I will provide a little bit of Ken’s thoughts on Review V every day for the next however many days it takes me to get through it, hope that’s all right with those of you who may read them every day. Here goes!
The Introduction to the first Review is a particularly beautiful one, being one of the very few places in the workbook where Jesus speaks directly to us in the first person. Let me start with something obvious, but bears stating nonetheless: Jesus takes his reviews quite seriously, as we see not only here, but throughout the workbook. Inherent in this attitude is his expectation that we take the workbook just as seriously. Here he discusses – as well as in other places we will examine later – our weak dedication, and how we need to work on strengthening it. He asks us to take seriously the meaning underlying the workbook lessons, wanting us to recognize our investment in the ego thought system, how stalwart we are in maintaining it, and how unhappy it makes us. Our seriousness is expressed in spending as much time as possible throughout the day considering how often we choose against him and his forgiveness, and for the ego’s specialness. In what follows, therefore, Jesus reaffirms how resolute he wants us to be, because only then would we find happiness. He thus asks us to recognize our unhappiness, which specifically comes from maintaining we are right and he is wrong. Try to keep that in mind as we go through this lovely Introduction.
(1:1-2) We now review again. This time we are ready to give more effort and more time to what we undertake.
We see in this statement that Jesus wants us to spend time – quality time, not just clock hours – in thinking about his teachings. Indeed, our very salvation depends on it.
(1:3) We recognize we are preparing for another phase of learning.
A prevailing metaphor of this Introduction – as indeed it is throughout ACIM – is a journey, reflecting the process of our learning. The year we spend on the workbook is a journey and in and of itself, and Jesus is telling us now that we are ready for the next stage, “another phase of understanding.” What characterizes these stages is our commitment to learn to be as steadfast as we can throughout the day in applying these lessons, and above all, to be vigilant for our mind wandering.
(1:4-5) We would take this step completely, that we may go on again more certain, more sincere, with faith upheld more securely. Our footste1ps have not been unwavering, and doubts have made us walk uncertainly and slowly on the road this course sets forth.
Jesus is telling us once again that he knows we have been wavering and unsteady in our learning. He therefore urges us to be aware of it and forgive ourselves – certainly not indulge our doubts any more than we have to – and continually strive to be clearer about the distinction between his thought system and ours.
(1:6) But now we hasten on, for we approach a greater certainty, a firmer purpose and a surer goal.
This is an indicator of our progress on the journey: not so much the extent to which we have ego attacks, but the extent to which we try to justify them.
Jesus presents us n ow with this lovely prayer, which he says to God on our behalf. Its content – in view of the fact the God does nothing in the world – is our having a little child’s humility, recognizing how much we have to learn, and how much we need the guidance of an elder brother.
(2:1-2) Steady our feet, our Father. Let our doubts be quiet and our holy minds be still, and speak to us.
The essential point is that we silence the ego. The purpose of our relationship with Jesus or the Holy Spirit is to help us quiet our minds, so we would hear God’s Voice speak to us.
(2:3) We have no words to give to You.
That is the problem. When we ask for help, we ask in our words. We are the ones who define our problems, demands, and needs, thus putting words and answers in Jesus’ mouth. Jesus addressed this issue directly to Helen in a 1977 message, a year after the Course’s publication. He cautioned her about using her words to frame a question, asking instead that she trust in the Answer beyond all words – God’s limitless Love:
“Any specific question involves a large number of assumptions which inevitably limit the answer. A specific question is actually a decision about the kind of answer that is acceptable. The purpose of words is to limit, and by limiting, to make a vast area of experience more manageable. But that means more manageable by you. For many aspects of living in this world that is necessary. But not for asking. God does not use words, and does not answer in words. He can only “speak” to the Christ in you, Who translates His Answer into whatever language you can understand and accept” (Absence from Felicity, pp.445,446).
Thus we are to come before God in the silence of humility and trust.
(2:4-3:4) We would but listen to Your Word, and make it ours. Lead our practicing as does a father lead a little child along a way he does not understand. Yet does he follow, sure that he is safe because his father leads the way for him.
So do we bring our practicing to You. And if we stumble, You will raise us up. If we forget the way, we count upon Your sure remembering. We wander off, but You will not forget to call us back.
Jesus acknowledges we will make mistakes and stumble along our way, forgetting it as we choose the ego as our teacher. However, he does not want us to feel guilty about our fear, but instead recognize our mistake and go to the Holy Spirit for help. Essential to our progress is the humility of realizing we do not know, but that Someone does. We do not even know what to ask, let alone the nature of our problems, yet all we need be aware of is that we are wrong and Someone within us is right. Guilt over our “sinful” choice prevents us from letting our thought system go. Thus Jesus urges us in the text to look at the thought of separation through the eyes of vision and not judgment:
“Call it not sin, but madness, for such it was and so it still remains. Invest it not with guilt, for guilt implies it was accomplished in reality. And above all, be not afraid of it (T-18.I.6:7-9).
(3:5-6) Quicken our footsteps now, that we may walk more certainly and quickly unto You. And we accept the Word you offer us to unify our practicing, as we review the thoughts that You have given us.
Unification of my practicing comes through recognizing all problems are the same. My one problem is believing I am better off being separate from God and from Jesus. Consequently, I have one solution: recognizing I was wrong in accepting the premise of separation as true.
(4:1-3) This is the thought which should precede the thoughts that we review. Each one but clarifies some aspect of this thought, or helps it be more meaningful, more personal and true, and more descriptive of the holy Self we share and now prepare to know again:
God is but Love, and therefore so am I.
If “God is but Love, and therefore so am I,” there is no place within me – as we saw in Lesson 170 with regard to cruelty – for judgment, pain, or separation in any form. In this ten-day review, Jesus asks us to weigh the differences between God’s thought system of Love and ours of hate, realizing that one will make us happy and the other continue our misery. We are to think carefully about each title of the twenty lessons in the context of “God is but Love, and therefore so am I,” which means any ego thought of myself or another is illusory. This echoes the following thought that directly follows our above quotation. Jesus asks us to bring the darkness of our twist illusions to the truth of God’s Love:
When you seem to see some twisted form of the original error risen to frighten you, say only, “God is not fear, but Love,” and it will disappear. The truth will save you (T-18.I.7.1-2).
We enjoyed a deeply meaningful Wednesday study group yesterday. One of our participants shared some thoughts by which I was profoundly touched, I remember not her words specifically, but what I felt was God’s Love pouring forth through her as she spoke. She shared some epiphanies she’s experienced along the way, along her journey home.
It wasn’t necessarily WHAT she said, but the power behind her understanding, faith and trust in God that melted me. It was a visceral experience, one I remember right in this moment.
This is what communion means, I believe, the term Jesus uses in the Text, perhaps, elsewhere as well.
That is what we all seek. That is what I seek and when I get a glimpse of it or feel it, why would I want to return to the world of cruelty?
I poured through Ken’s book for Lesson 170, yesterday’s lesson and it really packed a wallop for me. I can be so afraid of redemption that I can easily become stubborn, resistant, “pigheaded”, you name it, all in the name of extreme resistance and defenses against the Christ in me, my Self.
So much time and energy defending against experiencing the peace, joy and safety of God, also, the certainly and the trust that all is well. That I need not worry or fret about anything.
Have a lovely day!