Purpose: To let go of your usual goals, even if only for a little while, so you can focus on accepting the function God gave you as your only function.
Longer: One time, for ten to fifteen minutes.
- Repeat the idea, then close your eyes and repeat it again.
- Watch your mind carefully for what you would consider normal thoughts passing across it. Observe each one dispassionately (as you were taught to do in earlier lessons) and say, "This thought reflects a goal that is preventing me from accepting my only function." When you start to run out of such thoughts, try for another minute or so to catch any remaining thoughts, though don't strain to find them. The point of this phase is to clear your mind of your usual goals and functions.
- Then say, "On this clean slate let my true function be written for me"—or words to that effect. Be willing to have your self——assigned functions be replaced by God's.
- Repeat the idea again and spend the remainder of the practice period doing the now familiar practice of thinking about the idea and letting related thoughts come. Having cleared out your usual functions, you are now trying "to understand and accept" (3:1) your true function, to actively reflect on it so that it becomes more your own. Focus particularly on the importance and desirability of your function, and the resolution and relief it will bring. When wandering thoughts arise, I suggest dispelling them with the line you have just used: "This thought reflects a goal…"
Remarks: When he says that you need to pick a time for the longer practice period, one that you'll stick to today and for several days to come, that may very well sound threatening. Yet it makes perfect sense. You are on the road to giving your whole life to your true function. Giving it one time during the day, a time that is devoted only to it, a time that is like an unmoving boulder in the flowing stream of your trivial pursuits, is a start, a foot in the door. If you can't let your true function have even a foot in the door, how will you ever reach the point where you give your whole life to it?
Frequent reminders: At least one per hour.
Sometimes use the first form, at others times, the second:
1. Close your eyes and say, "My only function is the one God gave me. I want no other and I have no other."
2. Look about you and say the same line, realizing that what you see will look completely different when you truly accept what you are saying. (I suggest giving this a try now and seeing the effect it has on you.)
What I noticed as I read was the last sentence of the first paragraph:
The full acceptance of salvation as your only function necessarily entails two phases; the recognition of salvation as your function, and the relinquishment of all the other goals you have invented for yourself. (1:5)
Some of us may be yet having trouble with the first phase, recognizing salvation as our function. It isn't a simple matter. To say, "My job is to heal and be healed" requires a major shift of mind for most people. To see ourselves as the light of the world is not something that comes easily to us. That is why the preceding few lessons have dwelt on that fact, and why it will come up again in later lessons.
This lesson advances beyond simply recognizing that salvation is our function; it adds the thought that this is our only function. It makes it very plain that for this to be so, every other goal must be relinquished. God gave us this one goal, and no other. The others we invented for ourselves, and every other goal in some way competes with and detracts from this one.
As I go through my day, I watch how my "trivial purposes and goals" (4:3) interfere with my pursuit of this one goal. I can watch it in the simple practice proposed for the next several days: taking ten to fifteen minutes to try to understand and accept the idea for the day. The lesson asks me to arrange my day so that I have this time set apart for God. Setting apart these fifteen minutes will necessitate setting aside every other goal for those minutes. It will bring up the very issue addressed by this lesson: the way in which my other goals compete with the goal given me by God.
In my understanding of the Course, the matter of recognizing my true goal can come fairly early in the journey I am on; the process of relinquishing all my lesser goals until I have no goal but God can take a fairly long time. At the start, we have no idea how many competitive goals we have set up for ourselves. It takes time to discover and relinquish them all. Today is but a beginning, but the more seriously I take this idea, the more effective today's practice can be.