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25.1 To devote oneself to an objective is a vow to accomplish. To be devoted is to be prayerful. As we said in the beginning, to pray is to ask for all to be included in what you do. Devotion is thus our first lesson in learning how to be engaged in life during the time of tenderness.
25.2 Devotion is the outcome of love and in this instance is an action word, a verb, a means of serving and being served by love. Devotion is a particular type of participation. It cannot be faked. But it can be practiced.
25.3 You, dear children, have faked your way through much of life. You have faked confidence when you are uncertain, interest where you feel indifference, knowledge of things about which you know nothing. But those who have tried to fake love cannot do it. The same is true of devotion, because there is no real devotion without love.
25.4 Love cannot be faked because you know love. Because you know it, imitations of love are immediately felt. You may choose to deny the feeling, but you cannot prevent it from occurring. You can attempt to earn the love of those from whom you desire it, you can attempt to buy it, change for it, or capture it. This you cannot do. Yet, love is always present. Let us spend a moment considering this contradiction.
25.5 How can love always be present when you can undeniably feel each and every absence of love? The problem is in the perceiver rather than the perceived. Each time you feel a lack of love, it comes from within yourself. This lack of love, or “faked” love of which you cannot help but be aware, is a signal to you that you want something. When you become aware that you want something, you are also becoming aware that you feel you lack something. All feelings of lack are synonymous with feelings of fear. Where there is fear, love is hidden. Love is rejected when a choice for fear is made. You cannot be without love, but you can reject love. When you reject love, it is hidden from you, because receiving completes giving. Each of your brothers and sisters are love inviolate. What each gives is incomplete until it is received.
25.6 When you feel a lack of love in others, you have projected your fear onto them. Only when you cease to do this will you feel true devotion.
25.7 When you feel lack of love, you feel as if the “other” gives you nothing. Yet it is your lack of ability to receive that causes this feeling. The practice of devotion is a means by which you can purify your engagement with life and all you encounter within it. Devotion is synonymous with true service. True service does not look for what another has to give or what another has that you might use. True service recognizes God’s law of giving and receiving, and the practice of devotion is, in effect, the practice of allowing giving and receiving to be one. It is, during the time of tenderness, a true practice that, like vigilance, is a means to a desired end. You must practice recognizing your feelings of lack of love, and realize these feelings come from your inability to receive. Do this practice until it is no longer needed.
25.8 Devotion is inclusive. It implies a subject and an object: One who is devoted and one who is an object of devotion. While we are moving away from subject/object relationships to the relationship of unity, the idea of one who is devoted, and of those for whom devotion is practiced, is useful during the time of tenderness. It will lead to the understanding of oneness as completion, an understanding of giving and receiving as one.
25.9 Devotion leads to harmony through action. This is possible for you now only if you have integrated the most basic teaching of this Course and no longer feel duped by life. All of your contests of will are supported by your contention that you have been misled. It is as if you have paid for your ticket, arrived for the concert, and been told your ticket is not valid. This makes you angry. This anger is re-enacted in thousands of different scenarios in your life day after day and year after year until you realize and truly believe the basic tenets this Course has put forward.
25.10 To be in concert, just as to perform a concert, is contingent on harmony. It is being in agreement about the purpose for which you are here and your entitlement to be fully present here. If you still believe you are here to acquire some perceived ideal separated state, then all action will be out of harmony. If, however, you have accepted the basic tenets of this Course and believe you are here to realize unity, then all action will be in harmony. If you believe you and your brothers and sisters are here in a state of reprisal, having fallen from grace, then all action will be out of harmony. If you believe you and all other living things are here in a state of grace, then all action will be in harmony. If you believe one living thing is more important than any other, then all action will be out of harmony. If you believe all are essential, then all action will be in harmony.
25.11 While one special relationship continues, all special relationships continue because they are given validity. The holy relationship of unity depends on the release of the beliefs that foster special relationships.
25.12 To believe you are in concert with the universe is to believe that you have no need for struggle, to believe you have no lack, to believe in your state of grace. While you believe even one person is against you, you are not in concert with God. While you believe fate works against you, you are not in concert with the universe. These attitudes confirm a continuing belief in your separated and vulnerable state. During the time of tenderness, you will learn, through the practice of devotion, to identify and reject all such attitudes and to adopt an attitude of invulnerability.
25.13 An attitude of invulnerability is necessary now. It is not arrogance or a means by which to flirt with risk and danger. It is simply your reality. During the time of tenderness you may feel vulnerable. But the time of tenderness is a time of healing, and as you are healed you will realize you are no longer vulnerable to being wounded. Fear of being wounded—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—has kept you from engaging with life. Being healed and recognizing your own state of being healed is a key purpose of the time of tenderness. You cannot realize your true identity while you hang on to wounds of any kind. All wounds are evidence of your belief that you can be attacked and hurt. You have not necessarily seen disappointment as attack or hopelessness as hurt, but you do feel these emotions as wounds. While you think you can remain disappointed or disillusioned, you will not be invulnerable. There is always, behind every disappointment or disillusion, every attack and every hurt, a person you believe acted toward you without love. While you believe feelings of lack of love come from anywhere but within, you will not be invulnerable.
25.15 Involvement flows from participation and engagement. While it may conjure up notions of joining movements or parties, or of making social contributions, pure joining is its objective. The first joining comes from within and it is putting into practice the lessons of joining mind and heart in wholeheartedness.
25.16 This first joining is a choice made from love without regard for the personal self. You begin to live from love when the personal self gets out of the way. And when the personal self gets out of the way in any instance, it is the turning point. It is the signal that you are ready to live from love. This is what this Course is about. Living from love. Living from love is what will reverse the lessons of the past. Reversing the lessons of the past is what will allow you to live in love in every instance.
25.17 Living in love in every instance is what occurs when the whole Self is involved in the love of life. There are no “parts” of the Self fractioned off and holding resentments. There are no “parts” of Self living in the past or the future. There is not a “mindful” Self living separately from a “soulful” Self. There is not a “worker” Self living separately from a “prayerful” Self. All Selves are joined in wholeheartedness. The one Self is solely involved in living love.
25.18 As you begin to live love, a reverse of what you might expect to happen will happen. While you may expect that everything will take on greater importance, the reverse will at first be true. You will see little in what you do that matters. You will wonder why you are unconcerned about many of the things you have been concerned about previously. Your life may actually seem to have less purpose. You may begin to wonder what to do. You will almost certainly question what you do for a “living.” You will question many patterns and habits.
25.19 This is unlearning taking place. It may feel frustrating and be tinged with anxiety, anger, confusion, perplexity, even rage. You will doubt that these are the proper feelings of a person living love. Yet they are common feelings of unlearning, and should be accepted as such. You will learn that while some things you have done and will continue to do may not matter, they may still be done with patience, grace, and love. You will learn that other things you have done, beliefs you have held, patterns and habits that have occupied you, will not accompany you into your life of love. These you will leave behind.
25.20 You may also notice a growth in your desire to take credit for what you have created, and a desire to create anew. At this stage, this desire will come from a feeling of needing to reassert the self. This need will arise as you realize that you can take no credit for your life. Wanting to take credit is of the ego, and at this stage the desire to create may be linked with ego as well. Your personal self will be looking for a place in which to reside. It will be looking for identity. It will want to say: “This is who I am.” This is an exciting sign, for it means the old identity is losing hold. Be patient during this time, and your new identity will emerge. If the urge to create is strong, certainly let it serve you. But do not seek for praise or acknowledgment of your creations at this time. You will soon realize that creation is not of, or for, the personal self.
25.21 This will be a time of discernment. You may feel it as a time of decision making, but the less you attempt to make conscious decisions the quicker your unlearning will take place and the lessons of discernment occur. Discernment is needed only until you are better able to comprehend the whole. Comprehension of the whole is aided by a return to wholeness of the Self. Until wholeness of the Self is complete, discernment is necessary.
25.22 Practice discernment by being still and awaiting wisdom. Your feeling of being identity-less will make decision-making and choices of all kinds appear to be difficult during this time. You must realize decisions and choices are made by relying upon the very lessons you are in the process of unlearning. At the same time, however, decisions and choices will seem to need to be made with increasing frequency. Your feeling of needing to make new choices, while strong, will not necessarily reflect real need but rather an impatience with the way things are and were. You will want to force change rather than wait for it to arrive. If you acknowledge your impatience as a sign of readiness for change that does not necessarily require action on your part, you will feel some relief.
25.23 When action is seen to be necessary, this is exactly when a time of stillness is needed. You might think of this time of stillness as a time of consulting with your new identity. Simply sitting quietly, and posing the question or concern that is in need of appropriate action will suffice. When an answer comes to you, acknowledge that it is an answer from your new identity and express appreciation for it. While you will at times doubt that you have received an answer or that the answer you have received is correct, you will soon learn to trust this quiet process of discernment. You will know you have succeeded when you truly feel as if you have “turned the question or concern over” and allowed it to be responded to in a new way.
25.24 When you are guided to act in ways that are contrary to usual patterns of action you have taken in the past, you will often meet resistance. Try to be lighthearted at such times and to remember that if it “doesn’t matter,” you might as well try the new way. Remind yourself that you have nothing to lose. You will soon learn that this is so. You will also soon realize why this time of engagement with life is necessary. Experience is necessary to complete the cycle of unlearning and learning.
25.25 Being fully engaged with life while taking the time for discernment is uncommon. Putting action before stillness, activity before rest, is seen as synonymous with a full life. We must, therefore, speak a bit of what a full life is.
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