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An ACIM Gathering - Sharing Some Basic Course Ideas
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 am just so glad to be here again, because the last couple of times we’ve had such lively discussions and gotten into all kinds of things and to me that’s what it’s all about; coming together with that real strong intention to get clear. Where two or more come together the ego can’t hide and we were talking about how there’s just something that takes place when you come together with a real strong intention to get clear. My approach is basically that everyone has the truth inside but it’s just covered and buried with all these crazy false beliefs, and whenever we come together we get a little more insight into attachments that we have or certain beliefs that are in there that we weren’t conscious of, and the mirror of our mind gets a little clearer so that we can reflect the light into the world, to be the light of the world. So I just want to encourage everybody tonight as we are going into things, if there is anything that comes up, an issue that you are dealing with or if you are working with a particular lesson that seems to be perplexing or struggling or if there are questions about my life; they are all open game, because I really feel like the whole point is, you can’t just read and study and memorize the Course. We need to live it and if there are parts of our lives that are not in congruence with what the Course is teaching or whatever, then it’s helpful for all of us to be aware of those things so that we can have the mind shift and be a witness and a demonstration of the truth.
I’ll discuss some of the basic metaphysics because no matter what discussion we get into, it’s nice to have some kind of a basic framework to run our discussion through. My experience with the Course has been just learning the metaphysics very, very well and then as I’m going through my daily life as upsets come up or whatever, to just tracing it back through the metaphysics of the Course. Our friend was sharing about having a situation coming up at work and the bread and butter of the Course is that it’s meant to be a very practical, applicable spirituality. All spiritualities at the core are really meant to be applied.
What I want to kind of come at tonight is a basic thing like the problem and the answer or the question and the solution. I want to come at it from the Course’s point of view that is basically saying that there is only one problem and there is only one solution. There really is only one question that the mind keeps asking over and over in a very deep level. Who am I? The ego asked the first question ever. There was no question in Heaven [laughter]. There just was oneness and there have been an awful lot of questions raised after this first question Who am I? And it was the ego that asked it. Christ did not ask this question. There is complete certainty in Heaven. So every question that has come from that first question including all the questions about the professions that we seem to be in, about the world, about the atomic, sub-atomic levels, about science, philosophy all the other questions are just stacks and stacks and stacks and layers and layers of questions on top of that first one and in the deceived state the mind is still asking that basic question, Who am I? [laughter]
The ego has got lots of answers you, know. You’re a man or a woman, you’re a son, you’re a father or a brother; you’re a sister, a husband or a wife. You’re a construction worker, an engineer, you’re a mathematician, you’re a tennis player, a tennis teacher… the ego gives us lots of answers and it’s constantly in there saying you’re a combination, you’re this, this, this, and this. And underneath it all the mind just isn’t sure because it’s still asking that central question, Who am I? Identity seems to keep shifting and changing. Well I was a son now I’m a father or now I’m a grandfather or I was a banker, now I’m into this or that. It’s just very unstable and shifting. So I think what we’ll do as we go into our discussion tonight is to keep working it back down deeper and deeper into the mind, to try get at that central question of Who am I?, and where the experience of the answer is.
When the ego asks questions the Course describes them as double questions. It’s late in the text where Jesus is talking about how every question asked within this world is a double question. It’s in The Quiet Answer section so I’ll just read you a little bit of this because really you’ll start to see that how are we going to come to an understanding of the answer if we can’t even ask the right question, if we are asking questions that are like nonsense questions. Questions that ask and answer in themselves; that already have an answer built in. They are like circular questions that don’t go anywhere. This is what Jesus has to say in that section,
“All questions asked within this world are but a way of looking, not a question asked. A question asked in hate cannot be answered, because it is an answer in itself. A double question asks and answers, both attesting the same thing in different form. The world asks but one question. It is this: ‘Of these illusions which of them is true. Which ones establish peace and offer joy? And which can bring escape from all the pain of which this world is made.’ Whatever form the question takes, its purpose is the same. It asks but to establish sin is real, and answers in the form of preference. ‘Which sin do you prefer? That is the one that you should choose. The others are not true ….’” (T-27.IV.4
It gives it a sense when we really start to pull this back to our daily lives; the dominant theme of our day is all these seeming situations; the menu of the world, and Jesus is saying that they are illusions. It’s like we spend a lot of time, or a lot of frustration sometimes, debating about Well, do I want to go here to eat dinner or there? Do I want to call this person or not? Do I want to date this person or not? Do I want to buy this kind of car or not? Do I want to invest in this mutual market fund or do I want to invest in CDs? There is a lot of strain and energy put into which of these illusions is true. Which ones are the best? Underneath that is the mind’s a hierarchy of illusions. It doesn’t see that these are just projected images. It’s got these images ranked; these are my top illusions. I spend a lot of effort and energy pursuing and seeking those. Then there’s the middle level I’m indifferent about these illusions. Let people pursue them if they want, I don’t really care, I don’t care about them and then there are the negative ones, that I spend my energy avoiding. I don’t want to be around this person, I don’t care if they are illusion or not, I don’t like them. Or I don’t like this kind of weather. If I so have to move to Hawaii I’m going to get away from this weather, because Hawaii’s got better weather. You can see that there’s a kind of hierarchy in there. Most of the questions that are asked during the day both ask and answer. That’s where the preferences come in. Each person has this hierarchy and everybody’s got a version of the good life, which can be different, because everybody’s got an unconscious sense of the good life. So he’s starting to say now you’ve got to really take a look at these questions that you are asking. He continues on, he says, “… What can the body get that you would want the most of all? It is your servant and also your friend. But tell it what you want, and it will serve you lovingly and well.’
He’s speaking very sarcastically here because this is how the ego thinks
“And this is not a question, for it tells you what you want and where to go for it. It leaves no room to question its beliefs, except that what it states takes question’s form.” (T-27.IV.4)
So in this world it’s been forgotten that we are Spirit, and that we’re a mind. And in the deceived state the ego is kind of saying God made you a body very well. You know already you’ve got a limit here so you better make the best of it. You better go for all the gusto you’ve got because you know you’re stuck and you’re limited. You’ve already separated from the Kingdom, you’ve thrown away your spiritual inheritance; you might as well just go for the gusto. Eat, drink and be merry for you shall die. [laughter]
Friend: I’ve certainly done my share of that.
David: And the ego doesn’t tell us that this aiming for the gusto so to speak and seeking for peace and happiness in the world is the last place that we could ever find it. The world was made as a smoke screen so we wouldn’t go back in our minds, in meditation so to speak and sink down inside to be with the Holy Spirit where our true happiness and salvation resides. You know that the old Bible is saying, the Kingdom of Heaven is within and the ego says no it’s without. It’s that co-dependant relationship, go for the relationship, go for the possessions, go for the fame, go for the glory, go for something out there… And we’ve had a lot of examples of people who have followed it all the way out. I think of extreme examples like Marilyn Monroe; all the money, all the fame, all the sex appeal, married to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Millar, all these variations. But according to the world it’s kind of like fame, fortune, money, good looks, all those things that the billion dollar cosmetics industry is aimed at, all the magazines to sell sex and so forth is very sad and very depressed and the Course gives us a framework to say ah the ego’s basic premise is seek and do not find. It’s very different than the biblical seek and you shall find and it keeps putting the carrot out and we keep looking for these satisfactions in form and we keep asking these pseudo questions.
And he says,
“A pseudo-question has no answer. It dictates the answer even as it asks. Thus is all questioning within the world a form of propaganda for itself.” (T-27.IV.5)
Later he says,
“An honest question is a learning tool that asks for something that you do not know. It does not set conditions for response, but merely asks what the response should be. But no one in a conflict state is free to ask this question, for he does not want an honest answer where the conflict ends.” (T-27.IV.5)
That gives us a springboard. If we tie that framework into the metaphysics of the Course; this is about the very instant that this tiny mad ridiculous belief in separation seemed to be bought into by this powerful, powerful mind. The holy Son of God, giving such a powerful mind to the teeny little ridiculous thought that he could separate from his Creator was literally the big bang in the mind; where all the guilt arose. The answer to this was not given after, it was given simultaneously. [snaps fingers] The instant the belief seemed to be bought into, the Holy Spirit was given as an answer for it. So the good news of the Course is basically saying that your only problem has been solved. It’s already solved. [laughter] That’s good to know because it can seem at times it’s still open to question whether this is solved or not because of the feelings that are experienced. And we might have addressed the great question that is asked all over the country, the number 1 question How could this happen in the first place? Jesus answered Bill Thetford early on in the text when he asked a question about it: “It’s a good question but you’re looking for an answer in terms of history, you’re looking for an answer in terms of the past and he said you can just note by your reaction and your feelings that obviously you’re still making the same mistake and history wouldn’t exist if you didn’t keep making the same mistake in the present.” [laughter] So he just zooms back into the present. The present moment is your point of power; that’s where you make decisions and that’s where you can chose salvation.
We conceptualize ourselves as having been on the Spiritual journey for a number of years and we’re moving back towards our awareness of God and wholeness and completion. But Jesus goes even a step further in the Course. He says well you think of salvation as in the future, like it’s coming, and that someday if you really keep at it, salvation will come. And he’s saying why would God place salvation in the future and wouldn’t God be cruel to do something like that? Wouldn’t the time that you have to suffer through, between the present and the future make God cruel, kind of like the little thing about Jesus dying for sins, you know. What kind of father would have his son shed his innocent blood? It’s the same thing with time, why would God put salvation in the future? And the Course keeps saying, he didn’t, he put it in the present, that all of salvation is offered to you this very instant. It can be a lot of relief and then the ego will jump right in there and go oh I should be able to get this now, please help me get this [laughter] I want it now you know, but basically what Jesus does in the Course; he has 1200 pages that says you’re terrified of the Holy Spirit; you’re terrified of accepting that answer right now. That’s why linear time was born. The past and the future are the mind’s attempts to evade and avoid the present because it’s terrified of the Holy Spirit and it’s terrified of the light. On a conscious level that can seem like Well that can seem kind of funny because I feel like God is my friend and the Holy Spirit is like my partner in this and we’re working to undo and now Jesus is telling me that I’m terrified of the Holy Spirit. The only way this can make any sense is if during that blip, when the tiny mad idea seemed to happen, the mind believed that it actually had usurped Heaven, that it had usurped God’s place in Heaven and basically the ego counselled Run! You’ve done it now, run away from that light because if you ever come back, that light is going to get you, because you’ve really done it, you’ve pulled it off, you’ve separated from your father and your father is angry!
So this whole world has been an attempt to run from the light, into the darkness, into the fragmentation, into the duality of the world to hide from that light. So we just read a section where it talks about no one wants to ask an honest question because he’s afraid to hear the answer. What we’re trying to get at is that the Holy Spirit is the answer. Now into this darkened mind that believes that it separated from God, God placed a spark, a spark of light that is the Holy Spirit. And that light will grow and grow until it literally illuminates the whole mind. But the mind is very afraid of it.
And for some of you that were here last time, we used the metaphor of the World Trade Center. We talked about that the ego is a belief in the mind. And then there’s this world that was projected out. Now Jesus says Would God have placed the answer where the problem isn’t? Would God have placed the answer in the world if the problem is in your mind? And he says no, God placed the answer right where the problem was. The answer is in our mind. The Holy Spirit and the problem, the belief in separation is in our mind and this world is a smoke screen that’s just a giant distractive device to keep from going down into our mind and questioning all these assumptions and beliefs that we have. I use the analogy of the World Trade Center, where the basement is where the Holy Spirit is and where the ego is. And then all of the layers and all of the floors of the World Trade Center are like all these beliefs. The mind is so terrified of this light that it’s kind of stacked on all of these layers of dark floors so it can forget about that light. The word dissociation means that the deceived mind has literally tried to dissociate and just forget about the light. Another reason why the mind has dissociated is because light and darkness don’t go together; they’re kind of like oil and water. When one is present, the other is absent. And the mind couldn’t stand the intolerable condition of holding two thought systems that are not reconcilable, the ego thought system and the Holy Spirit. So the ego’s answer is to forget about one. Ah relief, you see how that’s what dissociation’s about: I can forget about the light. I forget about the Holy Spirit, now I just have the ego’s thought system here and it seems to be a little bit of relief, but really it’s just buried and the mind is still in pain because it’s not in its natural state of condition.
In other words in Heaven the mind is a state of oneness and completion and wholeness. When the split is in there it’s very uncomfortable and intolerable. So what the mind did was, it projected the split in the mind out into the world, and now all of a sudden the smoke screen became a world of duality. Instead of the duality being these two thought systems in the mind now the duality is seen in the world, you know, male/female, hot/cold, fast/slow, tall/short; we could go on all night. The whole world seems to be just extremes of duality and that’s the thing. So now that it seems to be out on the screen the mind seems to get some kind of relief, because now it believes it’s a little teeny figure on the screen. It has forgotten that it’s this vast, vast powerful mind, so now it’s this little teeny person. And in a sense it’s a little whole person, even though we don’t feel very whole sometimes. In a sense that’s the trick. You can see that this is an identity that’s been made up, that it’s not our true identity. Our true identity is Christ. But this little bitty identity, we say well I was born in such a such a place and these were my parents and I grew up and I’ve got this life history and these were my main life events you know, my fourth grade teacher embarrassed me and the first girl I kissed was when I was 13 and it’s got all this stuff made up in the dream world. It is like a made up identity and in a sense it’s kind of like a substitute because the true identity is this magnitude you know just this vast spirit that is so powerful. In this world when we identify with this teeny little person that we think we are it feels very tiny and very limited. Not only that but it seems like there’s this gigantic world around this teeny little person where these people seem to be competing against it all the time. Competing for jobs, competing for love, competing for resources, there’s hurricanes and there are tornados and there’s things it’s got to constantly defend and protect and watch out, when really it’s just a dream that’s going on.
The problem is that it’s identified with this little teeny spec of flesh instead of the vast, vast light which is its reality. So that gives you an idea as you go through life and seem to be confronted with all of the issues that seem to be out on the screen and all of the problems that you seem to face; financial problems, relationship problems, health problems. We could go on and on and on about problems, but they all seem to be out here on the screen. All the Course is saying is, you just have one problem and it’s down in the basement. And you have one solution to your one problem, thank Heavens, and it’s down in the basement of your mind. So we start from where we’re perceiving the problem, up here on the top of the World Trade Center or on the screen of the world so to speak. I’ve got a problem with this person, they bug me; this is what bugs me about them you know. You start from describing the problem as you perceive it and then you start tracing it back into concepts and beliefs that are in the mind; the floors of the World Trade Center, that really are the cause of the problem. Because all of those dark floors sprung from the ego and they are all just false beliefs. That’s kind of an overview of the metaphysics of the Course and everything we go into. Ultimately we’ll start out there on the roof of the World Trade Center where the flag is blowing. We won’t just come here and we won’t say ok God is love, I am the Christ, that’s it, let’s go [laughter] because most people don’t have that in their experience. They perceive themselves as being impinged upon by this world every day and are constantly just trying to keep their head above water emotionally and financially. And that’s been the whole thing.
A basic way of talking about the ego belief system is that when the mind is now identified with this little speck on the screen it seems as if the world has caused it. In other words what’s the origin of a person? When you ask that question, where are you from? Ok, where was I born? Ah we’re getting down now… my parents are my origin you see, that the mind that believes it’s in a body, or is a body, believes that its’ origin is on the screen as well, that it was born from these two parents. So you hear this thing a lot of the time with teenagers or with people that have gone through a lot of problems, I didn’t ask to come here [laughter] I didn’t ask to be born. And that’s once again just a mild form of the same thing that I didn’t ask for this, I don’t want a life like this I do not like these things like this happening to me all the time, I want it to be different than it is and basically the cause of everything whether we believe it’s the economics or the IRS or husbands and wives or genetics sometimes it’s like Oh great I’ve inherited a heart condition that’s been in the family for 4 generations you know. I didn’t ask for this, God. [laughter] Why does my best friend have perfectly healthy good cholesterol level, good shape and I’ve got a heart condition that I inherited. You can see how it’s still something on the screen, including genetics, including the family tree, or maybe early childhood experiences, you know I would have been great but I was traumatized [laughter] I was sexually abused when I was 3 years old you know and so you go to therapy and you try to get in touch with all these memories of what happened and still, the underlying premise is that something that happened to me, some event out here on the screen is the cause of my life being in shambles. A lot of psychotherapy tries to trace it back and get in touch with these memories you know and the Course is saying it’s not the memories that are the cause of our trauma, but it’s the interpretation in this very instant, that we’re giving in the present that is causing the trauma to our minds. And what is this interpretation coming from? It’s the mind still calling forth these memories from the vaults of the past and trying to keep them... Jesus say’s it’s over in the Holy Instant.
We are guiltless and innocent right now and the minds going Oh I no I’m afraid of that. It keeps calling the past into the present, keeps bringing memories and problems and keeping things complicated because it’s too terrified of the Holy Instant, and it’s too terrified of the Holy Spirit. So that gives us a real good insight into starting to look at our life and all the problems that we think we have on the screen and Jesus is saying ok now we’ll trace it back into the mind and we can have some release.
Friend: David does traditional psychotherapy have a rational place in the order of things?
David: After he dictated the Course Jesus dictated a pamphlet called Psychotherapy, Purpose Process and Practice and he actually does touch on psychologists in the Course a little bit but he really goes into it here. Basically he says that most of the training for most psychotherapists in this world is a hindrance rather than a help, in other words when I was studying psychology in undergraduate and graduate school a lot of the training I learned was very directive. And behavior modification for example, operates from the assumption that if you can use conditioning and rewards and modify your behavior that you can improve your life. And the Course is saying the problem is in your thinking; that your behavior comes automatically from your thinking. If you try to change the behavior but you don’t really start opening up and processing and going within, in that sense you aren’t really making a change at all. You’ll probably have other symptoms that will spring up. You’re just shifting the form. The thing about the Course is that this goes very, very deep. In other words the Course goes into the metaphysics of time which is really at the root of all problems and that’s pretty deep. There have been a lot of psychotherapies that are kind of starting to get into beliefs, but the Course kind of goes; we have an awakened mind here that literally has transcended the ego entirely and that’s what makes it such a powerful tool that it’s so clear. That’s also why there’s such enormous resistance to working with it. The ego is very resistant to it because it’s like a tool, it’s a very sharp tool [laughter] for cutting away and dissolving the deceptions. And at the bottom of it; time and space are at the very bottom floor of the World Trade Center. But when people wake up in the morning for their 6:30 meetings or to get together to go to work or whatever, usually the mind is not at a place where it is questioning linear time or is questioning space, usually it’s off already on its plan of action so to speak and pursuing. So what the Course does is, it literally works it down from relationship issues all the way down to the issue of time. There hasn’t been a lot of psychoanalysis or any psychotherapy; Gestalt and there have been a number of them, that have kind of talked about living in the present moment but they haven’t gone quite so deeply into how do you live in the present, how do you undo the belief in time and space.
So what I want to do now is to be practical. We’ve got the metaphysics down and that’s with the ideas ok. I don’t believe that you can just talk about this stuff and read about it, you’ve got to live it. My life has been a process of going down and raising this stuff and literally coming to the point where I have examined concepts and literally stepped out of them once I could see what they were. Then I could say I’m not this or I’m not this, I’m not this, you keep going. It’s to literally start to move ourselves to a point where it’s like stepping out, just trusting that things will be provided and letting the Spirit come through. But if you have issues or you have things that are going on in your life we want to come together, let the Spirit come amongst us to try to get some clarity on those, because we have a metaphorical framework now. We’ve got a basic kind of an agreement on some of the metaphysics but now we want to really try to put it into application.
Friend: How do we live in the now? How do we actually apply this so that we’re not planning for the future and worrying about the past, how do we get into the present?
David: When we have concepts of ourselves, remember we said that there was a God-substitute made, or a substitute self made in place of the Christ, and basically that’s what the self-concept is. So the self-concept is the purpose of the learning of the world, Jesus says. That everyone comes here without a self and makes one as he goes along. We learn things, whether we think we learn them from our parents or we learn them at school; we learn how to judge; these are the good things in life, these are the things that will make you secure and safe, these are the bad things in life, these are the things you need to avoid, and basically that’s all part of the ego system. The judgement that we learn in this world is which things to pursue and which things to avoid. This is still part of the defense system against trusting in the Holy Instant that the Spirit can do it. So in this world mature judgement is someone who has learned the ways of the world very well and Jesus comes along and he says, wait a minute wisdom is relinquishment of judgement, and that can be unsettling when you have put your faith in your forte as having come here and learned to be a good judge of the good things and the bad things and to start to see, oh my gosh, my whole system of good things and bad things is still part of the ego system.
Friend: Actually that good and bad stuff is all on the outside; within us it’s kind of neutral isn’t it? There really isn’t any good or bad, it’s neutral, and it’s how we’ve applied it and how we’ve judged it.
David: The thoughts; we have judgement thoughts.
Friend: We’re not talking about actions?
David: No not necessarily; it’s back to that hierarchy of illusions. It could be actions but it could be the weather, like good weather and bad weather, sunny or cloudy, any kind of evaluation in a positive or a negative way literally denies that everything is equally illusory. It’s like you’ve constructed a maze from all your judgements. You’ve got a maze of complexity going here. And the Holy Spirit is your guide now; he’s going to guide you out of the maze. The Holy Spirit is evaluative. In other words the Holy Spirit does judge but he is capable of judging truly because he can see the past the present and the future. Think of when you’re trying to judge in the maze. Do you have cognition of the past and the future; do you know the results of every decision that you make; how it will affect everyone else? It’s not that we shouldn’t judge, but you can’t! You aren’t capable of accurately judging. That’s why you need the Holy Spirit. In that sense the Holy Spirit is judgemental. In a maze you can only go left or right. At every point we have all these seeming decisions to make the Holy Spirit is in there guiding us, go left, go right [laughter] he knows, he knows the way out of the maze.
Friend: And how about when someone who is evil is effecting you? I’m serious! About a year ago I went into business with this man, 24 years old, having the ability to make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. He is in my eyes evil, he has power. I believe that he has power in his voice, he could just walk into a room and just [click fingers] steal you blind and you won’t even know it. I got into business with this guy with all these big expectations, I’m going to make millions right, and come to find out this guy is the biggest crook I’ve ever met in my life. It’s got me all upset. What’s going on right now is he wants to sue me. I feel in my heart I did nothing wrong, he’s the one that wronged me, it’s crazy. [laughter]
David: And now you picked up A Course in Miracles. [group laughter]
David: What I’m hearing too is that you’re feeling the tension, you’re feeling the fears, and you’re feeling the frustrations, the angers and everything. What the Course literally helps us do is, Jesus comes right out and says you have no idea of the extent of the hatred that’s in your own mind. Literally this is a course in unveiling the extent. What happens with this intolerable split in the mind, with this intolerable hatred, is that it does get projected. That’s the way that the ego deals with it, it wants to project it. That’s this whole idea of evil out in the world, or a devil or a force is something. I’m sure that we’ve all considered at one point, and Jesus addresses the devil, he calls it the devil in the Course, and he says that the devil seems to be very active, very powerful and very destructive. And then he literally turns it around and says that that is the ego. That is the belief in your own mind. Kind of like when they asked Ghandi about the devil one time and he said, well the only devils that are running around are those running around in our own hearts. It sure can seem in this projection like there are evil forces and everything around us, but now you’ve picked up a book that is going to be telling you and literally teaching you systematically …
Friend: It’s already released me like I say, within in 8 lessons, because it’s had me literally paralyzed.
David: We talk about this idea that our brothers are mirrors for us, this unconscious thing. That’s why the Course is such a strong path of using relationships to flush this stuff up because it’s unconscious and people a lot of times will say well wait a minute now, I can see that mirroring to a certain point but I’ve got witnesses and examples that will only go so far. They’ll say like for example I know a person who’s very sloppy and lazy and I am not sloppy and lazy [laughter] I don’t care what the Course says. But what the Course is saying is it’s not at the behavioral level but it’s a mirroring that goes back to our beliefs. In other words if we judge somebody as being sloppy or lazy there is a box that we have, a sloppiness box or a laziness box and we have a certain group of behaviors that we put together in there and we read it on to the screen. What Jesus is saying is you’ve got to go back into your mind and kind of look at these boxes that you’ve constructed and we’ve got lots of boxes, I mean that’s what the ego system is, judgements and categories and boxes, it goes male, female … and in business there’s a lot of boxes too because the ego is so tied in on appearances. The more you go into the Course the more it’s to let go of relying so much on our physical senses, on what we see and hear and to start to trust this intuitive voice because we’re fooled and deceived by what our eyes see and what the ears hear. But it’s fun to be on a path that’s starting to say oh thank you, now I’m going to let go of some of my judgements and start listening and opening to my intuition. That’s literally our safety, and our joy and our happiness. It’s great that you can just be. It seems like it’s all coming right up there, you’re not stuffing it, you’re definitely not stuffing it; it’s like a volcano. [group laughter]
Friend: Right now I’m in … it’s not that kind of a situation but I have a person in my life that’s going through these kinds of reactions. I’m listening to him and I think why can’t you see what’s really going on? I really tried to explain to him what’s really going on [group laughter] you can’t do that and then all of a sudden I got caught up in it and instead of seeing him through love instead of differently, like just seeing that he is the Son of God like I am the Son of God and I love that term it’s just so nice because it keeps us all the same, except I forget. And then I was doing the same thing and it took a couple of days for some of the things that I had learned to catch up and I was acting out of fear. You see I couldn’t change him because you see I wanted to change him and why couldn’t he see what he was doing because he was seeing all this bad, and I’m trying to say hey man you’re missing the point you know, we don’t judge because what we see and it’s not real anyhow ahh and it didn’t work.
David: We had questions, last night. We had a gathering and the question came up like you were just saying about getting frustrated and starting to see things more clearly and yet the frustration of like saying to another person, can’t you see this? Jesus talks about that at the beginning of the text where he basically says that in the past you’ve so much suppressed and denied the ego system that in a sense it’s like you’ve said well so and so is going through their stuff but that’s just like everyone. It’s like it’s so denied and it hasn’t being raised to awareness but once you start to raise the ego to awareness and the stuff starts getting flushed up then the tendency is to want to project. There’s a strong tendency to want to project because even though now it’s being unveiled and you’re seeing that the mind is still very strongly invested in it and that’s where the guilt comes in. In other words the transcendence will eventually come where we’re able to detach in our mind from those false thoughts, from the attack thoughts, and we’ll be able to just calmly see the false as false. But that’s one of the stages that we go through and once it starts to come out and you start working with this book, it’s like there’s a real tendency to want to project or be what Jesus calls the unhealed healer. You want to go around and give healing [group laughter] without having healing yourselves, and it’s just to watch ourselves do this, and go through it, it’s really something.
Friend: I was the therapist and helping everyone else heal and I wasn’t healed! [laughter]
Friend: I want to look at compromising, on the family level. I mean, how is a fifteen year old and a twelve year old going to know things if I don’t tell them? I feel like I need to compromise this Course on the family level.
David: A lot of the issues were coming up of how, as a parent, I need to set limits. We had it repeated again last night where a gentleman was saying, “I have a son and he’s got a duty to clean the bathroom and he doesn’t. I suggest, I remind, but it’s just filthy, I look at the bathroom, I start to get angry just describing this whole dynamic.”
So what we’ve been going into are these self-concepts. The parent is another role and there’s lots of unconscious stuff down there about good mum and good dad. Good mums and good dads do it this way. We have these unconscious beliefs that are down there, and the basic situation with parents and children, a lot of times, is there can be a big control struggle. And this is not just with parents and kids; it can be in relationships [laughs], all kinds of relationships. There can be a big control struggle where it seems to be a battle of egos where the world is teaching you’ve got to help tame and train this ego, to at least adapt and become somewhat normal to function; that you have to learn that there are things that you have to do in life. You can always tell when you’re sliding into ego; it’s the control feeling and the tone of voice... when the demanding and the commanding starts coming out. I think of Jesus in the Course, saying that, “The Holy Spirit never commands and never demands. He always reminds and suggests.”
Friend: He doesn’t talk high school! [group laughter]
David: Right away the intent will come to certain situations or with certain children, like Wait a minute I’ve reminded and suggested to a certain point, then I’ve got to really bare down here! But really it’s always our own lesson. Children are these great mirrors, that whenever we start feeling we’re off the beacon, whenever we start feeling controlling or angry, it’s like, if you can pull back to a level of Spirit or a mind level What’s the deal, we’re equals here, did you forget? There are just these roles now but you see how… Wait a minute this is the role, I am the dad, you are the son or you are the daughter. As soon as the mind clicks into, I am the role, then control comes in; because there aren’t any roles in Heaven.
Friend: Now what… say that again; is that bad?
David: It’s clicking into ego because we’re getting so grounded into that role…
Friend: I got what you’re saying—it was good.
David: …that those expectations take over and we have expectations then of our brother. It’s kind of like I’m in this role and your in this role and we’re in this role thing together.
Friend: But that isn’t… I mean that’s an illusion, but it’s also a fact.
David: It’s an interpretation. The only fact is that of Christ or Oneness. But within the dream world, these identities, these self- concepts that we make up, include a lot of roles.
Friend: I’m sorry I didn’t mean to jump into the sentence. The thought that came to me was that we also have perceptions about what the roles mean. As a parent the role issue sometimes is hard to let go of when you need to do this, you need to do that…
David: Yes, the real problem is the authority problem; and it talks about it on page 43 in the Course; the authority problem is with God: coming down to, Can I create myself, or was I created? What happens is when you get into I can create myself; that’s where the self-concept comes in. Not only can I, but I have! Part of it is I chose to go into whatever; to be a parent, education, take a business job, etc. So you can see that all these lessons that come up really are ways to start to loosen our identification with these roles. And we see that all of our expectations that we place on our brothers, that seem to be violated by their behaviors, are really just expectations. We are reading meaning onto the situation from our own goal.
Being identified as a male, being identified even to A Course in Miracles… If I identify myself as A Course In Miracles teacher and I perceive somebody as trying to weaken my position, then here it goes again, I’ve got another concept or construct that I have to let go of. As long as there’s this defensiveness or fear or anything that’s uncomfortable within us, we are still clinging to some kind of role or some kind of a concept that we believe is more valuable than the truth.
Friend: That’s really interesting. I’m only forty lessons into the Course but it’s like you had to wear two different hats. I mean you wore this, the Course in Miracles hat, and you applied it to your life, but when it came to your kids you had to put on a different hat because they have certain rules and regulations they need to follow in order to get where they need, or we think they need to get to. We’ve talked about it in our group meetings. When do you apply the whole Course to your whole life and when do you choose this other person that you’re supposed to be trying to become? [group laughter] And it was really difficult trying to cross over that fine line of when it’s ok to do it, and when it’s not… so perhaps it’s better just to not compromise it at all and work it in the whole family life.
David: It’s this thing about judgment. Jesus says in the Course that, “You are afraid of this because you believe that without the ego, all would be chaos. Yet I assure you that without the ego, all would be love.” (T-15.V.1)
See that when the mind had these dark beliefs in it and there was all this seeming horror and chaos; when it seemed to buy into the belief in separation, that all this judgment is a way to try to bring some control and order into the chaos. This is addressed, on about page 273 in the Text, where he’s talking about ordering of thoughts, “But you’ve literally limited yourself by all these judgments and orderings.”
It takes a lot of trust to let go. Like you’re talking about these ideas and beliefs; about letting go of these constraints and restrictions and judgments about your children. Because an underlying belief is if you let go of that…
Friend: There going to be…
David: All hell’s going to break loose…
Friend: [laughter] yes
David: And they’re going to grow up and…. what a reflection on us to have such wild children! I mean you see how it goes... [group laughter] the ego will just run with that and it does take a lot of trust to generalize this to your family situation.
Friend: If I’m going to insist in a classroom of thirty adolescents that they have something to complete and that I expect it completed.
David: It’s by watching your emotions and reactions you can tell whether you’re listening to the Holy Spirit.
David: Yes. And the thing about it is that the Course isn’t a path of saying yes, yes, yes There is a part in Absence from Felicity where it says “Let your yay be yay and let your nay be nay.” But be really clear that if there’s still egocentricity and codependency involved, if we associate following the Holy Spirit with saying yes to everything and everyone, you could see how you could just totally give away your sense of integrity. But the Spirit’s in there and the Spirit, literally if we just stay with our emotions and we keep surrendering, will tell us when to say yes when to say no and when to put down a guideline that could be helpful.
We could put down guidelines but watch that insistent and demanding and commanding and the getting upset when they don’t seem to follow it. The whole lesson for us is always to be extending the light and extending the peace and it really does get at our own beliefs and expectations and roles. I see where that’s the thing that’s always the lesson… What do I value in my mind? What am I holding onto that’s more important than seeing the Christ in this person or child?
Friend: You know that’s the thought I just had when you said “seeing it” and I can think of certain conflicts that I’ve had with my children and the thought that came to me was if it gets to a conflict then its obviously something I’m not willing to see that’s left to be seen, so I haven’t given it enough time for what it is that I need to see in this situation. So I lose patience and say, I’m not ready, I’m not willing to go that far, let’s just do this, lets get into the conflict of it, and it’s when I find that I just wait and then I get the answer, so to speak. And then you seek it… so it’s a matter of… maybe its just taking that extra moment to wait, to see it. So in a situation, maybe a classroom situation, it’s not necessarily to let it go, it’s What do I need to see in this situation? What is in it? What do I need to hear about what it is I need to do next? And like you said, is this something that I can say yay about or is this something I can say nay about.
David: And be at peace with either way.
Friend: I think teachers have a really hard time because society puts so much role expectations on the teacher and what they’re supposed to get out of each student in order to go from grade to grade. I mean there are certain standards that every kid has to do every year and he’s got certain things the teacher has to make them produce in order for them to get to the next year. So you can’t just have that, Oh free will, kind of attitude that you can in other jobs or other situations.
David: It still starts to be more of one of those sneaky ego ploys that certain situations or certain people have it more difficult or easier and really what it does is it flies in the face of the first principle of miracles which is that, “There is no order of difficulty in miracles.” (M-22.1)
And that’s the hardest one… kind of like, Jesus at some point in the Course said that if you could get the first one; you’ve got the whole course, you don’t even need the other forty nine at the beginning [group laughter] it’s a very basic one. But the ego’s strategy towards all kinds of conflicts is, it basically always says, if something were different in the world or if the situation was different… It’s always trying to change something on the screen to bring about the peace. And the mind is so resistant to just seeing… Oh it just takes a change of my perception in the moment. But that’s the one thing that the mind in the deceived state is so resistant to. In the end that’s what the Atonement is—to start to see there is nothing outside of me that can give me peace or take away my peace. To do that though, you literally have to transcend the roles.
One guy asked one of these channeled entities, I don’t know if it was Samuel, there’s different ones; the question posed to the gentleman was, “How can I be enlightened and still be in the corporate world?” [group laughter] And the answer came back, “You won’t!” [group laughter] The deeper we go and the more we literally transcend the concepts, we’ll be used in ways that we can’t even fathom or foresee. But what the ego does is it takes the current seeming concepts and situations and just kind of projects them out into the future. So I see this as a path of just being present in the moment, whatever the situation is that you seem to be in and using those opportunities and not getting too concerned about the next steps or trying to figure out, How is this ever going to work? Am I ever going to be a teacher and be enlightened? Or, Am I going to have kids? They used to ask Tara Singh, “Can you become enlightened and have children?” [group laughter]
Friend: It keeps coming back to me… back to the compromise. I actually have less trouble in a classroom than I do at home because I take it back home and say, You guys aren’t going to be like those little so and so’s… [group laughter] I agree with you eventually but I read something in the Course that says, “We all have our part in a whole,” and so if I’m a banker somewhere in it I’m going to have a part in it. I just happen to… the means that I just happen to have is that I’m a teacher and so I still have to take that part and practice these principles in that… I mean I could be anything but if I don’t practice the non-compromising in all the way across. It doesn’t mean a hill of beans!
David: Yes. Transfer of training.
David: One of the early levels of the Stages of the Development of Trust is where A Course in Miracles says,
“And so the plan will sometimes call for changes in what seem to be external circumstances. These changes are always helpful.” (M-4.1.3)
That’s one of the early stages and then the next stage says,
“This is always somewhat difficult because, having learned that the changes in his life are always helpful, he must now decide all things on the basis of whether they increase the helpfulness or hamper it.” (M-4.1.4)
So that’s where it really takes that internal guidance of being shown Ok, where do I go from here God? Holy Spirit what’s the next step? People will take that first step, which is a very big step, that all learning situations are helpful very literally. It doesn’t matter if you’re on a factory line, if you’re hand gliding, what country you’re in, it doesn’t matter, but not to get too anchored to that and use that as a justification.
A woman I know had problems in her job for years and she would say things like, “I’m going to get it; I have to be able to get it at this job. I know it’s not the job, I know it’s in my heart so I’m going to stay with the job and it’s just going to be a battle year after year after year because I know I should be able to get it here.” But that’s not how it works either. There are times when there’s time for a shift, whether in a relationship or in a job situation or whatever, where the Holy Spirit will give that internal guidance, It’s time to move on.
So that’s the really fine line between not getting so identified with the particular situation or role and then turning that around and using that as a justification. The ego will do that as well, but just being in touch with the intuitive voice that recognizes if it’s time to move on. That happens with relationships too; the big question is, How do I know whether I should stick it out with this partner, or if it’s time for me to move on? It really comes back to the intention, Am I trying to run from something, or am I really being guided on to something else? That’s really helpful.
Friend: Sometimes even our language, “shoulds” for example; all those qualifiers are just a good place to start examining.
David: It’s again a form/content thing. I know that idea comes out in a lot of literature and yet I’ve gone through the Course and I’ve seen Jesus use the word should, so once again you don’t make blanket statements with the words because it’s truly the intention that’s behind the words.
Friend: That that word should does not mean in Jesus’ time what it means today?
David: I mean in the Course, He’s actually used it in the Course. So it’s one of those things about buzz words, it really comes down to What’s my intention? If we start to try to use specific words as, these are ego words … I’ll give you a good example; there’s a line in the Bible that Jesus has used in the Course which is, "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.” Now, you could jump in right away and say Well, that’s an ego statement, that’s in the Bible. What Jesus does though is he says it’s just a bunch of words and amazingly in the Course he takes, “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord” and he turns it around and gives it a different interpretation where he says it’s like the Holy Spirit saying My little child vengeance is Mine. That idea does not belong in your Holy Mind, give it to me.
David: Wow [group laughter] what a turnaround; thank you! We can do the same thing for song lyrics. You hear a song and you go Oh, what a special relationship song. I Can’t Live If Living Is Without You, or something like that. That’s an ego statement if I’ve ever heard one! Well then the little voice in my mind goes Turn it to God. I can’t live if living is without you, it’s like phew! It’s a good example of form versus content it’s like there’s a way of reinterpreting a lot of different things that the Spirit can do where we don’t have to get into saying that’s an ego form or that’s a Holy Spirit form but just trying to stay with that intention.
Friend: Getting back to that moving on or the going from one level to the next. If you’re here and I was in a factory and didn’t want to be there and then I got into AA and then The Sermon on the Mount, and a lot of Emmet Fox’ things and it’s that Well you’ve got to make good at what you’re doing at the time you’re doing it, pay attention to what’s happening now. Well then I changed shifts and I did all kinds of things, and it took two and a half years changing shifts and listening because I didn’t want to be there but I tried.
And then finally; it came from the outside, there was a call for another job and then I realized that I didn’t have anything to do with it. Although I tried to deal with the situation at hand, I mean I couldn’t make any moves; I couldn’t quit the job because I had responsibilities at home now. I never thought about those responsibilities when I was drinking but now all of a sudden I was a new man.
David:The mind is so conditioned to forms and roles and the concrete, that at the beginning that’s all it knows, that’s where the mind is. That’s where the mind watching comes in and so it starts to pull away from form and move more to a sense of mind. In the Song of Prayer Jesus talks about asking for specifics and in the beginning that’s the only way the mind can pray. Because Jesus says, “Your prayer is a desire of your heart,” and if you believe in specifics you’re going to ask for things. Please help me pay the rent, please help me get a better job, please… it’s in form, asking for form. Jesus says ultimately you keep moving inward and start to ask that question, “What is the Will of God for me?” You start to ask that question in all aspects of your life. You can see how that’s a fundamental shift from asking for specifics.
Now it’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with those earlier things because those are all stepping stones. I’ve heard a lot about abundance and manifesting and using the power of your mind to bring certain results, whether its houses, cars, better jobs, parking spaces, any way you want to talk about it. This is a big stepping stone for the mind. If the mind believes that it’s this powerless little victim, helpless in the face of the world then it can be a great witness when you do have that goal that seems to be achieved; that car, that house, that money and so on. It can be a step to say Gee I’m not this puny little powerless thing, I do have a mind, and it is powerful. It could be a good affirmation of that and the only thing that the Course says is, Ok now, right you have a powerful mind and instead of trying to now run with the ego and get as many possessions and collect as much stuff as you can have to build up your self-concept, why don’t you use your powerful mind for a goal as high as peace of mind or eternal peace? And so to me it’s like, Oh it’s all perfect, even the things; everything that we do along the way is all a step towards coming to that thing of, what is the will of God in everything? By just asking that, there’s a real gentleness and ease that comes when I think of it that way instead of the panic of Am I doing the right thing? Should I change relationships? Should I... do, do, do, what do you want me to do? Where the mind gets into a panic about Am I doing the right thing? Jesus is kind of saying Are you thinking? [laughs] Are you thinking with the Holy Spirit or the ego? And I think Oh. Oh yeah, that’s right. That’s where I’m supposed to have my attention, on my thoughts.
Friend: My friend said earlier about living in the now and the first thing that came to my mind was when my son comes up to me and says I want to do this with you [clicks finger] and immediately I’m right in the now because a lot of times I’m off doing other things and the perfect way that I get into the now is being reminded by those things in my life that need to be attended to right in the here and now.
David: To me that question about living in the now runs really deep. The more I’ve looked at the Course and I’ve looked at my ways of thinking and going about things and the way the world does, it’s basically assumed that here’s a world that the Course says is on the screen and that there are causes in the world and there are consequences. You don’t water a plant and it’s a hot sunny summer; it dries up and dies. Cause: sun, heat; [laughs] consequence: dead plant. If you don’t use birth control and you continue to have sexual activity, [group laughter] cause/consequence. The whole world is based on causes in the world and consequences and when I have really looked at the Course it’s saying that the world is just an effect and that it’s like a screen or it’s just a bunch of images that are dancing on a screen; shadows that are there. But that’s a phenomenal idea because it totally overturns the way we do everything; all of our professions, all of our thinking and all of our planning and the way we go about things is based on fear of consequences. In other words that if I don’t do certain things; then these things are going to happen. If I don’t pay the rent or if I don’t pay the mortgage payment then Ah, eviction [laughs] cause/consequence.
Now the Course comes along and it’s such a radical thing because it’s basically saying that that’s very much tied in with the ego’s use of time that the ego says You have been guilty in the past; look at the closet full of things that you said you were going to do that you’ve never done or that you did that you shouldn’t have done. It’s that guilt and it’s saying You’ll have to pay for that, you’ll pay for it in the future. That’s where fear comes in, I mean that’s where the ego’s use of time is very fearful You’ve been guilty in the past and you’re going to pay in the future. Fear of consequences can be simple things, like I have to keep my head above water because the world’s going to get me in the future or just the fear of God or for a lot of people they take that out to a final judgment day. They’ll pay at the final judgment day. But when I’ve really started to look at my life it’s like What would it be like to live with the complete relinquishment of fear of consequences? If you could do anything that you wanted to and you could really just tune into Spirit; what would you do?
Friend: How do we turn it around? How do we turn our life into wanting to gain pleasure and love people and just enjoy life rather than basing my life on avoiding pain?
David: Yes. The basic thing with pleasure/pain for example, or looking for enjoyment, is basically we still have identified it as being in the world and so we’re still seeking and the Course is teaching us that the world is past, that the ego system and it’s a pretty tough… I mean if you’ve just done the first ten lessons you’ve probably come to number seven, “I see only the past.”
David: Which it could be a startling lesson because it’s like…
Friend: Yes. And I was going to mention that earlier when we were talking that’s why… I mean everything… my mind is all based on everything that I’ve already seen. Everything… and that’s how I base my future and that’s an illusion because my future never turns out the way I ever think it is. [group laughter] My life is a series of organized drifting with unexpected opportunities along the way [group laughter]. Unexpected opportunities, arcane at times but there are beautiful and wonderful miracles at times as well, and I’ve had many of those.
David: And you can see where this linear-ness is. The ego needs linear time to keep it going because the Holy Instant, or coming to live in the now, lets go of worrying about the future and feeling guilt and regret about the past. So the ego’s use of time is literally holy encounters where we literally to see our brothers without the past and the past is all these judgments. In other words judgments about male, female… what were my reactions? Do I have a good relationship with this person or a bad… you were mentioning your issue with your friend, all those are like memories and the ego’s saying Yes that’s who that guy is. All those bad memories, and that’s why you should be afraid of him whenever he comes close. But it’s really starting to live in the moment and trust and it does take a lot of trust because all of our seeking for, to avoid those fearful consequences in the future, is based on past learning and the intuition is a lot different than This is the way it worked in the past and I know this will work and da da da. The intuition is saying let go of all of that and just trust to be guided in the present moment.
Let your judgment thoughts come up and look at them positive and negative and realize that both extremes are part of the judgment. In other words a lot of times it’s like I want to just let go of all my negative judgments, ok, and I want to put positive judgments or positive thoughts in place of them. And the Course is saying that your positive judgments will hurt you as much as your negative judgments. The Course differentiates from other spiritual paths where they just bring the positive in and try to get the negative out. It’s the positive expectations that we have, the hierarchy of illusions that we get so defensive about. If we were really identified with our looks in a body sense, or a car or a house or whatever, when something seems to threaten that, we just flip out!
Friend: What I hear you saying too is that for there to be a positive you have to have a negative…
David: Opposites again.
Friend: And to look at them both equally, not make judgments on either of them. Is that right?
David: Yeah. Like with Zen where they say watch the trains go by; some of the trains will be positive judgments and negative judgments. The Course is just saying that spiritually we’re very little children and that we think we can tell the difference between pain and pleasure. In this world it seems obvious. We can tell the difference it seems like between pain and pleasure. You pursue one, you avoid the other and what Jesus is saying is the ego never lets it into awareness that by pursuing pain and pleasure, both of them, reinforce the body as being real. And by reinforcing the body as being real still keeps the guilt and the belief system denied and keeps us from waking up to our spiritual reality. Now that’s a pretty deep idea but ultimately it’s not a path of relinquishment or sacrifice in the sense that when we start to get miracle minded, when we let the Spirit come through us and we start to connect and join, we start to experience such a joy, an intrinsic joy, not a joy that’s based on getting something external to satisfy us or gratify us but it’s just like a momentum starts to grow and we feel like we’re fulfilling our function. It’s like Oh this is what I came here for, oh yeah now I’m remembering, and then the joy and the peace start and then the other stuff, the addictions and the whatever just fall off because the momentum just takes over. Which makes a lot of sense to me because I know I have struggled with a lot of things about pain, pleasure, gratifying, repressing, indulging… in this world it’s like Oh I go for the indulgence, oh I shouldn’t be doing that I’m going over the boundary lines here. Pull it back, oh I’m repressing. I really would like to be doing that, I’m thinking about that all the time. [group laughter] And you can see Jesus is saying the miracle just brings our mind into a real clear focus.
Friend: The more we can do this the closer we can fall into that perfect center.
David: The miracle. The miracle is the option. There’s indulgence, there’s repression and then there’s the miracle. The indulgence/repression don’t go anywhere, it’s like we stay horizontal, but the miracle goes up. [laughs] We go back up to the Source.
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