Tuesday, April 8, 2008

LESSON 34 I could see peace instead of this.


I could see peace instead of this.

The idea for today begins to describe the conditions that prevail in the other way of seeing. Peace of mind is clearly an internal matter. It must begin with your own thoughts, and then extend outward. It is from your peace of mind that a peaceful perception of the world arises.

Three longer practice periods are required for today's exercises. One in the morning and one in the evening are advised, with an additional one to be undertaken at any time in between that seems most conducive to readiness. All applications should be done with your eyes closed. It is your inner world to which the applications of today's idea should be made.

Some five minutes of mind searching are required for each of the longer practice periods. Search your mind for fear thoughts, anxiety-provoking situations, "offending" personalities or events, or anything else about which you are harboring unloving thoughts. Note them all casually, repeating the idea for today slowly as you watch them arise in your mind, and let each one go, to be replaced by the next.

If you begin to experience difficulty in thinking of specific subjects, continue to repeat the idea to yourself in an unhurried manner, without applying it to anything in particular. Be sure, however, not to make any specific exclusions.

The shorter applications are to be frequent, and made whenever you feel your peace of mind is threatened in any way. The purpose is to protect yourself from temptation throughout the day. If a specific form of temptation arises in your awareness, the exercise should take this form:

I could see peace in this situation instead of what I now see in it.

If the inroads on your peace of mind take the form of more generalized adverse emotions, such as depression, anxiety or worry, use the idea in its original form. If you find you need more than one application of today's idea to help you change your mind in any specific context, try to take several minutes and devote them to repeating the idea until you feel some sense of relief. It will help you if you tell yourself specifically:

I can replace my feelings of depression, anxiety or worry [or my thoughts about this situation, personality or event] with peace.


Lesson 34
“I could see peace instead of this.”

In earlier lessons we learned that God is in everything we see because God is in our minds. Since peace is an attribute of God and God is in our minds, peace must be in our minds. This means if I am not seeing peace, I must be closing off my real Self from my awareness. Since peace is already in my mind, I don’t have to acquire it. I need only accept its presence. Any situation in which I am not feeling peaceful is an indication that I am using something to hide peace from my awareness.

In the introduction to the Course, it tells us that it is not going to define what Love is, but will merely help us remove the barriers to Love’s presence. This lesson is another step in removing those barriers. We will know Love when we have let down the barriers against it. Today’s affirmation is a powerful tool to help us step back from the myriad forms of distress and pain and unhappiness that we experience in our lives.

Just repeating that statement reminds me that I don’t have to see the world the way that I am seeing it. I have a choice. The little crack is opened through which the Holy Spirit can offer another way of seeing. Each time I affirm this thought, I give myself the gift of opening my mind to the possibility of healing. I may not be ready to accept it, but I am at least a step closer. Just because I don’t feel healed yet in a particular circumstance is not reason to give up. Rather it is simply a sign that I need more practice. These lessons are designed to help me build a habit of practice. I am grateful that in every situation I can see peace.

This lesson reminds me that my awakening to the truth has nothing to do with the outside world and as everything to do with the thoughts I am holding in my mind. This lesson has everything to do with remembering that my experience of peace is an internal matter and that, if I am not in peace, I can choose differently. This lesson asks me to search my mind for thoughts that are not peaceful. This lesson encourages me to be open to letting these thoughts go. “I could see peace instead of this.”

When I get wrapped up in some circumstance where I lose my peace, I usually do not realize that I have lost my peace. I get so wrapped up in what is wrong ‘out there,’ that I forget that it starts with what is wrong in my mind. From a peaceful state of mind comes a peaceful perception of the world.

This is a powerful lesson. If I am willing to practice changing my mind and choosing peace in every situation where there appears to be distress or conflict, I can take great steps forward. This is the key to my awakening.

Just like the lesson, “God is in everything I see because God is in my mind,” I could also say, “Peace is in everything I see because peace is in my mind.” This world is coming from my imagination. I have invented the world I see. When my mind is in a state of peace, I see a peaceful world. So I must start with my mind.

If I jump first to trying to fix something out in the world, I will have forgotten where the real problem lies and where the real solution lies. As I consistently practice choosing peace first, I heal my mind and am open to a peaceful solution to every “problem.”

The Course tells me that peace and understanding go together and are never found alone. If I want a deeper understanding about anything, the way I find it is to choose peace. Jesus tells me that I am much to tolerant of mind wandering. This lesson helps me choose what is most important of all -- to be in a state of peace. In a state of peace, my mind is clear. I see a peaceful world. The problem is never out there.

I am learning to ask myself, “Where is my state of mind?” When I am joined with Holy Spirit, peace seems easy and natural. When I am joined with the ego, peace seems very far away and hard to reach. Today’s lesson reminds me that it is my choice. And which I choose is what I will see.

They say that God works in mysterious ways, but if we think about it, it's really not that mysterious; as a matter of fact, it's really quite simple. However, we (or our egos) always try to complicate things. We get so wrapped up in what's "out there" that we forget it's only a reflection of what's "in here" that causes all the chaos.

I can often be so impatient with the fact that I have very little patience and I seem to keep putting situations in my life where I have to practice being more patient. I need to see these situations as means for practicing my patience and not frustration.

Holy Spirit, help me see peace instead of frustrating situations in my life this day.

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