The introduction to lessons 181 – 200 setup our goals for the next 20 days.
- Widen the horizons of our vision
- Take direct approaches to uncover the blocks that keep our vision narrow
- Lift those blocks, however briefly, in order to experience the sense of liberation that comes when the blocks are removed
- Intensify our motivation for freedom
It is good to pause before beginning lesson 181 to ask ourselves if we will accept these goals as our goals. We are not asked to add these goals to the list of goals that we have already set for ourselves. We are asked to change our minds about our goals. Are we willing to see the goals we had previously set for ourselves as unimportant, and adopt these goals as our only goals now?
[Please pause to contemplate before continuing.]
Lesson 181 focuses on the first goal, widening the horizons of our vision. It says, “Perception has a focus. It is this that gives consistency to what you see. Change but this focus, and what you behold will change accordingly.”
We have all experienced how this works in the most benign of ways. For example, recently I bought a Toyota 4Runner. One week before buying a Toyota 4Runner, I had never heard of them. I told my boyfriend what I wanted in my next car. He did some research and selected the 4Runner as the car that was best for me. Since buying a 4Runner, I notice them everywhere. It seems like 4Runners are one of the most popular cars in Colorado, yet I never saw them before. It is as if they did not exist at all, and now they are everywhere. What changed?
The focus of my perception changed. That’s all.
Lesson 181 asks us to let go of seeing the faults in others, as well as their mistakes, and focus on awareness-life-presence as what they are. It says, “We instruct our minds that it is this we seek, and only this, for just a little while.”
Let me demonstrate how this might work:
Imagine I am talking to my boyfriend, and he tells me that he just sent a large amount of money to his sister to help her out of a financial challenge. Let’s imagine that I have a similar financial challenge, but he has not offered to help me. An upset begins to arise in me. It feels like jealousy, unfairness, rejection and anger all rolled into one. I project it out onto him in this way:
“He doesn’t care about me. Why have I wasted 25 years of my life with him?”
And then I remember to practice today’s lesson. I pause for a moment and remember my goal to widen the horizon of what I see. I notice awareness-life-presence in me first. I notice it is fine, still being aware, still living, and still present in me. It has not been affected by what was just said or thought.
Next, I look at him. I notice he is also awareness-life-presence. He is being aware. He is living. He is present here now. I see us as joined in our basic essence, awareness-life-presence, and I let my attention rest there.
Lesson 181 says, “A major hazard to success has been involvement with your past and future goals.” This is why it is important to replace the goals we set for ourselves with the goals set in the introduction to this section of the Course.
In the scenario above, I could have two goals that would interfere with effective practice of today’s lesson. One goal might be to feel financially secure. The other goal might be for my boyfriend to behave the way I want him to behave. If I keep either goal, it will interfere with my practice. But if I am willing to drop both goals and genuinely replace them with “widen the horizon of my vision”, this practice becomes easy because it is what I want. In fact, the degree to which this practice is difficult for me is the degree to which I cling to the goals I had previously set.
Today’s lesson says, “We recognize that we have lost this goal if anger blocks our way in any form.” It also tells us, “And if a brother’s sins occur to us, our narrowed focus will restrict our sight, and turn our eyes upon our own mistakes, which we will magnify and call our ‘sins.’”
In other words, just as I see 4Runners everywhere, if we let our vision narrow, we will see faults, mistakes, sins, guilt, blame and unworthiness everywhere, including in ourselves. Our narrowed vision blocks our own freedom.
The lesson reminds us, “So, for a little while, without regard to past or future, should such blocks arise we will transcend them with instructions to our minds. … As our focus goes beyond mistakes, we will behold a wholly sinless world. When seeing this is all we want to see, when this is all we seek for in the name of true perception, are the eyes of Christ inevitably ours. … We look neither ahead nor backwards. We look straight into the present. And we give our trust to the experience we ask for now.”
We look neither ahead nor backwards, because there we will find the goals we had previously set. We look straight into the present, because that is where we find awareness-life-presence. It is here right now.