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A Discussion about Needs

Editor's note: This transcript has been lightly edited to bring clarification to certain points of the dialogue and for easier readability. For this reason, it does not match the corresponding audio mp3 word-for-word. However, the overall content and the expressed ideas remain unchanged.

David: I would like to try to get into some of the metaphysics of the Course and how the mind works and not keep it too abstract and theoretical. If we start talking and there is a point where something is resonating but you need a concrete example, please speak up.

The deceived mind believes so much in the specifics of this world that we have to start with the specifics and work our way back kind of like from the bottom up. So we need to start to relate with the way we perceive things initially, our presenting problem or our situation, and then we will work it back to the mind. We will trace it to the beliefs and what is going on in the mind because that is really where our release is. It is like this on-going thing of just wanting to hold the intention to get real clear about this ego thing and to be able to really see the ego for what it is and to remain above the battle field or to remain above it. You get to notice where your attachments are. This is really a lot to be grateful for because you can’t start to let go of something until you can see it. Whenever questions come up, if you have a question for me in your mind just feel free to come forth with it. There aren’t any good questions or bad questions—so we can kind of go into things. Is there anybody who has any questions right off the bat?

Friend: About money... [laughter] I have been trying to get straight in my mind about applying the Course and then having things manifest a certain way. Explain it to me.

David: That whole question of manifesting.

Friend: Well I just keep reading how you can make these corrections and then you suffer no consequences, that part, and somehow it links up into being at peace and…

David: It is true that the Course just comes straight out and says that it has one goal and that is peace of mind or the peace of God. A lot of times people will take the Course and kind of say now what is this saying about abundance or what is this saying about manifesting or those kind of things. And basically, the first thing that needs to be worked on with the Course is that everyone that comes to this world perceives themselves as very tiny and weak and frail in some sense. You can deal with that in certain ways. Some people try to overcompensate with money or possessions, or with particular relationships. The Course is basically saying that your worth is established by God, that nothing you think or say or do is needed to establish your worth. But the mind believes that it is a small teeny person in a body and it has to constantly strive and struggle to keep its head above water, whether it is financially or health wise or in a number of ways.

Friend: I really do not think that. I really don’t. I do not have to have a lot of extra. I just want to have enough.

David: There are a lot of metaphysical systems that talk about the idea of manifesting; if you really focus on visualizing or holding a certain thing in mind you can have it come. I would see that as a stepping stone. For instance in the Song of Prayer Jesus talks about prayer; the highest aim of prayer is for the Atonement, for peace of mind. And along the way a stepping stone may be that you discover that you do seem to be able to manifest certain things. And along the way that could be a stepping stone for seeing that your mind is powerful. But it is like the Course is leading us to the point where as soon as you can start to have experiences that you have a powerful mind then what do you want the goal to be? And Jesus is saying why not have the Atonement or peace of mind to be your goal.

So, about money, there can be this fear of not having enough. For me, it was about letting go of my worldly pursuits and letting go of trying to achieve or just to not judge the outcome. It has taken the experience of actually trusting and following this in and seeing that everything is working out. The Holy Spirit is like the safety net, but sometimes it feels like we are walking on the tight rope. And we hear that the Holy Spirit is in there but sometimes it’s not until you seem to teeter or fall off and land on the net that you go Ahh. It has always been here for me. It comes down to what is it for? And this whole form/content issue is something we will get into more as we go on tonight. Content being the purpose in our mind, content being what is the purpose or what is it for which is a real alien question to the ego. The ego basically is really bent on form outcomes, on setting specific external goals and then striving to achieve them and when you do it then Gee I still am not happy. What is next? The game of I will be happy when… goes on and on.

Friend: Like, what are you waiting for peace for? I am going to wait to be peaceful when I get this or achieve that… I want peace now! I read in the Course, when you set up a situation when you have all those goals like temperature; my peace depends on whether it is 60 or 80 degrees, whether I live in this or that neighborhood, whether I belong to this or that club, or whether I have this much money or that much money. And it doesn’t depend on any of that, it is a decision that you claim.

David: It is a powerful idea to think that peace is a decision. In a way that is where the Course veers away from a lot of these psychotherapies and practices where it is about going into your past and get in touch with some of these unconscious memories and scenes that were causing you the problem. And here comes the Course and says “there is nothing in your past that is causing the problem” which is kind of a radical thing because so many psychotherapies say you have to delve into your past. Your peace of mind, or the guilt and fear and anger and whatever you are feeling, is based on a present decision. A decision you are making this very instant. And that really is like a radical kind of idea. Instead of going on a witch hunt into your past it is based on a present decision. Now if we follow that in a little further, a decision is a conclusion based on everything that you believe. So my peace of mind or my state of mind is dependent on a present decision and the decision is a conclusion based on everything that I believe.

It is important to get in touch with the unconscious beliefs that we have in our mind. Without getting in touch with them, without raising them to the light and being able to look right at them and see what they are, these assumptions that are under the surface, then it’s more like being a robot. You know, getting up in the morning, brushing your teeth, getting ready for work; you know go through the motions. How many of us get up in the morning, sit up in bed and go What is the nature of reality? I do not even want to brush my teeth yet until I get a handle on this. [laughter] It is like you click into gear and then maybe during your lunch hour or sometime at work you will have some of those questions come in. Sometimes they come in the form of What am I doing here? What is the purpose of any of this? A lot of times these questions kind of get brushed aside. It is like I have too much to do, I have too many practical things to do to start investigating these questions. The ego would have us keep some of those questions out of mind because the more we start to go into the mind we question the beliefs that this world is built on.

When we talk about the idea of decision there is that whole idea of choice. When I was growing up I always had this sense of a destiny involved, but I really did not like the idea of pre-determination. The idea of destiny and pre-determination seemed to eliminate my choice. When I was in psychology I studied behaviorism and they were saying that everything was predetermined by your environment. Like stimulus-response, you just keep reacting to your environment. Something about that idea was kind of like I do not know if I like that because that means that I am just a victim or I am just completely determined by my circumstances. So I like the idea of choice but then I would hear about psychics and different people who would literally read the future or read the past and it was like they were just reading from a script or something. How could these psychics be predicting these things that would happen, almost like they would be reading the future and see a destiny? But how do you put the two together? How do you put free will or choice together with destiny? When I finally came to the Course it came together because Jesus is saying that the script is written. During the holy instant all the scripts and all the perceptions were spun out in one instant and the Holy Spirit was given as a simultaneous answer. All the happenings took place in a specific one instant and where does choice come in then? What Jesus is saying is that you have a choice of how you are going to look at what’s on the screen. You always have the choice of whether you are going to look through the ego’s lens or the Holy Spirit’s lens so to speak. Within the dream framework that is the only choice that we have. Now, that is not the way it seems because it seems like we are persons in this vast world and it does not seem at the beginning like we are dreaming a dream; it seems like we are figures in the dream that we go through every day. And it seems like we have choice as persons. In other words we can choose what to wear in the morning, what to eat, where to go, and those kinds of things. In this world that is what choice stands for and of course the ego counsels that the more money you have the more choice you have, right? The ego counsels in a sense the more money you have the more freedom you have. And here comes A Course in Miracles saying that the only choice you have in every instant is how you look upon what is happening. And so that is where the freedom lies, not in the freedom of choosing between the illusions so to speak; choosing between a blue shirt and a green shirt. Jesus is saying do not arrest your mind in choosing between illusions. You can have a big dilemma, do I want to read the Course tonight or do I want to watch this TV show and basically what it comes down to is the real question is What purpose will I bring to reading the Course? or What purpose will I bring to watching the TV show? What the Course keeps working toward is, What is this for? What is the purpose? The only way you can wake up, meaning waking up to your eternal reality of your true identity as Christ, the Son of God, is you have to see the choice where it is. Another way of saying it; you have to see the problem where it is. In the deceived state as we go through life the problem seems to be on the screen, in the world. The problem is I do not have enough money to pay the rent. The problem is the person cut me off on the highway, or the problem is my mother in law won’t speak to me or I have a hang nail or I have cancer or one of hundreds and thousands of things that seem to be problems in this world. The message of the Course is basically, if you perceive the problem to be on the screen or in the world then you are stuck because there is no solution to the external problems. We seem to come up with solutions; we seem to come up with enough rent, etc. For example polio seemed to be a big problem and then we seemed to come up with a polio vaccination. Ah, a solution! And it is kind of like a dam breaking and you keep pushing and putting little things in the hole. The reason it is important to see the decision where it is and to see the choice where it is and to see the problem where it is, is because it can never be solved out there in the world. The problem about money or scarcity, one way the ego would counsel is: get a great job and have lots of money, that would take care of your scarcity. That is kind of an obvious way of dealing with the problem and here comes the Course saying that scarcity is a belief in your mind. And that the only way you will completely ever heal it is by bringing the belief of scarcity to the Holy Spirit. Then the belief will be gone and you will not have the problem anymore.

Friend: That’s what I want to know about! I want to know about the belief in scarcity being gone and then I won’t have the problem? Because what, I will have money? [laughter]

David: No. The perception will change.

Friend: I’m just slow, I’m sorry!

David: It’s good! We can use the issue of money because the issue with money or the issue with anything else is basically the same thing.

Friend: I know it is not out there, but I can not figure out how to fix it in here or how to get it fixed, or is it fixed?! I mean I need a house to live in, I think I know that, don’t I?

David: In one of the very, very earliest sections in the Course, The Illusion of Needs, Jesus says, “The idea of the order of needs arose because, having made this fundamental error…” the fundamental error is the belief in lack; the belief I’m lacking or not complete or whole. “…having made this fundamental error, you had already fragmented yourself into levels with different needs. As you integrate you become one, and your needs become one accordingly. Unified needs lead to unified action because this produces a lack of conflict. The idea of orders of need, which follows from the original error that one can be separated from God, requires correction at its own level before the error of perceiving levels at all can be corrected.”

So let’s bring it back to the practical. When we think about the world, when we think of ourselves as a person in a world, it seems that we have needs on different levels. We can talk about the mental level; we can talk about the emotional level. Is anyone familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs where he talks of the basic levels of needs—food, clothing, warmth, sex, so on and so forth. He also talked about self-actualization needs, of reaching your full potential. Let’s pull it back to be even more specific. If we went around the room and we talked about things that we were really interested in and really believed in. Some people might talk about environmental issues; others may talk about eradicating Aids. Other people may say Well that is fine but I have big interpersonal problems with my husband or my daughter right now or financial needs or maybe it is sickness, a chronic condition or a disease. There are so many different ranges and it seems like saving the dolphins and cancer and the interpersonal relationship with your mother are really different things. This is the illusion of levels of needs. Lessons 79 and 80 teach “Let me recognize the problem so it can be solved.” and then “Let me recognize my problems have been solved.” If you read point blank, “Let me recognize that my problems have been solved” it is like wait a minute, I don’t feel that way. It seems like everyday you have to deal with problems, interpersonal problems, and survival and so on and so forth. So what this course is offering, what Jesus is saying is that you only have one problem and there is one solution. Isn’t that nice to think that it is so simple? If there is such a thing as truth then it will be simple, so he tells us that there is one problem and one solution. So… if I perceive the problem to be in the world it can’t be solved because the Holy Spirit is the one answer to that one problem and the Holy Spirit is in the mind. God did not place the answer where the problem wasn’t. He didn’t place the answer out on the screen. He didn’t place the answer in the world; he placed the answer in the mind of the sleeping Son. And that is where the Holy Spirit is. So the Course constantly says bring your illusions to the truth.

Bring your false beliefs to the light, to the Holy Spirit in your mind. The false ideas and false beliefs that are in the mind are all backwards, they all have the basic essence that there is something on the screen that is causative, and my mind is the effect. In other words, when you were mentioning an 80 degree day or a 60 degree day; the mind has beliefs for preference of temperature. Some like it hot and some like it cold. It seems like there is something on the screen; the sun, that makes me feel hot. If I do not put enough food in this body then that is what makes me hungry. Not that the hunger has something to do with the belief in my mind, with separating from God, but that I don’t have enough food, and I believe that is why I am hungry. It’s kind of like when we were little kids and you got into fights with your little sister or with a neighborhood child and ran home to mom saying so and so made me so mad, they hurt my feelings, they did this, or my boss made me so mad, my boss told me off today and I am just so fuming and I just lost my piece of mind. Basically, the world and the ego teach that there is always something on the screen that is the cause of my upset, and not only that, there is always something on the screen that is the cause of my happiness. That giant hot fudge sundae; I am happy tonight because I got to eat my hot fudge sundae. Or, I got the woman I was chasing all my life; she finally fell in love with me so now I am happy and we go into the sunset. No matter what it is, I got the right job, I got the right promotion, I got the right car, and I am living in the right area. Our peace of mind and our upset has nothing at all to do with what is going on on the screen. But it has everything to do with our perception of what is going on on the screen.

You are always reading all the meaning that you’re are feeling into something. All the feeling that you are feeling from for example a movie is coming from within you. Jesus says you never react to what happens directly, you always react to your interpretation of what is happening. So what you need to work with is correcting your interpretations or correcting your perceptions. Another way of looking at it is, out here on your screen is behavior. How many of us have tried to correct things in a behavioral sense? I am too fat; I’ll go on a diet. I do not have enough money; I’ll go get a better job. I have a certain kind of illness so I’ll go to a specialist that does an operation or that gives me a particular kind of medicine. Or even behavior modification where the mind will say, I want to be a good Christian like Jesus and be kind so I am going to try to be a kind person, meanwhile inside we have anger or rage, but we are trying to put on a nice mask because we think we want to do the kind thing. And what Jesus is saying is forget about your behavior. Behavior will follow automatically from your thoughts and perceptions. Don’t try to fix things out there with your behavior but follow me in as we go through perception and go through raising false beliefs up. Then you will really have a transformation of your mind and your behavior will automatically follow. Doesn’t that make sense? Intuitively you can kind of see how this is going.

Friend: I can see how it makes sense but I think what is confusing sometimes is where we are taught that what is out here is a reflection of what is in here. And then you think, okay well let’s go to the source here and if this is changed—become one with God—then this will automatically follow and it’s unrealistic to think that oh wow we suddenly become millionaires. But if you come to the consciousness and really realize you are not lacking or you are not sick, wouldn’t there be some kind of change in the outward world to reflect the change in the mind if that is a reflection of what is in the mind?

David: Yea, basically the error is that the deceived mind really believes that there is an objective world out there. A world that is apart from me and you but practicing the Course leads to the awareness that all perception is completely subjective. Every time any fragment looks through the ego’s lens he sees the world in a distorted way.

Friend: So there never was a lack in the first place and we never really were sick in the first place and we really see that that is the shift, Oh what lack?

David: It is a real clarity of coming to see this choice where it is and coming to see that it was just a misperception.

Friend: I notice sometimes that if I am faced with a big bear in the middle of the road of this dream that I am in, what has been helpful is to recognize that my goal for the day is the peace of God—just for today. Sometimes that’s all I can do.

David: That simplifies it because it really brings it home. The important thing is to stay with the peace or to be open to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Sometimes different Course teachers have talked about that the Holy Spirit does not work in the world. He is in my mind and that is very scary but there are a lot of passages in the Song of Prayer that basically say that the Holy Spirit will reach to you where you believe you are. So if you believe you are a mother and you believe you have 3 kids and you only have 5 dollars left then, when you really set aside the chatter and really just focus on peace as the goal, then you may receive specific guidance on this is what you have to do next. It is not like you can sit there and go okay, well God is abstract and God does not really know about this world because that is not helpful at all. But to focus on the peace and then be open to who to call maybe, what to do next… that makes it real practical.

Friend: I think there are certain times too when you will say to yourself I will do the foot work and leave the outcome or whatever it is that gets you through that moment, but I have also recognized the times in my life when I have simply said a prayer of surrender and that I will let this go and not worry about it. But you have to be willing to let go of your attachment to results. If I am a really… if I think this through and I work my mind in such a way then I will project out into this world I think the moment you do that you’re caught in separating yourself out and seeing yourself as being outside in the world again.

David: Yea, it is a really good point, because as soon as you in the slightest way even look for a little bit of an outcome or if you even judge or guage how well you are doing by the outcome, I mean that is a trap many people will fall into with using this course with sickness. Here you get into a path where we talk about sickness being a decision and our state of mind is completely our own responsibility and there is nothing outside of us and there is no blaming God and no blaming the medical model or blaming the doctors. You know it just brings it home. What people will do is they will take an idea like I am responsible and then Oh my gosh I just went to my doctor today and he told me I have cancer… I have this or this or that and even like I have the flu, I should be able to do better than this. What happens is it is still identity confusion. To say that I am responsible and then to put that with Oh, I have cancer is to try to combine two different levels. Remember, we are responsible for the way we look at things and then you bring it down to and I have cancer there is an I confusion there. If you get fancy with the Course and you say well sickness is just a projection of guilt onto the body, you learn the ideas and you take something like that and oh my gosh what am I doing to myself? There is a level confusion there. Is Christ projecting sickness on himself? With my body there is a real strong identification in the mind with this is me. And that is the whole thing that the Course is gently trying to guide us to see, it is slowly guiding us away from this body identification to a point of seeing that we are mind. We can really get clear on what the ego is and we can pull our mind from it. In other words take the juice away from it, take the power away then we will choose peace at that point. But as long as we think the ego offers us something and we still buy into it then our minds are not willing to choose the peace. Or we want to make exceptions. We want to say that there is order of difficulties in miracles. This one right here is more difficult than that one, but basically we just want to hold onto exceptions in our minds.

Friend: It has to change on the outside. If the cause is within then it has to change out here if the cause changes. And if it is not changing out here; if it is not manifesting itself then, it has not changed on the inside.

David: A good one to look at would be lesson 23 because Jesus has some real powerful lines about the world and not trying to change the world. The idea is that what we see within is what we see without. If you look at the middle of the first paragraph, he says, “Every thought you have makes up some segment of the world you see. It is with your thoughts then that we must work if your perception of the world is to be changed. If the cause of the world you see is attack thoughts you must learn that it is these thoughts which you do not want.” You see, these attack thoughts would be analogous to the backward thoughts we were talking about. The ego based thoughts that the cause is outside my mind. “There is no point in lamenting the world. There is no point in trying to change the world. It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect.” Now those are pretty big sentences. In effect it is kind of like the analogy of the movie screen, basically if you go to a movie and you’ve got this projector okay and you’ve got this film going through with dark images on it and the light goes through the dark images and then comes out and you see all these shadows dancing on the screen. Have you ever gone to one of those movies and there’s a glitch in the film? Basically Jesus is saying that whenever we try to change things in the world or we look to the world for things to change, it would be like going up to the screen, instead of going back to the manager in the projection room. It would be like going up and banging on the screen, come on get this thing out of here. We can start to see that that would be silly to do that and literally it is like that film that is going through the projector…

Friend: Except when you change the film it is not up there even. That’s what I’m talking about. If it’s up there, then it has to still be in here.

David: In the ultimate sense, once you got rid of or were able to overlook those dark thoughts the world would light up so to speak. The Course even talks about light episodes and it kind of gives some metaphors for that. When we let go of attack thoughts our perception will literally light up. Now that is not to tell you anything about what is going on out there… in other words when Jesus accepted the Atonement it did not seem the world exactly changed a whole lot in the sense of there still were Jews fighting and the Roman empire.

Friend: So that proves it then.

David: You know the world seems to still be kind of a mess. But what Jesus is saying is that is just twisted perception. When you see war and conflict and fighting it is the ego’s lens that you are looking through that is twisted. It is not anything out there in and of itself.

Friend: I think that the world no matter what your perception is is always going to be screwed up because it is like a film; if you do not like a certain scene you can fast forward through it but then after awhile another scene you do not like will come up. And like we have this saying in this world; if it is not one thing, it is another. You can take care of a problem and maybe not have that particular problem again but you will have another problem come up again. You can even make this world a pleasant place to live in to a certain extent but in the final analysis you are going to have to look at all those problems and say who cares, because that is the way Jesus did it and he said in the world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world and you have got to rise above it and not even see the problems as problems.

David: Yea, it is a real healing to be able to rise above them like that.

Friend: That is what I meant that it is not so much to heal the world but to heal yourself. And once you heal yourself the problems in the world don’t matter any more because you won’t even see them.

David: That is what got me going initially. I talked earlier about not being able to reconcile what I was seeing with these eyes, with God. I had a feeling that God was all knowing and all loving and all powerful and that all seemed to resonate like yeah that sounds right, that sounds true, and then I’ve got these eyes and ears, and it is like watching the nightly news or whatever… And the great thing about the Course is when you say I do not care it’s literally saying that is the good news, that the world as you perceive it, through the distorted lens, is not reconcilable with God. Trying to fit them together… Philosophy has tried it and science you know all the different ways of trying to reconcile how this happened. The Course teaches that God did not create sickness, God did not create war, God did not create these things, but when you are looking through a twisted lens you see it outside you because your own perception is twisted. So you can see how this is really getting to the healing because if you can see that the split is in your own mind, then you can see that the correction is in your mind, because you can see where the split is.

All male/female issues; if we could come back here we could probably do an all week seminar on male/female issues because there is all this stuff about equality that is all being projected onto form things, quotas and this and that. I have seen shows on TV where they have had male bashing and then blaming it on the patriarchal society and you can see that in subtle ways that it states ah ha the problem of inequality is in the world it is not the split in my mind. The ego just projected out a body. I use the analogy of overhead projectors where they have these overlays. There is this beautiful pure white light on the screen and then they bring the overlay and you can imagine drawing a body on it. So there is an overlay with the body and now we got form and then the ego says well this overlay is male or female and then let’s put some skin color on there some black or white and then we can put age in there and there come all the problems of ageism, sexism, racism… It really seems like those are big problems in the world. You hear about it on the news and here comes the Course saying that ageism is in your mind, sexism is in your mind, racism is in your mind. The ego belief system is in your mind…

Friend: That is why they call it isms. A girlfriend and I were talking about if we were an idea, a thought of God; if we were created in God’s image and likeness therefore, if ideas do not leave their source, therefore if God is therefore we are. Then we say if God is good, we are good. But to have good there must be bad so therefore God is/we is. So if I is, you is, we is, they is, he is, she is, we is, so we are isms. We talked about ism we got into the isms of it and we simply is. I is, God is. God is and it stops there. It is like I am. I am not good, I am not a mother, I am not a father, I am not a male I am not black, I am.

David: So you can see that it is really an unlearning or a subtraction process. It is not needing to go to x amount of seminars or read x amount of books and someday in the future, if you are lucky, you will finally arrive at it. And here comes the Course saying well, it is a subtraction thing. [laughter] You’re it right now. But it is these other things that are laid on. That is why it is so valuable, when we come together, to look at these constructs in our minds that we believe that we are; that they are just beliefs.

Friend: all those overlays on the overhead projector. And it keeps diminishing the light, we think, so that is where the confusion comes in.

Friend: Can you talk about the role of meditation? It may help some of these women who feel they have problems trying to get their thoughts straight before their reality gets straight.

David: Yeah, there are lots and lots of mind-training exercises in the Course. In other words if you take the Course and you just try to understand the Text to some extent, so the Workbook has meaning, and as you go along you’ll literally have guided meditations and instruments and exercises that are designed to sink down beneath the thoughts. It is a really important point that this is a course in transforming your mind, and it is not a course in just memorizing the book or going around and being able to talk about the Course. It is literally the practice of meditation, where sinking down beneath the thoughts is very very important. It is like the rest of the book helps you start to just be aware of the backward thoughts and some of the concepts and ideas that you have, but really it comes down to a constant job of what I call mind-watching.

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