Monday, November 4, 2013

Starting Again; Where It All Began

Four years ago I stopped writing in this blog, mostly due to a busy schedule, plus we only had dial-up internet service available and I became frustrated with the achingly slow speed.  Now we have fast internet and I should be able to find time to make a few entries now and then.

A Course in Miracles continues to be the center of my life.   For many years prior to becoming its student, the Course was calling to me.  I didn't realize that at the time, of course.  I would find it referenced in other books that I read, and several times I tracked it down in a bookstore, thumbed through it, read a few pages, then put it back on the shelf.   It looked overwhelmingly complicated, and, having been brought up in a traditional Christian family, I quite frankly found it scarey!  I mean, if Jesus was going to speak to somebody, shouldn't it have been a priest or a monk - somebody who was already into religion?  Certainly not an atheist!  And I really wasn't convinced about that channeling stuff.

One evening in 2007, I was reading History of Mysticism, by Swami Abhayananda, and something opened up inside of me.  It expanded to fill my heart and mind - a desire unlike any I have ever felt before.  Tears streamed down my face and I said out loud, "I want to go Home."  I knew that Home had nothing to do with dying.  I wasn't sure how I was going to get there, but I knew I would find my way.  Shortly thereafter, I bought Gary Renard's Disappearance of the Universe, which, unknown to me at the time, is about A Course in Miracles.  I shared Gary's book with my skeptical, antireligious, husband, who, after reading it, suggested we find the Course.  We did and have been avid students of it ever since.  We have both done the lessons in the workbook and have read the text twice, as well as other books Course-related, such as Elizabeth Cronkhite's translations of the Course text, workbook, and Manual for Teachers into plain English.  After studying the Course and absorbing its divine message, both my husband and I fully believe that the Course was indeed channeled to Helen Schucman by Jesus.  The Course has changed our lives.

As anybody who studies the Course will probably agree, you can read the Course and every book that has been written about the Course, but until you make it a part of you, until you actually do what it says, you are standing in front of the stove with the gas turned on, thinking about cooking.  You have to be willing to go all the way, and all the way really is only a matter of choice.  Yet, there is really only one choice to make:

"The truth makes no decisions, for there is nothing to decide between.  And only if there were could choosing be a necessary step in the advance toward oneness." (ACIM Chapt. 26, III, 1 (10-11)

"That there is choice is an illusion.  Yet within this one lies the undoing of every illusion, not excepting this."  (ACIM Chapt. 26, III, 6 (4-5)

The thing is -- I'm certainly not there yet.  I struggle daily with keeping my mind in line with the Course, but therein lies the problem - I struggle.  There is no need to struggle.  The Course is very clear that we need do nothing but step back and let the Holy Spirit (the One Whom God Has Given You), take charge.  In my mind, I often hear Jesus' voice as he sarcastically says in the Course:

"Think not that happiness is ever found by following a road away from it.  This makes no sense, and cannot be the way.  To you who seem to find this course to be too difficult to learn, let me repeat that to achieve a goal you must proceed in its direction, not away from it.  And every road that leads the other way will not advance the purpose to be found.  If this be difficult to understand, then is this course impossible to learn.  But only then.  For otherwise, it is a simple teaching in the obvious."  (ACIM Chapt. 31, IV, 7)

And so I carry on.  I'll get there one day.  Meanwhile, this blog is helpful as a means for recording and exploring my thoughts about the Course in Miracles.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"Is That So?"

Thinking about judgment again today (see blog entry of November 28, 2008). Judgment creates perception which hides the truth from us. The world itself is neutral and everything happening is neutral. If we refuse to judge it, we are what the course calls forgiving it. To forgive, in the course's teachings, is to overlook. Overlook what the world offers because it is not real and our judgment of it is a defense against the truth. Allow the Holy Spirit to judge (see) the world through us and in that sense, it will be judged correctly and we will be given a new perception of the world.

"Judgment was made to be a weapon used against the truth. It separates what it is being used against, and sets it off as if it were a thing apart. And then it makes of it what you would have it be. It judges what it cannot understand, because it cannot see totality and therefore judges falsely. Let us not use it today, but make a gift of it to Him Who has a different use for it. He will relieve us of the agony of all the judgments we have made against ourselves, and re-establish peace of mind by giving us God's Judgment of His Son." (ACIM Workbook Lesson 311)

"Perception follows judgment. Having judged, we therefore see what we would look upon. For sight can merely serve to offer us what we would have. It is impossible to overlook what we would see, and fail to see what we have chosen to behold. How surely, therefore, must the real world come to greet the holy sight of anyone who takes the Holy Spirit's purpose as his goal for seeing. And he cannot fail to look upon what Christ would have him see, and share Christ's Love for what he looks upon." (ACIM Workbook Lesson 312)

The teachings of the Course in Miracles have been compared with Zen Buddhism, and recently I read a book in which a Zen story was quoted that reminded me of the course's teachings about being non-judgmental, neutral, about letting everything be as they are. Here is the story:

Hakuin was praised by his neighbors for living a pure life. When a beautiful young woman in the village confessed to her parents that she was pregnant with Hakuin's child, they angrily confronted him.

His only reply was, "Is that so?"

After the child was born it was brought to Hakuin, who by now had lost his reputation and credibility as a teacher.
Without a question he took the child and cared for it.

A year later the young woman could no longer endure her dishonesty. She confessed that the real father was a young man who worked in the fishmarket.

The parents went immediately to Hakuin to beg for his forgiveness and to retrieve the child. Without a pause he gave it to them. "Is that so?" was his only reply."

from The Tao of Zen by Ray Grigg, quoted from Zen Flesh, Zen Bones by Paul Reps.

I love this story and its emphasis on accepting things as they are. When we see things as "good" or "bad," no matter what they are, we are judging them in that we give them the meaning that we choose to give them. This is true for everything in this world, from sorrow to pain, even to death. Relinquishing judgment to the Holy Spirit allows us to say, "Is that so?" to all that occurs in our lives.

"Let me not be your critic, Lord, today, and judge against You. Let me not attempt to interfere with Your creation, and distort it into sickly forms. Let me be willing to withdraw my wishes from its unity, and thus to let it be as You created it. For thus will I be able, too, to recognize my Self as You created me. In love was I created, and in love will I remain forever. What can frighten me, when I let all things be exactly as they are?
Let not our sight be blasphemous today, nor let our ears attend to lying tongues. Only reality is free of pain. Only reality is free of loss. Only reality is wholly safe. And it is only this we seek today." (ACIM Workbook Lesson 268)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Love is all There Is

"Every loving thought that the Son of God ever had is eternal. The loving thoughts his mind perceives in this world are the world's only reality. They are still perceptions, because he still believes that he is separate. Yet they are eternal because they are loving. And being loving they are like the Father, and therefore cannot die. The real world can actually be perceived. All that is necessary is a willingness to perceive nothing else. For if you perceive both good and evil, you are accepting both the false and the true and making no distinction between them." ACIM text pg. 210, para 2

"Do not . . . be deceived in your brother, and see only his loving thoughts as his reality, for by denying that his mind is split you will heal yours." ACIM text pg. 213, para 9, line 2

"Perfect love casts out fear.
If fear exists,
Then there is not perfect love,
Only perfect love exists.
If there is fear,
It produces a state that does not exist.

Believe this and you will be free." ACIM text pg. 14-15

Today, on Valentine's Day, is a good time to write about Jesus' teaching that only love exists. This is not the imperfect kind of love that we celebrate when we run out and buy our lovers chocolates, flowers, or a stuffed bear. The love that is all that exists is God's Love and it is not totally comprehensible by us in our time-and-space existence except through loving thoughts.

Loving thoughts exist forever. They make people do more than purchase cards, chocolates or jewelry. They are the force that stirs a mother to stay up all night with a sick child, a neighbor to bake a cake for someone who is hurting, a person to open up their home to a family who lost theirs in a fire, or someone to take in a stray puppy. Loving thoughts are eternal. They exist in God's World - our world, when we choose to see only our brother's loving thoughts. That is how we can go Home. Think only loving thoughts; SEE only loving thoughts. See what is real, what is only real: perfect love - the Love of the Father.

Loving thoughts are what made one man willing to be crucified, unwilling to see himself as persecuted, because all that he saw in his tormentors were their loving thoughts.

"The message of the crucifixion is perfectly clear:

Teach only love, for that is what you are.

If you interpret the crucifixion in any other way, you are using it as a weapon for assault rather than as the call for peace for which it was intended. The Apostles often misunderstood it, and for the same reason that anyone misunderstands it. Their own imperfect love made them vulnerable to projection, and out of their own fear they spoke of the 'Wrath of God' as His retaliatory weapon. Nor could they speak of the crucifixion entirely without anger, because their sense of guilt made them angry." ACIM text pg. 94

"As you read the teachings of the Apostles, remember that I told them myself that there was much they would understand later, because they were not wholly ready to follow me at the time. I do not want you to allow any fear to enter into the thought system toward which I am guiding you. I do not call for martyrs but for teachers." ACIM text pg. 95

Teach only love - that is our mission in this world, our calling. Not to be crucified in order to fulfill our role; that was Jesus' lesson for us.

Teach only love for that is what we are! God is Love. We were made in the image of God. Our essence is Love. We are only fulfilling our role when we are loving. When we think loving thoughts and see only other's loving thoughts, we are acknowledging our own reality and that of our brother.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Away From the Goal

Sometimes this world crushes me beneath a rubble of dreams that haven't come true, feelings of inadequacy, awareness of lack - a host of poisonous thoughts that I find easy to succumb to. My melancholy and confusion are like a veil before my mind, fogging it up so I cannot see. It turns into a vicious circle of resentment against myself for being so lazy and dispirited that I never seen to progress beyond my starting point. Where am I going? I ask myself. Where have I been? What have I done? Is there anything of my life worth preserving? Have I been using up space on this planet that someone more worthy could make better use of? It gets pretty bad - these negative feelings trip me, drain my energy, darken the day.

Despite this, I'm actually very happy. I have a wonderful home, a terrific husband, and adequate income. Yet at times the ego nudges me and insists that I listen to its maniacal rantings, its spotlighting the things I HAVEN'T done with my life, its reminder that I'm more than halfway DEAD! Oh, the bleakness, the fear, the dread that pollutes my thoughts when I listen!

"When you are sad, KNOW THIS NEED NOT BE. Depression comes from a sense of being deprived of something you want and do not have. Remember that you are deprived of NOTHING except by your own decisions and then DECIDE OTHERWISE."
ACIM Text pg. 63

"Watch your mind for the temptations of the ego, and do not be deceived by it. It offers you nothing. When you have given up this voluntary dispiriting, you will see how your mind can focus and rise above fatigue and heal. Yet you are not sufficiently vigilant against the demands of the ego to disengage yourself. THIS NEED NOT BE.

The habit of engaging with God and His creations is easily made if you actively refuse to let your mind slip away. The problem is not one of concentration; it is the belief that no one, including yourself, is worth consistent effort. Side with me consistently against this deception, and do not permit this shabby belief to pull you back. The disheartened are useless to themselves and to me, but only the ego can BE disheartened."
ACIM text pg. 63-64

Jesus says my feelings of depression are voluntary; once again, we create the world we see. Don't I already know that? How many times must Jesus remind me? Why do I insist on going it alone, ignoring his outstretched hand of help?

Don't I already know that this world where I think I am - but am not - offers me nothing, and that any path I choose, no matter how satisfying and wonderful it appears at the time, will lead me to nothing but despair as long as it is IN THIS WORLD?

"The roads this world can offer seem to be quite large in number, but the time must come when everyone begins to see how like they are to one another. Men have died on seeing this, because they saw no way except the pathways offered by the world. And learning they led nowhere, lost their hope. And yet this was the time they could have learned their greatest lesson. All must reach this point, and go beyond it. It is true indeed there is no choice at all within the world. But this is not the lesson in itself. The lesson has a purpose, and in this you come to understand what it is for.

The learning that the world can offer but one choice, no matter what its form may be, is the beginning of acceptance that there is a real alternative instead. To fight against this step is to defeat your purpose here. You did not come to learn to find a road the world does not contain. The search for different pathways in the world is but the search for different forms of truth. And this would KEEP the truth from being reached."
ACIM text pg. 653-654

How insane it is for me to believe that any kind of peace can be found in this world! There is no better example of this than the billionaire who recently committed suicide because he lost so much money on the investments he made with Madof, that now he is only a MILLIONAIRE! He only has $500 million left! How insane is this world that we think we live in!

My alternative choice is not of this world. I can only see one world at a time -- this world of illusions, or the world of TRUTH: God's world, the world where my Identity has always been and always WILL be, no matter what the ego tries to tell me! I am perfect as I am, whole and perfect, even if my perfection and holiness may remain out of my conscious awareness.

If I am to progress on the pathway toward finding the truth, I know I must remain vigilant in my study of the course. I WILL get there; God has promised me that, and He has provided me help - Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The course is not difficult, but I must remain willing to learn it and abide by Jesus' direction in it. I sense a hint of sarcasm when Jesus says:

"To you who seem to find this course to be too difficult to learn, let me repeat that to achieve a goal you must proceed in its direction, not away from it. And every road that leads the other way will not advance the purpose to be found. If this be difficult to understand, then is this course impossible to learn. But only then. For otherwise, it is a simple teaching in the obvious."
ACIM text pg. 654-655

Obviously, I must move in the direction Jesus leads through the course. Alright, Jesus, I get the message loud and clear!

Friday, January 2, 2009

What do I want to see in 2009?

“How simple is salvation! All it says is what was never true is not true now, and never will be. The impossible has not occurred and can have no effects. And that is all. Can this be hard to learn by anyone who wants it to be true?” ACIM text pg. 645

Do I want salvation? Do I want to see a perfect world? Or do I prefer to continue dreaming this world of pain and despair, heartache and disappointment, loss and death? I have the power to decide. Just as I made this illusion of a world, I have the ability to listen to the truth. All that I need to do is to WANT to listen, to be willing to bend my ear in the direction of the Holy Spirit’s Voice. It is my choice. Oh, eventually I WILL see - that is a promise given by Jesus in the course. I WILL see the truth, that in God’s perfect world, everything is good and pure, including me. I WILL see that my true Self still resides with God, untouched by this illusory world, still safe and protected from all that I wrongly think could harm me. All that I need do is answer the call to see, in the language in which the call is made. The call is not a call to DO anything; it is a call to see truth for what it is, and in my seeing will what I see change. It will change to the changeless, to that which is, always has been, and always will be. God’s world is perfect and I abide in that perfection. It is not possible for it to be any other way!

“How wrong are you who fail to hear the call that echoes past each seeming call to death, that sings behind each murderous attack and pleads that love restore the dying world. You do not understand Who calls to you beyond each form of hate; each call to war. Yet you will recognize Him as you give Him answer in the language that he calls. He will appear when you have answered Him, and you will know in Him that God is Love.” ACIM text pg. 647

“You are deceived if you believe you want disaster and disunity and pain. Hear not the call for this within yourself. But listen, rather, to the deeper call beyond it that appeals for peace and joy. And all the world will give you joy and peace. For as you hear, you answer. And behold! Your answer is the proof of what you learned. Its outcome is the world you look upon.” ACIM text pg. 647-648

I don’t make New Year resolutions anymore because they are so easy to break and that is one more way that the ego lays guilt upon me. But . . . “He will appear when you have answered Him, . . .” -- if I were to make one, it would be this: That in 2009 I will hear the call and will answer in the language of love in order that I may see the world I truly want to see.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Welcome Him

I welcome Jesus this year, not as a babe in a manger who was born to sacrifice himself for the sins of the world, but as the savior who brought to us a message of peace and love and how to recognize my true Self, of power unlimited and beyond my imagining. I welcome him as the Prince of Peace who tells me that I share in the Sonship with God with him, as do all of my brothers. I welcome him with open arms and open heart and hope that I am worthy, but I know that I am because he has said that I am, as is everyone. I welcome him and give him the gift that I will receive back:

"The gift of union is the only gift that I was born to give. Give it to me, that you may have it. The time of Christ is the time appointed for the gift of freedom, offered to everyone. And by your acceptance of it, you offer it to everyone." ACIM text pg. 324-325.

In this season and every season, I will remember my true Self and share in the Christ with all of my brothers everywhere. I will ask Jesus to help me to see the light in the darkness and accept it wholeheartedly. I will forget about sacrifice and remember Jesus' words in the course, that sacrifice is separation from love and brings guilt as surely as love brings peace. I will listen to Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, the One Who Knows, so that I may remember my true Identity.

"The sign of Christmas is a star, a light in darkness. See it not outside yourself, but shining in the Heaven within, and accept it as the sign the time of Christ has come. He comes demanding nothing. No sacrifice of any kind, of anyone, is asked by Him. In His Presence the whole idea of sacrifice loses all meaning. For He is Host to God. and you need but invite Him in Who is there already, by recognizing that His Host is One, and no thought alien to His Oneness can abide with Him there. Love must be total to give Him welcome, for the Presence of Holiness creates the holiness that surrounds it. No fear can touch the Host Who cradles God in the time of Christ, for the Host is as holy as the perfect Innocence which He protects, and Whose power protects Him."
ACIM text pg. 327

I will remember that I am NOT a body, for:

"As long as you perceive the body as your reality, so long will you perceive yourself as lonely and deprived. And so long will you also perceive yourself as a victim of sacrifice, justified in sacrificing others." ACIM text pg. 328

I will remember the true reason Jesus came to earth:

"The Prince of Peace was born to re-establish the condition of love by teaching that communication remains unbroken even if the body is destroyed, provided that you see not the body as the necessary means of communication. And if you understand this lesson, you will realize that to sacrifice the body is to sacrifice nothing, and communication, which must be of the mind, cannot be sacrificed. Where, then is sacrifice? The lesson I was born to teach, and still would teach to all my brothers, is that sacrifice is nowhere and love is everywhere. For communication embraces everything, and in the peace it reestablishes, love comes of itself."
ACIM text pg. 328

"Teach only love, for that is what you are. " ACIM text pg. 94

Let there be peace on earth and it has to begin with me.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Fountain of Youth

Throughout the day my husband and I share bits of insights that we gather from the course in our daily readings. Yesterday he said to me, “Did you know that the Fountain of Youth is mentioned in the course?” My reply was, “No way!” Surely I would remember if I had read that! To never grow old, to live forever . . . well, my first thoughts when he said that, as they probably would be for anyone, was of a Fountain of Youth for the BODY. I looked at him and he had a mischievous grin on his face so I knew there was more to the story. Of course, we are NOT a body, and the course does not mention a “Fountain of Youth” in those terms, but read this:

“In Him you have no cares and no concerns, no burdens, no anxiety, no pain, no fear of future and no past regrets. In timelessness you rest, while time goes by without its touch upon you, for your rest can never change in any way at all. You rest today.”

“Each hour that you take your rest today, a tired mind is suddenly made glad, a bird with broken wings begins to sing, a stream long dry begins to flow again. The world is born again each time you rest, and hourly remember that you came to bring the peace of God into the world, that it might take its rest along with you.”

“Time is not the guardian of what we give today. We give to those unborn and those passed by, to every Thought of God, and to the Mind in which these Thoughts were born and where they rest. And we remind them of their resting place each time we tell ourselves, ‘I rest in God.’”

(quotes are from ACIM Lesson 109)

This is the Fountain of Youth that I’ll gladly dip into!