Again, like yesterday, we have no teaching, but the import of the idea is fairly clear. Yesterday the idea said that the things we see don't mean anything. They are just form and have no content in themselves. Yet, of course, the situation seems very different to us. The things we see do seem to have meaning. And each one seems to mean something different. Some of them mean a lot, some mean very little.
Today's idea explains that the meaning these things have for us is not in them, but has been assigned by us to them. We see it in them, but it's not in them. The meaning we see is therefore inappropriate, inapplicable. We have given meaning to things that have no meaning. And since the meaning we see determines our emotions, we are having inappropriate emotional reactions to everything. As disheartening as this may seem, it can also be extremely freeing. What you instantly think is, "Well, if I've just given it that meaning, then it doesn't really have that meaning. And so I'm free of the painful meaning I've been seeing in it."
The body of the lesson—paragraphs 1 and 2—consists of just practice instructions. The sentence we repeat takes the same basic form as yesterday's:
I have given this/that __________ all the meaning that it has for me.
Like yesterday, you glance around you "easily and fairly quickly" and apply the idea to whatever you see. You start near, and then extend farther. This time, you even look to either side and then turn around and look behind you. The obvious purpose of this is to instill in you the notion that the idea applies to literally everything.
As for the other details, they are "the same as those for the first one" (1:1):
- Twice (ideally morning and evening)
- A minute or so (unless that feels rushed)
- Unhurriedly, slowly, leisurely, comfortably—it's quality, not quantity, that matters
There is a huge focus in this lesson on remaining indiscriminate. You are to treat everything the same. Don't concentrate on any one thing. Be sure nothing is excluded. And don't treat things differently just because:
- They look bigger, brighter, more attention-getting
- They are more important to you
These two points are actually a brief reference to the Course's theory of selective attention. According to the Course, we are highly selective in what we attend to visually. We pay attention to things that visually stand out and therefore catch our eye (see M-8.1), and we pay attention to things we value (see M-8.3:7). That is, in essence, the same list that we find here. So don't let yourself be swayed by what's bigger and shinier and by what's more important to you.
Also, don't try to include everything, as that would introduce strain. Remember, quality comes first and quantity comes second.
All the practice instructions are meant to reinforce a single idea: This lesson applies to absolutely everything. One way to understand this is that right now we are currently seeing things along a spectrum. On one end of the spectrum, a thing has no meaning in itself, we give it any meaning it has for us. We can probably recognize that this is true of, say, some lint in our pocket. On the other end of the spectrum, a thing—for instance, a beautiful body or a dead body—does have meaning in itself; when we see meaning in it, we are seeing what is. And then in between, things are a mixture of both. An upsetting situation, for instance, seems like a mixture of meanings that we have arbitrarily assigned and meanings that are just the way it is.
The point of this lesson is to help us get rid of that spectrum, so that we realize that the far end—where we give things any meaning they have—applies to absolutely everything. The other end of the spectrum, along with all the territory in between the two ends, simply doesn't exist.