let's try to remember to do the actual practice today. (I have to confess, I've been skimping on the practice.) One thing to notice is the ten to fifteen minute practice period that is called for today; that's something new. If nothing else, try to fit that one in.