(This is a set of class notes for a live class I did in Sedona on Lesson 100, so that explains why there are notes about group discussion.)
This lesson talks about how we fulfill our function, our part in God’s plan. The idea is that God has an overall plan for the world’s salvation, and each one of us a part to play in that. Each of us has particular people assigned to us in this plan, people we are supposed to save. Yet how do we save them? How do we actually fulfill our part?
Discussion: When you find yourself in situations in which you feel called to help or save someone, how do you find yourself trying to do that?
The class participants offered many answers. For instance, one person listens to the one seeking help while listening within for direction from the Holy Spirit. Another empathizes with the other person, to enable that person to hear what they are feeling, so they can take responsibility for it. No one, however, said what this lesson says, that we save others by being infectiously happy.
Just as God’s Son completes his Father, so your part in it completes your Father’s plan. Salvation must reverse the mad belief in separate thoughts and separate bodies, which lead separate lives and go their separate ways. One function shared by separate minds unites them in one purpose, for each one of them is equally essential to them all.
This paragraph introduces themes that are not mentioned in the rest of the lesson, but the themes are very important. It says that God’s plan is not complete until I take my part in it, and it says that in this plan my part is done in conjunction with other people’s parts, so that we don’t just go our separate ways, but live our lives united in a single cause.
With the following lines, read them slowly and thoughtfully, and insert your name wherever you see an asterisk. Really try to let them sink in.
God’s Will for you * is perfect happiness.
Why * should you choose to go against His Will?
The part that He has saved for you to take in working out His plan *
is given you that you might be restored to what He wills [which is perfect happiness].
This part is as essential to His plan as to your happiness.
Your joy must be complete * to let His plan be understood by those to whom He sends you.
They will see their function in your shining face, *
and hear God calling to them in your happy laugh *.
You are indeed essential to God’s plan *.
Without your joy, His joy is incomplete.
Without your smile *, the world cannot be saved.
While you are sad *, the light that God Himself appointed as the means to save the world
is dim and lusterless,
and no one laughs because all laughter * can but echo yours.
You are indeed essential to God’s plan.
Just as your light increases every light that shines in Heaven,
so your joy on earth * calls to all minds to let their sorrows go,
and take their place beside you * in God’s plan.
God’s messengers are joyous, and their joy heals sorrow and despair.
They are the proof that God wills perfect happiness
for all who will accept their Father’s gifts as theirs.
We will not let ourselves be sad today.
For if we do, we fail to take the part that is essential to God’s plan, as well as to our vision.
Sadness is the sign that you would play another part *,
instead of what has been assigned to you by God.
Thus do you fail * to show the world how great the happiness He wills for you.
And so you do not recognize that it is yours.
Today we will attempt to understand joy is our function here.
If you are sad *, your part is unfulfilled,
and all the world is thus deprived of joy, along with you.
God asks you to be happy *, so the world can see how much He loves His Son,
and wills no sorrow rises to abate his joy; no fear besets him to disturb his peace.
You * are God’s messenger today.
You bring His happiness * to all you look upon;
His peace to everyone who looks on you * and sees His message in your happy face.
How did reading this make you feel?
How, according to this, does your happiness actually save the world?
Saving others means bringing them to total happiness, and we do that by being contagiously happy, by infecting them with our genuine happiness.
Does this mean that we just sit around being happy, or just go about our own personal business being happy?
I don’t think so. For instance, notice the line “those to whom He sends you.” We are still being sent to particular people. We are still engaged in what might be called active service. It’s just that the content of our service, the driving force behind our help, the essence of what we communicate to those in need, is our own happiness.
How does your happiness “let His plan be understood by those to whom He sends you”?
God’s plan is for them to be happy, not to sacrifice for the sake of truth. They will only understand the real nature of this plan if you show them by example that it’s really about joy, not sacrifice.
Your happiness communicates to people a certain view of God’s Nature and corrects another view? What are those views?
The key to understanding this lies in a piece not mentioned in the lesson. Your happiness will only communicate something about God’s Nature if people see you as being a representative of Him, as standing for Him. If they know that you identify yourself with God and try to follow Him and be His messenger, then you will be seen as a living symbol of Him. However you are will be seen as evidence of what He is like. If you are happy, He will be seen as a giver. He will be seen as a loving God. Consequently, He will not be seen as a taker, as a God Who demands obedience, who requires sacrifice.
This whole idea corrects a common misconception about serving as a worker in God’s plan. What is that misconception?
We often see being one of God’s messengers as living a life of sacrifice, in which we serve His plan at our expense. Yet if being His messenger means infecting others with our happiness, then we must have it all wrong. The lesson states this very plainly in a paragraph we haven’t looked at yet: “Only this [happiness] is asked of you or anyone who wants to take his place among God’s messengers. Think what this means. You have indeed been wrong in your belief that sacrifice is asked. You but receive according to God’s plan, and never lose or sacrifice or die.”
Does this mean that you are supposed to be obnoxiously happy, to have that abrasive happiness that some spiritual seekers have?
Obviously not. I think the happiness this lesson is talking about is captured perfectly one of Helen’s visions: “In striking contrast to that grim figure [of a past life as a miserable French nun] was one that recurred at intervals and still crosses my mind every once in a while. This one was the only image that kep returning in completely unchanged form. This was a picture of a girl who resembled me in many ways, although she did not seem to be over sixteen. Her head was thrown slightly back in happy laughter and her arms were extended as if in universal welcome. She was wholly joyous; literally incapable of feeling grief or pain. She was standing on a bright green lawn and in her extraordinary happiness her bare feet hardly seemed to touch the ground. She was dressed in a loose blue dress that was not reminiscent of any particular time or place, although there was something of a Greek feeling about it. However, nothing about her really suggested the past, nor did she seem to be at all concerned about the future. I do not really think she regarded time as we do.”
If you had the happiness of the girl in Helen’s vision, what effect do you think you would have on the people around you? Please take a minute, and really imagine yourself having this happiness, and then try to imagine the effect it would have on particular people in your life.
Did this lesson sound to you like a call to deny your pain and manufacture a kind of forced happiness?
When the lesson says “We will not let ourselves be sad today,” it can easily sound like we are just supposed to force ourselves to be happy. Yet the lesson goes on to describe exactly how we acquire this natural, unforced, infectious happiness.
We will prepare ourselves for this today, in our five-minute practice periods, by feeling happiness arise in us according to our Father’s Will and ours. Begin the exercises with the thought today’s idea contains. Then realize your part is to be happy. Only this is asked of you or anyone who wants to take his place among God’s messengers. Think what this means. You have indeed been wrong in your belief that sacrifice is asked. You but receive according to God’s plan, and never lose or sacrifice or die.
Now let us try to find that joy that proves to us and all the world God’s Will for us. It is your function that you find it here, and that you find it now. For this you came. Let this one be the day that you succeed! Look deep within you, undismayed by all the little thoughts and foolish goals you pass as you ascend to meet the Christ in you.
He will be there. And you can reach Him now. What could you rather look upon in place of Him Who waits that you may look on Him? What little thought has power to hold you back? What foolish goal can keep you from success when He Who calls to you is God Himself?
He will be there. You are essential to His plan. You are His messenger today. And you must find what He would have you give. Do not forget the idea for today between your hourly practice periods. It is your Self Who calls to you today. And it is Him you answer, every time you tell yourself you are essential to God’s plan for the salvation of the world.
This clarifies how we are meant to gain this happiness that we infectiously spread to others. We do it by going deep within and contacting the well of joy that God placed in us. This means that our happiness is not the two things that most readily occur to us when we think of making ourselves happy. First, it is not just a manufactured emotion, an irritating positive attitude, a pasted-on smile. Second, it is not based on things going well in our external life. The idea here is that at the center of our minds there is just pure happiness. It is not based on anything in this world. It is definitely not forced or manufactured. It is the most natural thing there is, for it is our nature, given us by God. It is thus far more natural than happiness based on forcing a kind of positive attitude, and even more natural than happiness based on some exciting or pleasing good fortune in our life.
So let’s go ahead and try this. Let’s do the practice period as we are instructed here:
Repeat the idea (“My part is essential to God’s plan for salvation”).
“Then realize your part is to be happy”-that’s all.
Now try to find the joy that God placed in you.
Look deep within you.
Sink down and inward to find the Christ in you, the source of joy.
As you sink, you will pass by all of your “little thoughts and foolish goals.”
Don’t let them hold you back.
When a little thought or foolish goal arises to sidetrack you, you might say, “I seek the joy that is God’s Will for me.”
Your one intent is to reach that inexhaustible well of joy at the center of your being.
Your one intent is to reach the Christ in you.
Do so with confidence. “He will be there. And you can reach Him now.”
“What little thought has power to hold you back?”
“What foolish goal can keep you from success when He Who calls to you is God Himself?”
Keep looking deep within.
Keep seeking that well of joy.
From time to time say to yourself, “I seek the joy that is God’s Will for me.”
What were the effects of doing that? Can you imagine the effect of doing that, with this kind of focus and intent, for five minutes every hour (which is what this lesson asks for)? Could it be that if we sought happiness in this way, with real determination, every day, that we could actually find a happiness that none of our external pursuits will ever deliver? Could this kind of seeking for happiness actually deliver more than all the conventional seeking we do? And could it be that seeking happiness in this way is not an irresponsible, self-indulgent luxury, but the most responsible thing we could ever do?
Purpose: to experience the happiness that is God’s Will for you; to understand that infecting others with your happiness is how you fulfill your part in the global plan for salvation.
Longer: every hour on the hour, for 5 minutes (if you cannot do this, at least do the alternate)
- Repeat the idea. “Then realize your part is to be happy” (7:3); not to make noble sacrifices, just to be happy.
- The rest is a meditation exercise in which you try to find the joy that God placed in you. Look deep within you. Sink down and inward to find the Christ in you, the source of joy. As you sink, you will pass by all of your “little thoughts and foolish goals” (8:5). Don’t let them hold you back. You might even ask yourself, “What little thought has power to hold me back?” Or you might simply remember that your one intent is to reach that inexhaustible well of joy at the center of your being; your one intent is to reach the Christ in you. Seek Him with confidence. “He will be there. And you can reach Him now” (9:1-2). Throughout the exercise, keep looking deep within for that bottomless well of joy.
Frequent reminders: in between hourly practice periods
Repeat the idea, remembering that by doing so you are answering your Self’s call to you. As usual, I recommend repeating it in this fashion now, so you can see the benefits it brings.