ACIM Lesson 24 I do not perceive my own best interests.
I do not perceive my own best interests.
1. In no situation that arises do you realize the outcome that would make you happy. ²Therefore, you have no guide to appropriate action, and no way of judging the result. ³What you do is determined by your perception of the situation, and that perception is wrong. ⁴It is inevitable, then, that you will not serve your own best interests. ⁵Yet they are your only goal in any situation which is correctly perceived. ⁶Otherwise, you will not recognize what they are.
2. If you realized that you do not perceive your own best interests, you could be taught what they are. ²But in the presence of your conviction that you do know what they are, you cannot learn. ³The idea for today is a step toward opening your mind so that learning can begin.
You may doubt this lesson is true, especially that there is no situation in which I know what would make me happy. After a long time of looking honestly at my own mind, I realize how true this is. There was a time when I thought that being married would make me happy. Actually, there were three times when I believed that and I was wrong every time. And that is just one example.
Because I didn’t know what would make me happy, I had no idea what I should have done, nor even any way of judging the results. For a long time, I was embarrassed about my “failure” to maintain a marriage. My first husband and my last one got remarried and stayed married. I judged myself as the cause of the failure of the marriages.
But my judgment was based on perception and perception is just a way of seeing something, not the truth. Maybe this is exactly what needed to happen in each case. I assume it was since that is how it unfolded. In each thing I do, I am trying to serve my own best interest. That is my goal, but it only works that way if I perceive correctly.
No More Wishing
I have learned to trust Jesus on this point. By accepting that I don’t know my own best interest, I am open to be taught. I am no longer stubbornly insisting that I already know what would make me happy. Occasionally, I notice a thought that begins with, “I wish.” Immediately, I acknowledge that I don’t know enough to wish for anything. I then open my mind to the Holy Spirit to discover what would actually be in my best interest.
There is no hesitation in this change of mind. These days, I understand that there is no way I could know enough about the future to guess what I need or want. My thought is more along the lines of accepting that the perfect next moment is about to unfold. I wonder what it will be and what it will teach me. I look forward to seeing how it is going to help me go more deeply into peace and joy.
The Practice: A Confusion of Goals
3. The exercises for today require much more honesty than you are accustomed to using. ²A few subjects, honestly and carefully considered in each of the five practice periods which should be undertaken today, will be more helpful than a more cursory examination of a large number. ³Two minutes are suggested for each of the mind-searching periods which the exercises involve.
4. The practice periods should begin with repeating today’s idea, followed by searching the mind, with closed eyes, for unresolved situations about which you are currently concerned. ²The emphasis should be on uncovering the outcome you want. ³You will quickly realize that you have a number of goals in mind as part of the desired outcome, and also that these goals are on different levels and often conflict.
5. In applying the idea for today, name each situation that occurs to you, and then enumerate carefully as many goals as possible that you would like to be met in its resolution. ²The form of each application should be roughly as follows:
³In the situation involving _________, I would like _________ to happen, and _________ to happen,
and so on. ⁴Try to cover as many different kinds of outcomes as may honestly occur to you, even if some of them do not appear to be directly related to the situation, or even to be inherent in it at all.
Practice: No Uniform Outcome
6. If these exercises are done properly, you will quickly recognize that you are making a large number of demands of the situation which have nothing to do with it. ²You will also recognize that many of your goals are contradictory, that you have no unified outcome in mind, and that you must experience disappointment in connection with some of your goals, however the situation turns out.
7. After covering the list of as many hoped-for goals as possible, for each unresolved situation that crosses your mind say to yourself:
²I do not perceive my own best interests in this situation,
and go on to the next one.
If done with complete honesty and thoughtfulness, this exercise will be informative. You may discover, as I did, that Jesus is right about the outcome. Our desires when looked at in this way will show us that we really don’t even know what we want to come of our wishes. Or at least, we will see that we ask a lot of a simple situation.
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