This is the final review of the Workbook, the end of Part I. Back in the introduction to the Workbook we were told: “The workbook is divided into two main sections, the first dealing with the undoing of the way you see now, and the second with the acquisition of true perception” (W-In.3:1). The last forty lessons or so have said they were preparing us for Part II of the Workbook. So now we are coming to the end of the first phase of our training. Presumably, if we have been doing the exercises as instructed (and that is the real key, of course), we are now ready to enter a new, higher phase of our practicing.
Two things are clearly different about the second part of the Workbook. First, the written lessons are much, much shorter; none is more than a half page, although we will be asked to read a one-page teaching section ten times, once each day along with the lesson. The emphasis in the second part, as we will see, is much less on learning new ideas (or unlearning old ones), and much more on having new experiences, and on reinforcing the habits we have formed during Part I.
The second major difference is that, from this review which ends Part I and the introduction to Part II forward, the lessons contain no more practice instructions. It seems quite clear that the pattern of practice we are meant to follow has been established, and we are expected to know what it is, and to follow it for the remaining 145 lessons of Part II.
That pattern was begun in Lesson 153, which established the longer morning and evening quiet times, and the hourly remembrances. The remaining two elements—frequent reminders between the hours, and response to temptation as needed—remained somewhat optional for the rest of the lessons through 200. It is only here, in the introduction to the final review, that they are added in as something definitely expected of us every day.
“Besides the time you give morning and evening, which should not be less than fifteen minutes, and the hourly remembrances you make throughout the day, use the idea as often as you can between them” (W-pI.RVI.1:2). The word “besides” makes it clear that these frequent reminders are now being given in addition to the morning and evening quiet times and the hourly remembrances. The response to temptation is clearly added as well, in paragraph 6:
When you are tempted, hasten to proclaim your freedom from temptation, as you say: This thought I do not want. I choose instead _____. And then repeat the idea for the day, and let it take the place of what you thought. (6:1-4)
Those four elements of practice, firmly set in place in this final review, are meant to be the instructions we follow on a daily basis for the rest of the year:
- Morning and evening quiet time of not less than fifteen minutes each
- Hourly remembrances of a few minutes, in which we recall the idea for the day and apply it to the hour past and the hour to come
- Frequent reminders in between the hours, when we simply call the idea to mind
- Response to temptation, in which we deliberately replace our ego thoughts with the thought for the day
We are told that any one of the ideas we are given is “sufficient for salvation, if it were learned truly. Each would be enough to give release to you and to the world from every form of bondage, and invite the memory of God to come again” (1:3-4). This is true of the ideas to come, and also of the ideas in the last twenty lessons. Notice the conditional phrases that modify this statement, however: “if understood, practiced, accepted, and applied to all the seeming happenings throughout the day” (2:2). Any one idea is enough…if we apply that idea without exception (2:4).
If any single idea is enough, why do we need 365 lessons? The answer is simple. The author knows perfectly well that we won’t apply any single idea without exception to every happening throughout every day. “And so we need to use them all and let them blend as one, as each contributes to the whole we learn” (2:5).
In this final review, which lasts for twenty days, repeating each day one of the thoughts from the previous twenty days, we are asked to let our practicing center around a unifying theme:
I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me. (3:3-5)
We are asked to repeat these three short sentences every morning and evening, every hour, and every time in between that we remember our true function here. We repeat it along with the review idea for the day. That simple repetition is the only specific instruction we are given. Beyond that, all that we are asked to do in our practice times is, in a short phrase, to clear our minds of any opposing thoughts (3:8). This is to be a “deep relinquishment” (3:8), not simply a blanking of the mind; a letting go of every thought that stands in the way of sanity and truth.
We merely close our eyes, and then forget all that we thought we knew and understood. (4:3)
In this final half of the Workbook we are moving “beyond all words” (4:1). We are seeking to experience serenity and the peace of God.
The only exception is something we do when an “idle thought” (5:2) intrudes itself into our quiet. Paragraph 5 gives us clear instructions about how to deal with these intrusive thoughts, which will surely occur. The main point is not to allow such a thought to simply pass by unchallenged. Rather, we instruct our minds, “This is not a thought I want,” and replace it with the idea for the day. We follow the same practice all through the day, whenever we are tempted by our egos.
This is a rigorous kind of mind training. It asks a great deal of us. I believe it is what is meant by the phrase in the Text, “Be vigilant only for God and for His Kingdom” (T-6.V(C).2:8). How can we expect our minds to become free of ego thinking if we let the ego’s thoughts go unchallenged? Early in the Text, Jesus tells us we are “much too tolerant of mind wandering” (T-2.VI.4:6); this vigilant watchfulness, challenging the ego thoughts and replacing them with thoughts of God, is the Course’s remedy.
Jesus, the author, says that he places our practice periods in the hands of the Holy Spirit (6:6; 7:1-2). We are to listen to Him for specifics about what to “do and say and think, each time you turn to Him” (7:2). The primary emphasis seems to be on simple quiet (6:6). Yet the mention of what we do and say and think leaves us a great deal of latitude. Generally speaking, I think, we can use any of the techniques we have practiced earlier in the Workbook, such as forgiveness exercises, offering peace to the world, reviewing situations in our lives and applying the idea for the day, and so on. The major emphasis is on quietly listening to the Voice for God and allowing our minds to come to serenity and peace. The Workbook has ended its specific practice instructions, but now we are to learn to listen to the Holy Spirit instead, allowing Him to teach us how to go, and trusting Him completely for the way each practice period can best become a loving gift of freedom to the world. (7:4)