Monday, August 4, 2014

The Tyranny of the Positive (Part 1)

Nobody likes a doomsayer. Doomsayers even find each other annoying after awhile, but then they find everyone annoying eventually. As an occasional dabbler in the dark art of doomsaying I can speak with some authority on this. Moderation – in doomsaying as in all things – is key.

Doomsayers (even moderate ones) must be thick skinned. This is especially true in early 21st century America, for there is an insidious force at work among us: one that threatens the well being of even the most well-intentioned of doomsayers. This movement is what I call the Tyranny of the Positive.

The Tyranny of the Positive (TOTP from here on) refers to those who insist that thoughts they consider negative never be spoken. This is especially common in small-town America but can be found to some extent in every community.

The guiding principles of the TOTP seem to be denial and the preservation of privilege but since I'm not a member of the TOTP I can only speculate. Despite their insistence on positive thought in all things, the TOTP will ruthlessly attack any hapless doomsayer who wanders into one of their enclaves.

Doomsayers, you see, threaten the natural order of things (as seen from the point of view of the TOTP). Doomsayers point out things that seem to be wrong and it almost goes without saying that the TOTP is having none of that.

There are those among us who occupy the borderlands; places neither steeped in the gloom that is the natural habitat of the professional doomsayer nor mired in the saccharine-sweet goo that the TOTP calls home. The borderlands, like most frontier outposts, are wild places characterized by constant conflict between the forces of the TOTP and those who see some value in listening to what the doomsayers have to offer. This is the place I call home.

To be continued...

Friday, May 30, 2014

It Is Given

It is inevitable that ego will viciously retaliate against my awakening realization of its falsehood, attacking everything and everyone I hold dear in an attempt to draw me back into believing that it is real. It is not real and I know it. That is its undoing and its inescapable reality. It cannot prevail over the singular Truth that, once known cannot be unknown, only denied awhile.

So as the sea around me churns, restless and menacing, I shall remain safe in the knowledge that nothing real can be threatened, nothing real can be sick, nothing real can be injured, and nothing real can ever die. This doesn't mean that I won't experience these things as real for as long as I choose to remain in this form, only that I need not suffer from the experience. Everything that I see here has within it the potential for suffering or for transcendence, and which of these it shall be for me depends entirely on whose vision (the ego's or the Holy Spirit's) I choose to embrace.

I ask the Holy Spirit, the Voice for God, the memory of that which I Am, to fill me in this time and in this space with the certain knowledge that this is not the existence that my loving Father chose for me, and that which God has not chosen cannot exist except in dreams. I ask for the wisdom to accept reality over illusion, life over death, to forgive every instance in which the unreal appears to be real, and to awaken.

And as I ask it, it is given.


Location:Manchester, Washington

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Indestructible Me

The ego will viciously attack anything that threatens to expose its creation for the fraud that it is.  It will reward empathy only as long as it takes a form that reinforces the thought of victimhood.  Any form of empathy that seeks to undo that thought will seem to be met with ever increasing resistance, beginning with ridicule and escalating ultimately to violence. Many who see a glimmer of truth are frightened by this but many others are realizing that nothing in or about this world has any power over us, only the power of our belief in it. Once that is undone - even though we may seem to others to be the same, destructible bodies that they think they are, that we once thought we were - we will know that nothing can harm us or them, that no pain can come to us or them, and that no cost can be extracted from anyone.

The good news is that, while every one of us will eventually discover this, I need only discover it for myself.  It is not my function here to insist that others do anything.  Each of us is on our own path to unity. Once the last thought of separation  is undone, this horror story will find its happy ending and we will awaken to the reality that none of it was ever real. In the meantime, while I still seem to occupy this realm of time and space, I need only ask that indestructible spark of truth that exists within me to be my guide, to help me see a frightening world through its eyes rather than through my own, to help me fearlessly face every challenge this illusory world seems to present, and to forgive myself when I discover that I have temporarily allowed fear to win.  This is the only thing I do here that matters.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Bread and Circuses

I attended a circus yesterday; a very unusual thing for me to do and something I probably would never have done had I not been invited by my sister. (I get to spend precious little time with her even though we live in the same town.)

For many years I've been opposed to the use of live animals in entertainment and would not attend circuses or other forms of entertainment that included them. I still don't think I would choose (barring some other reason, as in this case) to attend one of these but I have changed my mind about why I think that way. In the past I saw the animals as victims; as being exploited by humans for our own selfish desires. Now I see all of us, every living thing here on "psycho planet" (and everywhere else that life exists) differently. I see no difference between the so-called exploiter and the exploited. In fact I believe that, from one lifetime to the next, to the next (and so on) that each of us plays both of these roles (and many more) while we work our way through and – most importantly – out of this dream of separation.

This particular performance was beautiful to watch but throughout the experience of it I was constantly aware of its unreality. I was also aware of the lengths to which ego will go – using both beauty and horror – to convince us that whatever we perceive is real. At different times in the performance I would find my body tensing up as the horses, trainers, acrobats, and dancers did amazing – and seemingly dangerous – things with their bodies. In those moments I saw them as bodies, capable of being harmed, and therefore myself as a body capable of being harmed if I witnessed harm coming to them. And as soon as the awareness of these thoughts came to me, I was able to release them and forgive the belief in separation that gave rise to them. I was able to enjoy the show, the time with my family, the entire day in fact because I knew that what mattered was the unity I recognized when I let those thoughts pass by me. I was able to simply marvel at the enormous creative power we (as an aspect of the One Life that is within us all – the Life I call God but which you may call whatever you like) have to summon up this grand illusion.

Our one and only error is in believing that our illusion is real. That is all we have to forgive. A Course in Miracles has been the best of many useful tools I have found to work through these forgiveness lessons because it accepts no compromise. It doesn't encourage – in fact it specifically discourages – the belief in anything on the level of form as real and therefore necessary to find salvation through the manipulation or manifestation of it. It teaches us to see ourselves, and everything else as one with us, as indestructible as we imagine (because in this universe of time and space we may only imagine) the One Life (God) to be. If it cannot destroy God – and what possibly could if God is all there is – then it cannot destroy us. For we are that One Life, not separate beings subject to the whims of that which we created. From that perspective everything in our creation is enjoyable because there is no fear of loss or lack that leads inevitably to attack upon the seemingly separate beings who share it with us. Indeed, without fear there is no illusion of separateness and therefore nothing to attack.

So as I awaken to another day in this place of my own creation, I give thanks to the One who extended the power to create to me and who never judges me harshly for my insane belief in something that can exist outside of everything. I am grateful for the path home (a home I never actually left, but in dreams) that has been shown to me, and I am grateful to the Voice that guides me along the way. May the peace that comes of knowing that only this is real, and that nothing real can ever be threatened restore us to sanity.

Location:Manchester, Washington

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Way Home

To be a student of A Course in Miracles is to choose to see the world differently, period. That is the entire Course in a nutshell. It is a choice we make because every other way of seeing the world that we have tried has left us feeling powerless, or victimized, or both; states which none of us can tolerate for long because somewhere deep inside of us we know it isn't true.

We students of the Course have chosen to see ourselves as cause rather than effect. We are not God but we are that which God is. We have been given – by God – the free will to choose to imagine a world in which God does not exist, or in which God is cruel, and this is the total extent of what we have done: we have imagined it. Because we are God's creation we possess the power to create; a power that God knows can never result in something in which He is not but which we have – in an instant of wayward thought – considered possible. From that tiny "mad idea" an entire universe seemed to spring into existence; a universe in which we imagined ourselves separate, and special, and in which we could be God. And in that instant, fear – a condition totally unknown and unknowable to God – was born.
You do not realize the magnitude of that one error. It was so vast and so completely incredible that from it a world of total unreality had to emerge. What else could come of it? Its fragmented aspects are fearful enough, as you begin to look at them. But nothing you have seen begins to show you the enormity of the original error, which seemed to cast you out of Heaven, to shatter knowledge into meaningless bits of disunited perceptions, and to force you to make further substitutions. (A Course in Miracles, T-18.I.5.)

God cannot know fear. However we seem to have created an entire universe in which fear is the dominant force. We say "seem to have created" because nothing which God does not know can truly exist, and God doesn't know this. To know this would make God insane and God is not insane.

There are those who say that God does not exist. This is a reasonable conclusion within this realm of ours. There are also those who say that God is in control here – another reasonable point of view. But consider the ramifications of each of these choices:

A universe in which God does not exist is a universe without meaning. Traces of meaning may be found in tiny, separate, but ultimately inconsequential events experienced by each of us, or by groups of us, but always within the confines of a universe doomed – as our best scientific minds demonstrate over and over again – to eventual annihilation. Nothing that we do here will last and therefore nothing that we do has any meaning in the long run. We are powerless to change that reality within this space and time.

A universe like ours in which God is in control has meaning but it's a terrifying one. It is a world in which God is no longer a loving creator but a fearsome avenger. It is a world in which we find ourselves unworthy of our Father's love unless we please Him.  It is a world in which our seemingly consistent failure to do so renders us unlovable, except by a Father who sees us as guilty of an impossibility and chooses to overlook it – as long as we apologize for what we did not do. Otherwise we are eternally damned by the one who claims to love us. In such a world we are victims and we are victimizers.

As students of A Course in Miracles we recognize an element of truth within each of these belief systems but we also see the circular nature of them; there is no way out. God is either absent or God is a monster; there is no other possibility within the worlds these thought systems envision.

We choose to see things differently. We choose to acknowledge that God is, that only God is, and that anywhere God appears not to be cannot exist outside of a dream. We choose to acknowledge God as the ultimate perfection and that within ultimate perfection fear cannot exist; therefore anywhere in which fear seems to exist must also be a dream. This is what the Voice for God meant when It taught us:

We choose to know that we are God's creation and that the creation of ultimate perfection cannot be less than perfect or it would render the Creator imperfect. We choose to acknowledge what our own science teaches us: that all "matter" within our universe is merely one form of energy or another and that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; it can only change form within the confines of time and space. We see a glimpse of the ultimate truth within the energy rather than within the form it takes and recognize the form for what it is: a temporary manifestation of that which is real, not reality itself.

Having listened to the Voice for God we see our way out of this madness that we have mistaken for our reality: a way that does not involve fear but rather an acknowledgement of our power to create and, in this case, miscreate. We can undo what we seem to have done and in doing so find that we never actually did anything. The guilt that seemed to give rise to this universe of fear could never have been real because guilt cannot exist within perfection. It is our realization of that truth, and the forgiveness of ourselves for ever believing that anything else was possible, that shows us the way out of the endless, repetitious thought processes that seem to trap us here.

I give thanks to the Voice for God for sharing this truth with me and I share it with you knowing that somewhere within you lies the tiny spark of recognition that will ultimately lead you home as well. Our Father is there, waiting for His one and only child to awaken from this nightmare of pain, gently holding us in His arms and comforting us while respecting us enough to know that we must awaken in our own way, in our own time. When we do, He will be there to welcome us back to a home we never actually left but only dreamed that we did, and all will be as it always was: perfect.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Seeing Sin

The Course assures us right from the start that "there is no order of difficulty in miracles. One is not 'harder' or 'bigger' than another. They are all the same. All expressions of love are maximal." I accept this on faith however I find that in practice I have some way to go before I experience the truth of it.

The Miracle is forgiveness.  That's all there is to it but the word forgiveness evokes different thoughts from different people and few of us know what the Course means when it uses that word.  In Course terms forgiveness means it never happened; that there is nothing to forgive.  The Course would not have us deny that we believe something happened (obviously we do) but that we ask the Holy Spirit to guide us to the realization that what we think has upset us is nothing more than a stand-in for the one fear that underlies them all.  I find this easy enough to practice when I know that I'll probably never have to encounter the situation that I blamed for my upset again but if that's not the case I find it much more difficult to do.

For example, the owner of a local restaurant treated my mother rudely in my presence last weekend; at least that's my interpretation of what I think happened. I have been carrying around my resentment for two days now and even though the owner of the restaurant has apologized without reservation or equivocation for what I think she did I am having a very difficult time letting go of the resentment.  I cringe at the thought of seeing this woman again.  The obvious reason is that I feel embarrassed, which is just another form of fear (fear being the emotional manifestation of the thought that something important is threatened.)

If I never intended to visit this restaurant again or if I believed that there was little chance I would ever see this woman again it would be very easy to recognize that nothing is threatened and to forgive.  I like this restaurant though and I'd like to go back there again, and therein lies the sense of difficulty.

I understand the metaphysics of the Course.  I take as a matter of faith that nothing that I see means what I think it means, and that in fact nothing I see actually exists.  There is no restaurant.  There is no restaurant owner.  There is no mother.  There is no me.  I get that.  At this moment in time I don't find the metaphysics to be particularly useful though.  I still find myself in a body, in a world in which those do seem to exist and as long as I believe in them I must deal with them.

I write about this because I believe it's a common experience for many Course students.  The only answer I can find at the moment is to sit with my thoughts and my feelings, be mindful of any judgments that arise and any thoughts I have about them, and forgive.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Love Bites

The love of my life bit me repeatedly when we first met and I loved her for it. Today, I'm bidding her farewell after twelve tumultuous years, during which she stood by my side proudly and without judgment.  Everything I did was the Best. Thing. Ever. to her as long as she could join in.  I'm writing about my little baby dog Porsche.

Anyone who has known me very long knows that I have the capacity for great care and compassion as well as the ability to bite (metaphorically speaking) when I feel threatened. So it's been an amazing coincidence to spend my life with a little dog who possesses these same traits.  Porsche and I arrived at this state following similar paths: paths which led us to people who claimed to love us, but who were particularly cruel in their demonstration of that "love".  Porsche eventually learned to bite to protect herself from these people, and so did I.  Unfortunately, as happens with most who have been subjected to bullying, we learned to bite everyone rather than learning to identify who needed biting, and who didn't.  Those who are being bullied don't often have the opportunity (time) to think through their reactions first.

The fact that Porsche and I met when we did, when both of us had arrived at a point in our journeys where biting ceased to do anything useful for either of us, was another remarkable coincidence.  Giving credit where it's due, I have to say that Porsche has made much more progress toward finding alternatives to biting than I have, but we have both come a long, long way from where we started.  You can see in her body language that Porsche still thinks of biting each time she's startled, but she never does; she hasn't bitten anyone or anything in more than ten years. Unfortunately, I can't claim that same distinction for myself, but I too have made great progress.

I've been crying on and off for much of the morning.  I'm so grateful to be surrounded by family and friends who know what this little creature has meant to me, and who are standing beside me as I help shepherd my little friend along the last few steps of this part of the journey.  This afternoon, we will meet at a fork in the road and bid each other farewell for now.  We will hug, we will kiss, and we will be grateful for the joy we have each brought to the other's lives, for our mutual steadfastness, and for the unconditional love that we have shared.  And then I will watch quietly as she takes one path, and I another, knowing - as I absolutely do - that all paths eventually lead to the same destination.  We will meet again, and I assure you that when we do, nobody will be biting anyone.  Sweet dreams my love.