I do not perceive my own best interests.
Learning occurs when the need for learning is recognized. If we think we already know something, then we aren’t going to seek a teacher. If we’re sure that we’re doing something correctly, then we aren’t going be open to the possibility that there is another, better way.
This is the foundation of Lesson 24, which aims to restore to our minds a sense of humility. We think we know what’s in our best interest, but we do not. And because we do not, we cannot open our minds to a teacher who can teach us what is in our best interest.
Our happiness is contingent on this open-mindedness and – because we are presently alien to it – it asks of us more honest than we are accustomed to using. In this lesson we are not skimming, but going more deeply.
This prepares us for the long-term learning that is asked of us, and the commitment that will see us through to its end.
This lesson asks us to review situations which are as yet unresolved – relationships with which we are entangled, next week’s business meeting, this or that election outcome – and, with as much honestly and specificity as possible, list the goals that are part of the situation.
What do we want to happen? The course suggests that if we are honest about this then we . . .
. . . will quickly realize 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).
This is because “in no situation which arises do you realize the outcome that would make you happy” (W-pI.24.1:1).
There is no equivocation in that judgment! It does not say that we sometimes know what’s best for us or even that once in a rare while we know what’s best for us. It is unconditional: we don’t know at all. Full stop.
Thus, this lesson aims simply at restoring us to humility which is the necessary foundation for an effective learning process. It is perhaps a good example of a lesson that can be done over a period of days, given its importance in the learning process, although this is not required.
It is also helpful to remember that our personal sense of progress – especially with respect to A Course in Miracles – is rarely accurate, or even noticeable. Sometimes when we’re most “stuck,” we’re actually making progress that can stand in for centuries of learning (e.g., T-1.II.6:7, T-18.V.1:6). Thus, even if challenging lessons appear to produce no results, dramatic or otherwise, we need to refrain from judging. Our job is to show up and do the work. Healing is in better hands than ours.
Finally, note that this lesson increases the number of minutes for each practice period from one to two. While that’s not a big chunk of time per se, it does double our commitment and speaks to the gentle way in which we are being asked to intensify our ACIM practice.