The first time I encountered the review sessions of A Course in Miracles, I wasn’t happy. I wanted what the Course offered and believed that straight-A students – and nothing but the top of the class was going to work for me – did all the lessons really well and really fast. It was hard enough doing only one a day. Suddenly I had to go backwards?
But the review periods are not going backwards. They are moving forward by strengthening our resolve and deepening our understanding of the lessons and the core ideas of A Course in Miracles. We forget sometimes that it’s a self-study course. Review is a critical part of learning, a way of solidifying past knowledge and ensuring its integration into future lessons.
What I find now in practicing review lessons is that the ideas of each individual lesson seem to make a little more sense than they did at the first go ’round. Also, the relationship from one lesson to the next becomes clear. The thread that links them is what makes the curriculum. Indeed, the more I approach the course as an actual student – a humble one, by the way, not the show-off who wants to be the ACIM rock star – the more the course seems to inform me, opening up lines of communication heretofore blocked, and enabling a greater sense of peace and direction.
So in this lesson, we are tracking the ideas contained in the first five – each of which has to do with the way we see and the way judgment interferes with our seeing. They also reflect a gentle turn inward. We start by looking out – at this chair, that street, et cetera – and we end by realizing, or accepting, that internal upset is a result of frantically trying to justify and defend our thoughts. It’s as if in five short lessons we’ve moved from the world to the world’s cause and been given – in broad strokes, to be sure – the means to undo that world.
Lesson five is a personal favorite of mine. I turn to it often in my daily practice. I appreciate its emphasis on there being no such thing as small or large upsets – they are all equally damaging to my peace. And I cannot keep any one of them if I want to remember and actualize my Truth as a Thought in the Mind of God. It is a lesson that urges me always to look past form to content. In this sense, it has a powerful capacity to undo my ideas and thoughts and judgments.
In the review – and this is a good example of how the review deepens our understanding – we are reminded that this is really a lesson in projection. In order to justify the egoic madness, we need a world that’s mad – and so we assign meaning accordingly, judging all things to ensure the chaos of the ego continues. We “misuse” everything in this vain but brutal assault. When we can see this – even a little – we can begin to recognize the need to let it go. Until we do, it cannot be replaced.
Your experience of the lessons – and the review periods – will of course be different. The course has a way of delivering what we need. All I really want to do is encourage you to take them seriously, and see that while they are indeed reviews, they are also steps forward. They are opportunities to both deepen and undo.