Purpose: To go past your belief that you are sinful and evil, and to experience the sinless Self that God created as you.
Longer: Every hour on the hour, for five minutes.
- Repeat, "Light and joy and peace abide in me. My sinlessness is guaranteed by God." I find it helpful to pause briefly after each quality ("Light…and joy…and peace…") so that I can appreciate each one separately.
- The remainder is a brief meditation, in which you try to reach past the false self that you made, which includes your whole sense of self and all your self-images. Reach deep within to the Self that God created as you, which is filled with light and joy and peace. Try to experience Its unity, and to appreciate Its holiness and Love. "Let It come into Its Own" (9:6). Remember to hold an attitude of confidence, desire, and determination, and to dispel distracting thoughts by repeating the idea.
Alternate: On the hour, for at least one minute.
Try to do the hourly five minutes whenever you can. When you are unable or unwilling, at least do the alternate:
- Say, "Light and joy and peace abide in me. My sinlessness is guaranteed by God."
- Close your eyes and try to realize this is the truth about you.
Response to temptation: Whenever a situation or person tempts you to be upset.
- If a situation disturbs you, quickly say, "Light and joy and peace abide in me. My sinlessness is guaranteed by God."
- If a person seems to anger you, tell him silently, "Light and joy and peace abide in you. Your sinlessness is guaranteed by God."
Encouragement to practice: Today is the beginning of a bank of lessons in which you are asked to practice five minutes every waking hour. To help you rise to this challenge, these lessons contain a huge amount of encouragement to practice. You can see that encouragement in the final sentences of this lesson, which tell you that by doing today's practice you can aid the world's salvation, bring closer your own part in that salvation, and gain conviction that light and joy and peace really do abide in you.
The lead thought is very positive, reflecting the truth about me, but the first paragraph of the body of the lesson is quite dark, reflecting what the ego has taught me about myself, and taught very well. I think I am "the home of evil, darkness and sin" (1:1). To be sure, not many of us consciously think this about ourselves, and when such thoughts occur we quickly banish them. But the way I respond to myself betrays that this is, indeed, how I think about myself. Why else am I so protective of my "private thoughts," for instance? Why am I apprehensive about self-examination and about looking at my inner motivations? Why am I afraid to leave the body and appear before God, when that possibility crosses my mind? I have deep-seated doubts about my own goodness and worth.
Suppose I were to meet someone who could read my mind and know my every thought. Would I feel comfortable around such a person? Suppose everyone I met could read my every thought. Imagine I had to wear a helmet with a video screen above my forehead that pictured my thoughts for anyone to look at. How would I feel? I have no doubt that I would feel very, very uncomfortable and perhaps terrified, because there are many thoughts that cross my mind all the time that I would not care to have written on the wall for everyone to see.
Even when I am reasonably confident of the harmlessness of my intentions, there are always subcurrents to my motivation that even I despise. My most benevolent acts are sometimes laced with a certain resentfulness or sense of sacrifice, and mixed with ulterior motives. Sometimes I am quite conscious of not trusting myself in certain situations. Every one of us, in the picture the Course paints, has this basic self-doubt. We secretly suspect, or even consciously believe, that we are not wholly trustworthy and not wholly good and loving. And as the lesson says, it is "difficult" (2:1) to dislodge these beliefs about ourselves, yet that is what the Course is all about—removing those blocks to the awareness of love's presence, which is our natural inheritance (see T-In.1:7).
The truth is that, in my innermost Self, I am wholly loving and wholly lovable (see T-1.III.2:3-4). Light and joy and peace abide in me; I am their home, and they remain with me forever as a creation of God. To begin to question my entrenched negative beliefs about myself (which is one way of defining what the Course calls "guilt"), and to begin to see myself as God created me, I need "a very different reference point" (3:1). I need to attain to a different state of mind. That is what the Holy Spirit does for me; that is what happens in the holy instant.
The truth about me is "that all the evil that you think you did was never done, that all your sins are nothing, that you are as pure and holy as you were created, and that light and joy and peace abide in you" (4:1). We resist this message tenaciously, although it is wholly illogical to do so. As Spock in Star Trek points out, humans are not always logical. Our minds automatically raise up counterarguments to disprove our own innocence. Or we simply dismiss it as absurd, as "Pollyanna," without even seriously considering it. Why? Because we think that to admit the truth of our innocence is death. We are so identified with this guilty self-image that to threaten it is to threaten our very existence, or so it seems. "But it is life" (4:3), not death. When the Spirit presents us with a picture of our innocence it terrifies us because it turns our whole world upside down and uproots our every frame of reference, all based on judgments we have made. It is frightening to think that we have been so totally mistaken about ourselves, even when the mistake has been to condemn ourselves and the unfamiliar truth is our own guiltlessness.
One method this lesson uses, very evidently, to help uproot the old, guilty self-image is just to repeat, over and over and over, "Your sinlessness is guaranteed by God" (6:1, and six other times in the lesson). Frequent repetition is an excellent way to reprogram the mind, so we are asked to spend five minutes every hour, if we can, repeating these ideas and thinking about them, realizing that they are the truth about ourselves. "Light and joy and peace abide in me. My sinlessness is guaranteed by God" (8:2-3; 10:4-5).
When it says this, the lesson does not mean that God guarantees to take us as poor, sinful creatures and make us sinless. That isn't necessary because we were created sinless to begin with and retain that quality. I have never sinned; that is what the lesson is telling me. Oh, I think I have (and so do people who know me!), I believe I have, I am utterly convinced that I have, but I have never sinned. Mistakes, yes, but not sins, because there is no such thing. "To sin would be to violate reality, and to succeed" (T-19.II.2:2), and that simply is not possible.
The Son of God can be mistaken; he can deceive himself; he can even turn the power of his mind against himself. But he cannot sin. There is nothing he can do that would really change his reality in any way, nor make him really guilty. (T-19.II.3:1-3)
My sinlessness is guaranteed because I cannot sin; that's simple logic. If something is impossible for me to do, it is a pretty sure bet that I won't do it and never have done it.
The exercises today are attempts to experience this one Self, this reality as God created it. It takes letting the other "self" go. Opening to the immensity of Love that is within us, floating in It, being surrounded by It, embraced by It. And then the most amazing thought: "Here you are; This is You" (9:7). This is You! This Love, this vastness, this infinite compassion—This is You! If you can, think of the most direct and dramatic experience you have ever had of God's presence, or of the presence of love, and tell yourself, "That which I experienced in that moment, That is Me. That is what I am."