1. Our next review begins today. ²We will review two recent lessons every day for ten successive days of practicing. ³We will observe a special format for these practice periods, that you are urged to follow just as closely as you can.
2. We understand, of course, that it may be impossible for you to undertake what is suggested here as optimal each day and every hour of the day. ²Learning will not be hampered when you miss a practice period because it is impossible at the appointed time. ³Nor is it necessary that you make excessive efforts to be sure that you catch up in terms of numbers. ⁴Rituals are not our aim, and would defeat our goal.
Jesus is strongly encouraging us to do these reviews carefully. He begins by asking us to follow the special format he lays out here as closely as we can. He knows that sometimes the situation doesn’t allow us to keep this appointment with him and he doesn’t want us to make a ritual of it where our concern is getting it perfect or making up for missed practices. That is not the point and when we miss a practice because it simply was not possible to do it, our learning will not be hampered. This is good because sometimes in a busy day it would be difficult to adhere to a strict schedule.
3. But learning will be hampered when you skip a practice period because you are unwilling to devote the time to it that you are asked to give. ²Do not deceive yourself in this. ³Unwillingness can be most carefully concealed behind a cloak of situations you cannot control. ⁴Learn to distinguish situations that are poorly suited to your practicing from those that you establish to uphold a camouflage for your unwillingness.
But he does tell us that our learning will be hampered if we skip practice periods because we don’t want to do them. This makes sense. If we are resistant to doing these lessons, we are, of course, holding ourselves back. That is the point of resistance, after all. And he tells us that we need to be careful that we are not fooling ourselves by setting things up to fail.
I remember in some early days with the lessons, and with my ministerial courses as well, I began to notice how often I missed my practices because I was too busy. In fact, I noticed that the more serious I got about doing this work, the busier my life became. What I did to correct this problem was to remind myself how important this is to me, that this work with the Course was the reason I came here; it was my purpose in this lifetime. In other words, I increased my spiritual aspiration. The seemingly unavoidable situations began to fall away on their own.
4. Those practice periods that you have lost because you did not want to do them, for whatever reason, should be done as soon as you have changed your mind about your goal. ²You are unwilling to cooperate in practicing salvation only if it interferes with goals you hold more dear. ³When you withdraw the value given them, allow your practice periods to be replacements for your litanies to them. ⁴They gave you nothing. ⁵But your practicing can offer everything to you. ⁶And so accept their offering and be at peace.
If you are serious about your purpose, let that be your overriding goal. That is what spiritual aspiration is. When I first began the Course and for a long time after, this work was something I did and it was important, but I had other goals as well and sometimes they superseded my goal of awakening. These other goals interfered with my spiritual practices and slowed me down.
This means that I suffered far longer than I would have if I had been faithful to the one goal I actually came here to do. I learned my lesson and now I have one goal, the peace of God. Nothing comes before that and I have almost no suffering in my life regardless of what is happening in this story of Myron. I do not regret in the least letting go of any of those other goals. Truly, they gave me nothing.
5. The format you should use for these reviews is this: Devote five minutes twice a day, or longer if you would prefer it, to considering the thoughts that are assigned. ²Read over the ideas and comments that are written down for each day’s exercise. ³And then begin to think about them, while letting your mind relate them to your needs, your seeming problems and all your concerns.
6. Place the ideas within your mind, and let it use them as it chooses. ²Give it faith that it will use them wisely, being helped in its decisions by the One Who gave the thoughts to you. ³What can you trust but what is in your mind? ⁴Have faith, in these reviews, the means the Holy Spirit uses will not fail. ⁵The wisdom of your mind will come to your assistance. ⁶Give direction at the outset; then lean back in quiet faith, and let the mind employ the thoughts you gave as they were given you for it to use.
This is how we are to practice these review lessons. We read and contemplate what we read at least twice a day letting our mind apply them to our problems and concerns. We are to let our minds use them as needed and have faith that it will use them wisely. We can have faith because we have help from the One Who gave us these thoughts. So, we are not using our split mind to do the lessons, we will be doing them with our holy mind. Our real mind, absent the ego thought system, is wise and wants to help us awaken. We can trust this help. We can trust our mind to use the lessons for our benefit.
7. You have been given them in perfect trust; in perfect confidence that you would use them well; in perfect faith that you would see their messages and use them for yourself. ²Offer them to your mind in that same trust and confidence and faith. ³It will not fail. ⁴It is the Holy Spirit’s chosen means for your salvation. ⁵Since it has His trust, His means must surely merit yours as well.
I doubt that I trusted myself with this essential work when I first began it and Jesus knows that this doubt will likely occur. After all, it was my mind that got me into this mess. But Jesus assures us that this will work. Our mind will accept these lessons and use them to awaken us. He says to offer them to the mind in the same trust and confidence they were given you. I cannot trust the ego thought system to guide me but I can trust the Holy Spirit in my right mind to do so. I can trust the Atonement Plan.
8. We emphasize the benefits to you if you devote the first five minutes of the day to your reviews, and also give the last five minutes of your waking day to them. ²If this cannot be done, at least try to divide them so you undertake one in the morning, and the other in the hour just before you go to sleep.
9. The exercises to be done throughout the day are equally important, and perhaps of even greater value. ²You have been inclined to practice only at appointed times, and then go on your way to other things, without applying what you learned to them. ³As a result, you have gained little reinforcement, and have not given your learning a fair chance to prove how great are its potential gifts to you. ⁴Here is another chance to use it well.
Let us try to adhere to the instructions as well as we can. Begin and end your day with this review, giving it at least five minutes. If you find that you can’t do this, you might do what I did and question that thought. There are 1,440 minutes in a day. Is it really impossible for us to carve out 5 of those minutes twice a day? If that is true, it might be good to question our goals again.
We also need to remember these lessons during the day and to use them when needed or to simply bring them to mind. When one has first begun these practices, it is easy to forget all about the lesson when not actually working on it at the set time. We can go all through the day never thinking about these valuable ideas and when we do, we don’t gain the reinforcement we so badly need.
It is like we opened a gift and after looking at it, tossed it away. For a while, as I was learning to appreciate these lessons, I would write them on my hand, on sticky notes, on index cards and later I learned to take a picture with my phone of the words I needed to remember so I always had them available no matter where I was. I had learned their value and so I was serious about doing my practices.
10. In these reviews, we stress the need to let your learning not lie idly by between your longer practice periods. ²Attempt to give your daily two ideas a brief but serious review each hour. ³Use one on the hour, and the other one a half an hour later. ⁴You need not give more than just a moment to each one. ⁵Repeat it, and allow your mind to rest a little time in silence and in peace. ⁶Then turn to other things, but try to keep the thought with you, and let it serve to help you keep your peace throughout the day as well.
We can’t really believe that this instruction is going to be hard to do. Every hour do a brief review of the lesson, using one on the hour and the other on the half-hour, and try to keep these ideas in your mind. Other activities during the day will distract but if we keep reminding ourselves of our purpose by going back to the lesson, we will handle the rest of the day so much better. My experience has been that the more I keep my lesson in my mind, the smoother my day because I am more often in my right mind and thus make better choices.
11. If you are shaken, think of it again. ²These practice periods are planned to help you form the habit of applying what you learn each day to everything you do. ³Do not repeat the thought and lay it down. ⁴Its usefulness is limitless to you. ⁵And it is meant to serve you in all ways, all times and places, and whenever you need help of any kind. ⁶Try, then, to take it with you in the business of the day and make it holy, worthy of God’s Son, acceptable to God and to your Self.
Now Jesus is getting really serious and is trying to catch our attention. He wants us to know that these are not just words you are saying. These practices will help you in everything you do and in all the problems you encounter. He wants us to make them a habit so they will be useful to us and he says their usefulness is limitless.
He really grabs our attention with that last sentence. ⁶Try, then, to take it with you in the business of the day and make it holy, worthy of God’s Son, acceptable to God and to your Self. A Course in Miracles if studied and practiced will make your life easier and happier and more peaceful. But that is not all that happens. This is a holy endeavor. We must not forget what is at stake, no less than the salvation of the world, something that is desperately needed.
12. Each day’s review assignments will conclude with a restatement of the thought to use each hour, and the one to be applied on each half hour as well. ²Forget them not. ³This second chance with each of these ideas will bring such large advances that we come from these reviews with learning gains so great we will continue on more solid ground, with firmer footsteps and with stronger faith.
13. Do not forget how little you have learned.
²Do not forget how much you can learn now.
³Do not forget your Father’s need of you,
As you review these thoughts He gave to you.
I have been doing these lessons and studying the Course for many years now. I started because my life was a mess and I was miserably unhappy. I continued because things were changing and because I was learning what needed to change so that I could be happy and at peace. I got really serious when I understood that I could wake up from this dream of separation and suffering. I continue to do the lessons now because I love them so much. And I also understand now that there is more to learn, that I can go deeper still. I remember my Father’s need of me. I remember it every day and I do my best to answer that need.