VII. Cause and Effect, P 7
7 I have already briefly spoken about readiness, but some additional points might be helpful here. Readiness is only the prerequisite for accomplishment. The two should not be confused. As soon as a state of readiness occurs, there is usually some degree of desire to accomplish, but it is by no means necessarily undivided. The state does not imply more than a potential for a change of mind. Confidence cannot develop fully until mastery has been accomplished. We have already attempted to correct the fundamental error that fear can be mastered, and have emphasized that the only real mastery is through love. Readiness is only the beginning of confidence. You may think this implies that an enormous amount of time is necessary between readiness and mastery, but let me remind you that time and space are under my control.
So far this study of the Text has been exciting for me. I began it by setting aside all I thought I knew about everything. I have been studying the Course for many years now, around 30 or 31 years. Over all those years I have formed many different opinions. I have also read and studied the writings of various Course teachers and that has influenced my opinions. I have also read other writings, which have colored my beliefs. It has all melded together and without realizing it I have decided on certain things and taken them as truth when maybe they are not.
So the way I do this study is to sit down in front of my computer every morning and read the next paragraph. I notice the thoughts I have, and then I ask Jesus what he wants me to know about this and what he wants me to write about it. The more I do this, the better I get at it, so this is a side benefit of this practice. It’s not as easy to empty the mind of what I think I know as I thought it would be. I am sure I don’t do a perfect job, but it has really made a difference. Learning to listen to Holy Spirit is more important than an understanding of the words so I am grateful for this practice.
This morning, Jesus is reminding us that it is important that we be ready for this study. I understand this. When I first started doing the Course I would often feel regretful that I did not do it sooner. I would think how different my life would have been if only I had known some of this stuff sooner. I still felt a lot of guilt for my life at that time and wanted desperately to be forgiven.
Wanting so desperately to have never done some of the things I had done, I couldn’t help but wish that I had been a Course student all along and then maybe I wouldn’t have made those mistakes. But soon I realized that I could not have done the Course any sooner than I did. I simply wasn’t ready for it. Eventually, I came to understand that those “mistakes” were an integral part of my learning process. And later still, I saw the perfection of each step in my life.
There was nothing in my life that did not belong there; each moment was the foundation of the next. This continues to be true. I still hear the voice of regret sometimes but I recognize it as an ego attempt to draw me back into the story. I sometimes hear about someone else’s journey and wish for that in my life. I would sometimes read something from A Thousand Names for Joy and I would long to be where Byron Katie is in her life. I could almost taste it and I knew it was possible, and yet it was tantalizingly just out of reach.
What I understand now is that each shift occurs only when I am ready for it. The ego desire to experience Byron Katie’s life won’t bring me to that state of readiness. What she says sometimes opens my mind to a possibility I had never considered before and that will sometimes bring me to a new state of readiness. I have experienced that before with other people. Sometimes Regina would write about a learning experience in her life and suddenly, I was right there with her. It is as if reading her experienced awakened the same experience in me. Love it!
I would love to have the sudden awaking that Jan Frazier experienced, but that is not my path either. I used to try to mimic what I saw others do successfully. I thought that if I did what they did then I could have what they have. This was not true. The ego is always trying to be part of my spiritual journey and tries to direct it, but it never works. What I finally realized is that my journey is unique to me, just as everyone else’s is unique to them. This is why it is so helpful to practice listening to Holy Spirit. He is the Guide for each of us and knows exactly what is perfect for our next step.
What I am told in this paragraph is that while readiness is essential, by itself it is not enough. I must then accomplish, which means there is work to do. I need do nothing to be the Son of God, but I need to work diligently and remain vigilant if I want to awaken to the memory of who I am. Jesus gave me the Workbook to help me with this. When I started the Course, I fell in love with the Text immediately, but I really didn’t want to do the Workbook.
I put this down to laziness, and really, I had very lazy work habits. But it was not laziness. I simply did not feel worthy of awakening. I could not even imagine it. Oh certainly if the Course said I could then I would… in some lifetime. It took a very long time, and a lot of starts and stops, for me to reach a state of readiness that allowed me to finish the Lessons. But once I was ready, the lessons flowed easily and I enjoyed each one. I did them again, and this time I asked the Holy Spirit to help me with them and that is how I began journaling with my daily study.
So while readiness is essential for each step, follow through on that readiness is also essential. This is how we reach the stage of accomplishment. Our work isn’t to make something. What we are is already established and needs nothing from us. Our work is undoing. It is not even undoing, really. It is simpler than that. Our work is wanting to undo. It is the acceptance of the undoing.
Jesus says that it might seem that it would take a long time between readiness and mastery, but he reminds us that time and space are in his hands. I heard David Hoffmeister say one time that he did every lesson as if he fully expected this to be the one that woke him up. I think this is an excellent attitude. Every morning now I wonder if today will be the day I reach mastery. I don’t long for it anymore, but I do expect it. I am not concerned when it is not the day; I simply expect it the next day.