This review, which actually begins the run-up to Part II (see 1:1), begins a practice that will run through the final three reviews (IV, V, and VI), the practice of organizing the reviews around a central idea. The purpose of this central idea is to unify each step in the review (2:1). As Review V explains, the twenty ideas we review are each meant to draw out some aspect of the central idea, as well as hold it up before our minds and keep it clear in our memory. In a sense, then, all the ideas will funnel into and support the central idea, with the result that, by the end of the review, we will realize the truth of that idea.
Paragraphs 2-4 in this Introduction tell us crucial information about this central thought. What they have to say, though, is easy to miss, so we have to pay very careful attention. We can summarize what they are saying in the following series of ideas.
Not a goal but a fact. First, "My mind holds only what I think with God" is not meant to be understood as a goal to aspire to. It is, of course, but that is not its meaning here. Many of the Workbook lessons are meant to be understood as goals. For instance, Lesson 158, "Today I learn to give as I receive"—that statement expresses our goal for the day. This review's idea, however, is different. It is not stating a goal; it is stating a fact. "That is a fact," we are told, "and represents the truth of What you are and What your Father is" (2:3). In other words, in our real nature, two things are true:
1. We think with God. We don't think up our thoughts by ourselves. Our thoughts can be likened a song, and in Heaven we never sing solo. We always sing in perfect concert with God. Even that, however, does not quite capture it, for when singers sing together, each one produces his or her own sound, but just makes sure to produce it in concert with the others. In Heaven, though, we are not just using our volition to produce thoughts that are the same as God's. Rather, the very volition we use to "sing" is also God's. The very production of the thoughts is fully joint.
2. We don't think anything else. What I just described is not what we mostly do in Heaven, it's all that we do. So it's not a precarious state that I'm constantly in danger of falling out of. It's not a tightrope walk, where with one careless misstep, I've fallen off the razor's edge of thinking only with God. Rather, it's my nature. It's my natural state. It's all I ever do and all I can do. It's just the way things are.
This means holiness. What does this mean for us, that in our true nature we are always thinking with God? To answer this, first imagine the sort of thoughts that God thinks. They would be perfect, right? They would be absolutely true. But they would also be absolutely loving. They would be the perfect fusion of truth and love. In short, they would be holy. How could God think anything but holy thoughts? Now imagine that you are thinking those thoughts with God, in the manner I described above. Imagine that your thoughts are not being produced by yourself alone, but that your will and God's are joined in producing them. And then imagine that you think nothing else, you know of no other way of thinking. All you ever think are God's Own holy thoughts and your mind contains nothing else. At that point, your mind would be as pure as God's, wouldn't it? It would be holy, through and through. It would make the mind of an earthly saint look almost dirty, that's how pure it would be.
Thus, when you repeat "My mind holds only what I think with God," consciously try to feel the purity that grants you. Bask in the sense of holiness that accords you.
This is why paragraph 2 says, "It is this thought that fully guarantees salvation to the Son" (2:5). Salvation is guaranteed us because sinfulness is simply not in our nature.
Unforgiveness blocks this from awareness. When we are being unforgiving, then how can we be aware of thinking only with God? After all, God is Love, and unforgiveness is unloving. So if we are thinking unloving thoughts, then our mind certainly seems to hold things we do not think with God. As a result, we now seem unholy, unlike God. We seem to be split off from Him.
However, thinking our unloving thoughts does not actually split us off from Him. It simply conjures up an illusion. We are thinking illusory thoughts which have no real substance and make no real difference. In an ultimate sense, they are not even really in our minds. They merely give the illusion of thinking apart from God, and so they give the illusion of being apart from God.
We disguise our unforgiveness. This is what paragraph 3 is talking about. When it says, "Let us begin our preparation with some understanding of the many forms in which the lack of true forgiveness may be carefully concealed," we probably expect to hear a list of such forms. But that, as we soon see, is not what we get. The "understanding" he wants for us is not an understanding of what the different forms are, but an understanding of what they all do.
So what do they do? They "protect your unforgiving thoughts from being seen and recognized" (3:2). They disguise them, in other words. They put a loving mask on them. That is the key. They dress up lack of love in an appearance of love. They put sheep's clothing on a wolf. The Text talks about how we make our attacks seem justified by smiling when we attack (T-23.III.1:6). We're good at that, aren't we? And the smile is not just to fool the other person. It is there to fool ourselves, too. The phony smiles aren't just on our faces; they are in our minds as well.
We just about always put these smiles on our attacks—and our attack thoughts. We virtually never admit to naked, unprovoked aggression. In our story of things, we never attack first. We only attack when provoked, when we have to. And so even our fiercest attacks are not truly unloving. Even they come from a loving heart that has been pushed to do what it regrets having to do.
All of is self-deception, designed to keep us from admitting to ourselves that we are being unforgiving, unloving, and thus thinking radically at odds with God. We admit that we are not thinking fully in concert with Him, but we don't want to admit that are thinking is 180 degrees apart.
And why don't we want to admit this? The answer can be a bit of a shock: to "hold correction off" (3:3). We want to keep those unloving thoughts. We want to tell ourselves there's nothing to correct, so we can go right on thinking them.
These disguises promote an even deeper level of self-deception. Our unforgiveness dressed up as niceness and good intentions has two levels of self-deception. The surface level says, "These thoughts really are nice. Why should I correct them? There's nothing to correct." But that level cements in place a deeper level, which says, "I really am thinking apart from God. I really am unloving and selfish. I really am an unprovoked predator. I am genuinely guilty, and thus I really am light years apart from God."
How does the first level keep in place the second? Think of it this way: The first level is a cover-up, and you only have to cover up a real crime. The very act of covering up your unloving thoughts makes the statement, "A crime has been committed here." So all of those smiles we place on our angry thoughts, all those excuses we feed to ourselves, all those stories we tell about how we really just meant the best for all concerned, they all simultaneously embed a message deep into our minds: "All you've done is bury the body." Can you feel that message inside you? If you can, that is a first step toward letting it go. If you can't feel that message, the disguises are still thickly in place.
"Your self-deceptions cannot take the place of truth."Remember, the message, "You are covering up a real crime," is a self-deception. It is not the truth. It cannot change the eternal fact that your mind holds only what you think with God.
That is the meaning of that beautiful line about the child throwing the stick into the ocean. You are the child. Your "criminal" thoughts, with insincere little happy faces painted all over them, are the sticks. Your mind is the ocean. And God is the sun and moon that the ocean is responding to. There is the moon's pull that produces the tides, the sun's heat that warms the water, and the moon's light that reflects on the water.
To put it all together, as you throw your mean little thoughts into the ocean of your mind, what happens? Does the ocean suddenly turn foul? Does it magically turn into a stinking, rotting swamp? No. It doesn't even notice. Nothing changes at all. It still moves in perfect responsiveness to the sun and moon; it still thinks in perfect concert with God, as it has done for billions of years, as it will do for eternity.
So, in summary:
- "My mind holds only what I think with God" is a statement of fact, not of intention.
- This means that my mind is holy, as pure as God's.
- My unforgiving thoughts block this fact from my awareness.
- I disguise my unforgiving thoughts as loving, so that they don't need to be corrected (self-deception #1).
- This disguise, though, is a cover-up that affirms I've committed a real crime, which makes me totally unlike God (self-deception #2).
- This, however, is a self-deception. My unloving thoughts cannot change the eternal truth that my mind holds only what I think with God. They are just like sticks a little kid throws into the ocean, while the ocean goes on doing what it's always done, unheeding of the tiny sticks.
Purpose: To prepare for Part II of the Workbook (which does not begin for another 80 lessons). The next review announces this same preparation. It seems that we reached a turning point in the 120's (this was specifically referred to in 122.10:2). Before that (see rIII.In.13:1), we were supposed to remember how little we have learned. Now, God is thanking us for how much we are learning (see 10:2). Now that much of our resistance is behind us, we can focus on getting ready for the pinnacle of the Workbook: Part II.
Longer: 2—beginning and ending of the day—for 5 minutes +
First, spend five minutes dwelling on the central theme of the review: "My mind holds only what I think with God." Let it clear out and replace all of your normal thinking. Your usual thoughts (as Paragraphs 3 and 4 explained) are really unforgiveness in disguise. They are innocent masks placed over the face of hate (so that you will not see the hate and open it to correction). Being unloving, they obscure the fact that your mind holds only what you think with God. They make your thoughts and God's, your mind and His, seem a universe apart. Now, instead, let your mind hold only the thought that "my mind holds only what I think with God." Thus you make your mind a mirror of the central idea. You place yourself in touch with the true state of your mind, which is filled only with the thoughts you and God share.
If your normal thoughts try to intrude on the practice period, dispel them with the central thought. One suggestion for this time is to use the imagery of 4:3. Picture your mind as the ocean. Placing a thought (one of your thoughts) in your mind is like a child throwing a stick into the ocean. How can that change the grand rhythms of the ocean (the tides, the sun warming the water, the moon reflecting on the surface), or what those rhythms symbolize: the grand thoughts you share with God?
This first phase is a crucial preparation, for two things. First, by getting you in touch with your mind's true condition, it prepares you for a day in which you experience that true condition, in which the thoughts that come to you are shared by God. As paragraph 6 says, these thoughts from Him will bring the message of His Love for you, and then return to Him messages of your love for Him. These thoughts, then, will draw you into a state of loving communion with the Beloved.
Second, it prepares you for the second phase of the practice period, in which you try to appreciate the two ideas being reviewed. You need this preparation, for your normal (unforgiving) thoughts will block the meaning God placed in those review ideas. That is why you cleared your mind of them and focused on the central thought. That was intended to get you in touch with your mind's true condition <so that> you could see deeply into the review ideas. In other words, by realizing your mind holds only thoughts you share with God, you will recognize the thoughts He has shared with you-in the two review ideas. You will see the meaning He placed there as a precious gift to you.
Having completed your five minutes of preparation, now read the two review ideas, close your eyes, and repeat them silently to yourself-very slowly. God placed a gift of thought inside each word. Let your mind receive that gift. "Let each word shine with the meaning God has given it" (7:4). Receive the thought He placed in there for you, for such receiving is the true condition of your mind.
For the evening practice, repeat the same practice. Realize that the central thought has "made the day a special time of blessing" (9:3), both for you, and for the world through your faithful practicing. Realize also that you drop off into sleep surrounded by God's gratitude for your practicing. For you are now learning to reclaim the inheritance He gave you and wants you to have.
The last sentence is particularly evocative. We can draw out its meaning in this way:
As you give your mind to the ideas again, in your final practice, before you drop off to sleep,
feel God's gratitude for your practicing surround you.
Feel it surround you in peace,
the peace that He wants you to be in forever,
the peace that is your inheritance as a Son of your Father,
the peace that you are learning now to claim again, through your practicing.
a quiet moment
This is a miniature version of the morning and evening practice. Spend a quiet moment with the central thought, and then repeat the two review ideas, slowly, giving yourself time to see the precious gifts of meaning that God placed in them for you.