I think it’s helpful to notice our reaction to the lessons. Some feel so productive and helpful it hurts to leave them behind. Others seem to have no effect, or even a contrary effect.
Lesson 6 feels oddly like spinning wheels to me. I appreciate it at an intellectual level – we are deepening our awareness of our emotional state the better to eventually take control of it – but I resist it. I feel bored by it.
This needs to be raised because it’s a common problem – for me and for other students. What do we do when we don’t want to do the lessons? When resistance rears its head? There are two possibilities. We can skip it or we can resign ourselves to doing it, reaping no obvious benefit and hope that more memorable lessons are on the horizon.
Forgoing a lesson isn’t the best idea – at least not if you’re committed to giving ACIM a genuine effort. On the other hand, if your resistance is strong, sometimes it’s better to just stand down. Fighting ourselves is not helpful. Taking a break – for a day or a week – is often advisable, simply to help regain our equilibrium. We come back refreshed – or we learn that this isn’t our path right now. And that’s okay, too.
I am going to gently argue, however, that sticking to the lessons matters – even when they feel inane or dull. Here’s why: a lot of the progress that we make happens outside the purview of our experience. That is to say, we’re pretty clueless about our spiritual growth.
Put yourself not in charge . . . for you cannot distinguish between advance and retreat. Some of your greatest advances you have judged as failures, and some of your deepest retreats you have evaluated as success (T-18.V.1:5-6).
I was writing a bit yesterday about the course’s use of the word “darkness.” My understanding is evolving, but the implication is pretty clear that there is a lot going on of which we remain unaware. We don’t have to understand it all. We don’t have to see measurable progress each and every day.
Our commitment – our willingness – is all that really matters.
Indeed, the Introduction to the workbook puts it very plainly:
You are merely asked to apply the ideas as you are directed to do. You are not asked to judge them at all. You are only asked to use them.
And in many respects, this is also the theme of lesson 6. When we are distressed – even with a lesson in A Course in Miracles – we are responding to something that is not real. We don’t know what is real! That’s the whole point. If we can lighten up a bit (and I don’t know about you but lightening up is not my strong suit), then this can actually come as a great relief. We’re not in charge!
Ultimately, as we faithfully do the lessons – releasing our expectation of their success or failure – we will begin to experience a change in our thinking. Subtly at first but then with increasingly leaps, we will begin to perceive a steady transition from fear to love. It is a cumulative effect, related to an overall effort rather than achieving success with only this or that lesson.