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Looking to the Cause Rather than Effects 

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: “The cause produces the effects which then bear witness to the cause and not themselves. Look then beyond effects. It is not here the cause of suffering and sin must lie and dwell not on the suffering and sin for they are but reflections of their cause. Look then beyond effects because all of the upsets are about effects.” T27 vii

That’s just a restatement of what we were talking about. All of the upsets are about effects. We just watched a movie, ‘2001’ where all these apes and later on all these men in space suits were going up to this big domino and just touching it, which would be like tinkering with your fingernails on the TV screen and expecting things to change.

Participant: Yes, that came to my mind yesterday. I don’t remember specifically what it was. I just thought, ‘What am I doing this for?’ I’m saying something to try to change something in the movie. It’s like how we would be watching a movie and you say something and you think somebody in the movie will hear you. I had that sense. I’m talking to the characters in the movie and I really think they’re going to hear me and do something. It just seemed funny to me.

Speaker: “The part you play in salvaging the world from condemnation is your own escape. Forget not that the witness to the world of evil cannot speak except for what has seen a need for evil in the world.”

There’s a belief in the mind, the belief in separation, that has seen a need for evil in the world. That’s what has to be questioned. “and this is where your guilt was first beheld” in the mind. “In separation from your brother was the first attack upon yourself begun and it is this the world bears witness to. Seek not another cause nor look among the mighty legions of its witnesses for its undoing.”

We had a discussion this morning about how it seems as if everyone is looking for models or for people who are enlightened in the world. One of the things that came up was that there don’t seem to be a whole lot of models. You could look in many different directions, go many different places and read a lot of different books. But that’s a good sentence, “Seek not another cause nor look among the mighty legions of its witnesses for its undoing”. Don’t be looking out in the world, even to other people to find a witness for its undoing. You have to look at the false cause in your mind that produced that world and then by looking at it you can see that it’s not really a cause at all. Once you see that you’ll see that you’re the dreamer of the dream. When you give a new purpose to this world, everything and everyone is seen as a witness to that. The stepping stone to that seems to be that there are some things that are more symbolic of love than other things. A hug seems more symbolic than a strangling. A smile seems more symbolic than a dagger in the back.

Participant: Not necessarily more symbolic, but more symbolic of one thing than another.

Speaker: More symbolic of love.Having sessions and going into things can seem more symbolic than changing the oil in your car or taking a walk. But, the point that we’re trying to come to in the sessions, and the sessions are a symbol of it, is watching your mind and just tracing in to see that the cause that seems to produce the whole world that the bodies eyes behold is a false cause. It’s seeing that everything is unreal in the world. The stepping stone towards this is you may seem to see the words, hear the ideas, and hear them in songs and movies that are symbolic of it, that’s a stepping stone to coming to really see that there is nothing in the world of effects that is meaningful.

You can watch movies like ‘Being There.’ Chauncey Gardener is a symbol of innocence. Once again you’re saying there is this movie and this character in the movie is a symbol of child like innocence and that’s still pulling it apart. Whereas other times people will watch the movie and say I could really identify with that character in the movie, and that’s seeing that that character is representing something to oneself. Then there’s another way of watching a movie and stepping back a little further and just watching you’re feelings and your thoughts and your reactions. You’re not saying that the Bill Murray character or the Chauncey Gardener character is a symbol, but just noticing in your mind the thoughts, the reactions, and the feelings and looking at the belief system. It’s like one step back from trying to find something symbolic on the screen, just look in your mind and try to find something in there.

You have to start somewhere. The feeling is that it’s like a tidal wave! You’re standing there with a bucket trying to hold back a tidal wave. It feels useless at times. But, you can only start where you perceive yourself to be and even if you have a number of thoughts that just seem to be coming back and your mind just seem to be getting caught in them, then it might be good just to take one particular theme or one particular thought that keeps coming back and just start to work with it and trace it back a little bit.

Participant: Lots of times they’re all related. It could be just future thoughts, it could be a million different things in the future. Sometimes they all go into a category and then it doesn’t seem so overwhelming. If I can say I’m just thinking about the future, never mind that there are thoughts on all these different variations on this theme. That seems more like you can get a handle on it or do something with it. Because otherwise it would just be scattered all over everywhere, it would be like trying to pick up leaves that are blowing in the wind.

Speaker: One very depressing thought is that it’s going to take me forever to do this and of course, that’s the ego’s use of time. It thoroughly approves of that thought. The Holy Spirit emphasizes there is only one aspect of time that is meaningful and that is now. We’ve heard it said so many times about live in the moment and when the mind is in the mode of thinking of the past or future to talk about the present or pay attention right now can seem at times superficial. One woman at an intensive said, the way I perceive time is whoosh [sweeping sound indicating vastness]. That’s the past. Whoosh, that’s the future and this little bitsy thing. You almost have to have a magnifying glass to even find it because its so tiny squeezed in between these two vast things. Yet that is the whole point of the Course, the Holy Instant. Mind just seems so convinced in the reality of linear time. The hope of enlightenment seems to be there but the mind just projects it out into the future and it just seems like it’s going to take forever. There are those who work with the Course that will emphasize that aspect even. The Freudian analogy is that the ego is like an iceberg; this little tip above the surface and this vast thing underneath that needs to be exposed and there are lines in the Course, when you get to the second to last stages in the development of trust Jesus uses the words, ‘This may take a long long time.’ When he uses words like ‘long, long time’, there are those who will emphasize that. But, if you keep coming back to desire, if you really look closely right at the ego and not get caught in all its maneuvers its OK. If you get caught in all little snags and you get caught in all the specifics then it can seem to take a very very long time to do it.

Participant: That’s where to me it’s like I have to reach my hand out and say help pull me out of this. Because it can feel like quicksand; it can feel like you’re getting swallowed up. When the thoughts and feelings can get overwhelming; I don’t see any way out of it. I feel like I’m going down fast and the more I seem to struggle and fight the faster I sink. That doesn’t work and then everything I try doesn’t seem to help and for me a lot of times it’s just that symbol in whatever way that I can, to reach out my hand and say I need help to pray and do whatever it takes. But, that’s the willingness to say I don’t want to go down in quicksand. I can remember going to a lecture years ago when somebody did the diagram of the iceberg. They had only the very tip of it. It was like every time I uncover a hidden belief, it was like this little tiny tiny chip of this huge iceberg and I thought, this is pointless. It’s not really accurate. It’s not helpful when you’re seeing it. Because here I am with this little hammer and pick on this boulder as big as this house and my hammer is this [indicating smallness] big trying to chip it away piece by piece. It just seems like, well, I might as well just go to the beach. Forget it!

Speaker: The beach is an analogy of just going on a long beach and just picking up every single grain of sand with tweezers one by one.

Participant: But if you look at it as if there’s no other way, it’s got to get it done and you have eternity to do it. It’s like, well might as well get started now.

Speaker: But even eternity to do it. It’s not even good to mix eternity with time because the whole point of the Course is to determine that they’re not the same.

Participant: Because to the ego eternity is just a long long time. The ego says, Good! Think in terms of eternity. This just stretches out time more!

Participant: But that’s where I am. How else can we think of eternity?

Speaker: Well, you can’t. The little snap shot or the miniature of eternity is the Holy Instant and that’s why we come together to look at everything that’s covering the Holy Instant. Jesus says, ‘Now is the closest approximation of eternity that the world offers.’ That little speck that we just talked about that’s the closest approximation of eternity that the world offers, so we just keep looking at it, to have sessions and to go through the thinking process. When I’m going through it, if there is anything that is not understandable or needs a little more clarity, that’s the time to raise a hand up. It doesn’t have to be a major crisis before you can raise your hand up.

Participant: I think the iceberg analogy is not helpful and why it’s not accurate is…I don’t know if I can explain why, but I guess the other metaphor that you’ve used that does explain it better to me is the tree with the branches. Because that gives some connection to all of it, the trunk of the tree indicates that it’s like a funnel. It’s all leading to the same place. Whether I pick this belief or this belief or this belief off any of the branches it’s all leading to the same place. It’s not like well this is just one belief among millions. What’s the impact of that but, it’s leading to the same root cause. So, pick any one, pick one, pick ten, it doesn’t matter. It’s all leading to the same place. So, that to me is a much better way of seeing it because then it doesn’t feel so overwhelming and with the tree you think of how it keeps branching out further and further and further so that even if you pick a belief that’s on the furthest most tiny branch, if you see a connection between that and a bunch of other beliefs, you can lop off one big branch of the tree at one time. So, to me it’s helpful seeing that there is a connection between all of them whereas an iceberg there’s no connection. It’s just one over here, one over there. You still have a huge iceberg. What’s the connection?

Speaker: Another way to think of it using a tree analogy with the leaves and the little twigs. You think of every little leaf as a private mind, that the leaf if you follow it to the twig to one branch. If you keep going you’ll follow just that route that it takes all the way down to the trunk. The trunk is the wrong mind. You can think of all the branches and the little twigs and the leaves that come off as these seemingly separate things but it’s just different variations in form. It’s in form where all the variations seem to take place. When you can really work it down its just one trunk or one belief; that’s good news; it’s not like it’s from a quantitative sense that you have to look at every belief. You can just take any one and trace it down.

Participant: It seems like the mind looks at as many of those branches as necessary to start seeing that every one of them goes back to that trunk. Once the mind sees that that’s the case then that kind of takes all of what’s left away with it. It takes care of the rest of all those other branches in one fell swoop.

Speaker: There’s an idea in the Course that starts off, ‘God placed a limit on your ability to miscreate.’ Thank Heavens! That was the atonement. The way that Jesus describes the atonement he says, ‘the atonement was built into the space/time belief.’ The answer, the atonement or the Holy Spirit was built into it. It’s like a little safety device. It’s ended. It’s over. The safety device is put into place and it works for every leaf and every twig and every branch. It’s like it’s coated into every single possible scenario. No matter how dark and twisted and how distorted the dream can be there’s the little safety device that’s tucked away in there: the atonement.

Participant: What are the levels of trust you were talking about. You mentioned levels of trust?

Speaker: The stages of the development of trust that are in the Teacher’s Manual. He says that there are ten characteristics of God’s teachers that reflect an advanced teacher and he starts off with trust is #1 then honesty. He goes into tolerance and patience and different ones. He says that all of the characteristics rest on trust and he goes further and says that there are 5 or 6 stages that a teacher of God must go through. Early on one of them is it will seem to be as if things are being taken away. It can seem as if jobs, people, possessions, skills, health, peace are being taken away. What it really is is the mind is starting to see the lack of value in the things of the world. Symbolically it is being represented as if things are being taken away. But that’s just an interpretation. There is no such thing really as being taken away. You have to believe you have something before you can believe its being taken away and that’s not the case. But, to the deceived mind, it believes it has lots of things and when those things seem to be lost or taken away, that’s just the interpretation of it. It would be good to do a review someday on the stages of the development of trust. When a couple of students came up here to go into things in his mind he thought he was about at level four and when he came over to talk about it I just went over the first two with him and he started going over them and he went, ‘Aw, shucks I’m just on the first one. I thought I was on four’. Also when you read them, It talks about periods of unsettling…

Participant: Anything after 2 is pretty advanced really, in terms of a teacher of God, wouldn’t you say?

Speaker: Oh, yes. We could go over this sometime. Initially, it really does seem to be more of a sorting out of situations and behaviors because that’s all the mind believes in. The deeper you go it’s more of a sorting out of thought systems. Initially the mind thinks so much in terms of situations, events and behaviors. It really starts off as which of these situations is most helpful to me?

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