I trust my brothers, who are one with me.
Trusting your brothers is essential to establishing and holding up your faith in your ability to transcend doubt and lack of sure conviction in yourself. When you attack a brother, you proclaim that he is limited by what you have perceived in him. You do not look beyond his errors. Rather, they are magnified, becoming blocks to your awareness of the Self that lies beyond your own mistakes, and past his seeming sins as well as yours.
Perception has a focus. It is this that gives consistency to what you see. Change but this focus, and what you behold will change accordingly. Your vision now will shift, to give support to the intent which has replaced the one you held before. Remove your focus on your brother’s sins, and you experience the peace that comes from faith in sinlessness. This faith receives its only sure support from what you see in others past their sins. For their mistakes, if focused on, are witnesses to sins in you. And you will not transcend their sight and see the sinlessness that lies beyond.
Therefore, in practicing today, we first let all such little focuses give way to our great need to let our sinlessness become apparent. We instruct our minds that it is this we seek, and only this, for just a little while. We do not care about our future goals. And what we saw an instant previous has no concern for us within this interval of time wherein we practice changing our intent. We seek for innocence and nothing else. We seek for it with no concern but now.
A major hazard to success has been involvement with your past and future goals. You have been quite preoccupied with how extremely different the goals this course is advocating are from those you held before. And you have also been dismayed by the depressing and restricting thought that, even if you should succeed, you will inevitably lose your way again.
How could this matter? For the past is gone; the future but imagined. These concerns are but defenses against present change of focus in perception. Nothing more. We lay these pointless limitations by a little while. We do not look to past beliefs, and what we will believe will not intrude upon us now. We enter in the time of practicing with one intent; to look upon the sinlessness within.
We recognize that we have lost this goal if anger blocks our way in any form. And if a brother’s sins occur to us, our narrowed focus will restrict our sight, and turn our eyes upon our own mistakes, which we will magnify and call our “sins.” So, for a little while, without regard to past or future, should such blocks arise we will transcend them with instructions to our minds to change their focus, as we say:
It is not this that I would look upon.
I trust my brothers, who are one with me.
And we will also use this thought to keep us safe throughout the day. We do not seek for long-range goals. As each obstruction seems to block the vision of our sinlessness, we seek but for surcease an instant from the misery the focus upon sin will bring, and uncorrected will remain.
Nor do we ask for fantasies. For what we seek to look upon is really there. And as our focus goes beyond mistakes, we will behold a wholly sinless world. When seeing this is all we want to see, when this is all we seek for in the name of true perception, are the eyes of Christ inevitably ours. And the Love He feels for us becomes our own as well. This will become the only thing we see reflected in the world and in ourselves.
The world which once proclaimed our sins becomes the proof that we are sinless. And our love for everyone we look upon attests to our remembrance of the holy Self which knows no sin and never could conceive of anything without Its sinlessness. We seek for this remembrance as we turn our minds to practicing today. We look neither ahead nor backwards. We look straight into the present. And we give our trust to the experience we ask for now. Our sinlessness is but the Will of God. This instant is our willing one with His.
INITIAL INSIGHT: “Trusting your brothers is essential to establishing and holding up your faith in your ability to transcend doubt and lack of sure conviction in yourself.”
Jesus starts off by telling us that if we are going to have faith in ourselves, we must have faith in our brothers. If we believe in their limits, we will believe in ours, in their sins, we will believe we can sin, too. Lack of faith in them blocks our faith in ourselves. We will not know our Self if we are unwilling to know that they are not their mistakes. To reinforce this, Jesus says this: “Remove your focus on your brother’s sins, and you experience the peace that comes from faith in sinlessness. …For their mistakes, if focused on, are witnesses to sins in you.”
With this in mind, we will be spiritually self-centered today. We want to see our brother sinless so that we can become aware of our own sinlessness. Jesus says this: “Therefore, in practicing today, we first let all such little focuses give way to our great need to let our sinlessness become apparent. … We seek for innocence and nothing else. We seek for it with no concern but now.”
I like this focus. I think of someone that I have had a disagreement with in the past. I focus on this person without that past interaction in my mind, nor do I think of anything that could happen in the future. My only concern is my relationship with her right now. Jesus says that I have been dismayed by the depressing and restricting thought that, even if I should succeed, I will inevitably lose my way again.
Then he says this:
5 How could this matter? For the past is gone; the future but imagined. These concerns are but defenses against present change of focus in perception. Nothing more.
What a freeing thought that is! Letting go of any thought of the past or the future feels so right. Without the past, I cannot judge my brother and without the future, I cannot judge myself. I can just allow the miracle to occur. It is not a lie that my brother is sinless. The lie is that his ego sins are real and have real effects. Without that lie, the truth of his innocence becomes obvious and mirrors my own.
DAILY APPLICATION: The following is from my journal in 2008. I am including it because it is still helpful to me to read the Holy Spirit’s message to me. This took place while my son was very sick and as I looked at his body which was thin and unhealthy, I had trouble trusting him. I could only feel dreadful fear. The Holy Spirit helped me by giving me something very simple and easy to do when I began to feel fear.
As I began reading this lesson I noticed that I felt discouraged to think of doing this all the time. Jesus is telling me that I can look at my brother and see only his innocence, that I can look past his seeming errors and see him as he was created. I have had trouble doing this when confronted by a single angry or fearful thought about my brother. How can I live this all the time?
Of course, this is exactly what the ego would have me think, and the ego accomplishes its goal of keeping me in fear by projecting onto a future that does not now exist and by keeping my attention on a past that does not now exist. In doing this I am being taught that my brother is locked firmly into his sins with no hope of forgiveness, and if this is true of him it is true of me. And the ego is keeping my attention off of the present which is the only time in which I can be healed. Holy Spirit, please help me to see this differently.
INSIGHTS FROM HOLY SPIRIT: My friend, remember that I am not asking you to make your brother or yourself different than you are. I am only asking that you notice the thoughts that are not true and be willing to let them go. Do not look into the future and imagine an endless procession of mistaken thoughts crowding your mind. Look only at the thought that is in your mind right now. Use the belief, the thought, the situation, the memory that confronts you right this moment. Rest your mind for a moment and allow a thought or a memory to rise up.
Me: The first thing that comes to mind is my son. I think he is sick and I feel frightened for him. I don’t know what to do about this and don’t know how to feel about the situation. Not only am I concerned for him but I feel guilty that I am unable to see him differently. I remember he is innocent and then I see evidence of his vulnerability and I am back to believing in that. My stomach knots up and I am very afraid. I don’t see him as the Son of God, and I don’t feel like the Son of God either.
Holy Spirit: Thank you for being willing to look at this with Me. Would you be willing to see this differently?
Me: Yes. I don’t know how to do this. This feels different than all the other times I have allowed you to correct my thinking. There are so many crazy thoughts going on in my mind. I feel guilty when I let these fears go. It is as if by not worrying about my son I am saying that I don’t love him. There is the thought that it is impossible not to worry about him. Lots of thoughts like this. But I am willing to see differently.
Holy Spirit: The goal of the ego is to maintain separation. It does this by promoting fear and guilt. If you listen to the lies of the ego you will see only the effects of those lies. You will see your son as guilty of being sick and see this as proof that he is only a vulnerable, weak and separated self, imprisoned in a dying body. This is how you will see yourself as well. This is how all the separated ones see themselves. It is not the truth, but only a perception.
The reason it seems impossible for you to see your son as innocent is that you are looking at his story and believing it is who he is, and this scares you. I assure you that he is not this story any more than you are the story of Myron. You are learning to step back from your story and watch it with more detachment, knowing that this body/personality is not your Self. You are learning to watch its antics with interest and even amusement. This detachment is helping you to learn from the lessons you have called to yourself.
When you forget to step back you become fully embroiled in the drama of the story, and then you start to believe the story. It feels very different now, very frightening. But this does not change the fact that it is only a story. Your Son is experiencing his story. That is all that is happening.
This perfectly free child of God is having an experience. He remains innocent. You are having an experience as well, and that experience feels very fearful. But you are equally free to perceive the experience differently. When you feel the ego drawing you back into the drama step back for a moment and ask to see your innocent brother. Do this one thing. Do it each time you feel anger or fear or guilt.
GRATITUDE: When I did this, when I asked to see Toby as innocent, I saw his body dissolve into light and light was all there was. I felt my heart lift. It all happened in just a brief instant and I wondered if I imagined it, but I feel so much relief now. I am going to continue this practice. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for helping me return my mind to sanity.
Lesson 181 focuses on the first goal, widening the horizons of our vision. It says, “Perception has a focus. It is this that gives consistency to what you see. Change but this focus, and what you behold will change accordingly.”
We have all experienced how this works in the most benign of ways. For example, recently I bought a Toyota 4Runner. One week before buying a Toyota 4Runner, I had never heard of them. I told my boyfriend what I wanted in my next car. He did some research and selected the 4Runner as the car that was best for me. Since buying a 4Runner, I notice them everywhere. It seems like 4Runners are one of the most popular cars in Colorado, yet I never saw them before. It is as if they did not exist at all, and now they are everywhere. What changed?
The focus of my perception changed. That’s all.
Lesson 181 asks us to let go of seeing the faults in others, as well as their mistakes, and focus on awareness-life-presence as what they are. It says, “We instruct our minds that it is this we seek, and only this, for just a little while.”
Let me demonstrate how this might work:
Imagine I am talking to my boyfriend, and he tells me that he just sent a large amount of money to his sister to help her out of a financial challenge. Let’s imagine that I have a similar financial challenge, but he has not offered to help me. An upset begins to arise in me. It feels like jealousy, unfairness, rejection and anger all rolled into one. I project it out onto him in this way:
“He doesn’t care about me. Why have I wasted 25 years of my life with him?”
And then I remember to practice today’s lesson. I pause for a moment and remember my goal to widen the horizon of what I see. I notice awareness-life-presence in me first. I notice it is fine, still being aware, still living, and still present in me. It has not been affected by what was just said or thought.
Next, I look at him. I notice he is also awareness-life-presence. He is being aware. He is living. He is present here now. I see us as joined in our basic essence, awareness-life-presence, and I let my attention rest there.
Lesson 181 says, “A major hazard to success has been involvement with your past and future goals.” This is why it is important to replace the goals we set for ourselves with the goals set in the introduction to this section of the Course.
In the scenario above, I could have two goals that would interfere with effective practice of today’s lesson. One goal might be to feel financially secure. The other goal might be for my boyfriend to behave the way I want him to behave. If I keep either goal, it will interfere with my practice. But if I am willing to drop both goals and genuinely replace them with “widen the horizon of my vision”, this practice becomes easy because it is what I want. In fact, the degree to which this practice is difficult for me is the degree to which I cling to the goals I had previously set.
Today’s lesson says, “We recognize that we have lost this goal if anger blocks our way in any form.” It also tells us, “And if a brother’s sins occur to us, our narrowed focus will restrict our sight, and turn our eyes upon our own mistakes, which we will magnify and call our ‘sins.’”
In other words, just as I see 4Runners everywhere, if we let our vision narrow, we will see faults, mistakes, sins, guilt, blame and unworthiness everywhere, including in ourselves. Our narrowed vision blocks our own freedom.
The lesson reminds us, “So, for a little while, without regard to past or future, should such blocks arise we will transcend them with instructions to our minds. … As our focus goes beyond mistakes, we will behold a wholly sinless world. When seeing this is all we want to see, when this is all we seek for in the name of true perception, are the eyes of Christ inevitably ours. … We look neither ahead nor backwards. We look straight into the present. And we give our trust to the experience we ask for now.”
We look neither ahead nor backwards, because there we will find the goals we had previously set. We look straight into the present, because that is where we find awareness-life-presence. It is here right now.