Today we are continuing the idea for yesterday, adding another dimension to it. You cannot see in darkness, and you cannot make light. You can make darkness and then think you see in it, but light reflects life, and is therefore an aspect of creation. Creation and darkness cannot coexist, but light and life must go together, being but different aspects of creation.
In order to see, you must recognize that light is within, not without. You do not see outside yourself, nor is the equipment for seeing outside you. An essential part of this equipment is the light that makes seeing possible. It is with you always, making vision possible in every circumstance.
Today we are going to attempt to reach that light. For this purpose, we will use a form of exercise which has been suggested before, and which we will utilize increasingly. It is a particularly difficult form for the undisciplined mind, and represents a major goal of mind training. It requires precisely what the untrained mind lacks. Yet this training must be accomplished if you are to see.
Have at least three practice periods today, each lasting three to five minutes. A longer time is highly recommended, but only if you find the time slipping by with little or no sense of strain. The form of practice we will use today is the most natural and easy one in the world for the trained mind, just as it seems to be the most unnatural and difficult for the untrained mind.
Your mind is no longer wholly untrained. You are quite ready to learn the form of exercise we will use today, but you may find that you will encounter strong resistance. The reason is very simple. While you practice in this way, you leave behind everything that you now believe, and all the thoughts that you have made up. Properly speaking, this is the release from hell. Yet perceived through the ego's eyes, it is loss of identity and a descent into hell.
If you can stand aside from the ego by ever so little, you will have no difficulty in recognizing that its opposition and its fears are meaningless. You might find it helpful to remind yourself, from time to time, that to reach light is to escape from darkness, whatever you may believe to the contrary. God is the light in which you see. You are attempting to reach Him.
Begin the practice period by repeating today's idea with your eyes open, and close them slowly, repeating the idea several times more. Then try to sink into your mind, letting go every kind of interference and intrusion by quietly sinking past them. Your mind cannot be stopped in this unless you choose to stop it. It is merely taking its natural course. Try to observe your passing thoughts without involvement, and slip quietly by them.
While no particular approach is advocated for this form of exercise, what is needful is a sense of the importance of what you are doing; its inestimable value to you, and an awareness that you are attempting something very holy. Salvation is your happiest accomplishment. It is also the only one that has any meaning, because it is the only one that has any real use to you at all.
If resistance rises in any form, pause long enough to repeat today's idea, keeping your eyes closed unless you are aware of fear. In that case, you will probably find it more reassuring to open your eyes briefly. Try, however, to return to the exercises with eyes closed as soon as possible.
If you are doing the exercises correctly, you should experience some sense of relaxation, and even a feeling that you are approaching, if not actually entering into light. Try to think of light, formless and without limit, as you pass by the thoughts of this world. And do not forget that they cannot hold you to the world unless you give them the power to do so.
Throughout the day repeat the idea often, with eyes open or closed as seems better to you at the time. But do not forget. Above all, be determined not to forget today.
Commentary by Allen Watson
The first paragraph presents a rather amazing picture of what this world we see is. It says we made darkness, and then we thought we could see in it. What we call "seeing," then, is simply imagining that we can see in darkness. "In order to see, you must recognize that light is within, not without. You do not see outside yourself, nor is the equipment for seeing outside you". What we call light is not true light. Light is not outside of us; it is within us. It is not physical, it is spiritual. And we do not see truly with external eyes but with inner vision.
The light for true seeing is within us, and the goal of today's lesson is to reach that light. Once again the Workbook takes us into an experiential exercise of meditation. This kind of meditation, and the experience it seeks to produce, is clearly a major component of Course practice. The emphasis placed on it is nothing short of amazing.
We are told that it is a form of exercise that "we will utilize increasingly". It "represents a major goal of mind training". Longer times are "highly recommended". We are urged to persist despite "strong resistance". It represents a "release from hell". We are reminded of "the importance of what you are doing; its inestimable value to you", and that "you are attempting something very holy". The lesson closes with these words: "But do not forget. Above all, be determined not to forget today". There is no mistaking the awareness that Jesus, as the author, considers this kind of meditation practice exceptionally important.
Why is that? There are a few indications within the lesson. In the third paragraph, the lesson notes that this kind of practice-sitting quietly, sinking inward, slipping by our thoughts without being involved in them-"is a particularly difficult form for the undisciplined mind". It is difficult because it "requires precisely what the untrained mind lacks". It is the very difficulty that proves our need of it, just as getting out of breath when you jog for fifty yards proves that you need aerobic exercise. "This training must be accomplished if you are to see". In other words, meditation practice is a requirement for developing inner vision. How can we see with inner vision if we do not know how to find the inner light?
These are training exercises. We will find it difficult at first. We will encounter resistance. The exercise is clearly labeled an "attempt" at reaching the light, indicating an understanding that we may not do so all at once, any more than we will run a marathon the first few times we begin jogging. It is a goal of our mind training to reach the light, and we will likely not reach the goal right away, although it is "the most natural and easy [form of practice] for the trained mind". We are in the process of acquiring the training that will make reaching the light seem easy and natural, but it is not that way now because our minds are still undisciplined.
We are "no longer wholly untrained". If we have been following the instructions we have had forty-three days of practice leading up to this day. Still, we may "encounter strong resistance". To the ego what we are doing seems like "loss of identity and a descent into hell". But we are attempting to reach God, Who is the light in which we can see; that is not a loss. It is escape from darkness.
When we begin to build up a history of experiences with the light, of feeling relaxation, sensing our approach to it, and even being aware of entering into it, we will know what the Course is talking about. And we will crave more. There is nothing like the experience. These holy instants are foretastes of Heaven, glimpses of reality. They will motivate us in our journey like nothing else. There is a sense of reality so real that what seemed real before pales into insubstantial shadows by comparison. When we have entered the light we will recognize that we have been in darkness, thinking it was light. That is what gives these experiences their "inestimable value."