I am going to dive right into this lesson, long, and some of Ken’s excerpts, join me!
Second paragraph, “You see yourself as a ridiculous parody on God’s creation; weak, vicious, ugly and sinful, miserable and beset with pain”, etc., Ken responds with:
“If we raise ourselves above the battleground, return to the decision-making part of our minds and look back down upon this self, we could realize what we felt as so important and special, and has defined us, is a ridiculous parody of Who we are. When we find ourselves becoming upset, regardless of its form or seeming cause, we need step back and look, saying to ourselves that our reactions are nothing more than ridiculous parodies of our Self. This means separating from this identity, our investment in being unfairly treated, and the pain of this perception. This constellation of victimized thoughts and feelings establishes our bodies as real, proving conclusively that God is dead.”
He continues with:
“The Course can be understood only when we detach from that self and return to the right-minded home of Jesus. This means relinquishing all thoughts about who we think we are. In other words, we cannot understand truth (spirit) from the perspective of illusion (the body).”
Where Jesus says, “You have seen the extent of your lack of mental discipline, and of your need for mind training. It is necessary that you be aware of this, for it is indeed a hindrance to your advance”, Ken writes:
“Speaking to us unadvanced ones at the bottom of the ladder, Jesus therefore says: “You have seen the extent of your lack of mental discipline, and of your need for mind training”, hence the need for structure. There are always those, however, who believe they are the exception. If you are among them, at least be clear about it. If you are like everyone else, your mind will wander, and you will be more concerned with preserving your specialness than with learning a thought system that undoes it.
His point is that we should not use our forgetting as an excuse not to do the lesson, or to conclude that ACIM is too difficult for us to practice, and therefore why bother.
Yet is it not really the lack of mental discipline that is the hindrance, but our guilt over it. Jesus thus helps us understand that doing the workbook imperfectly is an excellent classroom for learning to undo our guilt. Indeed, the implication is that by doing the workbook imperfectly and then forgiving ourselves, we are actually doing the workbook perfectly and being perfect students.” (NOTE: THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT POINT!)
Where Jesus states in paragraph seven (7), sentences 4-5, “There may well be a temptation to regard the day as lost because you have already failed to do what is required. This should, however, merely be recognized as what it is; a refusal to let your mistake be corrected, and an unwillingness to try again”, Ken writes when we forget to practice:
“You then should say to yourself: “I forgot because I was afraid. The individual needs of my specialness were so demanding that I had all I could do to pay attention to my body and those around me. And so I forgot – because I was afraid – not bad. Wishing to preserve my special identification is not a sin, but a mistake to be corrected. How wonderful that I now can see my resistance to learning this course! Yet, I remembered the lesson now, and can ask Jesus to help me look at what I did, understand why, and choose to accept his forgiveness rather than my ego’s guilt.”
To be honest, Ken’s thoughts on this lesson are so rich and helpful, it has been a challenge to determine which excerpts would be most helpful as we work through this lesson together. Having written that, I think I will close with what he has to say in response to Jesus’ statement about tolerance, “This tolerance for weakness will enable us to overlook it, rather than give it power to delay our learning” (8:4):
“If we find our weakness intolerable, we are giving it – now called sin – tremendous power, not only to delay our learning, but to destroy it and make forgiveness impossible. To repeat, the problem is never our failure to remember, nor our specialness or anger. It is our holding on to the perceived failure through guilt.
When you make a mistakes, therefore, realize it came from fear, not from some inherent evil, wickedness, or sinfulness in you. Then say to Jesus: “I was afraid of your love, for I was afraid of losing my individuality and specialness. Thus I had to protect myself by pushing you away, and that is why I forgot. If you have such a conversation with Jesus there will be no guilt, and without guilt there will be no problem.
To make this point one more time: the way we overlook something is not by not seeing it, but by actually looking at it. When we do, with Jesus’ love beside us, we look through it. Thus, as we have seen, overlooking really means looking beyond.”
As I was inputting this, I realized that I have to put my proclivity toward perfectionism on the altar for healing, it is an integral part of my false self-image and I see now, better understand it is a block to my moving forward in forgiveness. I just didn’t get that before. Interesting.
I know I am not alone in perfectionism. Ken’s perspective on doing the Course imperfectly as imperfect students as opposed to attempting to master it has hit home. As he writes above, my practice today will be to recognize that I have not sinned when I forget to practice (mistakes in not practicing are just that, no big deal), I can ask Jesus for help in looking at the fear that prevents me from accepting today’s message of Oneness and unity and, also, ask for assistance in forgiving myself for not being a “better” student, whatever in the heck that means!
Have a lovely day!