This lesson is as cerebral as the previous lesson was lyrical. The basic idea is very simple. In reality, there is nothing but unity. There are no discrete things, be they objects, events, or persons. And there is no space between things. It is our naming of things that produces our experience of reality as a vast constellation of separate things, each with a little cushion of empty space around it.
When we name things, we think we are simply reflecting the fact that there is a discrete thing there, separate from other things. But Jesus is saying it’s the other way around: It’s our act of naming things that causes us to perceive the world as a series of separate objects and bodies. “By this [act of naming] you carve it out of unity” (1:4). And it’s our act of not naming the space between things that makes it seem as if there really is distance that separates one thing from another. By our naming, then, we seem to give life to separate things and to separation itself. Our naming produces the persistent, convincing illusion that separation is “the ultimate reality” (6:6).
This lesson carries the implication that we started out in undifferentiated unity, and in that place, started naming things. And as those names solidified in our minds, bodies began to appear, as reflections of those separate names, which in turn seemed to be visual proof of the validity of those names. In this sense, our naming actually made the world, at least the world our eyes see.
However, as paragraph 8 points out, it didn’t make what is real in this world. It only made the illusions-the bodies. It didn’t make the real brother, the real Son of God, behind each body. God created that. As the lesson says, “What is true in earth and Heaven is beyond your naming” (8:3).
While in this world, we then spend our formative years learning all the names. Remember all that memorizing you had to do in school? We’ve all got to go through that kind of learning, but ideally it’s just “a starting point from which another kind of learning can begin, a new perception can be gained, and all the arbitrary names the world bestows can be withdrawn as they are raised to doubt” (7:4).
That other kind of learning teaches us this: There is only one Name for reality, because reality is one. Thus, everything real shares that single Name, the Name of God. Actually, it’s not quite the case that your true name is “God.” It’s more like your surname is God. This hearkens back to the previous lesson which talked about how “a father gives his son his name” (183.1:3) and how “his brothers share his name” (183.1:4). So it’s as if “God” is your surname, which means you could say that everyone’s name is really “Christ God.” Imagine going around and thinking that way: “You are Christ God, and you are Christ God, and so is he, and so is she. Everyone, all of you, all of us, are Christ God.”
In fact, inspired by this lesson, I have at times done what I think is a pretty powerful practice. You look at someone or think of someone and say,
Your name is not [name].
Your name is God,
for you are part of Him.
(That last part is there to clarify that we have God’s Name because we share in His Being, not because, strictly speaking, we are God.)
What this lesson says we need, and what it aims for, are intervals each day in which we experience “the Name which God has given you; the one Identity which all things share; the one acknowledgment of what is true” (10:2). We experience the single, unified reality which has only one Name. These experiences are holy instants, meant to happen during our practice periods, in which we leave our dark prison cell and venture out into the daylight of reality.
We have these experiences by first accepting that everything has one Name, and then repeating and dwelling on that Name in our meditation, understanding that, as we do, we are calling on the awareness of the one unified totality. We are drawing our awareness from all the thousands of places where we have scattered it by calling everything a different name, and pulling it together into oneness. “One Name we bring into our practicing. One Name we use to unify our sight”
Then we step back into darkness, where we happily use all the false little names of this world in order to convey a higher truth to our brothers in a language they can understand. But even while we call different people by their different names, inside our minds we still “understand that they have but one Name, which He has given them” (14:1).
Purpose: to go past the inheritance you gave yourself-the little, separate things of the world, each with its own name-and experience the inheritance that God gave you: everything, all of Heaven. This experience will help “make your weak commitment strong; your scattered goals blend into one intent” (W-pI.181-200.In.1:1).
Morning/evening quiet time: at least 5 minutes; ideally, 30 or more
The practice in this lesson is the same as yesterday-what I call Name of God Meditation-with perhaps a slightly modified emphasis:
- Close your eyes and repeat today’s idea one time.
- After that, simply “repeat God’s Name slowly again and still again” (183.6:1). As you repeat this Name (remember you can use a name of your own choosing), realize that you are calling upon the awareness of all of reality, including the true reality of all your brothers. You are really asking for the inheritance God gave you as His Son. He has passed on to you everything He has, which is everything there is. This is what you are asking for, so ask with desire.
- When your mind wanders to all the little names that denote the things of this world, use God’s Name to dispel those names, remembering that everything that is real has only one Name.
Hourly remembrance: 1 or 2 minutes as the hour strikes (reduce if circumstances do not permit)
Do a short version of the morning/evening exercise. Close by asking for God’s guidance for the coming hour and thank Him for His gifts in the past hour.