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Upsets; Values & Beliefs
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: Does anybody have anything they are wrestling with other than communication? We can go into that.
Friend: For me is to be in communication and control. I have control issues it seems lately.
David: How have they been expressing themselves, or how have you been perceiving that?
Friend: There are a bunch of things that seem to disturb my peace.
First, Last Saturday night I was irritated by things that happened at the restaurant where I work. We were so busy, and the cooks, waiters and other staff were yelling at each other and yelling for managers. There was no teamwork. It kind of broke down to every man for himself kind of thing. I just was there trying to encourage people by giving them pats on their backs and telling them they were doing great, but yet I was feeling I didn’t want to stay in that environment for very long. I was thinking it’s not worth it to me for a few dollars. Physically I felt tired from standing in one place for that long, and it was hot in there. But I think all of those things could be overlooked so much more if people just encouraged each other and communicated. Also, the onions that they put on the side just looked like junk, and they were throwing parsley on the plate just for the sake of having parsley on the plate, and it all seemed so phony. I had a hard time with that.
Then I had another issue with my partner. She wanted me to wax the van. I think she got it in her head that it would be one of my jobs; that it should be something I should do to contribute. I said, “I’ll wax the van with you but I feel we are getting into expectations here and that van is a large vehicle and it would go a lot quicker if two people were doing it.” She came and did it. Toward the end I brought up the issue that the van is big, it’s going to take more time and money to maintain, and it gets poor gas mileage. Then I questioned: “Why do we really need it?” She wouldn’t go into it and said, “I do not have to answer that, I like the van and that’s good enough.” So I became frustrated that she would not even talk about it. She said, “Look, why should I talk about it; we are not going to sell the van.” I was saying, “It’s not about selling the van. I just want to talk about why you think you need it.” After I had thought about it I came back and said, “I am sure it’s not about the van but I’m feeling upset about something, and it seems to be the van that is the focal point right now. The bottom line is that I think we need to be communicating.” We came together with the group in a session and things got a little bit better and we felt good, but if we just stop here and say we’re on separate paths and we’re just going to live in this house and not communicate, I told her, “I think things are going to break down again.” She seemed to agree with that but said she wasn’t going to run to the group every time I thought there was a problem. She basically said that she doesn’t get anything out of the sessions. I just wanted to talk about the van and communicate my feelings. I am still feeling the sense of having to support something that I do not believe in. I don’t see the need for that large of a vehicle. I have concerns about the cost of maintenance and don’t feel comfortable that the resources are there. I feel even more frustrated when she doesn’t really want to sit down and talk and I don’t feel it’s really productive for us to talk alone because it just doesn’t get anywhere.
Then, we were over at her in-law’s house, and they were talking about the body. The conversation went into the causes of sickness, and I was getting frustrated because I think I know more than that, but nobody wants to hear that. Still I am also frustrated that I can’t demonstrate what the Course says. I can’t prove it to anybody because I can’t prove it to myself. I still get sick; at least my body seems to get sick, but not very often.
David: We keep coming back to choice and we keep coming back to beliefs; and I’ve talked about how you have to retrace the steps up the spiral to go up. Maybe we can talk more about the spiral; what that spiral is. I think something that’s coming to mind from the beginning of Chapter 24 that’s a good starting point.
We can come at it from the whole control issue thing. Maybe, in your case there is a perceived control issue about waxing the van, or maybe there are control issues about money or about things at work, and so on and so forth. Everyone seems to experience control issues all the time. They seem to take on so many different forms. Chapter 24 talks about decisions, and it talks about beliefs. We can just take the second paragraph in the section, Specialness as a Substitute for Love. Actually there are a couple of paragraphs on the opening page that are helpful.
So all these decision points that seem to be whether or not to go for a job interview, or whether to send another resume here or there, or whether to take this job as a chef or that job as a waiter, or to wax the van or not, etcetera. It’s kind of humbling to start to think that all the seeming decisions in this world are just pseudo decisions. It’s kind of like a computer program where the beliefs are part of what’s already been programmed in, and everything (as far as the program running) depends on what’s been loaded into the memory, and the program is just running. It seems that a lot of the time you can feel like a chicken with your head cut off because the program already seems to be loaded in, and it already seems to be executed and running. Even though there seems to be struggles about specific things that are taking place, it’s kind of like a robot. A decision is a conclusion based on everything that you believe. Everything that you believe in a given instant determines the decision you make. A decision can be as small as whether to put parsley on a plate or not.
Friend: It seems arbitrary but it is not. Like who cares if there is parsley on a plate?
David: Yeah, in one sense it’s total determinism. A lot of times people have said Well the environment seems to determine what I do. But we are going much deeper. We’re saying that the belief system determines what you do every instant. So a control issue which seems to be between persons or between conflicts that are on the surface really is the first belief that was taken seriously—the belief in separation from God. Then after that just tons of substitutions have been layered on to that, to try to compensate for, or to try to alleviate the guilt of that first belief. So there are stacks and stacks and stacks and stacks of beliefs.
When I started to get into this deeper and deeper, I started to sense that I wanted to be totally free of it all but I thought How can I be free of it as long as I am in relationships the way I perceive them? I perceived that whether you talk about parent-child relationships, husband-wife relationships, boyfriend-girlfriend relationships, employer-employee relationships or even friendships, control seemed to be involved in every one of those.
For me it’s been helpful to start to see that I’ve constructed this world in which I believe I am this person or this body and I believe that I am in all these kinds of relationships with a lot of different situations and places and things, and that that’s just all made up based on all these beliefs that I hold onto. So to me it became apparent How can I be totally integrated; how can I have a total sense of integrity if I have to answer to anything or anyone on the screen, no matter who it appears to be; whether it’s the United States Government, a husband or a wife, a boyfriend or a girlfriend, or a parent or whatever. How can there be total integrity as long as there seems to be a dependency, or there seems to be some reliance on persons, places or things that are on the screen? So right away I think you can see, as I saw initially, that this is really going to take a thorough examination of everything in order to unplug from that. How can I participate in the world as if I am a part of the world and be free of the world? You can’t! There is no reconciling mind with playing a game, playing a role there.
So everything we talk about is going to be about questioning the beliefs that one has about the world and oneself. The beliefs that you hold about the world and the beliefs that you hold about yourself are identical. It’s not like you are just dealing with a little personality. The whole cosmos is your self-concept. It’s not that you have to somehow be free of the little personality and transcend the personality. It’s not that like there is a little mask, and that if you could just figure out how lay aside the mask you could be a true, genuine, authentic person. The whole world and the whole cosmos as it is constructed—the belief in economics, the belief in politics, the belief in medicine and sickness—the whole thing is the self-concept! None of it is true. None of it has any reality. If you believe in part of it, you really believe in all of it, since it is one. There is no way to give up any kind of a shred of it without having to really give up everything. So when we read, “To learn this Course requires willingness to question every value that you hold,” we are talking about every value—every single value.
Friend: And under every value is a belief, because I have to believe that it has some value. There has to be an ordering. If there’s a value on anything, I have to have ordered it, and I have to fit it somewhere in my hierarchy of high or low, take your pick.
David: Literally it’s all or nothing. If the belief in separation is where this control issue is really rooted, and the belief in separation is what seems to maintain this whole world of illusion, then the whole world has to be questioned to come to an end of this authority problem or this control issue. As long as I believe I can make myself; as long as I believe that this menagerie of images is mine to choose from, then I’m denying that my only real choice is to accept my reality as Spirit. So that’s where the control issues are going to seem to spring up over and over again and again. It’s like the problem will seem to keep coming and coming, because it’s not about a control issue about finances, about power or control in relationships, or about power or control in employer-employee relationships. It’s not about the United States Government. It’s not about the system; it’s not about anything that it seems to have been about. It’s about believing that I can make myself instead of accepting my reality as I was created.
Friend: And it’s also not about avoiding the system or just saying I’m not going to deal with any of those things out there. When I was talking with my friend today at lunch, one of the things that came up, that he didn’t see as a real distinction, which I thought was a big distinction, was making the shift at the level of mind first, and not making the change at the level of form. He was saying, “What’s the difference whether you do it one place or another?” Well, I said that for what I’m doing here, there’s a huge difference. It’s a critical difference. I was getting into examples, because he said he didn’t see that in what I am doing, so I gave him examples. I could think of ten examples right off the top of my head. You are always making this shift in your mind initially and then the form will follow from that. It’s not about making the shift in form first and hoping that the shift in mind follows from that. I felt like that was a really big distinction to make. It is for me. I have to keep remembering that when the temptation is to say Well, if I just didn’t have to deal with this thing, finances or whatever, then I could do what I really want to do, or I could think about what I really want to think about. But it’s not about never having to deal with finances again; it’s about shifting my mind.
David: It’s a helpful metaphor. I think we can run that in a little bit, because a lot of times changing form as hoping to change the mind is talked about, or changing the mind and the form will follow. Those are all metaphors because it seems as if one has had over the course of one’s life significant changes in mind or changes in perception. That’s just a metaphor too because in the end it comes down to what we were talking about in the first pamphlet, Mind Overhaul-Changing your Mind About Your Mind. The only change of mind that can take place is accepting the Atonement.
Friend: That’s final change. It’s the first and final.
David: It’s the only one. In that sense it’s not even a change at all. It’s accepting a correction or accepting what is. That thing that seems to have to change, isn’t. The thing that seems to have to change is the deceived mind, and it isn’t! It doesn’t exist.
But the thing too about form and mind, it also seems as if you can change one or the other. One thing we’ll keep coming at is that since cause and the effect are simultaneous, and since ideas leave not their source; what you see is what you get. What you see is what you have asked for in the moment. It’s not that one thing happens before the other. It’s not even about changing your mind first. It’s like there would be a little time delay, and the form will follow. Time is simultaneous and perception is simultaneous, and so you are always seeing what you believe. So if you look with the body’s eyes and listen with the body’s ears, you’re just seeing and hearing what you believe. It’s not like there’ll be a time lag, like you’ll change your mind and then a few days later or a few minutes later you’ll see a corresponding change in form. You are always looking upon a world which represents what the mind believes, and it’s nuts! Jesus was saying, whenever you’re upset it can seem like you know, Lessons 5, 6 and 7: “I’m never upset for the reason I think.” I think I’m upset because it’s so fast-paced here. I think I’m upset because waiters are shouting at cooks and vice versa, and I think I’m upset because there’s no order; that they’re throwing things on plates and this and that. But I’m never upset for the reason I think. I’m upset because I see something that’s not there. That puts it into a whole new context. I’m seeing a world that doesn’t exist. That’s upsetting.
Friend: Hallucinating is upsetting.
David: Hallucinating is upsetting.
Friend: …and believing the hallucinations is upsetting.
David: That’s the upsetting part. It’s not anything specific. The flip side would be Oh, I’m so peaceful. I’m sitting here watching the waves come in, and I’m listening to the waves lap up. You could even construct that as This is a much more peaceful environment than this wild Saturday night scene at the restaurant, but if you’re still seeing a world that’s not there, that’s what’s upsetting. The lessons continue on: “A meaningless world engenders fear.” Why does it engender fear; because it is unreliable. The world that the body’s eyes are perceiving and the body’s ears are hearing and is being experienced through the five senses is totally unreliable. It seems to always be changing; there’s no stability to it. It seems chaotic. That’s what makes it seem fearful; that’s what makes it… you could fill in the blank of any derivative of fear.
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