This is our third holiness lesson. Remember what I said about holiness basically meaning saintliness, a saintliness that is the character of our true nature, a nature we share with God? You see that meaning today. Isn’t this what saints do? They bless.
Definition of “bless”:
- To make holy by religious rite; sanctify.
- To make the sign of the cross over so as to sanctify.
- To invoke divine favor upon.
- To honor as holy; glorify: Bless the Lord.
- To confer well-being or prosperity on.
- To endow, as with talent.
- To make somebody or something holy
- To protect somebody or something
- To wish somebody or something well
- To confer a desirable quality on somebody
- To thank somebody
From The Encyclopedia of Religion: “blessing is the transfer of a sacred and beneficent power, a power that emanates from the supernatural world and confers a new quality on the object of the blessing.”
This is our first lesson about our function in this world, which means what we are supposed to do here, accomplish here.
Our true function is to bless. That is why we are here. Our true function is to “transfer…sacred and beneficent power, a power that emanates from the supernatural world and confers a new quality on the object of the blessing.”
The big point about holy vision in this paragraph is that it gives rather than takes away. It blesses rather than steals. In fact, it so purely gives that it gives everyone “his full due.” And since, as a Son of God he is entitled to literally everything, giving him his full due is quite a massive gift.
This, in fact, is a good definition of holy vision: It sees another as a holy Son of God, entitled to everything. Just by seeing him as entitled to everything, it gives him everything. It blesses him maximally.
The main thing to wrap our head around here, then, is that holy vision is a way of seeing that inherently gives to those it looks upon. We think of giving as a matter of behavior, and we are supposed to give through our behavior. But at root, giving is a matter of perception. Generous perception is the root of all true giving and is itself an act of giving.
Holy vision is the only way that real giving is going to take place. Any other way of seeing is going to demand payment of others. Think about how we look at people now. We want something from them, don’t we? We want them to look good, treat us well, behave according to our standards, etc. And when they don’t fulfill the function we allot to them, we want to see them suffer. Our sight is constantly asking things of them.
So our current perception takes, demands, asks for sacrifice. No matter how we dress this up behaviorally, because this perception demands, the behaviors that stem from it will also demand.
What we don’t realize is that by trying to take from others, we ourselves lose: “As a result, the perceiver will lose.”
Our holiness, though, just gives. It just acknowledges, “As a Son of God, you deserve everything. I ask nothing of you. I only want to honor you.”
2:7: “Those who see themselves as whole make no demands.” What a lovely line! In our holiness, we are whole, and in our wholeness, we don’t need to draw from others to fill our emptiness.
As I said about paragraph 1, just seeing through holy eyes blessed and saves and teaches. Not only is holy vision the only way to really give to others, that vision gives all by itself, even without behaviors to communicate it. Just having that quiet recognition that all things are blessed along with you does the trick. So often, the preaching and lecturing is an outer display that substitutes for the inner recognition. At that point, as St. Paul said, we just become clanging cymbals. Of course, our words can communicate this holy sight, but only if the sight is really there behind our words. “Words can speak of this and teach it, too, if we exemplify the words in us” (W-pII.14.2:5).
The last part of this paragraph is important, as it is really the first time we have applied a positive thought to another person, naming that person in the process. This will become very common and very important in the Workbook.
There are lots of occurrences here of “you may.” Jesus, then, does give us freedom in our practice, and will give us more and more as he assumes that he has laid down certain patterns we have internalized.
Frequent reminders: Apply it silently to anyone you meet, using the person’s name (this is the form given in 4:5). It takes a lot of presence of mind to keep your wits about you enough to do this, but it definitely does affect the interaction.
Response to temptation: Apply the idea when anyone seems to cause an adverse reaction-immediately. You really have to watch your mind for this, for those adverse reactions can whizz by without being noticed. You need to bless that person, or you lose the awareness of your own holiness. It’s hard to be aware of your holiness while being pissed off at someone.
Purpose: to introduce you to your true function (this is the first lesson to deal with the topic of function). You are here to bless, and to make no demands. This blessing involves first acknowledging your own holiness, and then seeing others in its holy light. Try to see today’s practice periods in this way, as practice in the reason you are here.
Longer: 4 times, for 3-5 minutes
- Repeat the idea and, for a minute or so, look about you and apply it to the objects you see, saying, “My holiness blesses [this chair, that window, this body, etc.].”
- Close your eyes and apply the idea to any person you think of, saying, “My holiness blesses you, [name].”
- For the remainder you may continue with this second phase of practice, go back to the first, or alternate between them.
- Conclude by repeating the idea with eyes closed and then once more with eyes open.
Frequent reminders: as often as you can
This can take one of two forms:
- Repeat the idea slowly.
- Apply the idea silently to anyone you meet, using his or her name. Really try to do this. It takes real presence of mind to repeat the idea right when you meet up with someone, but it can be done. Or it can be done after the interaction is over. The Workbook will repeat this practice in several future lessons, which shows the importance it has. This practice has the power to transform an ordinary encounter into a holy encounter.
Response to temptation: Whenever you have an adverse reaction to someone
Immediately apply the idea to him or her (“My holiness bless you, [name]”). See this as a real act of blessing this person with your holiness. This will keep your holiness in your awareness, while your anger will blot it from your mind.