In many respects, today’s lesson is a repeat – a variation – on yesterday’s. And given the importance of the idea to this new thought system we’re trying to adopt, that makes a certain amount of sense. We aren’t fragmented and disharmonious beings in a meaningless universe overseen by a cruel or indifferent god. Rather, we are united with a loving creator, perfect manifestations of a perfectly loving God.
Yet this lesson stands out for a couple of other reasons, two of which I want to focus on because I think they have long-term value to our ongoing practice of A Course in Miracles. The first is the emphasis – for practical reasons – on shorter but more frequent practice periods. The second is the focus on not getting hung up on mistakes.
We forget sometimes that a woman channeled this workbook and went over it with a friend. If you look at the urtext this is incredibly – sometimes painfully – obvious. But the rough edges are smoothed over and the personal material mostly excised by now and so we tend to read it as if it were written for us. But in this lesson, if you pause, you will see that Jesus is speaking very particularly to Helen and making a comment about how she is approaching the lessons. Her mind is drifting and rather than get upset about it, he’s going to shift the way he teaches.
I say this because the first time I encountered lesson 95 I was on a roll. Those fifteen and twenty minute morning and night sessions were like hot knives through soft butter. So there was this disconnect between my experience and what the text was saying that experience was. And you know what? I ignored it. Well, I partly ignored it. I did the five minutes every hour thing, as much as possible, but I still did my extended periods at the beginning and end of the day. It made sense. If the course was personal to Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford, then it was probably okay to adapt it a little to my own needs.
It was the first time I experienced that level of permissiveness. And the sky didn’t fall, and my practice didn’t fall apart, and everything remained okay. I learned a good lesson in all that – that the course will meet us where we are. As Jesus was accommodating Helen, so the course accommodates us.
And, of course, a few weeks later I couldn’t sit still for three minutes, let alone five, and so I decided to try a few minutes an hour. It was better than nothing. And naturally, it worked. So while I follow the lessons as closely as possible, I am not shy about tweaking the practice method if it feels consonant and clear to do so. Flexibility is good.
But the real reason I can say – be flexible, be adaptive – is because there are no mistakes. How beautiful that is! It is right here in the lesson. It’s not possible to screw up.
The Holy Spirit is not delayed in His teaching by your mistakes. He can be held back only by your unwillingness to let them go (W-pI.95.8:1-2).
Stay with that for a moment. It is intensely liberating. Your mistakes are without effect – therefore, they are not real. The only problem is our inclination to hold onto them. I’m a bad course student, I’m a failure, etc. It doesn’t matter. Mistakes call for correction (W-pI.95.9:2), not self-abuse. And we don’t even have to manage the correction process. The Holy Spirit has that covered as well.
That is so liberating and assuring. Because it applies to all the lessons and to all of our practice. You can’t alienate God, drive Jesus away, confound the Holy Spirit. Life takes care. Life is always loving. You are perfect. Everything that suggests otherwise – no matter how emphatically, no matter how apparently tangibly – is just an illusion. You can let it go as easy as exhaling.
This lesson is like Jesus opening a door. He is not just asking us to deepen our appreciation for our unity with God, but to open up and trust, have faith. It’s working. It’s going to continue to work. There’s nothing else to it.