For this lesson to be effective, “sustained by the Love of God” has to be more than an empty phrase. If you were to think of a lover and say to yourself, “I am sustained by the love of my lover,” you would know exactly what you meant by that. You need to see today’s idea as being analogous to that. God’s sustains you in the same sense that the love of a lover sustains you, only infinitely more so.
Let’s think about the word “sustained.” For something to be sustained means that it keeps going. So to sustain something means to keep it in existence, to maintain it, to nourish it. Think of the word sustenance, which we associate with food.
So the question is what keeps us going. We think that hundreds of things in this world keep us going. This lesson provides a great list of a few of them. The list covers both sustenance of the body and sustenance of the ego, of our image of ourselves, which is our chief idol. In fact, everything on the list is an idol. Notice that they are said to be mere “symbols.” Symbols are nothing in themselves, it’s the meaning we give them that matters. You give these symbols power that they don’t have. It’s like a rabbit’s foot.
Notice all that has been said about the things we think will sustain us:
- They are trivial and insane symbols
- They are forms of nothingness that we endow with magical (fantasy-based) power
- They are our replacements for the Love of God
- The reason we cherish them is because they confirm we are a body
- They are songs of praise to the ego
- They are worthless and don’t deserve our faith
- They will not sustain us.
This has to be read with your name inserted to be fully appreciated:
Only the Love of God [name] will protect you in all circumstances. 2 It will lift you out of every trial [name], and raise you high above all the perceived dangers of this world into a climate of perfect peace and safety. 3 It will transport you [name] into a state of mind that nothing can threaten, nothing can disturb, and where nothing can intrude upon the eternal calm of the Son of God.
Who wouldn’t want this? This may sound distant. But we already know the sustaining power of love. Let’s first just think about human love. When you are really, deeply loved, that sustains you. How does that sustain you? You feel safe, no longer alone, you feel impervious to what others think of you, you feel a sense of worth and value that can’t be hurt, you can handle things together, face life together, it’s not just your little strength facing life by itself, you are no longer one-you are now two. You feel filled up, your needs are met, so you can be generous, you can be magnanimous, you can be forgiving. This love feeds you, strengthens you, sustains you like physical food cannot do. It is a more important kind of food.
I have heard that some of the most influential men in history were only children that were deeply loved by their mother. This love gave them the feeling they could do anything, that they could leap from their trapeze because they always had a safety net underneath them, that they were invincible.
That makes me think of the Paul Simon song, Loves Me Like a Rock. It tells the story of someone whose mother loved him so deeply that he could face any difficulty that tried to assail him, including the devil himself, and say “Who do you think you’re foolin’?”
That’s a metaphor that can send our minds in the direction of a love that is infinitely greater. Let’s look at what this lesson says. This love protects us, lifts us, raises us up, transports us. It puts us in this state where nothing can intrude on us.
Imagine a love that was so deep, so unconditional, so perfect, that it could take the place of all the things on our list, all the idols. Could there be a love that is so great that it sustained us in every way, that it ultimately made the pills, the money, even the food unnecessary? That allowed us to say to anything that thought it could shake our peace “Who do you think you’re fooling? My Father loves me.” That is the thought we are supposed to let in today.
This reminds me of lesson 222: “He is my source of life, the life within, the air I breathe, the food by which I am sustained, the water which renews and cleanses me.” It’s not that the sandwich is really made of God. It’s that God is my real food, what really nourishes me, what really sustains me. In the context of this lesson, we might say,
God’s Love is the real air I breathe.
God’s Love is the real food by which I am sustained
God’s Love is the real water which renews me.
God’s Love is the real water which cleanses me.
Now let’s go back to that list from paragraph 1. The point is that the sustenance we seek from those things we don’t really get. We only get it from being loved by God. So…
The sustenance I seek from pills I can only truly receive from God’s Love.
The sustenance I seek from money I can only truly receive from God’s Love.
The sustenance I seek from a nice warm coat I can only truly receive from God’s Love.
The sustenance I seek from having influence I can only truly receive from God’s Love.
The sustenance I seek from prestige I can only truly receive from God’s Love.
The sustenance I seek from being liked I can only truly receive from God’s Love.
The sustenance I seek from knowing the “right” people I can only truly receive from God’s Love.
Frequent reminders: often
Repeat the idea, not just as rote words, but as a real “declaration of independence” (remember this from 31.4:2?)-a declaration that you are free of needing to be sustained by the empty promises of this world. Repeat it also as an acknowledgment of the truth about yourself. Try repeating it once in this spirit right now, and see the effect it has on your mind.
Response to temptation: whenever you feel confronted by a problem or challenge
Answer what confronts you by repeating the idea. While doing so, remember that “through the Love of God within you, you can resolve all seeming difficulties without effort and in sure confidence” (4:5).
Here we graduate up to ten minute practice periods—for the first time. For that reason, he pulls the number back from four practice periods to two.
You can easily think this is a meditation exercise, but it’s not. If you pay careful attention, it’s a whole different kind of exercise. In fact, this is an important new practice that we will use throughout Review I, which starts tomorrow. This practice is “thinking about” the idea. This is like letting related thoughts come-which is part of our practice today as well-but it’s a bit broader than that.
The best clue we have about what “thinking about” the idea looks like is in the little commentary paragraphs in Review I. If you look at them (and we’ll be spending a lot of time doing that in the coming days), they are a case of talking yourself into the idea. That is what “thinking about” it means. You talk to yourself about it in a way that lets it “sink into deep your consciousness” (5:1) so that you embrace it. You talk about the truth of it, the benefits of it. You talk about the falsity of its opposite, and the pain inherent in that opposite. You bring yourself to a point of decision. You basically talk yourself into it. I won’t say any more about this now, as we will get lots of practice with this starting tomorrow.
Here is a sample of what your thinking about and related thoughts might look like:
I’m sustained by the love of God
That’s not how I think now
What do I think sustains me now?
Well, there’s money and food and a house and friends
But those are really just empty symbols that I’ve endowed with Power they don’t really have
If I could get in touch with God’s Love for me, it would be It would lift me into a state where nothing can disturb me
I’ll feel totally secure, knowing I’m loved forever.
And I can bask in that security now, because God loves me right now.
I’ll let some related thoughts come
(First, I’ll repeat the idea and then watch for a related thought.)
The Love of God has a sustaining power that far exceeds the sustenance I think I get from the things of this world
(Repeat idea again.)
I can be filled up no matter what my external circumstances are.
(Now let’s say a wandering thought comes in)
I need to pick up my shirts from the dry cleaners
(Respond with idea, plus) “This idle and foolish thought doesn’t belong in the holy mind of God’s Son”