Miracles News

April-June, 2021

Understanding and Applying the First Ten Workbook Lessons

by Rev. Tacey Reese, Ordained Ministerial Counselor

After all these decades of being an ACIM student, I still enjoy doing the workbook lessons. This year they seem to have taken on even more meaning and shaped my life experience more deeply. Maybe because I decided to write about every lesson this year, not just journal about a few here and there, but make it a daily practice as part of my devotional time. I especially enjoy and appreciate the review sections of the lessons and I love to feel and experience the relationship between them.

Today, as I’m writing this, I’ve just completed Lesson 52, so I’m just starting out on the first review in the workbook. In the Introduction there’s a lovely paragraph I found so inspiring that I typed it out, made copies and taped it all around my house, even my car dashboard, so I’d see it often as a reminder as to why I do this work. Here’s the paragraph:

“You will yet learn that peace is part of you, and requires only that you be there to embrace any situation in which you are. And finally you will learn that there is no limit to where you are, so that your peace is everywhere, as you are.” (W-pI.r1in.5)

That’s pretty inspiring! And awesome. How often do we sit around and realize or even contemplate that we are everywhere and so is peace, because peace is what we are? Probably not often enough. It seems too amazing to even be true. But our brother Jesus is well known for speaking the Truth so I trust him on this.

On to the review of the lessons so far.

Lesson 1 states: “Nothing I see means anything.” This is because I think I am seeing but I’m really just looking at images I’ve projected outwards with my egoic thoughts. I’m looking at my own thoughts. What we call seeing our Brother calls image-making.

Lesson 2: “I have given what I see all the meaning it has for me.” It’s only my judgments that I am “seeing.” Letting go of the meaning I’ve given the world is a major step in opening up to true perception.

Lesson 3: “I do not understand anything I see.” It can be frightening to realize or even to contemplate this idea. We’ve spent so much time trying to make sense of the world. Yet it is liberating to realize we don’t understand and we can’t understand.

We’re going back to what Zen practitioners might call Beginner’s Mind when we acknowledge our lack of understanding. It’s important to do so if we truly want to experience changes in our mindset.

Lesson 4: “These thoughts do not mean anything.” The thoughts we’re aware of are our egoic thoughts which are false and were made to replace the thoughts we think with God. Recognizing their meaninglessness helps us let them go. Why hold on to the meaningless?

Lesson 5: “I am never upset for the reason I think.” Wow, our Brother straight up says in this review that we’re constantly trying to justify our thoughts and make them true. All to defend a thought system (what we call the ego) that not only doesn’t serve us, it hurts us. Believe me, once you realize how true this is and how much energy you’ve spent on defending the ego through anger and all kinds of “upsetness” (if that is a word!), you will be more than willing to lay your defenses down. Instead, you will invest your energy in Holy Spirit’s right-minded thinking.

We could even look at this lesson like this, “I’m upset because I think with the ego.” So when I look out my front door right now and see the foot or so of snow remaining that my small southern town was ill-prepared for, it doesn’t mean anything except the meaning I give it.

I can say to myself, “Now I’m snowbound and stuck at home” and I can feel elation, despair, or any emotion in between. And if I choose to be upset, it’s not because of the snow. Knowing that I don’t understand what I see leads me not only to acceptance of what is, but to a joyous anticipation of true perception, of vision. Now that is exciting!

When I got to the next day’s review, I decided to string the keynote ideas together. I like to do this now and then to see what happens, what more I can experience by looking at a group of them together.

Lessons 6-10 looked like this for me: “I am upset because I see what is not there. I see only the past because my mind is preoccupied with past thoughts and so I see nothing as it is now. My thoughts do not mean anything.” Looking at these together like this gives me some good information about how the egoic thought system works.

As I read the entire review, Lesson 52, I begin to learn about the value of forgiveness, even though the word itself is only used once. This review builds on the previous one which re-minded us we are not really seeing, we are only viewing images of our thoughts. These images are illusions that we’ve made to replace reality.

If we have made up an illusion to replace reality, and reality brings only perfect peace (we have and it does; remember our Brother is not a liar!), then we can’t see or experience this perfect peace. Instead we’re upset by our own illusions which Jesus tells us are nothing. Just nothing!

What we are “seeing” is only the past because our mind is preoccupied with past thoughts. We’ve judged the world from the moment we learned a language and to label and name things. As we grew, we learned to condemn the world based on our past experiences in it. And we condemned ourselves and others as well.

These two sentences from the review really stood out to me: “Let me remember that I look on the past to prevent the present from dawning on my mind. Let me understand that I am trying to use time against God.” (W-pI.52.3:4-5) 

Hmm…that is an interesting concept! What is this present that I am trying not to see? It must be something pretty darn good or the ego wouldn’t try to hide it from me! Did I make up time just to use it against my Creator? Sure sounds like it. I bet our Brother will tell us more about this later (wink).

When I accept that I see nothing as it is now, I can open my mind to allow Holy Spirit to help me see with true perception. I can forgive myself, others and my own meaningless thoughts. This is how I remember that my mind is part of creation and part of its Creator. And what a glorious remembrance that is!

Rev. Tacy Reese is a Pathways of Light minister living in Benton, Arkansas.
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