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.

Monday, April 29, 2013

About Face

Time passes, that's what time does, and almost 18 months of it has passed since I last studied a workbook lesson. I have been distracted by much, and at the same time by nothing.

My involvement in the Occupy Wall Street movement was fascinating for a time, greatly uplifting and empowering while it lasted, but ultimately self-serving rather than Self-serving. It became a function of the ego rather than a function of forgiveness and the result has been, as all functions of the ego inevitably produce, a greater sense of separation; apparent through all sorts of physical limitations: the awareness of (and obsession with) my mother's seeming mortality, the hyper-awareness of the seeming frailty of my own body, obsession with politics, obsession with my business, compulsive behaviors, and every sort of ego-based minutiae intended to distract me from my path.

I lost my way for awhile but I take comfort in knowing that, while I may wander in the wilderness as long as I choose, my destination is set and I cannot help but arrive there. In fact I am already there, and always have been, only my mind is unaware of it. The purpose of A Course in Miracles is to help me wake up; the purpose of the world is to provide a workspace for practicing the lessons of The Course. That is its only purpose and I forgot that for a short time, making the world matter when it doesn't, making the things that appear to be happening in it important when they are not happening at all, and forgetting that my only function is to see what is real, forgive the thought that what isn't real ever was, and thereby awaken.

I considered that I ought to start over, to begin The Course anew at lesson 1, but Spirit has instead guided me to reread the text in full, and to read Jon Mundy's excellent Living A Course in Miracles before resuming with Lesson 63. My inner voice, the Voice for God, the Holy Spirit, reminds me that nothing is unlearned, nothing forgotten but the awareness of what I already know.

And so I choose again to turn to the Light, and to continue my journey home. I'll see You there.



Monday, December 17, 2012

A Cry For Love, Not a Call To Arms


It will take awhile to get to the spiritual point of this post, however I'll be dealing with a highly charged emotional issue today and it will take some time to get through it:

I've felt profoundly sad in the days since the elementary school killings in Newtown, Connecticut. The killings, which are hard enough to fathom from a distance, don't affect me directly and so my sadness is only indirectly related to that event.  The sadness that does affect me directly, and to which I'm referring now comes as a result of my reactions to attitudes that some of my friends have adopted concerning guns and the individual right to bear them.

I must confess at the beginning of this that I have been given to attack thoughts recently; attacking institutions (such as the National Rifle Association) to which I have assigned blame for encouraging a culture of violence in my country by opposing even the most sensible regulation of gun ownership and use.

I must also say that I've come some distance on this issue.  There was a time when I thought guns where intolerable for any purpose and that they should be banned altogether.  I find the idea of hunting other animals abhorrent. I've never felt the need or the desire to shoot guns for recreation, and there was a time when I felt perfectly justified imposing (by law if necessary) those values on others; I no longer feel that way.  I still don't understand what motivates others to engage in these activities but I accept that they do and let it go at that.

As best I can tell, there are only three reasons to own a gun:

  • Personal protection
  • Hunting
  • Recreation (not involving hunting)

I've come around to accepting the last two of these however I'm still having a hard time with the first. All of the available evidence I've been able to find tells us that gun owners are far more likely to be shot with their own guns, or to have someone they love shot with them, than they are to ever have the opportunity to use them for personal protection. However the myth that we are safer when carrying a gun persists.

In the absence of any evidence that carrying a gun makes you safer - and in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary, why continue to carry one?  I am a great advocate of faith when it comes to the existence of God (for Whom there is no evidence), however I don't understand the desire to ignore evidence where it does exist.

Most of the comments I've seen on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere can be boiled down to these two basic arguments:

  • Guns don't kill people, people kill people.
  • If law abiding people are prevented from having guns, only criminals will have them.

While the first argument rolls off the tongue easily and contains a grain of truth, the fact is that people with guns are far more prolific and effective killers than people without guns.  In countries where guns are highly regulated people still kill each other, however they tend to do so far less frequently (and their countries experience significantly lower violent crime rates) than here in the United States.  (When I write "far less frequently", I cannot emphasize the word "far" enough to convey the magnitude of the difference.)

The second argument presumes that those who advocate regulation of gun ownership mean to ban guns altogether - a presumption for which, again, scant evidence exists. While there are a handful of gun-control fundamentalists out there who want all private gun ownership banned, they are very few in number and have virtually no backing in government.  No competent and law abiding gun owner is in danger of losing the right to own a gun in the United States.

My answers to these arguments are not new and yet they carry little weight with many gun owners. So once again we are left with a question:

If no one is effectively arguing that you don't have the right to own them, why would you resist efforts to make gun ownership safer for everyone concerned (including you, your family, and those who choose not to own guns)?

At long last we have arrived at the spiritual portion of our show:

Fear is the only motivation I can identify for the reluctance to face incontrovertible evidence. If there is a logical reason for doing so, it has eluded me, so for now let's assume that it is fear.  Every major faith tradition teaches that fear represents an absence of faith; a belief that something "out there" is more powerful than God.  It's understandable to experience fear because we can see what appears to be "out there" whereas we can only feel the presence of God, however there is no other purpose for faith other than to transform fear into love, and there is no path to this transformation that involves embracing the thing you fear.

If you see a threat when you look out into the world, the fear you feel is a reminder to embrace God, not to embrace fear.  If other people frighten you, God reminds you to look again:
"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother." ~ 1 John 4:18-21

The central premise of A Course in Miracles is this:
"Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God."

1 John tells us that God is love and we are taught throughout the Bible and elsewhere that nothing exists but God; that God is the very essence of all that is and any idea that something exists outside of God is a belief in the impossible.  Therefore faith requires that we acknowledge that there is no "out there" in which something can exist that can threaten us or those we hold most dear. Our only essential task in life is to return to the place in which we know fundamentally that this is true.

Embracing fear reinforces the illusion of separation between us and others, and between us and God. If we perceive a threat to our physical existence (or the physical existence of others) we are acknowledging something which cannot - according to our faith - be true.  That path is a circular one that will never lead us home and the only way to begin to step off of that path is to embrace a willingness to release the fear that keeps us there.

So I issue this challenge to my friends, most of whom are people of faith: please reconsider the need for protection from your brothers and sisters. Theirs is a cry for love, not a call to arms.  There is nothing real that they can take from you, only illusions that you can see - idols that have taken the place intended only for God in your mind.  I also issue the challenge to myself, to recognize that nothing in the minds of others need change in order for me to be at peace.  We all have our work cut out for us.