"I bless the world because I bless myself."
Purpose: To go past your belief in sacrifice and so experience the abundance that lies at the altar within. This will intensify your motivation and strengthen your commitment.
Morning/Evening Quiet Time: 5 minutes - at least; 10 - better; 15 even better; 30 or more - best
Be willing to look on the altar within, the altar to the one God. There you will see the lilies your brother offers you and those you offer him, in all their lovely holiness. There you are joined with all your brothers and with God. There you stand in blessedness and give as you receive. As you look within, repeat the Name of God.
Remarks: By receiving this blessing, you can bless the world. Offer this blessing to everything you see today.
Hourly Remembrance: as the hour strikes, for more than 1 minute (reduce if circumstances do not permit)
(Suggestion) Do a short version of morning/evening exercise.
Frequent Reminder: (Suggestion) Behold everything you see shining with the grace of God.
Response To Temptation: When tempted to entertain the thought of sacrifice - as pain, loss, sickness, grief, poverty, starvation, death, etc. - give blessing to yourself, and you will have it to give the world.
We find it easy to understand that in order to give a thing, you first must have it. That's obvious. We find it more difficult to believe that giving actually increases what you have.
The key to understanding this, says the lesson, lies in the fact that "things but represent the thoughts that make them" (2:3). To understand how giving away what we have increases it, we have to begin to recognize that "things" are not real; what is real is the thoughts behind them. This is not necessarily saying that if I give $100 to a brother in need I will immediately receive $200 in return from some other source. However, it is saying that when I give $100 away knowing that money is just an idea I will be increasing the thought that brought money to me in the first place. Therefore, that will eventually result in more money, or more "wealth and abundance" in some form. The form may be identical or it may not.
"Perhaps the form in which the thought seems to appear is changed in giving. Yet it must return to him who gives. Nor can the form it takes be less acceptable. It must be more" (2:5-8).
In other words, what is returned is always greater than what is given.
I have begun to learn this by giving away ideas directly, in my study group and in my writing. I have indeed found it true that as I give away these ideas, they increase in me. I get more benefit than anyone who is "receiving" from me. I am quite aware that I am blessing the world because I am blessing myself; I am doing this for my own benefit.
It is harder when it comes to material things. It is not so easy to make the connection that money is just an idea, or a tape is just an idea, a book is just an idea, a car is just an idea. I learn in little ways. I give away newsletters that cost me money, believing that it will return to me eventually. I give hours of my time to the study group, believing that the return will come. I still feel that as basically giving it away. The return has only just begun.
I think when I learn this lesson fully it will be no big deal to give up the idea of ownership entirely and to share everything I possess with anyone who needs it. But I am a long way from that as yet.
The next paragraph is very important:
"Ideas must first belong to you, before you give them. If you are to save the world, you first accept salvation for yourself. But you will not believe that this is done until you see the miracles it brings to everyone you look upon. Herein is the idea of giving clarified and given meaning. Now you can perceive that by your giving is your store increased" (3:1-5).
To give salvation I must first accept it for myself. But to know I have it, I have to give it away. That must mean that I have to start giving before I know I have it! The gift that giving brings is knowing that I have the gift I give.
The lesson advises us to protect what we have by giving it away. It warns, "Yet value not its form." In other words, you may not get it back in the exact form you give it. If I give $100 cash, I may receive a gift in a different form: a tape player, computer software, a vacation, or whatever. If I give away a particular book, I may not ever receive that particular form again, and I have to learn not to value the form, but the thought behind the form. It is foolish to value forms. "No form endures" (4:5). Remember, "What [the giver] seems to lose is always something he will value less than what will surely be returned to him" (5:8).
Every gift I give is always a gift to myself. I never lose! I gain, and so does the recipient of my gift, especially if he or she learns from me to give again. "Who understands what giving means must laugh at the idea of sacrifice" (6:2). Laugh, because there is no such thing as sacrifice. What I give is given to myself; I never lose; I always gain. How can that be called sacrifice!
The lesson clearly applies this to all forms of "giving" and all forms of "sacrifice," including pain and loss, sickness, grief, poverty, starvation and death. When I "give up" a relationship in the form I thought I wanted, according to this lesson I receive something I will value far more. Perhaps I may learn to accept the gift of self-sufficiency, for instance.
I'm sure the same will be true as I make other "sacrifices." Mistakenly I fear the "loss" I will feel with these things absent from my life. There will be no loss, no sacrifice. What I gain will far exceed the apparent loss. And in reality I lose nothing except a false identification.
For instance, I think I get a certain satisfaction and comfort from eating a nice steak. The pleasure of the taste; the pleasure of being full. I falsely identify these feelings with the object, steak. But pleasure, satisfaction and comfort are just the ideas behind the steak. If I were to dissociate steak from those ideas, perhaps giving up steak, I would not be giving up those ideas; I would be affirming them. I retain them, and they grow. There will be pleasure, satisfaction and comfort in other forms, more lasting and more generalized. I have gained the general form by giving up the specific identification of those ideas with "steak."
In general, we will go through many iterations of apparent giving up, apparent sacrifice, until we learn that the thing is not the idea, that no particular form can be identified with the idea behind it. We will learn, eventually, to hold on to no form, but to always value, not the form, but the thought behind it.
Ultimately we go beyond the idea of many different thoughts to see only one Thought - the innocent Son of God, the Christ. We see that Thought within ourselves, and "what we have looked upon we would extend, for we would see it everywhere" (11:2). "To ensure this holy sight is ours, we offer it to everything we see" (11:5).
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