Why does the Workbook have so many negative statements?

Q. Today’s lesson is “There is nothing my holiness cannot do.” Wouldn’t it be more positive to say, “My holiness can do everything”? I notice the Workbook has negative phrases like this and I wonder how Helen or Bill, being psychologists, did not pick up on the negative phrases straight off.

A. As always with the Course, there is a method to its apparent madness. In regard to those negative statements in the Workbook—and there are a lot of them—what the Course is trying to do is address and overturn our current beliefs as directly as possible.

In our minds, we may see ourselves as needing to develop positive beliefs that we currently don’t possess. We see ourselves as lacking faith in a truly affirming reality, and so it seems that we need to cultivate that faith. That’s not entirely incorrect, but it’s not quite the way the Course sees the situation. From its standpoint, we already have a very strong faith:

It is impossible that the Son of God lack faith, but he can choose where he would have it be. Faithlessness is not a lack of faith, but faith in nothing. Faith given to illusions does not lack power, for by it does the Son of God believe that he is powerless. Thus is he faithless to himself, but strong in faith in his illusions about himself. (T-21.III.5:1-4)

The problem, then, is not that our faith muscle is weak and we need to strengthen it. It’s that we have developed an iron faith in what is false. We have a negative faith, a faith characterized by the negation of what is true.

As a result, we cannot develop a truly positive faith without undoing our current negative faith. Otherwise, that negative faith will remain there, beneath the surface, undermining all our attempts to believe in something more affirming. What we must do, then, is directly uproot our negative faith. We need to negate our existing negation. Or, as the Course puts it, we need “to deny the denial of truth” (T-12.II.1:5).

Let’s apply this to your lesson. It’s not that you just lack faith in the power of your holiness to get things done. It’s that you have developed a strong faith in the opposite. You have a deeply ingrained belief that says, “There is nothing my holiness can do.” Or at least, “There is not much my holiness can do.” That belief can be partly undone by merely affirming its opposite: “My holiness can do everything.” But it may be a more direct path to do what this lesson actually does—address your belief head on and negate it. Practicing “There is nothing my holiness cannot do” directly refutes the belief “There is not much my holiness can do.”

This is why the Workbook lessons are not just affirmations. There are a great many affirmative statements. But there are also many negations. As I’ve been saying, this is part of the Course’s method. In its view, when we undo our negation of reality, we are returned to our original condition of direct union with the truth.

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