ACIM Workbook Lesson 24
I do not perceive my own best interests.
W-pI.24.1. In no situation that arises do you realize the outcome that would make you happy. 2 Therefore, you have no guide to appropriate action, and no way of judging the result. 3 What you do is determined by your perception of the situation, and that perception is wrong. 4 It is inevitable, then, that you will not serve your own best interests. 5 Yet they are your only goal in any situation which is correctly perceived. 6 Otherwise, you will not recognize what they are.
W-pI.24.2. If you realized that you do not perceive your own best interests, you could be taught what they are. 2 But in the presence of your conviction that you do know what they are, you cannot learn. 3 The idea for today is a step toward opening your mind so that learning can begin.
W-pI.24.3. The exercises for today require much more honesty than you are accustomed to using. 2 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. 3 Two minutes are suggested for each of the mind-searching periods which the exercises involve.
W-pI.24.4. 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. 2 The emphasis should be on uncovering the outcome you want. 3 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.
W-pI.24.5. 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. 2 The form of each application should be roughly as follows:
3 In the situation involving _____, I would like _____ to happen, and _____ to happen,
and so on. 4 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.
W-pI.24.6. 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. 2 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.
W-pI.24.7. After covering the list of as many hoped-for goals as possible, for each unresolved situation that crosses your mind say to yourself:
2 I do not perceive my own best interests in this situation,
and go on to the next one.
Initial Insight: The problem is pretty simple. I think I know what would be in my best interests, but I have no way of knowing this and what I think I know is wrong. Before anything can be done about it, I must recognize my problem and accept that this is it.
Daily Application: This came from my book, Hey, Holy Spirit, It’s Me Again.
The reason that I do not perceive my own best interests is that I am judging everything by my perceptions that are notoriously unreliable. My perceptions can change from moment to moment. Sometimes I will perceive a particular situation in several ways and be unable to make up my mind which one I’m going with. At my very best, my perception is just a perception, which is a way of seeing things. It is not the truth. Under these conditions, how can I expect the best result?
Fortunately, I do not have to depend on my perceptions. The Holy Spirit will interpret for me if I step back and let Him lead the way. The problem is that I am still attached to my own decisions. I still want to do it my way, even though I have proven to myself that I have no reason to expect a decision based on shifting perception to be reliable.
An unresolved issue for me is my job. I earn my living in sales. I feel very fortunate to have this job because it pays well and because it is challenging enough not to bore me to death, but not so difficult that it engages all of my attention. I don’t want to lose my job. On the other hand, it requires so much of my time that I am unable to do as much with my ministry as I would like, and my ministry is what brings me joy. So I want a job that leaves me with more free time but pays good money. Holy Spirit, that seems simple enough. What am I missing?
Insights from Holy Spirit: Holy Spirit: Dear one, if you dig a little deeper you will see that you want more than you are saying. What else are you expecting from this situation? You feel like you do not have enough time to work on your book and that if you had another job, doing the book would be a cinch. So you are expecting a change of job to produce a book. In this job you have some challenges with personalities that you would like to resolve by leaving the job. So you want another job to avoid forgiveness. There are other expectations you are looking at in this situation. But, you do not perceive your own best interests.
You can attempt to run from the personal challenges of this job, but that will not really help you. You will still have the same forgiveness lessons in the next job because you are bringing them with you. What you really want is to be at the end of the lesson. You do not need another job to get there.
If you will step aside from your own faulty perceptions and your own faulty conclusions and allow Me to guide you, you will see that you don’t have a lot of problems. You have only one problem and there is one answer. Your job is not your problem, and finding another job is not your answer. You have been carrying this conflict around for such a long time, precious one. Give Me that burden and allow Me to resolve this for you. You only need to release your need to do it your way, and it is done. Give Me only your willingness to allow it.
Gratitude: What can I say except, thank you!
This is another entry from my journal from a few years ago right before I retired.
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 probably I’m trying to talk Him into seeing it my way, but in the end, I put aside what I think and allow Him to tell me what I want. I do this because I have had over 60 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 am tempted again to try to fix it in a way that seems like it would make me happy. For instance, for awhile I was thinking about a plan to somehow make retirement possible. 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. I don’t even know what I want. I might think I want a windfall that would 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 myself 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 as 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!