plus Commentary by Allen Watson. Lesson 19.
I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my thoughts.
The idea for today is obviously the reason why your seeing does not affect you alone. You will notice that at times the ideas related to thinking precede those related to perceiving, while at other times the order is reversed. The reason is that the order does not matter. Thinking and its results are really simultaneous, for cause and effect are never separate.
Today we are again emphasizing the fact that minds are joined. This is rarely a wholly welcome idea at first, since it seems to carry with it an enormous sense of responsibility, and may even be regarded as an "invasion of privacy." Yet it is a fact that there are no private thoughts. Despite your initial resistance to this idea, you will yet understand that it must be true if salvation is possible at all. And salvation must be possible because it is the Will of God.
The minute or so of mind searching which today's exercises require is to be undertaken with eyes closed. The idea for today is to be repeated first, and then the mind should be carefully searched for the thoughts it contains at that time. As you consider each one, name it in terms of the central person or theme it contains, and holding it in your mind as you do so, say:
from the "as needed" application of today's idea, at least three
practice periods are required, shortening the length of time involved,
if necessary. Do not attempt more than four.
Last week it was about seeing; this week about thinking. "Thinking and its results are really simultaneous, for cause and effect are never separate". Thinking is cause; seeing is effect, and they are simultaneous. A baseball flying through your window causes the glass to be broken. Which happens first? The baseball passing through the plane of the glass, or the glass breaking? Obviously both happen at once.
So it is with thinking and seeing. When we think, we perceive. The simultaneity is part of what makes it so difficult for us to recognize thought as the cause. It is fairly easy for the ego to play the trick of reversing cause and effect, so that we believe that what we see is the cause of what we think. But that isn't the way it works at all.
The idea that minds are joined is exciting, but also, especially at first, quite threatening. There are thoughts I have that I do not want to have shared, but "there are no private thoughts". My "private" thoughts affect everyone and everything just as every thought does that engages my mind. The idea can be disconcerting. The lesson tells us that despite resistance, eventually we will all recognize that the idea-of joined minds in which no thought is private-is inevitable "if salvation is possible at all". It does not explain why it is inevitable, but just says that we'll all see it that way before long.
Let's think about it for a minute. If other minds are truly separate from mine, then different wills are also truly possible. That places me in competition with the world, alone against the universe. How can I then be free from fear, if outside forces can at any moment turn against me in vicious attack?
If, however, minds are joined, and if what I think affects all of this unified mind, then salvation is possible. Then one choice for peace can affect the entire joined mind towards peace. Salvation is possible; I am not an effect of the world, but the world is my effect. I am empowered to choose. I can choose peace for all of Mind. This is how, in the Course's view of things, I can become a savior of the world.
Let me then determine this day to choose
for peace, for healing, and for forgiveness. As I begin to realize that
I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my thoughts, I will begin
to care about what I think, and as I begin to care, I will begin to
heal myself and the world along with me.
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