Thursday, September 28, 2006

Above all else...

Lesson 27

Above all else I want to see.

Today's idea expresses something stronger than mere determination. It gives vision priority among your desires. You may feel hesitant about using the idea, on the grounds that you are not sure you really mean it. This does not matter. The purpose of today's exercises is to bring the time when the idea will be wholly true a little nearer.

There may be a great temptation to believe that some sort of sacrifice is being asked of you when you say you want to see above all else. If you become uneasy about the lack of reservation involved, add:

Vision has no cost to anyone.

If fear of loss still persists, add further:

It can only bless.

The idea for today needs many repetitions for maximum benefit. It should be used at least every half hour, and more if possible. You might try for every fifteen or twenty minutes. It is recommended that you set a definite time interval for using the idea when you wake or shortly afterwards, and attempt to adhere to it throughout the day. It will not be difficult to do this, even if you are engaged in conversation, or otherwise occupied at the time. You can still repeat one short sentence to yourself without disturbing anything.

The real question is, how often will you remember? How much do you want today's idea to be true? Answer one of these questions, and you have answered the other. You will probably miss several applications, and perhaps quite a number. Do not be disturbed by this, but do try to keep on your schedule from then on. If only once during the day you feel that you were perfectly sincere while you were repeating today's idea, you can be sure that you have saved yourself many years of effort.

My comments... Wow, this is a revealing lesson to me. It addresses a question I posed earlier about "missing practice sessions during the day", but most of all it just seemed to speak to me. Above all else I want to see. I really want to see. Bless you for reading this.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Invulnerable - am I - or am I not?

Lesson 26

My attack thoughts are attacking my invulnerability.

It is surely obvious that if you can be attacked you are not invulnerable. You see attack as a real threat. That is because you believe that you can really attack. And what would have effects through you must also have effects on you. It is this law that will ultimately save you, but you are misusing it now. You must therefore learn how it can be used for your own best interests, rather than against them.

Because your attack thoughts will be projected, you will fear attack. And if you fear attack, you must believe that you are not invulnerable. Attack thoughts therefore make you vulnerable in your own mind, which is where the attack thoughts are. Attack thoughts and invulnerability cannot be accepted together. They contradict each other.

The idea for today introduces the thought that you always attack yourself first. If attack thoughts must entail the belief that you are vulnerable, their effect is to weaken you in your own eyes. Thus they have attacked your perception of yourself. And because you believe in them, you can no longer believe in yourself. A false image of yourself has come to take the place of what you are.

Practice with today's idea will help you to understand that vulnerability or invulnerability is the result of your own thoughts. Nothing except your thoughts can attack you. Nothing except your thoughts can make you think you are vulnerable. And nothing except your thoughts can prove to you this is not so.

Six practice periods are required in applying today's idea. A full two minutes should be attempted for each of them, although the time may be reduced to a minute if the discomfort is too great. Do not reduce it further.

The practice period should begin with repeating the idea for today, then closing your eyes and reviewing the unresolved questions whose outcomes are causing you concern. The concern may take the form of depression, worry, anger, a sense of imposition, fear, foreboding or preoccupation. Any problem as yet unsettled that tends to recur in your thoughts during the day is a suitable subject. You will not be able to use very many for any one practice period, because a longer time than usual should be spent with each one. Today's idea should be applied as follows:
First, name the situation:

I am concerned about ______.

Then go over every possible outcome that has occurred to you in that connection and which has caused you concern, referring to each one quite specifically, saying:

I am afraid ______ will happen.

If you are doing the exercises properly, you should have some five or six distressing possibilities available for each situation you use, and quite possibly more. It is much more helpful to cover a few situations thoroughly than to touch on a larger number. As the list of anticipated outcomes for each situation continues, you will probably find some of them, especially those that occur to you toward the end, less acceptable to you. Try, however, to treat them all alike to whatever extent you can.

After you have named each outcome of which you are afraid, tell yourself:

That thought is an attack upon myself.

Conclude each practice period by repeating today's idea to yourself once more.

My comments... Today's lesson dovetails with the previous lesson, "(#23) I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts". I see today's lesson as a very positive exercise. It is kind of like putting my thoughts in to perspective and making me realize that they are mine ONLLY, and ONLY I can change how I look at things and how I think about things. I will do my best to practice this the required number of times. As I mentioned in my previous comments, I'm having difficulty practicing the lessons the required number of times recommended. I guess I'm only human? :-)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I do not know what anything is for

Lesson 25

I do not know what anything is for.

Purpose is meaning. Today's idea explains why nothing you see means anything. You do not know what it is for. Therefore, it is meaningless to you. Everything is for your own best interests. That is what it is for; that is its purpose; that is what it means. It is in recognizing this that your goals become unified. It is in recognizing this that what you see is given meaning.

You perceive the world and everything in it as meaningful in terms of ego goals. These goals have nothing to do with your own best interests, because the ego is not you. This false identification makes you incapable of understanding what anything is for. As a result, you are bound to misuse it. When you believe this, you will try to withdraw the goals you have assigned to the world, instead of attempting to reinforce them.

Another way of describing the goals you now perceive is to say that they are all concerned with "personal" interests. Since you have no personal interests, your goals are really concerned with nothing. In cherishing them, therefore, you have no goals at all. And thus you do not know what anything is for.

Before you can make any sense out of the exercises for today, one more thought is necessary. At the most superficial levels, you do recognize purpose. Yet purpose cannot be understood at these levels. For example, you do understand that a telephone is for the purpose of talking to someone who is not physically in your immediate vicinity. What you do not understand is what you want to reach him for. And it is this that makes your contact with him meaningful or not.

It is crucial to your learning to be willing to give up the goals you have established for everything. The recognition that they are meaningless, rather than "good" or "bad," is the only way to accomplish this. The idea for today is a step in this direction.

Six practice periods, each of two-minutes duration, are required. Each practice period should begin with a slow repetition of the idea for today, followed by looking about you and letting your glance rest on whatever happens to catch your eye, near or far, "important" or "unimportant," "human" or "nonhuman." With your eyes resting on each subject you so select, say, for example:

I do not know what this chair is for.
I do not know what this pencil is for.
I do not know what this hand is for.

Say this quite slowly, without shifting your eyes from the subject until you have completed the statement about it. Then move on to the next subject, and apply today's idea as before.

My comments... Upon first reading today's lesson, I thought - "here we go again with another one of those 'that tree is not a tree' lessons". But after reading the lesson description, it actually made more sense and was easier to understand. This reminded me of an old song by Chicago... "Does anybody really know what time it is"? The answer to that son's question is obviously - no.

A question I have for experienced ACIM practitioners is... what is lost if one does not follow the lessons instructions as required? As an example, this lesson says that I need to practice this for six practice sessions today. What is the result if I only do it twice? Should I start over with this lesson tomorrow or go on to the next lesson? I am embarassed to admit that I often forget to do the required number of sessions. I forget and then I go on to the next lesson. It is not that I'm trying to speed up or cut something out - I just forget during the course of the day to do the day's lesson.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Choosing what is best

Lesson 24

I do not perceive my own best interests.

In no situation that arises do you realize the outcome that would make you happy. Therefore, you have no guide to appropriate action, and no way of judging the result. What you do is determined by your perception of the situation, and that perception is wrong. It is inevitable, then, that you will not serve your own best interests. Yet they are your only goal in any situation which is correctly perceived. Otherwise, you will not recognize what they are.

If you realized that you do not perceive your own best interests, you could be taught what they are. But in the presence of your conviction that you do know what they are, you cannot learn. The idea for today is a step toward opening your mind so that learning can begin.

The exercises for today require much more honesty than you are accustomed to using. A few subjects, honestly and carefully considered in each of the five practice periods which should be undertaken today, will be more helpful than a more cursory examination of a large number. Two minutes are suggested for each of the mind-searching periods which the exercises involve.

The practice periods should begin with repeating today's idea, followed by searching the mind, with closed eyes, for unresolved situations about which you are currently concerned. The emphasis should be on uncovering the outcome you want. You will quickly realize that you have a number of goals in mind as part of the desired outcome, and also that these goals are on different levels and often conflict.

In applying the idea for today, name each situation that occurs to you, and then enumerate carefully as many goals as possible that you would like to be met in its resolution. The form of each application should be roughly as follows:

In the situation involving ______, I would like ______ to happen, and ______ to happen,

. . . .and so on. Try to cover as many different kinds of outcomes as may honestly occur to you, even if some of them do not appear to be directly related to the situation, or even to be inherent in it at all.

If these exercises are done properly, you will quickly recognize that you are making a large number of demands of the situation which have nothing to do with it. You will also recognize that many of your goals are contradictory, that you have no unified outcome in mind, and that you must experience disappointment in connection with some of your goals, however the situation turns out.

After covering the list of as many hoped-for goals as possible, for each unresolved situation that crosses your mind say to yourself:

I do not perceive my own best interests in this situation,

. . . and go on to the next one.

My comments... "I do not perceive my own best interests" - now here is a statement that I've been hearing my entire life. As a child, we have all heard words to this effect, that "we don't know what's best for us", or "you don't make good choices". Although the outcome is different with today's exercise, it is the same thing on a different scale. This is an easier lesson to grasp and doesn't cause the mind confusion or anxiety.

Friday, September 15, 2006

My vengeful world

Lesson 23

I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.

The idea for today contains the only way out of fear that will ever succeed. Nothing else will work; everything else is meaningless. But this way cannot fail. Every thought you have makes up some segment of the world you see. It is with your thoughts, then, that we must work, if your perception of the world is to be changed.

If the cause of the world you see is attack thoughts, you must learn that it is these thoughts which you do not want. There is no point in lamenting the world. There is no point in trying to change the world. It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect. But there is indeed a point in changing your thoughts about the world. Here you are changing the cause. The effect will change automatically.

The world you see is a vengeful world, and everything in it is a symbol of vengeance. Each of your perceptions of "external reality" is a pictorial representation of your own attack thoughts. One can well ask if this can be called seeing. Is not fantasy a better word for such a process, and hallucination a more appropriate term for the result?

You see the world that you have made, but you do not see yourself as the image maker. You cannot be saved from the world, but you can escape from its cause. This is what salvation means, for where is the world you see when its cause is gone? Vision already holds a replacement for everything you think you see now. Loveliness can light your images, and so transform them that you will love them, even though they were made of hate. For you will not be making them alone.

The idea for today introduces the thought that you are not trapped in the world you see, because its cause can be changed. This change requires, first, that the cause be identified and then let go, so that it can be replaced. The first two steps in this process require your cooperation. The final one does not. Your images have already been replaced. By taking the first two steps, you will see that this is so.

Besides using it throughout the day as the need arises, five practice periods are required in applying today's idea. As you look about you, repeat the idea slowly to yourself first, and then close your eyes and devote about a minute to searching your mind for as many attack thoughts as occur to you. As each one crosses your mind say:

I can escape from the world I see
by giving up attack thoughts about ______.

Hold each attack thought in mind as you say this, and then dismiss that thought and go on to the next.

In the practice periods, be sure to include both your thoughts of attacking and of being attacked. Their effects are exactly the same because they are exactly the same. You do not recognize this as yet, and you are asked at this time only to treat them as the same in today's practice periods. We are still at the stage of identifying the cause of the world you see. When you finally learn that thoughts of attack and of being attacked are not different, you will be ready to let the cause go.

My comments... Oh my, this is another of those lessons that cause me much confusion. It is like I can only process part of these thoughts (there's logic rearing its ugly head again). "You see the world that you have made, but you do not see yourself as the image maker", is a statement I can nod my head when reading and agree. "Loveliness can light your images, and so transform them that you will love them, even though they were made of hate", I have trouble identifying with this statement - I WANT to, I'm just having intense difficulty. It is like saying that I can love another who murders a member of my family. I KNOW this is where I should be, but every fibre of my body wants to reject that thought.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Nothing lasts in this world

Lesson 22

What I see is a form of vengeance.

Today's idea accurately describes the way anyone who holds attack thoughts in his mind must see the world. Having projected his anger onto the world, he sees vengeance about to strike at him. His own attack is thus perceived as self defense. This becomes an increasingly vicious circle until he is willing to change how he sees. Otherwise, thoughts of attack and counter-attack will preoccupy him and people his entire world. What peace of mind is possible to him then?

It is from this savage fantasy that you want to escape. Is it not joyous news to hear that it is not real? Is it not a happy discovery to find that you can escape? You made what you would destroy; everything that you hate and would attack and kill. All that you fear does not exist.

Look at the world about you at least five times today, for at least a minute each time. As your eyes move slowly from one object to another, from one body to another, say to yourself:

I see only the perishable.
I see nothing that will last.
What I see is not real.
What I see is a form of vengeance.

At the end of each practice period, ask yourself:

Is this the world I really want to see?

The answer is surely obvious.

My comments... This lesson obviously follows up on the previous lessons, but it is explained more clearly and (unlike some of the previous lessons) makes more sense to me. Possibly because the statements, "I see only the perishable, and I see nothing that will last" are true in this made up world of ours. Nothing lasts. This is easy to accept. The "vengeance" and "attack thoughts" aspect of today's lesson is something I must think about, as this is a different concept for me.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Determination brings relief

Lesson 21

I am determined to see things differently.

The idea for today is obviously a continuation and extension of the preceding one. This time, however, specific mind-searching periods are necessary, in addition to applying the idea to particular situations as they may arise. Five practice periods are urged, allowing a full minute for each.
In the practice periods, begin by repeating the idea to yourself. Then close your eyes and search your mind carefully for situations past, present or anticipated that arouse anger in you. The anger may take the form of any reaction ranging from mild irritation to rage. The degree of the emotion you experience does not matter. You will become increasingly aware that a slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury.

Try, therefore, not to let the "little" thoughts of anger escape you in the practice periods. Remember that you do not really recognize what arouses anger in you, and nothing that you believe in this connection means anything. You will probably be tempted to dwell more on some situations or persons than on others, on the fallacious grounds that they are more "obvious." This is not so. It is merely an example of the belief that some forms of attack are more justified than others.

As you search your mind for all the forms in which attack thoughts present themselves, hold each one in mind while you tell yourself:

I am determined to see ______ [name of person] differently.

I am determined to see ______ [specify the situation] differently.

Try to be as specific as possible. You may, for example, focus your anger on a particular attribute of a particular person, believing that the anger is limited to this aspect. If your perception is suffering from this form of distortion, say:

I am determined to see ______ [specify the attribute]in ______ [name of person] differently.

My comments... As mentioned in the lesson text above, this follows up on the previous lesson, but with more specifics. As I practiced yesterday's lesson and this one, I get a sense of calming when I identify a person or situation and state that I am determined to see this differently. It almost feels like I'm releasing myself (excusing myself) in some way. That by doing this, the guilt or anger I feel toward that thing is dissipating.... I'm determined!