Let me read something from Lesson 182, “I will be still an instant and go home.” We are not going to look at the first part of the lesson. That’s where Jesus talks about how the world is not our home and that we do not even believe there is a home to which we have to return. This is how low we have sunk in terms of what we believe reality is. But then he shifts gears and he talks about what our home really is and he talks about the Child that is in each of us. This is the holy Christ whom we want to be born in us today. The Child is spelled with a capital “C.” Let’s start with paragraph 5. It is Lesson 182 on page 339 in the workbook.
(W-pI.182.5:1) It is this Child in you your Father knows as His Own Son.
So this is our real Self, or to be strictly in line with what the Course is teaching metaphysically, our right-minded self is not this Self. This Self that is our true Self that God created is not in the world at all. So this is another place where Jesus is a little loose with his theology. When he talks about that Christ is reborn as a little Child (which he does later on) each time a wanderer chooses to leave his home (W-pI.182.10:1), what that really means is our right-minded self is a reflection of this Child, and our experience of the Child is as a little Child because our experience is still very weak and our fear is still strong. So strictly speaking, we do not really know that Child.
(W-pI.182.5:2-7) It is this Child Who knows His Father. He desires to go home so deeply, so unceasingly, His voice cries unto you to let Him rest a while. He does not ask for more than just a few instants of respite; just an interval in which He can return to breathe again the holy air that fills His Father’s house. You are His home as well. He will return. But give Him just a little time to be Himself, within the peace that is His home, resting in silence and in peace and love.
In the text, this is referred to as “The Little Willingness” (T-18.IV). There is another place where Jesus talks about all we really have to do each day is have a nod to God (T-24.VI.12:4). We just need a little space within our very busy day filled with our own busyness, which we think is so important, either to the world, to others, or to ourselves. We just need a little space, just a few instants of respite when we recognize that the world is insane, that we are insane for even believing there is a world, let alone a world that is sane. Even if we are not ready to do what we know is the right-minded thing to do, even though we are not ready to totally forgive everyone, even though we are not ready to let the Love of God within us extend and embrace everyone without exception, even if we are not ready to totally let go of the past, or our fear of the future or expectations of the future, even if we are not ready to look in the mirror every morning and say this means nothing, this is nothing. Even though we’re not ready to do that, we at least know that we are not ready to do it.
So when we talk about watching with angels, angels being symbols of just our right-minded thoughts, what watching with angels means is we watch ourselves choose the ego over the Holy Spirit. We watch ourselves choosing to reinforce this identity rather than weaken this identity and then we do all the things in the ego’s arsenal to reinforce this separated self that we believe is who we are. And all we are asked to do, the watching with angels, is watch ourselves do this, as I said a moment ago, with that sweet, gentle smile somewhere that tells us I know this is made up, but I am not going to change, at least not today.
There is that funny line of St. Augustine, who is not a funny man actually, but he had a lot of problems with sexuality before he became what we think of as being a saint and he is reported to have said this prayer. He said Lord, make me chaste, but not today. So we say to Jesus make me holy, make me forgiving, but not today. But at least I know that is what I am doing. That is the brief instance, the “few instants of respite” that Jesus is talking about. He says but give this Child “just a little time to be Himself, within the peace that is His home, resting in silence and in peace and love.” And then realize how I do not want to rest in silence. I do not want to make my home in that “quiet center” (T-18.VII.8:2-3) that the text talks about. I am too busy being busy, thriving on my special hate and special love, thriving on all my ego issues, feeling hurt, feeling rejected, feeling angry, feeling resentful, feeling excited.
When we are asked to have the vision of Christ instead of the judgment of the ego—the judgment of the ego is always something or someone out there is doing something to me which demands my response. The vision of Christ says nothing is being done to you. Whatever you are feeling is coming from your mind’s decision. And the point that I am reiterating over and over again today is that you must recognize that when you are choosing anything that is not absolute peace or absolute forgiveness, it is because you are choosing to reinforce this little self that you think you are. That shifts the whole ballgame from the specifics that you think are so important and significant to the only thing that is important which is your mind’s decision, the power of your mind, to choose the ego or Jesus as your teacher.
It just changes everything. It cuts through all the complicated stuff that the ego throws at us. We are never upset for the reason we think. The only reason we are ever upset is because we told Jesus to get lost, his love was not enough, his teachings are not what we want, and the ego is the home that we want to stay in. That is all we have to know. The little willingness does not mean you will be perfect. It just means you are willing to be perfect.
So we read in the Course a great deal, especially in the text, a great deal about means and end. There is a section called “The Consistency of Means and End” (T-20.VII), that forgiveness is the means and the end would be our awakening from the dream. So in the context of what we are talking about this afternoon, the means would be being quiet, the stillness that we are asked to do.
And the way that we acquire that stillness is to look at our desire not to be quiet and the end that we want is to be reborn. “The holy Christ is born in me today” (W-pII.303), if that is what I want. Now if the holy Christ is going to be born in me today, then that Self, that Christ, has to take the place of the self that I made to be the substitute for Christ.
Another term that signifies specialness is substitution. There is that section called “The Substitute Reality” (T-18.I) where we substitute our reality, or seeming reality for the reality of God. The reality of God is there is only that state of perfect Oneness (T-18.VI.1:6) that we know of as God and Christ, God and His Son perfectly One. And for that Oneness, for that Love, we substituted our separated self and then, of course, special love or special hate that reinforces that separated self.
So in order for the Holy Christ to be born in me today, I have to say I do not want the other self. I do not want the substitute. That is the problem because we do want it. And so the little willingness looks at the fact I do not want the holy Christ to be born in me today. No matter how beautiful that lesson is or so many other passages are, that is not what I want. I do not want to go home with this capital “C” Child because there is no place in that home for me as an individual. So the “nod to God,” the little willingness, the few instants of respite all reflect the part of me that says I know what I am doing and I am not ready yet. I am not even ready to be ready, but at least I know that I am not ready to be ready.
The Course says readiness does not mean mastery (M-4.IX.1:10). Well, I am not even—I am nowhere even near there. Forget about having mastered forgiveness, I am not even ready to be mastering forgiveness because there are some people I do not want to forgive. There are some situations I will never feel comfortable in. There are some memories of my abusive past I will never let go of.
And honesty, the honesty that we are asked to give to Jesus, that honesty says I am making this up but I am not going to let it go. But at least the fact that I know I am making it up is a significant first step towards eventually letting it go. The reason this Course is very gentle—even though it is very authoritative in what it teaches and there is no room for any compromise in terms of what it teaches, but it is very gentle in the application of these teachings—is because we are not asked to do this if we are not ready to.
We are simply asked to be open and honest and say I do not want to do this. I frequently quote Helen when she was taking the Course down in the early weeks and she and Bill were getting an idea of what they were getting into and she said to Jesus, “Bill doesn’t like this course and I don’t think I do either.” As I often say, I do not see how anybody can like this course as long as they hold on to even a semblance of an ego because this course will dismantle your entire thought system. It will do it gently. It will do it sweetly. It will do it softly. It will do it patiently, but inexorably. You continue with this and you are finished as an ego. And it is because we are so afraid that we let all the earthly sounds come in and come in and come in, and we stubbornly insist that two and two is four.
Yeah, maybe metaphysically two and two is five and maybe in some other dimension two and two is five, but I live in a two plus two equals four world and I will not let you take that away from me. And so it is helpful just to know that. It is more helpful as a student of this course, rather than to just let your eyes glaze over passages that are threatening to let your eyes stay on those passages and feel the fear, feel the terror, feel the anxiety, feel the discomfort that comes when you read certain lines here that tell you that you are not here, or that there is no world, or that what you think happened never really happened, that all your yelling and screaming and your “raucous shrieks” (W-pI.49.4:3) have had no effect upon reality.
Imagine how you feel when you read the line after describing in some very graphic language the ego thought system and a simple line says “And God thinks otherwise” (T-23.I.2:7). Rather than just skip over lines like that and say, oh yes, they are really very, very beautiful and they really are true, et cetera, and then you go right on. What happens if you just linger on them and say what does this mean? Because if you begin to allow the fear and the anxiety to come in, you will be better able to understand why you do the things you do, why you could study this Course for ten, twenty, thirty years and still make judgments, still give the world reality, still give the world power to affect you. If you do not recognize your decision for the ego and your identification with the ego that you have chosen, if you do not recognize that then ultimately you cannot choose against it.
So watching with angels means with the loving Thoughts of God beside you in your right mind, you look at your wrong mind without forcing anything on yourself. But at least look at it and say, you know, I really thought I liked this course but I am not ready again. I am not ready to forgive everyone. I am not ready to say as the workbook says, “The world I see holds nothing that I want” (W-pI.128). I am not ready to do that yet. And that is honest and that is all you have to do. That is all this Course asks, “a few instants of respite.”