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Forward and Backward Thinking, Part Two
The Function of Forgiveness Is Your Purpose

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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.

Speaker: Of course, phase two is unlearn the world. Stop judging the world. Stop trying to analyze and break apart. That can seem a bit scary when you’ve been trained and taught. Literally, you taught yourself. We say people who are intelligent and have maturity in this world are good judgers. They know what to avoid in the world and what to pursue. The Course says wisdom is not judgment. True wisdom is relinquishment of judgment. That’s a profound idea.

I was in college for ten years, and finally right before the Course came, I just hopped off. I just got to the point where I had studied many different disciplines. I had searched so deeply, and I had seen so many different underlying assumptions about the world. The physicists and the sociologists had hugely different views of the world, as did the chemists and the psychologists; the musicians, the artists. What I saw was that there were all these different world views, and I wondered how we could ever have harmony with all this variation in what the world is.

But, the Course cuts right through all that. It literally is helping us train our mind to get to that true perception where we give up judgment. That’s a lot of stuff. We’re throwing it out, but particular things are coming to your mind which is good.

Participant 1: The thing that’s coming to my mind is in the Manual it says that into this impossible situation, teachers of God are sent out here. We’re in the maze.

Speaker: There we go. That’s us.

Participant 2: So what’s the solution? The mind is sort of stuck in its pattern.

Participant 3: Just hope.

Participant 2: The mind is so stuck in its pattern. I was feeling great for a long time, and then I had two days when I just couldn’t get my mind to think, or it seemed that way. I just couldn’t get it out of my pit or whatever it was in, and so I tried doing the lessons and begging for help, and it just stood there. Then what? So, how do you handle it from there?

Participant 4: I was talking to Zoë yesterday, and then today I was studying the Course, and the answer came to me. I had given her the answer yesterday! I was telling her, "I had been doing all right except I really raised hell with my ego." I even talked about the Bible where Jesus says to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan." I figured it said, "GET BEHIND ME, Satan!" (spoken loudly and firmly) It didn't. It said, `Get behind me, Satan."(spoken softly with laughter) It doesn't mean anything. I have to not judge my ego either. That was the thing. I feel like I always judge my ego for thinking the wrong way. That's judgment, but there's no judgment to it. It doesn't mean anything. I read it in "The Song of Prayer."

Speaker: When you believe you’re in this separated world, once again, the guidance of the Holy Spirit may seem at times to take a specific form. Some of us have had inclinations (or hunches, or maybe even heard a voice, or seen a billboard, or heard something on the radio, or had a friend call us) that seemed to be very specific and very helpful. Really the only thing that you need to receive that is willingness, but a lot of times the little willingness can seem like a lot when the mind seems to be in a stuck spot and really seems to be blocked. The Rules For Decision is a good place to go if you’re in a stuck spot because Jesus goes through and gives little stepping stones to help pull the mind back from it’s stuck spot. One of the middle ones is “At least I can decide I do not like what I feel now.” It’s like the mind is so closed to the light and so closed to Jesus at that point, but at least we can go, Yuck! I can at least decide that I don’t like how I feel now, and so I actually hope I have been wrong. I’ve made a decision in my mind, and I want to see this differently. It leads us out to that point. So that’s one way of doing it. There isn’t any kind of formula, but when we talk here and we continue going into it, there will be more clarity that will inspire you to get over those stuck spots.

Participant 1: Do you get over them, or do you just wait them out?

Participant 4: It’s up to you.

Speaker: It’s really just a now kind of proposition.

Participant 4: When you were talking about the World Trade Center and how many stories its got, the other thing that ego does is it keeps building higher buildings.

Speaker: Going in the other direction.

Participant 4: Yes, It’s building higher buildings, more floors.

Speaker: What I can do is share some experiences from my life. For me it’s been a process of, so I see that my mind is filled with judgments. So I see that my mind is full of attack thoughts. It’s like, Yuck! When you really start to pull away from the distractions, maybe even using entertainment or drugs or just busyness (you’ve made your body so busy because you don’t want to look at your mind), when you really start to pull back from it, usually the first experience is Yuck! My mind is a mess. This is a big job. I want to go back out to the distractions. The mind feels so attached to these attack thoughts. That’s where the guilt comes in. It’s not attached to the real thoughts. Those are buried over in the basement.
So really, forgiveness is what we need to talk about. What is forgiveness, and how do we come to a clearer understanding of forgiveness? That’s the way we come out of this thing. One way of coming at forgiveness is through the idea of purpose because remember, we just talked about the form/content distinction. Purpose is always in the mind, and what happens is, when we perceive ourselves as these little tiny bodies in this vast world, we’ve just splintered our mind into hundreds and thousands of different functions for purposes. I’m a wife. I’m a mother. I’m a medical technician. I’m on the board of such and such. I’m a grandmother. I’m so many years old. It just goes on and on. We all have these different things. Then it goes even further. I’ve got good reasoning ability. I’m not terrible athletically. My right arm is a little bit stiff and sore. We see the body in different lights and different functions, and it gets even more minute. We’ve just taken these images, and we’ve fragmented. What’s a hand for? What’s a leg for? If you think about different body parts, you can think about different functions. So, we’ve splintered this idea called purpose into many, many functions. Now the good news is that forgiveness is so simple. Jesus says many times in the Course that this is a very simple course. If you do not understand it, you are interpreting against it. It’s a very, very simple course. That’s what I’ve discovered. As I’ve studied the Course for years, the deeper I’ve really gone into it and looked at the these false concepts in my mind, and let go, let go, let go, it just gets simpler and simpler. It’s crystal clear because what happens is your life merges into one purpose, and that is the purpose of forgiveness. In the Workbook he says that you have a function here. You are here for a reason. You might have seen Oprah Winfrey where she says, “I think I’m here for a reason! To bring love and to bring healing…” and literally that’s our function. Forgiveness, healing, that is our one purpose. That’s what’s going to lead us out of the maze. For me, it’s been something that has grown and grown and grown. The deeper I’ve gotten in touch with this purpose and the more it’s been the center of my life, it’s become my joy. The more I really hold on to this one purpose, the simpler things get and the more things almost start to magically click in.

Probably the most complicated my life got - I think back to when I was in college for ten years - I was in grad school, and grading papers, and trying to do all these things; I had a relationship going, trying to juggle ten things at once…. And I think what’s happened since the mid eighties, for me, is that my life has just gotten very simple, but it’s a simplicity that’s come from shifting my mind. It’s not like I tried to change the form first and then got a simple mind because that’s been tried for centuries. Give away all your possessions. Do this, do this, do that, fast. Somehow, magically, if we do certain behaviors or rituals, our minds will immediately get clear, and we’ll be in the Kingdom of Heaven. But it doesn’t work that way. It is almost the reverse of that. We have to look at all of these concepts that we hold of ourselves, and we have to see the falsity of the concept and then kind of leap out of it. The experience for me has been that I’ve kind of withdrawn my identity from, the idea of career and professions, for example. I started examining that in the mid eighties as a concept, really looking at it. It was very linear. It was very much projected into the future. The Course is teaching me that the future is imagined and to give up your pursuits. It was like, Wait a minute. Everybody has to have a career! This is not a concept. This is important. I started to really look at it, examine it and question it. Then I was able to start to just say, Ok I don’t know where this is going but I’ll trust. That’s the key word: Trust. I don’t know how You’re going to use me or how this is going to work out, but I feel this purpose starting to grow in me, and I want to follow it. That was one example.

It takes place in all areas of our lives, too. Relationship is another one. Everyone who comes to this place forms special relationships, the Course says. But what are special relationships? A modern, good John Bradshaw word, codependency - that’s what a special relationship is. It’s a good ol’ codependent relationship where you need that other person. You want to get your needs met. A lot of the workshops now days are still about codependent relationships. If you listen to the words, “How to Get Your Needs Met From Your Partner,” that’s still a codependent relationship because when the partner up and leaves or decides they’re not going to meet those needs, then where are you? You’re back to, What am I going to do now?
What the Course does with this new purpose, when we start to shift our purpose and give it to the Holy Spirit, even our perceptions of relationships start to alter and start to shift - in a big way. We probably could go around and talk about the different ways that it happens. Sometimes there’s a lot of upheaval because if you’ve been in a heavily rooted pattern for a long time and then you start to pull your mind away from it, the ego has fits.

Participant 1: It’s great work! I’ve lost myself. I have nothing to live for. It used to be this way, and now I have nothing. What can I do? Oh! (Said dramatically with laughter.)

Speaker: Yes, unless we have a function. That’s why I keep bringing back forgiveness or purpose because we have to have something positive to grab onto. As we start to lay aside these self concepts that we’ve constructed, these little tiny false selves that we’ve made to be so important (we’ve forgotten Spirit; we’ve made these self concepts), as we really start to work with the Course and we start to examine these concepts, the ego is shrieking in there. The ego is saying, Well, you gave up that. If you keep letting go of your concepts there will be nothing left. The ego’s version is that when you go into the basement, you’re going into the void. The ego describes light as nothingness. That’s why, when you start doing your inner work, it can be so painful when you really start looking at your mind because you start looking at these concepts and these false beliefs, and the ego is in there advising that you better stop: Don’t go within. Stay outside. Stay distracted.
Another thing he says is that a single, unified purpose will stabilize your perception. As long as you have a hundred million different purposes, you’re going to see a very wobbly discombobulated world of victims and victimizers, and pain and pleasure - duality. But, as you start following a single purpose, your judgments of the world will fade away because duality literally doesn’t exist on the screen. The duality is the split in the mind between the right mind and the wrong mind. That’s the way that the mind dealt with the split.

If you come back to the metaphysics of it, imagine this - in the Kingdom of Heaven the mind is whole. It’s singular. It’s one. It has nothing but integrity and union, and once it believes in this crazy idea of the ego, now there are two completely irreconcilable thoughts systems: the Holy Spirit’s thought system of love and the ego’s thought system of fear, and they’re in the same mind! This mind is used to union! Now, there is not one single point where the Holy Spirit’s thought system touches the ego. They’re completely unlike each other in every way, so the mind can’t stand this. So, what does it do? It projects it out on to the world. That’s where the world of duality comes from. That’s why we’ve got hot and cold, fast and slow, big and little, male and female, high and low; it could go on forever. The world seems to be a world of duality and extremes. Really, what it comes down to is, if you could pull it back and see that the conflict is just within my wrong mind, that the conflict just comes about when I’m trying to hold on to the ego’s thought system, then there is no longer a reason to project. You can let go of the ego. We’re getting into really theoretical stuff here. Let’s bring it back to a concrete example because we need to keep doing that so we can be clear.

Participant 2: I had an experience a while back where I had a grievance, and I wouldn’t let go of it. And so I had this inner dialogue: “Well you’ve got to let go of this.” “No.” “Well, you always have in the past.” “No.” I couldn’t. So, I’m doing this dialogue, and it came to me just like that - this grievance is my identity. I’m this. I’m not that. It was like, whoa, so it’s been really sticky for me for a while.

Participant 4: Yes, once I start thinking that I’ve got it all set, boy I get hit. Wonder why I’m depressed. Wonder why I’m doing it.

Speaker: That’s the key core. It’s identity. That’s what it really comes down to. I’ve noticed all these years, every time I’ve had an upset, if I’ve really sat down and gone within, it’s been my identity - my identity attachment to being an intellectual or a Cincinnati Red’s fan.

Participant 4: Or being a good parent.

Speaker: Yes, parent, brother, the family kind of thing, identity attachments to maleness and femaleness. You could do a whole workshop on male/female seeming struggles, the whole thing about equality. What we do is we’re still looking for solutions out in the world of form - equal pay and quotas, when really the solution comes from a whole different perception of the whole world. You can see that as long as we believe there is conflict going on out in the world, whether it’s abortion or gun control or the male/female thing or just pick one of a zillion issues, those are all ego distractive devices. The ego is saying, Take a side. Take one side. Good, as soon as you’re on one side, then you can be against the other side. Or like you were saying about identity attachments - as soon as it’s me, this identity person, against you, that other person, it’s important to be right. It’s important to hold on to it. As long as I’m into that image, defending that image of who I think I am. It’s painful. That’s where the grievances come in.

Participant 4: Just think if we quit doing that, just think how many talk show hosts would be out of business.

Speaker: The world would be out of business, literally.

Participant 1: There’s so many things that theoretically I can really understand, but then at times when you think of the real application, I sort of drift in and out. Some days as far as forgiveness and everything, I can do that. I can understand it, but then it gets down to judgments, and you think you can’t judge anything. It almost seems like you can’t really live. You can’t really be alive because you have to judge. How do you just do away with all of it? It’s not just a decision to do away with it, is it? There has to be some way to apply it.

Speaker: Yes, Let’s address that one part of your question - how do you live and how do you survive? That was my thing. As I went along and started really plunging into the Course and meditation, I had some moments of fear. At one point, the guidance I got in line with the whole career thing, for example, was to delete my resume. Well, my resume was my security! My resume was my past, my image, and take it off the word processor??? I spent ten years doing that - all the workshops, all the grade point averages! But I could tell, at that point in my life, that it was one of those trust issues, too. I had to trust that there was something greater than me that was going to run the show, that would literally be able to judge through me and be able to tell me where to go, who to see, and literally more and more be able to speak through me. I had to trust that there was something else because otherwise, that’s my security. If we give up our judgments... We believe that our good judgment is what keeps us going in this world. That’s why we go for more education. That’s why we keep going for retraining. That’s why we constantly watch the news. We think, Keep up with this. Got to move my house. Have to move to a better neighborhood because the crime is starting to get worse over here. Oh, gambling on the river now. Let’s move out here. Our judgment is always trying to say that we should change something on the screen to make it safer. The Holy Spirit is saying, Trust me. I’ll guide you. You’re in a maze, but every time you come to a place where you have to turn left or right I’ll be there. I’ll tell you go left here, go right, and go left” Literally, that’s how I feel in my life; I’ve gotten specific kinds of guidance. When I’ve let go of all my investment in how it should go, something really clear has come through. The only way that we can really go and follow the Course is to trust that that’s there.

The Holy Spirit is evaluative. Jesus says that the Holy Spirit does judge for us while we believe we’re here in the world. While we believe we’re here in the world, there are definitely decisions to be made and usually lots of them. He’s not saying to go blank. He’s saying, Hold on to my purpose. Remember that your function is forgiveness. Try to, in every encounter, try to hold onto that. For example, the reason I am here at the laundry mat is for forgiveness. The clothes will get washed, but holy encounters/forgiveness is my purpose. The reason I’m here at the restaurant, here comes the waitress, is for forgiveness, to really look the waitress in the eye and to really connect. Yes, food will be eaten. Waitresses will get tips, and we’ll pay.
Even when I go to my job, it doesn’t matter what you’re job is. What’s my purpose? Am I a data processor? Forgiveness. My function is forgiveness. And you can tell that there is a conflict that goes on in the mind because the next thing the ego usually comes up with is, Well, I work at such and such a job. I’m different than most people. I’ve got a job where I’m a manager. I have to judge people. The Holy Spirit takes us right where we are. He doesn’t make us sit under the eucalyptus tree for enlightenment. This is a very practical course, and wherever you seem to be, whatever your job situation, whatever your relationship situation, if you just make a commitment, make a determination that I’m going to turn my life over to You. I’m going to hold onto this purpose of forgiveness, hold on to this purpose of healing, that will have immediate changes. I noticed when I first started doing it in a grocery store that I had a whole agenda of how time was a big factor, price, all these things that you see. You’ve got a whole little script - grocery store scenario, and Jesus is saying, Just hold it off there to the side, that’s right, forgiveness. It’s really simple. It doesn’t seem that way at times because when you’re starting off, you have all these functions. You’ve split your whole life into all these functions. But, if you’ll just practice holding that one function, it will start to grow and gain momentum. The more it happens, it’s an adventure of a lifetime. I’ll guarantee it, if you start to follow that.

Participant 1: Theoretically, again, I can follow all that, but then how do you apply it? I mean I can see how you can apply it if you’re in a grocery store, and you’re standing in a long line. You begin to be impatient, and you forgive it. But how do you apply forgiveness as far as the fact that you have to know prices, and you have to choose between prices, and the time factor. How specifically does forgiveness come into play in that every day situation where you’re not actually confronting someone that you’re projecting on? These are items or these are just situations. Do you know what I mean?

Speaker: Yes, if you run it down into the mind, suppose you’re a really good bargain hunter, and you can price. Let’s use this specific example. If you really get down to what’s behind that, if you really follow that way down into the mind, it is the scarcity principle. What’s the big deal about pricing if you believe you’re the holy Christ, you’re abundant, and you have everything? Pricing kind of fades away as important. You can see how the belief in scarcity is way down in your mind. That has to be looked at.

Green paper strips went, and green paper strips came. That’s what Jesus calls money in the Course. It’s pretty casual, but it seems big time down here. He calls it green paper strips and little metal discs. But you can see how when you really get into the flow of it, you just hold on to forgiveness. What’s my function? What’s my purpose? That helps the pieces of the puzzle to just come together. That’s what makes it flow. There’s another part in the Workbook where Jesus says, Your “happiness and your function are one.” By holding onto the Holy Spirit’s purpose and remembering your function, you will be indescribably happy.

Now that’s not what the ego believes. The ego believes that if I get this better relationship, if I get this better job, if I get to live in a better place, if I get my body built up better, if my cholesterol level goes down, one of zillions of things, then I’ll be happy. And the Course makes it so simple. It just says that you’re happiness comes from fulfilling your function. That makes it simple. The ego will once again say that you don’t want to do God’s Will because the ego tells us that God’s Will is pain and suffering. It believes that God is a vengeful God, so it teaches that if I do God’s Will I’m going to have to sacrifice things. I’m really going to have to sacrifice. But, really it’s the flip side. It makes sense that if the Holy Spirit is going to use all the skills and everything we have in this world, that he would just retranslate our perceptions and just use our skills and abilities in a way that would be most helpful. It’s not a matter of, Well, I learned how to drive a car. Now I’m going to have to unlearn how to drive a car. I’m going to have to unlearn how to grocery shop. It’s not that He’s going to take away the skills of the world. He’s saying, Give them to me. If you have speaking ability, writing ability, or artistic ability, whatever the abilities may be, if you just shift purposes and give them to the Holy Spirit that will make you indescribably happy. Now, to me that makes sense.

Continue to Part 3

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