I find this lesson oddly reassuring, this idea that I do not know what my best interests are in any situation. I cannot say if I have always felt this way when faced with Lesson 24, but it certainly arrives as a comfort now. Perhaps that is a sign of a changed mind, the willingness – the ability – to acknowledge the fact that we are not very good teachers or leaders. Help is a good idea.
I don’t think we can really accept guidance – or even meaningfully ask for a guide – until we have exhausted our self-reliance. It seems to be a condition of sorts. We really do have to boot the ego out of the driver’s seat and mean it. Jesus reaches us when we open the lines of communication, when we release our stranglehold on our insistence that we can handle some parts of salvation ourselves.
I’m grateful for those lessons that flow naturally and easily. Progress doesn’t have to be felt or measureable. The Course is very clear about this: sometimes when we’re most “stuck,” we’re actually making progress that can stand in for centuries of learning (T-18.V.1:6 and T-1.II.6:7). Still, I appreciate the chance to really sink into a lesson, to feel it working in a deep central place. There’s a gratitude to the process that greases the skids, pushes us closer to that clear and lucid space where we are aware of Love.
On a practical level, one thing this lesson does is neatly skewer the ego. I enjoy taking a situation in progress and brainstorming all the potential results. The ego loves a list! Yet when I do this honestly I realize precisely what Jesus says I’ll see: the ends I desire are often contrary to one another and sometimes outright exlusive. It’s crazy!
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 (W-pI.24.6:1-2).
A small example: I was doing this earlier today, thinking about teaching. I had a meeting with someone – administrative stuff, which is not my strong suit – and as I was thinking about outcomes I realized that one outcome was that this person would cancel the meeting and another was that I would be so loving and kind and “on” in the meeting that this person would send an email to everyone in the college about how incredible a human being I am. How can the meeting both be canceled and celebrate me?
It made me laugh . . . It’s nice to reach a point in the process where we can laugh at the ego. It really is like a silly monkey playing with itself. I’m not there all the time – please hear me say that – but I am there sometimes. I was there this morning. Something about laughing at – as opposed to feeling oppressed or depressed by the egoic mind – seems to really open the channels to Jesus.
Last thought: it’s worth nothing that we jump from one minute to two minutes for each of the five practice periods. While that’s not a big chunk of time per se, it does double our commitment. This time around I am taking note of my gut responses to the lesson and I felt a sort of nervous anticipation to this sense that the ante was being upped a bit.
Thank you for reading today and being here with me.