[acimlessons_list] Lesson 339 - December 5
sue at circleofa.org
Mon Dec 4 11:20:44 EST 2006
LESSON 339 - DECEMBER 5
"I will receive whatever I request."
See complete instructions in separate document.
A short summary:
* Read the COMMENTARY paragraph slowly and personally.
* Pray the prayer, perhaps several times.
* Morning and evening: Repeat the idea and then spend time in Open Mind
* Hourly remembrance: Repeat the idea and then spend a quiet moment in
* Frequent reminders: Repeat the idea often within each hour.
* Response to temptation: Repeat the idea whenever upset, to restore peace.
* Read the "What Is" section slowly and thoughtfully once during the day.
Practice suggestion: To get the real thrust of today's idea, you might want
to try the following exercise. First, think of three things: a plan you have
for today, something you want today, and a thought you have been thinking
today. Then repeat the following lines to God:
I plan to do _________, yet I would do nothing by myself, but
hear Your Voice in everything I do.
Today I want __________, but I request only what You offer me.
Today I might think _________, but I accept only Thoughts You
share with me.
This can be an upsetting idea! It means that whatever I have received, I
requested. We don't like to hear that, and it can seem harsh. "You've got
cancer? You asked for it." Used that way it is harsh, a weapon for
separation instead of a tool for union. How could anyone desire sickness and
pain? The thought seems absurd.
No one desires pain. But he can think that pain is
pleasure. No one would avoid his happiness. But he
can think that joy is painful, threatening and dangerous.
Everyone will receive what he requests. But he can be
confused indeed about the things he wants; the state he
would attain. (1:1-6)
Of course nobody wants pain; nobody consciously refuses happiness. If that
is so, and everyone receives what he requests, then how is it that pain and
unhappiness arise? We might think of it as a syllogism, which seems to make
Nobody wants pain.
Nobody, therefore, would request pain.
Everyone receives what he requests or wants.
Therefore, we cannot receive pain.
That seems logical, doesn't it? If the first three are true, the fourth must
be true. So how come I hurt? We must be missing something; our logic must be
flawed. The flaw lies between the first two premises. Nobody wants pain, but
nevertheless, we <do> request it; that is why we receive it.
The lesson explains that I can be confused about what I want; that I can
think pain is pleasure, or that joy is threatening. The latter is perhaps a
little easier to understand since it is a common experience. Haven't you
ever had the thought "This is too good to last"? Or perhaps you've found
yourself very happy in a relationship and suddenly getting afraid of it
because some part of you is nearly certain that if you keep your guard down
you're going to get smacked good. I had a friend who somehow entered a very
high and totally joyful state of mind and was there for nearly three weeks
until she started thinking, "This is wonderful. I love everybody, I have no
fear of anything, but if I live like this in the world I'm going to get
crucified. Maybe I'm not enlightened; maybe I'm just insane." So she lost
the joy, and it never came back in quite the same way.
We really do think that too much joy is threatening and dangerous. We value
our suspicions. We cherish our defenses. We're afraid of simply opening up
to joy. So, quite unconsciously most of the time, we request unhappiness. We
choose not to be peaceful.
The confusion of pain and joy is much more deeply buried, but the Course
teaches that pain validates our separateness and justifies our barriers
against one another. We choose it to strengthen our ego identity. It is
perhaps difficult to believe that all of our pain and unhappiness is chosen,
but the Course is insistent on this point.
What can he then request that he would want when he
receives it? He has asked for what will frighten him,
and bring him suffering. (1:7-8)
We actually do ask for things that frighten us and bring us suffering. Much
of the Text is dedicated to bringing this to conscious awareness; making us
aware of what we are choosing so that we can realize how insane it is and
make another choice.
Let us resolve today to ask for what we really want,
and only this, that we may spend this day in fearlessness,
without confusing pain with joy, or fear with love. (1:9)
We can change our minds. We can begin, consciously, to choose the joy of God
instead of pain. When a moment of pain arises we can accept the fact that we
are choosing it, and choose again. We can say, "This is not what I want; I
choose the joy of God." We can choose peace instead of upset. One thought I
repeat so often that it is practically a mantra is "Oops! I'm doing it to
myself again." It is remarkable what a change this fundamental realization
can make in one's life.
Read now the short prayer that closes this lesson, and start your day with
these thoughts. If you've already started the day, start it over right now.
Stop a moment and adopt this mindset. Setting the tone of your mind right
now will carry over into the day and bring changes you can't begin to
Father, this is Your day. It is a day in which I would
do nothing by myself, but hear Your Voice in everything
I do; requesting only what You offer me, accepting only
Thoughts You share with me. (2:1-2)
WHAT IS THE EGO?
Part 9: W-pII.12.5:1
Yet will one lily of forgiveness change the darkness into light;
the altar to illusions to the shrine of Life Itself.
The "darkened shrine" of the ego is flooded with light; the bloody altar to
death is transformed into "the shrine to Life Itself." How? By "one lily of
forgiveness." I think of a magical, fantasy tale, where the heroine or hero
enters the black, forbidding temple of the evil god, carrying only a single
flower. With great trepidation she approaches the altar and lays the pure,
white lily upon it, and in a flash, the entire scene is transformed.
Forgiveness is that "magical." It isn't magic, though, it's a miracle. "The
holiest of all the spots on earth is where an ancient hatred has become a
present love" (T-26.IX.6:1). That is the miracle forgiveness works. I have
seen it with my own eyes. I have watched a relationship filled with blood
and bitterness transformed into sweet, mutual devotion-through forgiveness.
This is no idle theory, no idealistic fantasy; this works.
Forgiveness undoes the ego. The blackest of blackness that the ego has
manifested becomes flooded with light when touched by forgiveness. We need
not fear to look at our ego's darkness; there is nothing forgiveness cannot
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