Intellectual acceptance is different from real understanding. Real understanding includes having it mean something to you. It includes seeing its personal relevance. It includes connecting with it emotionally. It includes getting it from the inside.
And practice is the road to that real understanding. That is why real understanding is not the prerequisite for practice. It's the other way around: practice is the means to understanding. Just practice, and you will understand.
Don't mistake intellectual acceptance for real understanding. If you do, you'll tell yourself you don't need to practice.
2:1-2: It's disturbing to think that the entire reality we see is not there. It's so disturbing that the idea might meet with active resistance—not just passive. Resistance is a major theme in the Workbook thus far—have you noticed? References to it: In.9:1-2, 4.6:1, 5.4:1, 8.6:1.
Here is some material on passive vs. active resistance:
Passive resistance occurs where people do not take specific actions. At meetings, they will sit quietly and may appear to agree with the change. Their main tool is to refuse to collaborate with the change. In passive aggression, for example, they may agree and then do nothing to fulfill their commitments.
This can be very difficult to address, as resisters have not particularly done anything wrong. One way to address this is to get public commitment to an action (and you can start small on this), then follow up — publicly if necessary — to ensure they complete the action. Then keep repeating this until they are either bought in or give in.
Active resistance occurs where people are taking specific and deliberate action to resist the change. It may be overt, with such as public statements and acts of resistance, and it may be covert, such as mobilizing others to create an underground resistance movement.
Overt active resistance, although potentially damaging, is at least visible and you have the option of using formal disciplinary actions (although more positive methods should normally be used first). When it is covert, you may also need to use to covert methods to identify the source and hence take appropriate action. (from www.changingminds.org)
But, Jesus says, go ahead and apply the idea in spite of active resistance. You can actively resist it—that's fine. Just, while you are resisting, please do still apply the idea.
"Each small step"—of application, of practice. "Will clear a little of the darkness," a little of the debris that clogs your mind. And then "understanding will finally come," will bring light to every corner of the mind that was darkened. This is a great encapsulation for exactly how practice works. This is the Workbook's whole strategy.
Notice our now familiar instructions of applying the idea indiscriminately and excluding nothing. Those two things seem like the same thing—in applying the idea, you are discriminating against nothing. But I think discrimination can also take the form of weighting different objects differently—deemphasizing certain ones rather than flat-out excluding them.
Notice also that, as with previous lessons, we start near and then extend out farther.
It helped me to add:
What I seem to be picturing is not there.
There is something else there.
I'm just not seeing it.
It's as if you were looking at your spouse, but you saw your mother's face
"Be sure you are honest with yourself in making this distinction." What is this distinction? The idea is that you might be innocently and quite appropriately brushing over something simply because you are not straining to include everything. Or, it may be that you are brushing over it because you want to exclude it. It's a subtle distinction, but you have to be honest about it (this is the Course's main emphasis in relation to honesty—self—honesty in the face of temptations to lie to yourself). You could be using the Course's legitimate out—don't attempt complete inclusion—as a cover for your ego—I want specific exclusion. Realize this very real possibility, and be honest about it.
Exercise: 3 or 4 times, for 1 minute
Look about you, first near and then far, applying the idea without discrimination or exclusion to whatever you see. Begin with things near you: "I do not see this [telephone, arm, etc.] as it is now." Then extend the range outward: "I do not see that [door, face, etc.] as it is now."
Remarks: You may accept this idea, but you do not really understand it, nor are you expected to. Understanding is not the prerequisite for this practice; rather, understanding is the goal of this practice. These exercises are meant to undo your illusion that you understand things, and by clearing this blockage away, allow true understanding to finally dawn on your mind. So at this point simply practice the idea, even if you do not understand it, find it disturbing, or even actively resist it.