Our predicament seems pretty clear: The world seems to have us in bondage. It seems to be our jailer, keeping us locked up, unable to step out into the sunlight, exercise our freedom, and lay hold of our hopes and dreams.
In a big world that seems to care precious little about us, we seem so small and frail, unable to move the mountains that stand in our way. We also seem alone, left to assail the universe by ourselves, "a tiny particle of dust against the legion of your enemies" (3:2). We try to win our war with the world, but we are up against forces that are simply too big. In the end, then, we are doomed to failure, and must "watch despair snatch from your fingers every scrap of hope, leaving you nothing but the wish to die" (3:3).
Of course, we know that Jesus isn't going to leave it at that, treating this sad story as if it were the truth. And he doesn't. His message here is that there is another story, a hidden one, but yet the real one, and it is this: We have denied our own Identity. That phrase echoes like a refrain through this lesson: "Deny your own Identity, and this is what remains" (2:3). "Deny your own Identity, and you will not escape…" (3:1). "Deny your own Identity and you assail…" (3:2). "Deny your own Identity, and look on evil…" (3:3).
We all know that we can be in denial about who we are. We think everyone we know is, to some degree. John thinks he is always right, but he's in denial. Jane is in alcoholic, but she's in denial. So the principle is beyond dispute. The question is, how far can we stretch it? Well, we know it can go pretty far. Someone can have amnesia and forget who they are. Someone can be delusional and think they are Napoleon. A child raised in the wild (which actually does happen from time to time) can think they are an animal. Our sense of identity is incredibly malleable. It's much more like soft clay and not at all like stone. It's more like abstract art and not at all like photography.
Could, then, this lesson be right, and we are an infinite being who never changes, beyond the limits of time and space, and without the slightest hint of ego? Could we be such a being, right now, who is deeply delusional and thinks it is a homo sapien, a microscopic hairless ape on a planet the size of a grain of sand? Could we have stretched our power of denial that far?
We must have, for God creates only like Himself. God is infinite and so He creates only the infinite. God is changeless, so He creates only the changeless. God is spirit and so He creates only spirit. There is no other choice; we have to be like that.
And that brings us to the idea for the day. "I am the holy Son of God Himself" does not mean, "I am the holy Son-of-God himself." It means, "I am the holy Son (pause) of God Himself." Do you feel the difference in saying it that way? What an amazing idea. What a sense of privilege that conveys. What a feeling of exaltation. Could God really have given us that kind of status? Could He really have created us as His Own Son? Could that be the way He looks on us and feels about us right now?
To get a sense of this, I like repeating a paraphrase of a line from the end of the Workbook (which in turn is drawn from the parable of the prodigal son). Close your eyes and imagine God saying to you, "You are My Son, and all I have is yours."
Today is about reversing our denial of our Identity. What other choice is there, really? When you are in denial, nothing has actually changed. Your denial doesn't change who you are. We all know that if you're an alcoholic, for instance, being in denial of that does not change anything. You're still an alcoholic. Likewise, if you're God's Son, being in denial does not change anything. It's just a game you're playing in your mind. It's just a fantasy. It's just a daydream. No matter what you think, you're still God's Son.
And this means right now. We probably think, "OK, I'm a human trying to force myself to believe I am somehow an infinite spiritual being." But, of course, that's not it. You're actually an infinite spiritual being who has forced yourself to believe you are somehow a human. And now you, the infinite spiritual being, are just trying to undo that delusion and get back to what's natural.
When we really do undo that delusion, two huge things happen. One is that the world stops seeming like our jailer, stops seeming like a big army massed against us. That whole condition I described at the start stops appearing to be the truth. What freedom that would be!
The other, however, is the big focus in this lesson, and this is that we now will save the world. Please don't see that phrase "save the world" as somehow dirty or unspiritual. That is a very positive phrase in the Course. The world, after all, is in terrible shape. Why wouldn't we want to save it?
The reason we save the world when we reclaim our Identity is really two-fold. First, we actually imprisoned the world by assigning it the role of our jailer. Look, for instance, at how you typically see other people. Do you see them as keeping you in prison? Do you see them as snuffing out the light in you? Do you see them as reinforcing your ego? Do you see them as little foot soldiers in the army massed against your happiness? If so, do you realize how much this perception imprisons them?
So when you claim your Identity as God's Son, you free them from the awful role you have laid on them.
Second, as everyone knows, God's Son is the savior of the world. Notice all the Christian language in this lesson. Read the following passages with two things in mind: first, realizing they are drawing on Christian language about Jesus, the Son of God, and second, realizing they are talking about you:
The Son of God has come in glory to redeem the lost, to save the helpless, and to give the world the gift of his forgiveness. (8:3)
Who could see the world as dark and sinful, when God's Son has come again at last to set it free? (8:4)
All power is given unto you in earth and Heaven [see Matthew 28:18]. There is nothing that you cannot do. (9:1-2)
Your glory is the light that saves the world. (10:5)
This is a huge emphasis in this lesson. We may be tempted to see claiming our Identity as a gift only to ourselves. This may attract us, because much of the driving force behind what we call spirituality is narcissism. Or this may repel us, because it seems so self-indulgent.
But claiming our Identity is not just a gift to ourselves. It is a gift to the world. We cannot give what we do not have, and ultimately, saving the world is about giving everyone the awareness of their true Identity. Even simple acts of kindness do this. They implicitly give the person the message, "You are worth more than it may seem. You are precious, regardless of what you've done or what others think." That, of course, is not so different from saying, "You are God's Son, not this pile of dust."
Yet our ability to give that message to others is limited by how much we believe that message about ourselves. And so, if we care about others, if we want to help the people in our lives, if we want to set the world free, we need to take today's idea to heart. There is no better way to put it than the closing lines of the lesson:
Look about the world, and see the suffering there. Is not your heart willing to bring your weary brothers rest?
They must await your own release. They stay in chains till you are free. They cannot see the mercy of the world until you find it in yourself. They suffer pain until you have denied its hold on you. They die till you accept your own eternal life. You are the holy Son of God Himself. Remember this, and all the world is free. Remember this, and earth and Heaven are one.
Purpose: to go past your self-perception as weak, frail and afraid—which comes from the denial of your Identity—and remember that you are the holy Son of God Himself. This will release you and will save the world from suffering.
Morning/evening quiet time: at least 5 minutes; ideally, 30 or more
There are no specific instructions for the longer practice periods, just a strong focus on the use of these lines: "I am the holy Son of God Himself ["Himself," by the way, refers to God]. I cannot suffer, cannot be in pain; I cannot suffer loss, nor fail to do all that salvation asks." By saying and meaning these lines, you reverse your denial of your Identity. You accept the power and glory that is your true nature. You typically see the world as your jailer, filled with enemies massed against you. Yet this role is not inherent in the world. Rather, your denial of your Identity turns the world into this in order to support your false identity. Your denial imprisons the world. Thus, when you reverse that denial (through the words of today's practice), you set the world free. By unveiling your glory as God's Son, you release those in chains, those who see no mercy in the world, those suffer pain, and even those who die. This is your motivation to practice today—their release and your release.
Beyond devoting some time to repeating these words, with as much certainy and sincerity as possible, the rest of the practice period is up to you—to your inspiration and your guidance from the Holy Spirit. You can't go wrong with meditation, especially since nine of the last eleven lessons have been devoted to it.
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.