1 – Period of Undoing
“First, they must go through what might be called ‘a period of undoing.’ This need not be painful, but it usually is so experienced. (M10)”
At this point in the development of trust, the movement toward Awakening, we find that many of things in which we placed great value are, very suddenly, no longer in our lives. We may experience substantial grief at this point.
This period of undoing may occur relatively early in one’s life. College is an awakening experience, in another sense, and the changes that one undergoes are not always happy. We may lose touch with our treasured friends from high school, college may be much tougher than high school, and all in all we experience identity crises as the old props of home and family are removed.
Not everybody, of course, goes through this stage at this point in life. There are many variations.
2 – Period of Sorting Out
“Next, the teacher of God must go through ‘a period of sorting out.’ This is always somewhat difficult because, having learned that the changes in his life are always helpful, he must now decide all things on the basis of whether they increase the helpfulness or hamper it. (M10)”
Once the props have been removed, we need a new stasis of personality, a new way to accept the life that we have been given. One important made in the Manual, in this passage, is that we have here learned that all changes are always helpful. This is akin to the biblical injunction, “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purpose.” This quotation meant a great deal to me when I was going through this step.
We do not have to fret. We will come through this mixed up period and be the stronger for it.
3 – Period of Relinquishment
“The third stage through which the teacher of God must go can be called ‘a period of relinquishment.’ If this is interpreted a giving up the desirable, it will engender enormous conflict. (M10)”
Sometimes we have to give up something that seems, at the point, very precious to us. We may be asked to follow God’s will, as we perceive it, without reassurances that all is well. God sometimes withdraws and lets us make our own decisions. While guidance is very much a part of this step, it does not mean that we understand the “why” of what we are being asked to say and do. I think very often we don’t. We follow blindly, if we stay true to the pathway. We know what we are to do, but we may not fully want to do it, not yet realizing that God’s will for us is always our real will (ACIM tenet).
4 – Period of Settling Down
“Now comes ‘a period of settling down.’ This is a quiet time, in which the teacher of God rests a while in reasonable peace. Now he consolidates his learning. (M10 – M11)”
We do have periods of respite on this gentle path to Awakening. This identifies such a time. We are told, shortly after this passage, that we will go on from here with “mighty companions.” This seems to indicate help from the Other Side, whether angels or not is not clear. We may be helped by Teachers of teachers, those who have gone on to beyond this life to help those of us still left behind (ACIM tenet).
We need these quiet times, for without them the way would be too arduous, and we might drop out—choosing to make our way blindly, without listening to the Holy Spirit. We might lose our way on the path to Awakening. There are no guarantees.
5 – What Do We Really Want?
“And now he must attain a state that may remain impossible to reach for a long, long time. He must learn to lay all judgment aside, and ask only what he really wants in every circumstance. Were not each step in this direction so heavily reinforced, it would be hard indeed! (M11)”
This is the real disappearance of the ego, in my understanding. What one really wants is not egoistic things of this world, yet the call of the ego has been strong in us, and we relinquish the things of this world with some struggle.
What do we really want? Ah, that is the question. We do want the peace of God, and we cannot have this on a sustained basis as long as the ego is strong in strife.
6 – Period of Achievement
“And finally, there is ‘a period of achievement.’ It is here that learning is consolidated. Now what was seen as merely shadows before become solid gains, to be counted on in all ‘emergencies’ as well as tranquil times. . . .This is the stage of real peace, for here is Heaven’s state fully reflected. From here, the way to Heaven is open and easy. In fact, it is here. Who would ‘go’ anywhere, if peace of mind is already complete? (M-11.”
I think I can say without ego that the first part of this passage is where I am now—but not the second part of the passage. I can see my learning being consolidated, even as I write my blog. Part of my “solid gains” can be seen in difficult times, “emergencies.”
I have not yet reached the state of real peace, with Heaven’s state fully reflected. I still have difficult days part of the time. I still forget all my learning sometimes, especially when stressed.
It seems to me, from where I sit, that the final half of this passage, the “period of achievement,” identifies the state in which one has been awakened or enlightened.
7 – Recapitulating
Affirmation: “Help me to ask what I really want in every circumstance.”
This passage explains one of the steps on the way to Awakening. It sounds easy, but the playing out of the passage is hard indeed. To lay all judgment is not easy, as the ego thrives on judgment. And the ego it is that we need to lay aside.
But Jesus assures us that we have “heavily reinforced” help to lay all judgment aside. This is a great blessing. This help comes from the Holy Spirit. In addition, Jesus himself has said that he is always with us. We have only to ask for help, and it will be forthcoming.
This passage represents a stumbling block to many. This is where we get stuck in our pathway to Awakening. We must recognize that the way may be long, and that there may be setbacks along the way. But the glorious end is certain.
“This is the stage of real peace, for here is Heaven’s state fully reflected. From here, the way to Heaven is open and easy. In fact, it is here. Who would ‘go’ anywhere, if peace of mind is already complete” (M11)”
This passage represents the ultimate achievement in matters of salvation. The passage tells us that peace of mind is possible even in this world, and that therein lies Heaven.
The theology underlying the Course is not always easy to follow. But here we have a definite stand that Heaven is possible of achievement even in this world. And this is a grand promise indeed.
The way to Heaven is “open and easy,” and, in fact, it is “here” now. What more glorious release could we wish to have? This is a goal worth striving for, and Jesus’s promise is that we shall know Heaven even here, once we have walked the pathway that the Course sets out.
I long for Heaven on earth. Jesus has promised it to me, and I claim his promise.
May I have the peace of mind that gives Heaven to me, even in this world. I thank you in advance for the fulfillment of this glorious promise.