Let all things be exactly as they are.
See complete instructions in separate document. A short summary:
- Read the commentary paragraph slowly and personally.
- Pray the prayer, perhaps several times.
- Morning and evening: Repeat the idea and then spend time in Open Mind Meditation.
- Hourly remembrance: Repeat the idea and then spend time in Open Mind Meditation.
- Frequent reminders: Repeat the idea and then spend a quiet moment in meditation.
- Response to temptation: Repeat the idea whenever upset, to restore peace.
- Read the "What Is" section slowly and thoughtfully once during the day.
Practice suggestion: When I repeat this idea, I often add an extra word: "Let all things be exactly as they really are" (or, making it more specific, "Let this thing be exactly as it really is"). The word "really" emphasizes that accepting things as they are does not mean resigning ourselves to the "what is" seen by our eyes. Rather, the world we see is itself our refusal to accept what is, our attempt to be God's critic (1:1), our projection of separation onto Heaven's unity (1:3). Accepting things as they really are means refusing to accept the world our eyes see, refusing to accept it as real, and accepting instead only the pristine reality of Heaven as "what is." This is how we "let all things be exactly as they are," and this is how we find our peace.
Seen in the light of forgiveness, this lesson teaches us that to criticize what is is to judge and condemn God. To let all things be exactly as they are is a form of forgiveness. To insist that things be different is to judge and to be unforgiving. As Paul Ferrini wisely says in his little book From Ego To Self,1 "Only when I resist what is here do I desire what is not."
We are all filled with wishes for how things should be. We are all discontent with things as they are. Is anybody really perfectly content with everything in their life?
Yet this is what this lesson counsels. It could seem to be cruel counsel, both towards myself and towards the world around me. If we are in unpleasant conditions-sick, trapped in a destructive relationship, dying of an illness, financially strapped, miserably unhappy-how can we say in any honesty, "Let all things be exactly as they are"? It seems a horrible thing to affirm.
If we see horrible conditions around us, in family, friends, or the world, with people in some condition like the above, how can we say, "Let it be"?
Our reluctance to say these words under such circumstances testifies to our firm belief that the conditions we see are real. If we believe the suffering is real, of course we do not wish that it continue! We cannot say it if what it means to us is "Let my mother be dying in pain," or "Let my husband continue to drink and beat me." Of course not!
The lesson is really a call to recognize that the conditions of suffering we see are not real. "Only reality is free of pain" (2:2). It is a call to recognize that "nothing real can be threatened [and] nothing unreal exists" (T-In.2:2-3). We cannot say "let it all be" until we first recognize that "all" means only what is real, only what is of God. The rest is illusion.
To say, "Let all things be exactly as they are" is an affirmation of faith that what appears to be pain and suffering is not really there. It is a response to God's call, drawing us up out of the world of conditions and into unconditional truth. It is a phrase that applies not to the world we see with physical eyes, but to the world we can see only with the eyes of Christ. It is an affirmation that we want to see the solid reality behind all the illusion of pain.
It does not mean that we turn our eyes on a brother in suffering and pain, see that, and callously say, "Let that be exactly as it is." That is the old Christian mistake of "It's God's will." It is not God's will that we suffer and die. To think so is to see the error, make it real, and then blame it on God.
This lesson is about not seeing the error at all.
Do not see error. Do not make it real. Select the loving and forgive the sin. (S-2.I.3:3-5)
To say, "Let all things be exactly as they are" is an affirmation that conditions do not need to change for love to be real. Only the love is real, no matter what the conditions appear to be; that is what this is proclaiming.
The error, the pain and suffering we see, does not come from God. It is not, therefore, real. It is only a projection of our collective minds. It is there because we have allowed ourselves to wish conditions would be different. Ending the wish for different conditions is the start of dispelling the illusion. Resigning as creator of the universe is what is called for. We think we can change this, fix that, patch this up, and the world will be a better place. It is our interference with reality that has made it what it is! It is our interference that must stop.
While we are in the world of illusion, we must function there sanely. If I cut my finger, I don't let it bleed untended because I know the body is not real. No, I put a Band-Aid on it. Yet as I do that, let me recognize that what I am doing is "magic." I'm just patching the illusion, and it isn't really important. It just makes for a more comfortable illusion. Making the illusion more comfortable is fine, but in the end it is completely irrelevant.
The same therefore applies to extreme conditions. Suppose I am dying of cancer. Of course I treat it. How I treat it does not really matter. I may use medical therapy. I may try to heal myself through diet. I may do affirmations and mental conditioning. All of it is magic, all of it is patching the illusion. In the final evaluation, it does not matter if my body lives or dies. "Let all things be exactly as they are" in this circumstance means, "What happens to my body is not what counts. Giving and receiving love counts. I don't need to be free of cancer to be happy; what happens to my body does not affect who I really am."
If, when ill, I live with a continual insistence that the condition of my body must change in order for me to be happy, I am merely perpetuating the error that made me sick in the first place. "Let it be" does not mean I cease all effort to change conditions, but it does mean I give up all investment in the outcome. It means that, however the conditions evolve and manifest, I rest assured that they cannot affect the ultimate good of all living things.
"I do not perceive my own best interests," says Lesson 24. Saying "let it be" is the natural outcome of realizing our ignorance. Operating from our extremely limited viewpoint, we can still attempt to change conditions, but as we do so, we recognize that there is a lot we don't understand, a lot we haven't taken into consideration because, from the perspective of a separated mind, we simply cannot see it. So we do what we see to do, but we are not attached to the outcome, recognizing that whatever our efforts, the results are in God's Hands, and God's Hands are good Hands.
Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane is an example of this attitude: He said, "Let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou [wilt]" (Mt 26:39). From his perspective as a human individual, Jesus did not want to be nailed to a cross. From his trust in God, he could still say, "Let it be unto me as You will."
It is necessary for the teacher of God to realize, not that he should not judge, but that he cannot. (M-10.2:1)
To say "let it be" is to realize this, and to affirm that God's judgment is perfect. We are not to judge anything that happens. "Today I will judge nothing that occurs" (W-pII.243.Heading). That means we don't judge anything bad, and neither do we judge it good. We don't judge at all. What is, is. Period. Let it be.