I do not perceive my own best interests.
In no situation that arises do you realize the outcome that would make you happy. Therefore, you have no guide to appropriate action, and no way of judging the result. What you do is determined by your perception of the situation, and that perception is wrong. It is inevitable, then, that you will not serve your own best interests. Yet they are your only goal in any situation which is correctly perceived. Otherwise, you will not recognize what they are.
If you realized that you do not perceive your own best interests, you could be taught what they are. But in the presence of your conviction that you do know what they are, you cannot learn. The idea for today is a step toward opening your mind so that learning can begin.
The exercises for today require much more honesty than you are accustomed to using. A 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. Two minutes are suggested for each of the mind-searching periods which the exercises involve.
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. The emphasis should be on uncovering the outcome you want. You 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.
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. The form of each application should be roughly as follows:
In the situation involving ______, I would like ______
to happen, and ______ to happen,
and so on. Try 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.
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. You 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.
After covering the list of as many hoped-for goals as possible, for each unresolved situation that crosses your mind say to yourself:
I do not perceive my own best interests in this situation,
and go on to the next one.
I don’t perceive my own best interests. In order to accept what Jesus is telling me, I must accept the premise on which it is based. The reason I don’t perceive my own best interests is that I make that determination based on my perception of the situation and my perception is wrong.
Since I have experienced being completely wrong about what things mean, and have experienced this often, I am fully willing to accept that premise. Of course, the ego wants to hedge its bet and argue that sometimes I know what a thing means and what it is for. At one time, I would have been in agreement with ego, but I know better now. The one thing I know for sure is that I don’t want the ego directing my life.
If I am using my thinking mind, that is, the ego part of the mind, then I do not know anything. Here is what I have experienced. I am continually making decisions based either on what the thinking mind tells me or I am making decisions based on what comes through my holy mind. It can be something very simple, such as what I should do next.
Yesterday, I had some free time and I was trying to decide how to use it. If I was using the form of this lesson, here is what it would have looked like. In this situation involving this free time, I would like to get some more writing done, I would like to watch TV, I would like to meditate, I would like to read my current book, I would like to work on my Ala-Non 4th step.
I stood there in the middle of the room considering each possibility and discarding some of them for various reasons and having trouble coming to a conclusion. Then the thought came into my mind that I don’t have to decide with my thinking mind. I asked the question of my Inner Guide, what should I do next and I waited a moment. I felt to go to Walmart.
There were a couple of things I needed, but the reason seemed to be that I needed to get out of the house and I needed to walk. This came to me in snippets of thought, but it felt so right that I picked up my keys and went without giving it any thought. I am teaching myself to check in with Inner Guidance rather than making decisions with the ego mind. This particular decision may not seem earth shattering, but it is another opportunity to do this practice.
Here is one of the situations that I used this for this morning’s practice.
In this situation in which I am uneasy about what my lab work said, I would like the doctor to call me today and let me know, I would like the lab work to give a definitive answer to my problem, I would like the lab work to point to the solution, I would like the lab work to come back negative, I would like to get the surgery and get it over, I would like the surgery to correct the problem, I would like to be rid of the symptoms listed and other symptoms not listed, I would like to just let the problem be healed in the mind that thought it and keeps it going by continuing to think it.
But the thing is, I don’t perceive my own best interests in this situation. I know that I don’t, so wishing for anything is kind of silly. Even just wanting it to be over may not be in my own best interests. Sometimes we take a circuitous path to get to our destination because there are lessons to learn on the way. Don’t want to miss any of those lessons just to get things done and over. I think I am just going to allow, accept and trust and so let my mind return to peace.
The first time I did this exercise I was surprised, but honestly, unconvinced. I had such a strong belief that I knew what would make me happy, at least in certain cases, that I could not put my goals to the side. Slowly, as I continued to do this mind healing work, I was able to loosen my grip on the belief I knew what I needed and that it was important that I knew what I needed.
You see, even as I began to realize how right Jesus is, that I really don’t know what would make me happy, it scared me when I thought about it. If I don’t know what makes me happy what am I to do? How do I make decisions that would affect my happiness? I felt adrift in an area that seemed vitally important. More healing occurred and willingness and trust grew. I began to realize that it didn’t matter if I knew what I needed, because one who does know, also cares deeply and will guide me to what I need.
Something that helped me to get to that certainty was a teaching from Regina Dawn Akers. It occurred when everyone was reading The Secret. Regina talked about making a list of what she needed, but doing it with Holy Spirit’s guidance. It was an interesting process, but what made the difference to me is that in the end, instead of deciding what she should have on the list, Regina asked Holy Spirit what it was she should want. That was brilliant, and that is what I still do.
If I have thoughts about what I want, I tell Holy Spirit what they are. I might talk to Him about it, and for a while, I was trying to talk Him into seeing it my way, but in the end, I put aside what I thought and allowed Him to tell me what I wanted. I still do this because I have had 68 years of experience trying to make myself happy. It is now a proven fact that I don’t know what that is.
Oh sure, when the ego mind starts in on its fearful scenarios of the future, I may be briefly tempted again to try to fix it in a way that seems like it would make me happy. I remember when I was first thinking about retirement. I thought of things that would make retirement fun and interesting. I thought of ways to make all that happen. I even implemented some of them. But in the end, I lost interest because I know that the ego mind has no idea what will make me happy.
I don’t know what I need, but when I thought I did, this is what happened. I thought maybe a windfall was what I needed to make retirement easier and surely that seems to be in my best interests. My mind begins to contract around that idea and my world becomes very small as I struggle with the idea of making this happen. What if someone gets in the way of my plan? Well, off with his head! I don’t have a lot of time, here. Can’t be slowed down by this clown trying to get his needs met.
Yikes! I can’t be on the right track here. Will more money and planning ahead really be the answer to happiness? Could it be worth seeing me as separate and apart from, in competition with, my brother? This beautiful being, this Christ in human disguise had suddenly morphed into a hindrance to be overcome on my way to a nice retirement. Could that be happiness? Could that be in my best interest?
I prayed about that. “Holy Spirit, I have been using the ego mind to make decisions again. I have been trying to think my way to happiness. I feel a little nauseated as I see where that kind of thinking has taken me. I don’t know what is in my best interest. I let go of the idea that I can or want to be in charge of this. I wait, with a mind empty of plans, for the next step to be revealed to me when the time is perfect for that step.”
I was reading A Course of Love, by Mari Perrone. In referring to Mari, Jesus said, “Keep in mind that she has thoughts she is not thinking.” Or as the Course phrases it, the thoughts we think with God. That is my goal. I sometimes have thoughts I am not thinking, which happens when I let go of the ego thinking and just wait for those thoughts I think with God to appear. But I want to live that way. I want to let go of all ego thinking and from that empty place, receive the thoughts I need when I need them. This is a perfect lesson to help me achieve this goal.
PS: Eventually, I let go of making plans on my own for my retirement and just allowed ideas to float to the top. When they did I would act on them if need be. Retirement has worked out better than I could ever have planned and in the most unexpected ways. So far, so good, Holy Spirit. What a team we make!