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A.26 Readers who have not moved away from their desire to learn something that will feed their minds or egos will seldom continue to this next level. The next level brings with it the same situation the reader encountered in receiving the Course, but the reader will now encounter these situations in life. The reader is no longer only a reader. Their experience of this Course has extended beyond reading and beyond the classroom situation. Now a time may come when studying truly seems to be in order. The guidance provided by their reading may seem to come and go and their desire to rely on what they have “learned” will grow. They may desire to backtrack, review, or begin to highlight passages to return to again and again. New questions may arise and a desire for feedback or discussion grow stronger. This may also be precisely the time when the reader is so caught up in experience and learning “in life” that return to a group or classroom situation feels next to impossible.
A.27 Rather than being in a standard learning situation, what the reader who is now experiencing life in a new way is doing is attempting to reinforce what he or she already knows and has already accepted. The “language” is returned to, as a helpful friend would be turned to for judgment-free advice. What those who begin to experience life in a new way begin to discover are the patterns of thoughts and behavior that are most deeply entrenched in them. They feel in need of assistance!
A.28 At this point, groups may need to become more flexible, meet less frequently, or even disband in favor of former “classmates” meeting in more casual and spontaneous encounters. It remains important for facilitators and group members to be available to one another if at all possible during this time, for what is being gained through experience is still in need of being shared. This sharing can offer a rich and rewarding opportunity for differences to be revealed and for the welcome realization that differences do not make separate.
A.29 The forward motion, regardless of a group’s configuration, is still the same. It is one movement away from learning and toward acceptance of what is. While differences may be highlighted in this time, what will be revealed through sharing is that while experiences may differ greatly and seem to be offering diverse “learning” situations, the individuals will actually be coming to many very similar new insights and truths.
A.30 The impatience of the earlier level may seem to have increased as these experiences will be moving each individual along at her own pace. Comparisons may arise and some may feel they are not advancing as quickly as others, while those moving quickly may feel in need of time to catch their breath!
A.31 Now, despite the rapidity of movement or lack thereof, to read the Treatises together will likely feel as if it is almost a waste of valuable time. Thus, gatherings of those working with the Treatises will naturally include more sharing of experiences. The facilitator’s task is now one of placing these experiences in context. After giving the group time to talk, the facilitator might choose a brief passage that will fit within the content of the sharing. Always it is the facilitator’s role to guide the individual group members away from inclinations, which may be strong during this time, to “figure things out.” Problem solving is to be discouraged. Trust is to be encouraged. Often a discussion can be facilitated greatly by the question, “How might we be able to look at this situation in a new way?” To encourage the gentleness of the art of thought over the relentless stridency of the thinking mind is always helpful. Obsessive thinking is always ruthless, judgmental, and wearing on the thinker. He or she needs help in breaking its grip and should never be allowed to suffer.
A.32 Assisting individuals with the recognition of patterns is also a highly valuable service that facilitators and other group members can provide. The entrenched patterns of the past are difficult to dislodge even when they have been recognized. Individuals can be encouraged here to “watch the parade go by” as what has gone unhealed is brought forward for acceptance, forgiveness, and letting-go. With the letting-go of each old pattern or situation that seems fraught with peril, a cloud of despair will lift, a little more of darkness recedes, and a little more light is available to show the way.
A.33 Often here the facilitator will meet as well individual assessments and self-doubts. Group members may wonder if they are missing something. They may feel as if they have not experienced unity or as if they are no closer to knowing themselves or God. They may feel as if this Course of study that seemed to be working so well for a while now is letting them down. They may wonder where and when the peace, ease, and abundance promised by this Course will arrive. These need help in staying grounded in the present and reminders that they are no longer seeking. They need your reassurance that this time of engagement with life is just what is needed to integrate what has been learned. A return to the simple words that begin the “Treatise on Unity” would be appropriate: “A treasure that you do not as yet recognize is going to be recognized. Once recognized it will begin to be regarded as an ability. And finally, through experience it will become your identity.”
A.34 The achievements of the past, achievements that awarded credentials, certificates and degrees, admiration, respect, and status, are now a thing of the past. What individuals may well be looking for is their reward for the investment they have made in this coursework. While they are looking for it to show up in an old way they will miss the new ways that are being revealed to them. Remind them gently that the achievements of the past were not lasting and that they are not what they would truly want now. Remind them that the goal is reached in being who they are at last. It is present—not in the future. It is with them—not beyond them. The treasure is them.
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