"It can be but my gratitude I earn."
Purpose: To go past the special block of requiring visible gratitude from others and so to experience what lies beyond this: your gratitude toward your Self and all its parts and God's gratitude toward you. 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
No specific instructions.
Hourly Remembrance: as the hour strikes, for more than 1 minute (reduce if circumstances do not permit)
Use the lesson, "It can be but my gratitude I earn," to forgive the happenings of the previous hour. Do not let it cast its shadow on the hour to come. Thus you unloose the chains of time and remain unbound while still in time.
Frequent Reminder: (Suggestion) Repeat idea.
Response To Temptation: (Suggestion) When tempted to withdraw a gift you have given, repeat idea.
This lesson identifies itself as "the second step" in freeing our minds from the belief in outside forces pitted against us. Yesterday's lesson was the first step (W-pI.196.2:1-2). It taught us that our attacks are always directed at ourselves, and that the attacks we thought were coming from outside of ourselves were really coming from our own minds. In other words, "it is impossible that you be hurt except by your own thoughts" (W-pI.196.8:3).
Today's lesson takes the other side of the coin from attack: gratitude. This is definitely a step beyond yesterday's lesson. We may understand that our attack is coming from ourselves, and yet not realize that any gratitude we receive is also coming from ourselves, and not from outside forces.
I remember one time, while attending a workshop of Ken Wapnick's with a friend, that Ken was talking about how to respond to criticism and even outright attack from people who were close to us, from friends and family. Ken's response was that we need to realize that such attacks are just the other person's ego responding to their perception of our own ego; "Don't take it personally," Ken advised. A day or two later, my friend went to Ken with a personal issue. He'd begun to lead some groups in healing techniques and in study of the Course, and had received many glowing compliments of how well he was doing. He was worried that all the praise (or gratitude) would go to his head. Ken's advice to him was quite memorable, coming on the heels of the earlier advice about criticism: "Don't take it personally!"
While some of us may have problems with receiving gratitude, we have a much greater problem with not receiving it. Every Course student goes through the experience of expressing love, kindness and forgiveness to someone, only to have it rejected or thrown back in their face. This lesson directly addresses the way we react to such a situation. What we are being asked to do is to express that kindness and love, to "give our gifts," without any attachment to the response of the other person. All the gratitude we require, the lesson says, is our own gratitude for the opportunity of giving and forgiving! (3:3) Gratitude does not come from outside us any more than attack does.
If we fail to understand this, we will typically react to having our gifts rejected by taking them back, mentally or perhaps even physically. "Well, I tried to forgive you and overlook your error, but if this is how you are going to treat me in response, then to hell with you!" And quite obviously (if we simply look at it honestly), our attempts at kindness have turned into attack! (1:2-3)
The lesson says it quite directly: "It does not matter if another thinks your gifts unworthy" (4:1). In other words, in our giving, let us be completely unconcerned with the response of the person we are giving to, and whether or not they express gratitude. Our giving to them is sufficient gift to ourselves, and our own gratitude for the gift we have given is all that we need. If we take back the gifts we give when they are not received with "external gratitude and lavish thanks" (1:3), then we will always suspect that God's gifts are equally undependable. If we take back our gifts, we are taking them away from ourselves. I am the one who needs to be grateful for the gift I have given, for I am the one who has received it! (3:5)
To help us understand why external gratitude isn't necessary, Jesus explains that there is a part of the other person's mind that is grateful, even when that isn't expressed outwardly (4:2). The other person's "right mind" is very grateful to you for the gift, and receives it with thanks. The gift will be held, waiting until the person is consciously ready to receive it. As the Manual puts it: "No teacher of God should feel disappointed if he has offered healing and it does not appear to have been received. It is not up to him to judge when his gift should be accepted. Let him be certain it has been received, and trust that it will be accepted when it is recognized as a blessing and not a curse" (M-6.2:7-9).
The Manual goes on in a way that very clearly echoes the thought we have been discussing: "It is not the function of God's teachers to evaluate the outcome of their gifts. It is merely their function to give them" (M-6.3:1-2). This entire chapter in the Manual, and the one that follows, might be very interesting reading in light of today's lesson.
If we fail to learn this second step, that gratitude as well as attack comes only from within ourselves, we will forever be uncertain about the gifts of God (5:3).
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