Commentary on Lesson 78: Let miracles replace all grievances.

by Robert Perry

This is an extremely significant lesson. It is really the core forgiveness lesson in the Workbook, from my standpoint. It is one of the six lessons that has us pick someone and then forgive that person. Years ago, I took those six lessons and made a list of any features in their exercises that appeared in two or more of the six lessons. Then I assembled those features in order, and the resulting outline, as it turns out, is found point-for-point in Lesson 78.

I think Jesus clearly saw this lesson as being unusually significant. In the places in the Course that are not written in iambic pentameter, when you find a passage that is in iambic pentameter, that signifies a special importance being placed on that passage. Well, the Workbook switches into iambic pentameter in Lesson 98, but oddly enough, here, twenty lessons before that, the entirety of this lesson is in iambic pentameter.

Iambic pentameter is a kind of verse in which, as you may know, each line is made up of ten syllables, with the accent on every second syllable. So the effect is like a heartbeat. You can see it in the idea for today:

Let mi-ra-cles re-place all grie-van-ces.

PARAGRAPHS 1-3

In these first three paragraphs, we have this powerful image of the "dark shield of hate." Our brother stands before us; the Son of God shining in blazing light. But rather than look on this glorious sight, we raise up a dark shield of hate, to shield our eyes from this rapturous vision. With this shield in front of us, we don't see the Son that truly stands before us. All we see is the devil we have painted on the inside of our shield. We stand in the shadow of the shield, even though the light is shining all around us, radiating from our holy brother.

Today, our goal is to lay the shield down "and gently lift our eyes in silence to behold the Son of God." What a lovely image. I find it helpful to visualize the whole thing—picture myself raising up this dark shield of hate so that I will not see my brother's divine radiance. And then I picture myself laying it down, and gently lifting my eyes in silence to behold the Son of God.

PARAGRAPH 4

I have always found this list to be brilliant. Notice he says "someone you think you love" rather than just "someone you love." Notice he also says "someone you call a friend," rather than merely "a friend." His point is obvious: The people we get angry with and see as difficult, demanding, irritating, untrue to the ideals we set for them, and failing in the roles we assigned to them, we don't really love. Today we are trying to solve that, to move from pseudo-love to real love.

PARAGRAPH 5

That list from the previous paragraph is so brilliant that someone is bound to come to mind. The exercise implies that the Holy Spirit prompted that person to come to mind. That person becomes our symbol for everyone. If we can lay our shield down and see her in shining light, we can realize that what we see in her is in everyone.

Now we find out how we have really been regarding that person we think we love, that person we call a friend: as an enemy. Today our goal is to move from seeing her as enemy, and then go on past friend to seeing her as savior. And this is not "you are my savior because you have a 'gift' for flushing my ego to the surface." This is "you are my savior because the light of your holiness can shine into my mind and awaken me."

PARAGRAPH 6

So first you get in touch with the enemy side of the equation—how you have been seeing this person. You review two classes of things: First, the perception of being slighted by him. Second, his body. Although this second thing seems very different than the first—you're just thinking of his appearance, not his "sins"—the fact is that visualizing someone's body is a great way of getting in touch with the entire complex of your perceptions of that person, including your grievances about him.

PARAGRAPHS 7-8

The sentence we repeat is one of those really long ones from the Course. I find it helpful to break it up into four lines of iambic pentameter, which is how it was broken up in Helen's handwritten notes and in the Course's First Edition:

Let me behold my savior in this one
You have appointed as the one for me
to ask to lead me to the holy light
in which he stands, that I may join with him.

I would even recommend memorizing it in this form. The iambic pentameter is also a mnemonic device; it helps you remember.

Let me be-hold my sa-vior in this one
You have ap-point-ed as the one for me
to ask to lead me to the ho-ly light
in which he stands, that I may join with him.

The rhythm of the meter helps you remember: da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM.

I have found tremendous benefit from these lines over the years. Some time ago, I wrote a commentary on them, which I'll include here:

"Let me behold my savior in this one"

In this opening line you are asking the Holy Spirit to reveal something you haven't seen in your brother, something that lies beyond your ugly picture of him. You are asking to "let your mind be shown the light in him beyond your grievances" (as the line after the exercise says). Just past your image of him as a callous attacker, you are asking to behold in him your savior.

Now, "savior" here does not mean "the one who gives you all those juicy opportunities to forgive." What does it mean? The line that introduces the exercise says this: "Then let us ask [the Holy Spirit], that we may…see our savior shining in the light of true forgiveness, given unto us." In reality, your brother is someone so holy that he radiates the light of true forgiveness, given unto you. He is your savior because, when you gaze on who he really is, his holy light streams into your mind and shines all your guilt away. That is how he saves you. That is what you are asking to experience.

"You have appointed as the one for me to ask"

This brother holds something so valuable that the Holy Spirit has appointed him to be "the one." That is why, when the lesson was asking you to select a person, his name popped into your mind. He has been appointed, and something in your mind knew that. In particular, he has been appointed as the one that you will ask something of. The next line tells us what that something is.

"to lead me to the holy light in which he stands,"

You are asking him to take you by the hand and lead you into the light. Notice that you are consistently portrayed as being in the receptive role. You are being saved, being answered, being led. Seeing yourself as the humble recipient of the salvation he imparts is a total reversal of your current view, in which you are the superior victim of the damnation he brings.

This line paints a concrete image. So visualize it; see him leading you into "the holy light in which he stands." Of course, you need not wait for him to consciously lead you there (or you may be waiting a very long time). You need simply see the truth in him, for its very nature is to lead you to its light.

Standing is more than a physical act. It carries a wealth of connotations. To say that this is "the holy light in which he stands" is to say that this light is the state he exists in. It is where he has established himself. It is the stand he has taken. It is what he stands for. This light is what he is about. He is of the light.

This is what makes standing with him in the light such a powerful image. For, of course, once he leads you there, you will be standing there together. The Course likes this image so much it uses it again just nine lessons later (in 87.2:3), where it gives us this suggested practice: "You stand with me in light, [name]."

"that I may join with him."

The exercise now concludes. Your savior has led you to the light that is his home, and there, standing with him, bathed in light, you and he unite. Now, everything he has is yours as well. The light in which he stands is your light. The salvation that was his to give is your salvation. For you and he are one.

That you are not just joining him, but doing so in light, gives the joining a sense of holiness. It implies that what is uniting is only what is true and pure in the two of you. And it implies a three-way joining, in which you and he join not only with each other, but with the light as well.

This exercise has taken us through an entire process of healing, through a complete reversal. We began by seeing this person as dishing out to us darkness and grief. In our eyes, he stood not only apart from us but beneath us. Then we learned that he was appointed by the Holy Spirit for a holy task. He is the one of whom we are meant to ask salvation. As we asked, we saw him lead us by the hand into the light of our salvation, the radiance in which he lives. And there, standing together in the light, we united with him, so that what he is are we as well. Now he no longer stands apart from us, nor beneath us. We see past that false image of him as our attacker and our judge. Now, at last, we behold our savior.

PARAGRAPH 9

Let's not brush over this paragraph, but rather take it seriously. God, Heaven, the world, and all the Thoughts of God join in thanking us for doing our practice periods today. With such an infinite totality thanking us for our practice, do we really want to miss it today?

PARAGRAPH 10

Here we have, in poetic form, the instructions for our shorter practice today. See my summary below.

INSTRUCTIONS

Longer: 2 times, for 10-15 minutes
I'll lay this exercise out using mostly quotes from the lesson:

We will select one person you have used as target for your grievances,
and lay the grievances aside and look at him.
Someone, perhaps, you fear and even hate;
someone you think you love who angered you;
someone you call a friend, but whom you see as difficult at times or hard to please, demanding,
irritating or untrue to the ideal he should accept as his, according to the role you set for him.

You know the one to choose; his name has crossed your mind already.
He will be the one of whom we ask God's Son be shown to you.
Through seeing him behind the grievances that you have held against him,
you will learn that what lay hidden while you saw him not is there in everyone, and can be seen. He who was enemy is more than friend when he is freed to take the holy role the Holy Spirit has assigned to him.
Let him be savior unto you today.
Such is his role in God your Father's plan.

Our longer practice periods today will see him in this role.
You will attempt to hold him in your mind, first as you now consider him.
You will review his faults [pause and briefly review these],
the difficulties you have had with him [review these],
the pain he caused you [review this],
his neglect [review this],
and all the little and the larger hurts he gave [review these].
You will regard his body with its flaws and better points as well,
and you will think of his mistakes and even of his "sins."

Then let us ask of Him Who knows this Son of God in his reality and truth,
that we may look on him a different way, and see our savior shining in the light of true
forgiveness, given unto us.
We ask Him in the holy Name of God and of His Son, as holy as Himself:

Let me behold my savior in this one
You have appointed as the one for me
to ask to lead me to the holy light
in which he stands, that I may join with him.

[My words:] You are asking to lower the shield of hate
And to see this person as the shining Son of God he is,
A son of God who can take you by the hand,
And lead you into the light,
The light in which he lives—his true nature lives,
Where you join with him.

You are asking to see not your executioner, but your savior

The body's eyes are closed, and as you think of him who grieved you,
let your mind be shown the light in him beyond your grievances.

What you have asked for cannot be denied.
Your savior has been waiting long for this.
He would be free, and make his freedom yours.
The Holy Spirit leans from him to you, seeing no separation in God's Son.
And what you see through Him will free you both.
Be very quiet now, and look upon your shining savior.
No dark grievances obscure the sight of him.
You have allowed the Holy Spirit to express through him the role
God gave Him that you might be saved.

Wait in stillness. "Be very quiet now, and look upon your shining savior" (8:6).
Wait in confidence. "What you have asked for cannot be denied" (8:1).
Periodically renew your request by repeating the lines of practice.

Frequent reminders/response to temptation: whenever you meet or think of or remember someone

Pray, "Let miracles replace all grievances." This means, "Let the miracle of Who you really are replace my grievances about you." Realize that this releases both of you, along with everyone else.

One Comment

  1. Martin Pettet
    Posted March 19, 2015 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    When I did this exercise today I was immediately guided, not to one person, but to an entire family; one that I do not really personally know at all, but who have quite innocently, and very annoyingly to me, taken over the entire spa at the gym that I go to, and made it into their own personal playground every night, disturbing the peace that I seek there for myself. At first I wasn’t sure about whether this would work – to make the ‘him’ into a ‘them’ and apply this lesson to four people instead of one – but it actually did, and to have four ‘Saviors’ was, if anything, even more beautiful than one.

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