Here is our first review. We are reviewing fifty ideas. The fact that we are doing a review at all makes a clear statement: You only review ideas when you are serious about learning them.
This review can be very boring if it is not properly understood. Let me first speak for a bit about the purpose of the reviews, then about this review in particular.
The purpose is simple—to review the ideas
- So that they sink in,
- And so that we see how interrelated they are.
Different reviews take different approaches to accomplishing these two objectives. A favorite way to accomplish the first is to list the idea being reviewed, followed by some related comments that are also worded in the first person. We are then instructed to read slowly over these related comments and then spend some time thinking about them, adding more related thoughts of our own.
Do you see the logic of this process? The Course is trying to build a bridge between the idea and your mind. This bridge is composed of thoughts related to the idea, thoughts that expand on the idea and helps the truth of it sink in and become a part of your mind.
This bridge has two parts. The first part is made up of related thoughts supplied by the Course, thoughts which, though given by the Course, read as if they are our own thoughts. They are in the first person. They are short, simple and direct. They sound exactly like the thoughts that we ourselves are supposed to generate.
Reading these leads to the second part of the bridge: Our own related thoughts. These make the idea being reviewed even more personal, more a part of our minds. Much of the purpose of this review, then, is to help the ideas being reviewed to cross this two part bridge and thus become more a part of our minds.
How about the second objective, that of seeing the relationships among the ideas being reviewed? That will happen naturally, because the related comments included after each idea are slanted in this direction. They are slanted toward showing you how this idea relates to the others. Indeed, he implies in paragraph 6 of the introduction to this review that even the wording of the ideas has here and there been slightly changed to help them tie into the other ideas.
Exercise: as often as possible (suggestion: every hour on the hour), for at least 2 minutes
- Alone in a quiet place, SLOWLY read one of the five lessons and the related comments. Notice that the comments are written as if they are your own thoughts about the idea. Try to imagine that they are. Read them as if they are a transcript of your own thoughts. It will help if you frequently insert your name (after "I"), or emphasize "I" "me" and "my." This will set you up for the next phase, in which you generate similar thoughts of your own.
- Close your eyes and think about the idea and the comments. Think particularly about the central point of the commentary paragraph. Reflect on it. Let related thoughts come (utilizing the training you've received in that practice). If your mind wanders, repeat the idea and then get back to your reflection. This is the same basic exercise as in Lesson 50, in which you actively think about ideas in order to let them sink more deeply into your mind.
- At the beginning and end of the day read all five lessons.
- Thereafter, cover one lesson per practice period, in no particular order.
- Cover each lesson at least once.
- Beyond that, concentrate on a particular lesson if it appeals to you most.
- Do them with eyes closed, alone in a quiet place
He obviously has in mind at least five practice periods, for you are supposed to cover each idea of the five ideas at least once. You might want to do your practice periods on the hour, skipping those hours when it is not convenient to do them. That way you will perhaps be able to get in 5-10 practice periods relatively easily.
If you run out of related thoughts, one good technique is to repeat the idea again, and see what it brings up in your mind. Another way to fill the time is to apply it to things that come to mind: "I am not upset at this person for the reason I think. I am just seeing him as a devil to provide an excuse for the anger and attack I already want to have."
You will also need your book with you for these, unlike normal practice periods. You may want to carry around a photocopy of the particular page you are on.
Paragraphs 4 and 5 pick up from the comment at the end of paragraph 3 about doing the exercises "when you are alone in a quiet place, if possible." This provides the setting for a discourse on what really amounts to three stages on the road to peace.
1. In this first stage, you need to withdraw to where you can be alone in a quiet place in order to close your eyes and do your practice. This is necessary at this stage.
2. At this second stage, you will have learned that you can apply your learning regardless of where you are. You won't need special settings. In fact, you will need to apply your learning most in situations that seem upsetting, so you can bring your inner quiet into those situations and heal the distress and turmoil there. So now, rather than withdrawing into "a haven of isolation" (which was entirely necessary and proper in the first stage), you actively go into "upsetting" situations as an agent of peace.
Through doing this, you eventually learn that peace is simply part of who you are, that you and peace are inseparable, so that all you need to do is show up in a situation and your peace will then encompass the entire situation and everyone in it.
3. In this final stage, you have learned that you are not localized in particular situations, that in fact you are everywhere. And since you already learned that you and peace are inseparable, you now realize that your peace is everywhere, in all situations at once. That is the stage that Jesus has reached.
If you look at these three stages, you can see that there is absolutely nothing wrong, from a Course perspective, with withdrawing into a cave. It's just that you don't want to stay there. You want to eventually seek out the situations that are full of distress and turmoil, so that you can bring into them the peace that, in the cave, you learned is part of you.