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Week Intensive part 10 - Tracing Back Upsets Part 1
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.
(Note: The document Instrument for Peace is referred to in this transcript.)
Friend: I’ve got another question. When you do this Intensive, to who is it normally directed? What level of awareness do you normally direct this Intensive to?
David: Well, we go where we’re invited to go and we did one that was about two weeks long and everybody seems to have a little different level of awareness and everything. Some people came in for a couple of days even and said, “Well, this is too deep for me” and we were going to be going deeper and deeper over two weeks and so he said, “This isn’t for me now” and then he left. The Course is a tool that has all these different levels in it and the whole object is to go as deep as you can. The whole object is to wake up so that you come to the awareness that there’s no pain. That there is pure peace, peace of mind.
Friend: You’re not speaking from within the term of the Intensive.
David: No, I don’t put a time limit on it. In other words to me it has everything to do with level of readiness of the mind which is highly individualized. There are many levels of readiness and it has to do with desire. For example we just came from a place where people had been working with the Course (sometimes dabbling in and out for a while), and there were just enormous mind shifts in the span of one week. I mean they came, and they were there in the morning, some of them came back in the afternoon and the evening. At the end of the week some of them stopped going to work; it was profoundly touching to them as they were having these shifts. They were seeing everything differently. There were a lot of shifts taking place. So all I do is I kind of sow the seeds and—it all depends on the level of readiness and their desire to go deeper.
Friend: There is no normal.
David: Yeah, there is no normal in this. We start at the very beginning with the real basic level and these terms are so new. Last night I used that metaphor of a little baby; when a little baby comes into the world he sees all these figures moving about him and he hears all this noise and Jesus was saying, from that quote last night that those will become his comforters and that will be his native tongue, all that gibberish.
I have studied many different philosophies and many different spiritual paths, and this Course is very clear. If you want to cut through the muck, which could take thousands and thousands of years, this is a way of coming to clarity and waking up. I like to think of it as a very sharp tool. There are many tools but this one is a very sharp one. And also there’s lots of resistance that comes up to the ideas that can take many forms. It’s kind of like you just take what you can take though, there’s no sense of anybody being coerced or rushed and as questions start coming up then that’s when to ask them.
Friend: But I have always found that there has to be a relative degree of understanding before you can ask the question. Where I’m at is more a dealing with my day to day interactions with other people on a more spiritual level. I try to explain this to other people who are close to me so they understand what’s going on because they tend to wonder What on earth is she up to all the time. She’s constantly changing and getting into something new and different and where is she going? And I’m more interested in absolutely dealing with my ego. Now, I’m not at the point where I feel that I can… I don’t think I’ve learned enough from dealing with my ego to let it go and go somewhere else. I’m trying to blend the two which I understand is not a possibility in the overall scheme of this course, but that’s where I’m at. I’m trying to tone down the ego, be a softer person, less intense, more understanding, forgiving and so forth, and this so far as I’ve been able to take anything out of it has not helped me learn how to deal with that. It’s telling me that you have to deny the ego or realize that it isn’t important and at this point in my life it is very important because it’s causing me a lot of stress.
David: Tonight what we are going to do is we’re going to use this real practical sheet for taking your upset; whenever you have an interpersonal upset with somebody and you’re feeling a little miffed at them or a little irritated or whatever, and writing down how you’re feeling at the top of the sheet. And then it’s a metaphysical tracing, working it back into the mind to try to get your mind to a place where it can see it differently, perceive it differently and choose the miracle.
And a lot of this stuff that we’ve talked about gets into this basic metaphysical understanding that’s very important. The more you understand the metaphysics, the more meaningful the sheet will become and the easier the tracing back gets. In other words, initially I’ve heard people will take this sheet and they will just use it, they’ll make lots of copies of it, they’ll punch holes and they’ll make a binder, because the ego seems so entrenched and so deep like you’re saying that to think of completely letting it go initially seems like Whoa, that’s wishful thinking.
Friend: To me it’s one mile after another. The drain may be a hundred miles long, but I can’t just say Ok, I’m there.
Friend: I have to take it mile by mile and my ego may in fact only be on mile two, but I’ve got to get through that in order to go further.
David: Yes, also, my approach always has been to start with what people perceive as practical problems and you start with that and you work it back. So my approach hasn’t been going around the country and just going deeply into the metaphysics; everywhere I’ve gone—twice around the continental United States and all kinds of places. It has been the same thing of coming together, sometimes not for a period of a week, but the whole process is; start where you’re perceiving yourself. The deeper you go, everything just starts to click in and integrate until you get to the deeper levels then it’s kind of more like a smorgasbord. Like hmm, that feels comfortable over there I don’t know how or why that fits in but I feel like I want to do Tai Chi, or I feel like I want to do certain types of meditation, or things like diet, or exercise…
Friend: Healing practices…
David: Healing practices, hands on, and all kinds of different things. We can talk about those—any subject. Because I know that everyone here including you have been in spirituality for some time, and what the Course does is it just starts to integrate everything in the ideas of mind and it starts to pull everything together. So all of a sudden everything starts to have meaning. Instead of being like little things orbiting off here, like I don’t know exactly how the Chakras relate to Tai Chi or to diet or this or this; it seems like there’s lots of things on the surface, but it all starts to integrate so anything that anybody wants to bring up is fair game.
Friend: I think one of the things I’ve learned from another place in another time is that, especially with this ego, some of us have to be somebody before we can be nobody. And before, you know, we feel we got to do all of these things, and when you start building them all up and doing them, then you find out that like Hey, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, and then I can begin to let some of that ego go. I haven’t let it all go but I find that how the ego has led me on to do all these different things, really wasn’t it, and so now I’ve been there and now I can sort of come back and try and dissolve it to some degree.
Friend: Well that’s where I think I am because I’ve allowed my ego to put me in a corner too many times and I don’t like that position. It’s not very comfortable and in the past I have just found a different room to be in that has different corners, and then I’ll be damned [laughs] end up in one of those corners again. So what I’m trying to do now is; I’m realizing that I need to approach situations in a manner that says Well, wait a minute, why I am I allowing my friend’s behavior to threaten me? because it really doesn’t. It doesn’t mean anything one way or another. So I’m trying to deal with these common, everyday things. Dealing with people that I can’t just walk out on, I mean, I can leave you and never see you again and that will suit me just fine. But in some situations like extended family members or people that you work with it’s impossible to do that and so I’ve learned the hard way that I’ve got to stay in that corner or figure out how not to get in it next time. [laughs]
David: And it doesn’t feel good when we feel like we’re having an irritation with someone else, we have a sense inside that there has to be a better way, there has to be something better than just repeating it or keep going on.
Friend: But I can look at these individuals and I can rationalize and I can say This woman is in pain and this woman is not happy about herself. Why are you letting this distress you? Why are you letting this behavior infringe on your comfort? And I haven’t quite figured it out yet. So that’s one component of why I’ve been searching and trying to find a better way.
David: Go ahead and pass this sheet out.
Friend: This first one that has writing on it, everybody take one copy of that.
David: So it’s got twelve steps, so instead of having to go to a Twelve Step group you can get out your little sheets. A lot of times people will work with this and put them in a notebook and then when you feel like the ego’s really going on and saying, You haven’t improved in the last year or done this or that, you can see you have made some progress. So it can kind of be a way of charting a little bit of progress or at least it could be a symbol of progress when the ego kicks in and says You haven’t improved one bit in the last six months, you can say Oh yes! I have! [laughter]
Friend: Here’s some upsets that I have let go of!
Friend: Right, do you look back at 1a and think Oh my goodness, I remember when that used to upset me. It doesn’t bother me anymore. And then it’s a real witness to the mind that the mind can change.
(Note: in this and following paragraphs, 1a, number 1, and A, B etc refer to sections in the document Instrument for Peace)
David: It starts off, “The mind at peace is healed. The mind at peace has whole heartedly welcomed peace. In this world lack of peace appears in many forms. For permanent healing to occur, lack of peace must be traced back to its singular cause in the mind. Use of this Instrument for that tracing back can help a willing mind let go of what it thinks it knows, see the world differently and experience a present state of peace and joy.”
So the singular cause in the mind that is lack of peace would be the ego. Whenever we talk about going into right mind and talking about wrong mind or Holy Spirit and ego; the cause of all upset, is just the ego. It doesn’t seem that way initially when you start working with these things; it seems like if you have an aching back that there maybe fifteen reasons that might come to mind; if I hadn’t been carrying those groceries or if I had just a little more sleep I’d rested it, all the things that could come to mind.
Friend: It was an occupational hazard. I’m a dentist; it’s a given.
David: Right; it’s part of occupation this and that. That’s what it seems like on the surface, what this sheet will help us do is trace it back to; it’s just the ego. It’s just a decision for the ego, that’s where the upset or the pain has come from.
Friend: Should we use an example or…?
David: Yeah. If you can think of a person that you’re having difficulty with, it could be anything that’s going on that’s just upsetting, that there’s a lack of peace around, it can be a small thing too, it doesn’t have to be like this major… [laughs]
Friend: Hair in the sink! [group laughter] That was one thing that we talked about. It’s like one of those minor things; it’s like You know that! It bugs me! Was that one that you’re thinking of something that we could use?
Friend: Hair in the sink? [group laughter]
Friend: What about a coworker or something, is that a specific experience you’re having?
Friend: I have a specific experience. I don’t want to use the coworker though because she doesn’t cause me anywhere near the grief this other woman does. Ok, this person is my husband’s older sister. Unfortunately that means that at family gatherings you’re thrown into contact with her. She’s a very aggressive woman, she’s very insecure, she has to parade every item of value in front of your nose so that you’re sure to see a new ring, a full length fur coat, a necklace that someone brought back from Egypt. She is very inflammatory in her speech, in her opinions and she expects you to buy into them and affirm that, “Oh yes, you’re right, you’re right.” And I cannot stand; I just cannot stand being around this woman. To one point one day I finally just got up from the table and said, “I don’t care to discuss this!” And this is not the way to handle it, not when you’re in a family gathering to just get up and leave. And so I really don’t know what to do with her. I have taken a shot of whiskey before I go over there, I have taken tranquilizers before I go over there, I have meditated, and other times I’ve done nothing at all and they all have about the same effect. I still get angry. [laughs]
Friend: That’s a great one [group laughter]
Friend: I have come to realize that it’s not her; I know it’s not her, which really frustrates me. I do understand that it’s not her; but I haven’t figured out how to deal with this challenge.
David: So the first thing we want for “number 1,” is “When I think about undesirable scenarios,” so if you can just think of one scene or scenario that you’ve mentioned.
Friend: How about being with her?
David: The scenario of Going over to a family gathering and being with her.
David: So that would be like, “When I think about “A”, then you would just fill that in as your “A”.
Friend: All right, got it.
David: Now the second part of that, it says, “I feel B.” You kind of had adjectives describing her as aggressive and opinionated and so on and so forth, but just some of your feelings when you’re there and you’re at the family gathering; you want to just start with how you’re feeling and it can be a number of them, just a specific upsetting emotion.
Friend: Pick out the top three or four; usually is what’s helpful.
Friend: The top three or four; are they listed? Oh, you mean my top three or four?
Friend: You might have ten different feelings but pick out the dominant three or four.
Friend: I feel anger, I feel uneasiness, I feel cornered, emotionally cornered, and total intolerance.
David: “Because I think that, C/name is to blame. And, or, I’m afraid C/negative consequences will occur in the future.”
Friend: Sighs. Yeah and I don’t really know how to deal with that. The negative consequences in this, one of the biggest ones, is to have to agree with her when I don’t agree. Rather than say, “I think you’re full of …!” I can’t do that so I feel like I have to agree and go along with it. I don’t know how else to put that.
Friend: What are you afraid would occur in the future if you agreed or disagreed, whichever?
Friend: I guess I’m compromising my values, I’m compromising myself. I’m a very upfront truthful kind of person but I don’t like confrontation and to me there’s no point of confrontation in these gatherings, let the woman just blow off her steam. You find me in a different room usually than what you find her if I can arrange it nicely because I don’t like to have to deal with her, I don’t like being compromised, I don’t like having to say, “I don’t agree with you,” because I don’t feel it’s important to do that. It doesn’t make any difference whether I agree with her or not; it isn’t going to change anything.
Friend: Are you feeling like what’s going to happen in the future is just more of the same?
Friend: Oh yeah.
Friend: To be afraid of the future, is it that it would compromise your relationship with your husband?
Friend: Well it is a minor consideration. He doesn’t care for her too much either but I can’t rest on that too easily. I mean he tries to avoid her and he doesn’t like her show off nature and this one upmanship. Someone’s got something; she’s got to have another one that’s better, bigger, nicer, and more expensive. So he doesn’t have a lot of tolerance with that either. He understands where I’m coming from but that doesn’t justify my feelings and I realize that. So any future consequences is that I’m very uneasy about it, I don’t have a good time. If I think about family gatherings where she is, I feel anger, intolerance etc. because I think she is to blame and/or I think the same things going to happen over and over again.
David: So we move now to “number two.” One of the things we’ve talked about in the first several days of this seminar is that perception, what we perceive in the world comes from our beliefs in our minds. So if we go back to our Levels of Mind diagram, perception was out here, the outer ring and the belief is in here, the inner ring. And the belief determines the perception. Sometimes it doesn’t seem that way, it seems as if our emotions and our beliefs and thoughts are determined by what’s happening out here so this is where “number two” is coming in, it’s saying, “A” the undesirable scenario, “B” the feelings, “C” the thoughts. In this case the thought of who’s to blame; prove that I am right about “D”, how I think things are.
One of the things I heard you say earlier, not just about this situation, but you were saying it more in a general context, “I’m always being cornered!” That feeling would be something that you could put in “D” because it’s more of a pervasive belief that if it seems like not only with her but in other situations like at work or other things, then that’s something you could fill in. That might be, “I always seem to be getting cornered.”
Friend: Also it’s a lack of peace and also the big big big thing that I kind of forgot to mention is the woman is negative. There is no positive thought in her body except that she is right. But she’s a very negative woman and I don’t like having to be with people who are constantly negative and complaining about something. So yeah, I feel cornered and very uneasy and not at peace.
Friend: So the lack is peace?
Friend: Perhaps, just about everything pleasant is lacking.
Friend: Being cornered or any of those would work.
Friend: But if you use some of those things that lead in—I’m just sort of trying to put myself in your shoes…
Friend: I need a peaceful environment, I am upset…
Friend: Yeah, I need to be around people that are more positive and… I can imagine, since she’s so aggressive and overbearing you may feel a sense of being overwhelmed, I don’t know.
Friend: So that would be like control, maybe?
Friend: Control, yeah that’s what I was thinking.
Friend: Well it could be control because I’m not exactly a wall flower and control is an issue with me. So it could possibly be vying for control.
David: That would be one to fill in, “I am vying for control.”
Friend: I am out of control. [group laughter]
Friend: That’s what’s lacking is I’m out of control. I need to be in control is the feeling right?
Friend: So where does that fit in?
Friend: “D” “I need to be in control.”
Friend: So this proves that I’m right about needing to be in control!
Friend: But that wouldn’t have come on your own if you were filling this out would it?
Friend: That’s why we do it together.
Friend: The way I’ve used this, I would fill it out initially with whatever popped into my mind and if I got to the end and I didn’t feel a sense of resolution, I would go back and keep working through, questioning myself Let’s see what else it is I feel like I’m lacking and just kind of talk it through in my mind.
David: And the ultimate extent of my belief in lack again that’s the ego. The ego is the belief in lack. This is a world of scarcity, everybody who seems to be here seems to be lacking something; food, clothing, shelter, love. Using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, there are the lower needs then you go up above and there’s self-esteem needs and security and then you work your way up to self-actualizing needs. But the real basic belief in lack is the self-concept or the ego and yet initially when you’re working with it that may be too vague so you may say, “No, I feel like I’m cornered,” or “I’m out of control,” and that’s just another form of the ego, just giving it a name.
Friend: Again it just struck me that my belief in lack is similar to saying my belief in separation again. I’m losing something; that I haven’t got all of me here.
David: And again, “A, B, and C” prove that I’m right about that. In other words, the way I’m perceiving this scenario, what I’m feeling about this scenario, and whether I’m blaming a particular person in the world, or I’m afraid of the future consequences, that’s all this unpleasant perception. And that unpleasant perception is just proving that I’m right about something that I believe I’m lacking deep within my mind. And that’s the metaphysics of the Course; the world doesn’t cause us to be upset, the world just brings a picture or a witness to what we believe about ourselves in our own minds. Which is a turnaround from the way the world sees it; that if my sister-in-law would just be gone from the picture [laughs] it would seem like the world would be a better place or it may seem as if my life would be better.
Friend: But I’m one step beyond that because I know it ain’t true. [group laugher]
Friend: So “A, B, and C,” stack up to show that what I believe about myself and my world which is what I put in “D” in some way, is the fact. I mean that that’s the way it really is. You know, Look! See! Wouldn’t you agree with me? This just proves that there’s a control problem here.
Friend: And whatever I believe, I am obligated to prove that it’s right, and so that’s why we have to get back to the beliefs because otherwise I’m going to go around proving that I’m right about what I believe. And if I’m not clear on what I believe I’m going to go, I don’t like what I’m seeing, so that’s why it’s important to get back to the belief because the mind has to prove that what I believe is in fact the case.
David: Let’s go back to paragraph one now. The last sentence on this paragraph says, “Use of this instrument for that tracing back can help a willing mind…” and what I hear right here is, you’re willing. You’re saying, “I do not like how this feels with my sister-in-law.” So there’s a willing mind, “…let go of what it thinks it knows,” in other words I’ve got students that I work with all the time and the one thing we keep coming back to is you have to let go of what you think you know you’re seeing and perceiving.
Friend: But if I understand what you’re saying; what I think I know is not this thing of being out of control. That’s a fact. I thought that what I think I know is that my sister-in-law is behaving in an undesirable fashion. Isn’t that what I think I know?
Friend: Well whenever you say, “That’s a fact…”
Friend: That’s a fact I’m out of control!
Friend: Ok, but you think you know that it’s a fact that you’re out of control. You think that’s not open to question.
Friend: I’ll look at it but I don’t understand…
David: Let’s put it in a different context. As far as your spiritual beliefs; whether you believe in Oneness or Christ or Spirit or whatever, there’s the sense that there’s something beyond this world that would be your True Identity. We could say maybe Christ is not out of control or Spirit as I AM as I was created by the Source is not out of control. So that’s the only context we’re talking about. If it seems like I’m out of control in this world, then maybe there’s some things and some beliefs in my mind that I need to question, before I conclude that that’s the fact of it, that I really am out of control. Instead of just being open to that there’s something beyond my awareness or my understanding as I perceive myself now that maybe isn’t out of control.
Friend: See, I’m perceiving you to entertain the thought that my being out of control is not the problem, where I perceive it as the problem.
Friend: That we need to look at.
Friend: Even your out of controlness and anger is not a fact, it’s a perception that’s out on the screen so to speak. But it’s not a fact.
Friend: And I would agree that the ego is what’s causing me a problem here, and that’s what allows me to appear out of control.
Friend: So it’s only the ego that could feel out of control. Who you are, is not out of control. Who you are, is perfect and whole and complete and divine.
Friend: I think were semantically having a problem here because then I see what your saying if that’s what your saying, but it’s my ego self that everybody else in the world has to deal with.
Friend: And that’s why we’re saying there is no fact about that because that’s not who you are.
Friend: So for right now you need to prove that you’re right about how things are.
Friend: We want to.
Friend: The ego wants to.
Friend: [Sighs] [group laughter] This is very difficult.
David: I’ll just read the last sentence of “2” to take us to the “3.”
“I am willing to look beyond my perception of this upset (the meaning I am giving it) and look within my mind.”
So this is where the empowerment comes in, because Gee, if the problem really is my sister-in-law or if the problem is a certain other situation that I’m dealing with, work or here or there, then there’s helplessness or powerlessness because it doesn’t seem like those persons and situations are changing. It seems like they’re staying there day after day after day. But if it’s a perceptual problem and the problem, the reason I’m feeling upset, is in my mind. That’s good news in the sense that Oh I can change my mind, that I have control over. I don’t have control over my sister-in-law’s mind; I don’t have control over what happens at work or whatever. But I do have control over my perception and the meaning I’m giving it. So that sentence is really just coming to that basis.
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