These thoughts do not mean anything. They are like
the things I see in this room [on this street,
from this window, in this place].
W-pI.4.1. Unlike the preceding ones, these exercises do not begin with the idea for the day. 2 In these practice periods, begin with noting the thoughts that are crossing your mind for about a minute. 3 Then apply the idea to them. 4 If you are already aware of unhappy thoughts, use them as subjects for the idea. 5 Do not, however, select only the thoughts you think are “bad.” 6 You will find, if you train yourself to look at your thoughts, that they represent such a mixture that, in a sense, none of them can be called “good” or “bad.” 7 This is why they do not mean anything.
W-pI.4.2. In selecting the subjects for the application of today’s idea, the usual specificity is required. 2 Do not be afraid to use “good” thoughts as well as “bad.” 3 None of them represents your real thoughts, which are being covered up by them. 4 The “good” ones are but shadows of what lies beyond, and shadows make sight difficult. 5 The “bad” ones are blocks to sight, and make seeing impossible. 6 You do not want either.
W-pI.4.3. This is a major exercise, and will be repeated from time to time in somewhat different form. 2 The aim here is to train you in the first steps toward the goal of separating the meaningless from the meaningful. 3 It is a first attempt in the long-range purpose of learning to see the meaningless as outside you, and the meaningful within. 4 It is also the beginning of training your mind to recognize what is the same and what is different.
W-pI.4.4. In using your thoughts for application of the idea for today, identify each thought by the central figure or event it contains; for example:
2 This thought about _____ does not mean anything.
3 It is like the things I see in this room [on this street, and so on].
W-pI.4.5. You can also use the idea for a particular thought that you recognize as harmful. 2 This practice is useful, but is not a substitute for the more random procedures to be followed for the exercises. 3 Do not, however, examine your mind for more than a minute or so. 4 You are too inexperienced as yet to avoid a tendency to become pointlessly preoccupied.
W-pI.4.6. Further, since these exercises are the first of their kind, you may find
the suspension of judgment in connection with thoughts particularly difficult. 2 Do not repeat these exercises more than three or four times during the day. 3 We will return to them later.
Learning to be aware of my thoughts and to recognize that there is a connection between my thoughts and what I see with my eyes was the first really essential learning tool for me. This lesson put me on that track. Jesus wants us to know how important it is when he tells us that this is a major exercise. It is important to be random in the thoughts we use for this exercise. Every thought is useful for this purpose because these are not my real thoughts and are a detriment to becoming aware of the true ones.
As Jesus says, we will have a tendency to become pointlessly preoccupied if we stay with this too long. I get that. Even now I notice myself following thoughts as if they were meaningful and important and must consciously redirect my awareness. Also, he reminds us that at this early stage one will fall into judgment. The mind wants to decide what the thoughts mean and if they are good or bad and it can be hard to ignore that desire. This isn’t helpful because the purpose of the exercises is to realize that those thoughts are meaningless.
This lesson is intended to help us toward these goals:
- separating the meaningless from the meaningful
- learning to see the meaningless as outside you, and the meaningful within
- training your mind to recognize what is the same and what is different.
These are long range goals but they begin here so we mustn’t think that because the exercise is easy and brief it is not important.
I remember when I first did this lesson how strange it felt. I thought, “I love my children.” How could that be meaningless? I thought, “I need a job and quick.” It seemed to be so true and so important. How could it be meaningless? The answer to these doubts came much later but doing the lessons as directed was essential to me learning the answer. Trust and faith.