This is yet another function lesson. This is also our first lesson beginning with the phrase "Let me." This is a favorite Course phrase and basically means "may it be so that I…"
This idea is a synonym for "Let me not wander into temptation," which is the Course's reinterpretation of "lead us not into temptation." In the traditional version, we are asking God to not lead us into temptation. Here we are asking Him to help us not wander into temptation.
How do we wander into temptation? We look upon physical appearances, we look on the physical world. Actually, I think it is more than looking on; it is seeing physical appearances as real. This leads directly to us forgetting our function. Indeed, this justifies dumping our function. Why? What's the connection between physical appearances and unforgiveness? This isn't explained here, but the connection is not that obscure. Physical appearances provide constant reasons to not forgive. They show us imperfect bodies doing imperfect things, or, as I like to put it, bodies misbehaving.
Even though we see physical appearances constantly tempting us to hold a grudge for the sins we see, the Holy Spirit sees a whole different purpose in the world. From His standpoint, it's all about forgiving the sins we see out there, so that we can forgive our own. In this view, everything that tempts us to forget our function can be a reminder to do it, and thus to recognize our salvation.
This reviews the previous three lessons:
- You are light of the world
- Your resistance to this is only the arrogance and fear of the ego—humility would admit you're worthy because God says you are. The ego's arrogance says it knows better than God and its fear says that the grandeur of your function is antithetical to the ego's appraisal of you.
- The salvation of God's Son is waiting on you. (Think about this.)
- By saving His Son—others—you save yourself, for you too are His Son.
Here again he is connecting happiness with our function. When you think about it, this is a natural and even inevitable connection. Any living thing is happy only when it is doing what it was made to do. Allen Watson used to talk about how his dog was happy when he let it run free in a big field. It was finally being allowed to be a dog, and so it was happy. Likewise, we will only be happy when we finally allow ourselves to be a Son of God, and a Son of God is a savior.
Thus, if we are wondering whether to forgive someone, since forgiveness is our function, we should tell ourselves, "I'm really wondering whether or not to be happy."
Complexity is one of the ways the world lulls us into forgetting our function. While you are sorting through all the complexity, forgiveness is the last thing on your mind.
We need to see morning practice period as preparation for a happy day, for a day in which we realize that all those physical appearances that tempt us to hold a grudge are really prodding us to forgive. And then we'll be doing our function, and finally we'll be happy. No wonder we've been unhappy—we've been giving into temptation.
"Let me not try to substitute mine for God's" is misleading wording. It doesn't refer to substituting my function for God's function. It refers to substituting the function I gave myself for the one God gave me. Three times this lesson says this function is "given you by God" or "assigned to you by God."
The function I gave myself is about physicality, about my body interacting with and getting what it needs from other bodies. The function God gave me is forgiveness. Choosing between these is a choice for happiness or unhappiness.
The tug of war playing out in your life is playing out in the practice period: Will you attend to your function or will you attend to all the physical stuff. Staying focused vs. wandering is thus a miniature version of the larger issue of "Will you do your function or get sidetracked by temptation?"
Notice the importance of "mind discipline," which means concentrating on doing the practice. He knows we are not proficient in this as yet. But to help us along he suggests we use today's idea to call our mind back. It is designed to call us back from wandering into temptation, and that's exactly what's needed here.
I'll deal with this paragraph in the summary of the instructions:
Purpose: to remind yourself to constantly choose your happiness by choosing to fulfill your function. To resist the temptation to let the world you see lull you into forgetting your function.
Longer: at least 1, for 10-15 minutes
- Close your eyes and repeat these thoughts: "Let me not forget my function. Let me not try to substitute mine for God's. Let me forgive and be happy."
- Then again do the recent practice of reflecting on these statements. Think about them. Let related thoughts come (it will help if you remember how important your function is to you and others).
Remarks: It is easy for lengthy reflection like this to turn into a big mind-wandering fest, for the simple reason that "you are not proficient in the mind discipline that it requires" (7:2). So be on the lookout for irrelevant thoughts. When they come, repeat the idea (you might even want to repeat all three statements). Even if you have to do so twenty times, that is better than just letting your mind float off into never-never land.
Frequent reminders: frequently, for several minutes
At different times, use one or the other of the following:
- A shorter version of the longer practice. Repeat the three "let me" statements and then think only about them. Your mind will wander; when it does, repeat the idea to bring it back.
- Repeat the same statements, then look slowly and unselectively about you, saying: "This is the world it is my function to save."