by Robert Perry
Let’s talk about “holy.” It is a word that we tend to want to tone down. If I ask you what holiness means, there’s a good chance you’ll instantly want to redefine it: “Holiness is wholeness.” I think that really strips out its meaning. Holiness in the dictionary is most often equated with sanctity or saintliness. The following is from a story about Mother Antonia, called the Prison Angel, a mother from Beverly Hills who moved into a prison in Tijuana Mexico to serve the inmates there:
When you think about it, very few of us ever come in contact with holiness in our lifetime. Most of us have to dust the word off just to use it. We may have visited sacred sites such as cathedrals in Europe that house holy relics-the ancient remains of a saint tightly sealed within a crypt, a mummified toe or a bone maybe. But authentic holiness, what the German theologian Rudolf Otto called Ganz Andere, “Total Otherness”-that type of holiness capable of melting our personal significance into its greatness-remains largely alien to us. No doubt, it’s in part due to the times we live in. Most of us have been raised in a secular culture that avoids even the intimations of hierarchy and absolutes, perfection and reverence. Look “holiness” up in the dictionary and you’ll find that someone who is holy is by definition morally and spiritually perfect; they evoke reverence in those around them as a result of their conviction and fearlessness; they are in a persistent state of godliness. Do we believe in perfection nowadays? Are we capable of reverence? Is godliness something we bother to strive for?
That captures the nature of the concept—saintliness—the power of it, and our desire to avoid it.
In the Course, holiness is the opposite of sinfulness. Sinfulness is a quality that is apart from God’s nature, whereby we attack others, trying to denigrate them in order to elevate ourselves. Holiness, in contrast, is a part of God’s nature, whereby we extend love, blessing and joining to others, seeking to lift them up. It is a divine innocence or purity based on our sharing in God’s nature as perfectly loving and giving.
I have written an article about the concept of holiness in the Course, if you want to read further about this. It is called “‘For this You Yearn’: The Goal of Holiness in ACIM.”
There is a lot of logic in this paragraph, which I will try to capture in my comments below.
This paragraph challenges us to see sight as not an ego function whereby we try to figure out what something is based on how it affects our ego, or as a body function whereby we receive sensory information about something. Rather, it as an extension of our nature. Whatever we are really like, that determines how we will see.
The question, then, is: What is our nature? Yesterday’s idea told us that:
God’s Mind is holy.
I am part of God’s Mind.
I am very holy.
(Notice that take-off on “you can’t be a little pregnant”—”You cannot be without sin a little.”)
Now onto that we can add a new syllogism.
My perception is an extension of my nature.
My nature is the holiness of God.
My perception is an extension of the holiness of God.
Try repeating that syllogism to yourself. The conclusion is quite a thought, isn’t it? That is something to really take in and reflect on. We can also put it this way: If my mind is suffused with holiness, even made of holiness, then how can I see anything except as likewise suffused with holiness?
He increases it to four practice periods, and therefore relaxes the time for each. Yesterday was a full five minutes, today is three to five.
Sentence 2 is important: We have four major props (the longer practice periods), spread out evenly. And then a series of minor props in between each one of these (the shorter applications), done frequently. Notice how between the “evenly” and “frequently” we have basically covered the day, leaving no long gaps. The whole edifice is clearly designed to keep us regularly in touch with the idea that will protect us today, that will wrap us in a state of holiness, a state of grace.
So since the idea is our protection, and the practice periods protect its presence in our minds, what we are trying to do is “protect our protection throughout the day.” What a great line.
Notice again that it’s a casual survey: he wants us to be relaxed.
The logic behind this practice, again, is that if holiness is my nature and fills my mind, then how can its light not envelop all that I look upon? If it fills my mind, how can it not fill my field of vision?
This exercise gave me a sense of my perception extending from the holiness of my nature, not extending from the unholiness of the physical world. Because my mind is holy, my sight can be filled with holiness.
The unholiness of the world is a constant depressing influence. Everything here is out for itself. But this idea holds out the promise that I can see a world pervaded by holiness, simply because I will be seeing it through the lens of my own holiness.
Purpose: to realize that the holiness of your mind must lead to holy sight.
Longer: 4 times (evenly spaced out), for 3-5 minutes
- Close your eyes and repeat the idea several times.
- Open your eyes and look slowly and casually around, specifically applying idea to whatever your glance falls upon, starting near (“this”) and then extending outward (“that”). Say, “My holiness envelops [this rug, that wall, that chair, etc.].” Several times during the practice period briefly close your eyes and repeat the idea. Then return to open-eyed practice.
Frequent reminders: frequency is important today
Repeat the idea with eyes closed, then with eyes open (looking around), then with eyes closed again.
Remarks: Note that you are supposed to evenly space out the longer practice periods and do frequent shorter ones in between. The point is obviously to not leave any long gaps in which you are not practicing, so that your mind is protected all day long. Enclosing your day in this finely woven net, that has no big holes, is a major goal of the Workbook.
Also, as always, repeat the idea very slowly, casually, and without strain. Doing it this way makes all the difference.