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Week Intensive part 12 - Tracing Back Upsets Part 3
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.)
David: As long as the mind believes in individual rights, this is something to question. You could try to save face with your inalienable rights, or whatever, and it goes really deep, but the key thing is up here. Let’s say if my friend moves out and it’s November and her friend is just sitting there kicking back with his lemonade and then this memory comes, this memory of I remember my friend saying to my face “I’ll do it” and then the dirty bathroom… You see just the thinking about it, apart from the behavioral changes of leaving, that’s where this starts out. If I still have memories that have a charge in them from the past, or if I start to think of scenarios about what could happen in the future, and there’s a real charge and an upset, then all the Course is saying is Oh, you have a thinking problem, we can work with that. We can work to change your thoughts. In that way, it really starts to pull it away from the behavioral problem of thinking or even trying to justify what I did or didn’t do, because it really is a thinking problem.
Friend: I have to pick up on something you just said that was an insight for me.
Friend: What is that?
Friend: You said, “I am trying to maintain myself on the screen while I have inner peace and love.” [laughter] I now see that is one of my beliefs, and you said, “Saving face – my face, the body, in the world… while I go deep into this is not going to work.”
Friend: It’s not possible. You’re not going to be able to maintain yourself on the screen as you see yourself. It’s going to change for the better for the whole world. Is that a good way of looking at this David? Work with me on this because that was just an insight.
David: That’s a big insight because when you hang with that; that’s what this whole loosening of the self-concept is. As long as I am trying to maintain the scenes of the world or the way I have constructed it, it’s going to be frustrating. Let’s look at one of the early steps in Alcoholic Anonymous: We came to believe our lives were unmanageable. Ah, that’s a good place to start because if I think I can have peace and still manage the world and maintain the self- concept, then there’s an awakening coming.
Friend: In other words, it’s one or the other; you’ve got to make a choice. Yeah, and I’m still trying to have both. [laughter]
Friend: That’s bringing truth to the illusion. I’m trying to hold on to my perception and feel consistent total peace, and it’s not possible. It isn’t working. Then the next thing we say is I’ll take this conflict and this little bit of pain so I can maintain myself on the screen and save face, but then when we keep trying to do that and we can’t find peace, we don’t have anything anymore. The pain just gets worse.
Friend: So until it comes down to looking at it and saying Which one am I going to value most here because it can’t be both? It’s either peace or having a particular behavior from my friend and as long as that particular behavior from my friend is more valuable to me than peace of mind, then I’m going to hang onto it. I will not be able to let it go. The only way I can let it go is by valuing peace more than I value the behavior of my friend.
Friend: I know what you are saying and that’s the ideal. The ideal is to say, I choose the peace. But as I say this, I immediately see a diet and of course I don’t want to weigh 300 lbs. I’d like to weigh 120 lbs but that is so far off and I have to go through so much pain and effort and consistency in order to reach that goal that it’s much more peaceful, for the moment, to have that chocolate cake with ice cream on top. Until I can realize a little taste of success and understand a little bit of how that feels, and who knows how that’s going to happen or when the right moment is going to strike, and believe me I’ve been there, then you’re never going to get there because you’ve got—right now—what makes you comfortable and that’s the hard part.
Friend: It is, very much so.
David: It’s tempting; the world has so many things that seem to bring us momentary comfort even though it’s transient. It’s substitutions, like we were talking about last night, and all those things that seem attractive that seem to work. If they didn’t seem to work then…
Friend: We wouldn’t use them.
David: Right, but there’s all these defense mechanisms the ego uses. Jesus has a word for the ego. He calls the ego ingenious. It’s got all these tricks and the only way you are ever totally free of the ego and at peace is to start to figure out some of the tricks and to say, I don’t want to use them any more. And in addition to the tricks, there are all the defense mechanisms. The defense mechanisms are made to protect, and if you start to question the very thing they are made to protect, and you start to let go of the things the defense mechanisms are protecting, then you realize more and more, I don’t need the defense mechanisms, that isn’t really me. All the defense mechanisms are just protecting the self-concept or image of oneself. Once you start to question your beliefs and to lay them aside, the defenses are no longer needed. You can be defenseless.
Friend: I think I need to share something I journaled about this from my own lesson. I’m learning a lesson right now that might help. The lesson is: “Yet compromise alone a dream can bring. Sometimes it takes the form of union, but only the form. The meaning must escape the dream, for compromising is the goal of dreaming. Minds cannot unite in dreams. They merely bargain. W -185.4 How do I unite with my partner’s mind if he still wants to compromise? And then, this must be from the Course, “When the wish for peace is genuine, the means for finding it is given in a form each mind that seeks for it in honesty can understand. Whatever form the lesson takes is planned for him in such a way that he cannot mistake it, if his asking is sincere.” W-185.6. Be sincere. Do you honestly want peace over all that you think you now cherish. Then when you brought up the chocolate cake, I thought, Coffee, caffeine, can it hurt me? I think I like it in the morning. Wine, another glass, can it hurt me? I think I like it in the evening. Special relationships, another friend, child, family member, love, A Course in Miracles, another path, peace, I think this is where I can find it, in A Course in Miracles. It’s all dreams. Is this what I would have in the place of Heaven and the Peace of God? I was very peaceful before I came here. It’s been real helpful.
David: Number 11: “Peace of Mind is a present decision which I gratefully choose right now. Guilt and fear of consequences only seem possible because I was determined to hold on to a belief in past/future cause and let go of the meaning I gave to the past/future and open my mind to the present absolved and innocent.” So many spiritualities and psychotherapies talk about staying in the moment; live in the moment, be present, which can sound like interesting ideas and sound sentimentally good, but how do I do that? If the mind is occupied with thoughts of the future and of the past, then it really is a mind training, it really is a sorting out. You could call it meditation, or a sinking past all those thoughts of past and future, and I like the way it’s worded in here, with causation: “I let go the meaning I gave to the past/future” in the sense of being determined to hold onto the belief in past/future cause. Whenever the mind is upset, that’s where it sees the source of the upset, in the future. I could lose my job in a few weeks because of the economic conditions. They are laying people off and I’m afraid or worried. You could be thinking about something that’s coming in the future or just all the guilt and blame that’s associated with the past. I could have been a better mother, I could have been a better provider, I could have acted better in that situation than I did, I could have acted more professionally, all the things that are like a closetful of things that I have done wrong, things that I did that I wish I hadn’t done or things that I didn’t do that I wish I had. Those are all a bunch of past thoughts and, in the end, we have to let go of all future thoughts and all past thoughts.
David: Well, each time we come together, we are understanding the metaphysics that the past and the future are tied together. At the very bottom of the belief system is the belief in linear time, and the Course is teaching that if you trace it all the way down, you will discover that linear time is not true. Everything that the mind believes is based on the belief in time, on linear time. Now there’s different ways of describing this. Before I came here tonight, I happened to pop open this book, Absence from Felicity, where Jesus is talking to Helen. They are talking about time and there’s a real helpful little passage.
Friend: Can I just say something David?
Friend: When you said, “How do you do that?” that’s when you know the belief in the past and the future is part of the ego belief, and so the only way to do that is to start letting go of the ego which is what this is all about, and what everything we do is all about, getting to, What is ego teaching me? What is it that I believe based on ego thinking? And until I see that for what it is I don’t have a clue. It’s like how do I let go of something I don’t even know? That’s another thing that’s commonly heard: Let go and let God, let go of your feelings, let go of the past. I used to hear that for years and years and it sounded sentimentally great. But I thought, How do you do it, where do you start, how do you know when you have done it or haven’t done it, what does it mean?
Friend: Right, when I said I was a lot more peaceful before I started, when an insight comes, the peace is knowing that getting beyond this is what I really want and I have just received an insight that I might have to go back and do some meditation on, but this was really helpful. That’s why we come together, that’s why this is so valuable.
David: And it’s your desire. You know our concentric circles, that’s the one thing you know. The how will come. The Holy Spirit is in your mind and the Holy Spirit has the means for the perception shift. The Miracle is the how and it has to be carefully learned. The mind has learned all this other stuff, all these other false beliefs and you know how you were saying on what level do we do these intensives, and everything. And I said well really it depends on your readiness and your desire. If you have a real desire for it, you can’t help but find the means. I’ve devoted my whole life and being to that. In other words, that’s why I have students; that’s why we come together. That’s why I do this 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And the real depth that we go into is really going down into the ego and questioning every value and every belief that you hold onto, in order to come to that peace, and really as I’ve gone into it, that’s the only thing that works. If you question a little, and try to make a bargain or compromise with the world, it may seem to work for a while, but then there’s restlessness and an uneasiness that comes in and then the guilt and fear come back. And in the end it’s that thing about not compromising. That’s what it’s about, and that’s why we come together. We do these things, we record these sessions because they are always helpful for us and they are helpful for people who listen to them. Sometimes, if you are studying a book and you think This is way over my head, or whatever, but you are guided to another book or someone who has been working with it for a while, or you are guided to a certain approach, then that is what you should follow. Our friend brought along a book today written by a minister friend in New York. It’s a very helpful, introductory book about the Course.
Friend: It’s real introductory. He actually gives stories and then a quote from the Course, and he doesn’t get too deep. It’s really helpful.
Friend: But it would be a pretty good place to start.
Friend: It is, yes.
Friend: And we have about 70 tapes available, some of which are at an introductory level, and some we called Beyond the Basics and some that are going much deeper.
David: Tapes are helpful because you can play them in the car. It is helpful to play some of them over and over because these ideas are so fundamental, but when the mind is resistant to them, it takes repetition just as it would with any other course.
Friend: And most of us have found tapes very helpful. Mine are practically worn out because I’ve listened to them so often.
David: In the Workbook, Jesus makes the statement that “…everything you believe is rooted in time.” W-7 When I am questioning beliefs, and root seems to be the bottom and basic of everything that I believe, where everything that is part of the ego belief system is rooted in time, then all of it comes down to questioning this linear view of time. In some places, they talk about time as being simultaneous instead of linear. Well, that sounds interesting, and we can ask What is simultaneous, what happens? Here’s a little description from Absence from Felicity where Jesus gives a graphic description of time, and if you are visually oriented, it is helpful to have a graphic because usually there’s not a whole lot of graphics you can think of when you think of time. When you think of time, he says in the Course, “When correction is completed, time is eternity.” T-19.5 So here is the description: “Time is like a downward spiral that seems to travel down from a long unbroken line along another plane but which in no way breaks the line or interferes with its smooth continuousness. Along the spiral, it seems as if the line must have been broken, but at the line its wholeness is apparent.” [From Absence from Felicity] You can think of a spiral or maybe a position along the spiral of looking and seeing all these steps like the spiral staircase and seeing all these separate things. But if you were right at the line, just flowing along the line it would seem very smooth and continuous without any sequencing of events. “Everything seen from the spiral is misperceived, but as you approach the line you realize that it was not affected by the drop into another plane at all. But from this plane the line seems discontinuous and this is but an error in perception which can easily be corrected in the mind although the body’s eyes will see no change.” That’s what we were taking about the other night. The correction of misperception would be to quit judging, to let go of all the boxes and take forgiveness as your only box. The body’s eyes would still see a world, but if there was no judging or categorizing going on in the mind, it’s like being right there with the Holy Spirit at the line and just watching the events. There wouldn’t be any separate events, just watching the images go by. “The eyes see many things the mind corrects and you respond not to the eyes’ illusions but to the mind’s corrections. You see the line as broken and as you shift different aspects of the spiral the line looks different. Yet in your mind is one who knows it is unbroken and forever changeless.” It has been helpful to me to think of it in the graphic sense, to come back to the line.
Friend: Where is the line, are you talking about the line of the spiral itself?
David: Yes, that would be analogous to the Holy Spirit or you may have read about having out of body experiences. In some literature, you read about the silver cord. Everyone seems to have a silver cord that goes back…
Friend: And attaches them…
David: Yes, and they feel they can use their mind to go beyond, beyond, beyond but they are always attached to the silver cord. The silver cord is their connection to…
Friend: Like a safety line.
David: Yeah, and there’s just a lot of different things. I’ve used the analogy, too, of just thinking of, instead of having all these separate situations and events like I wake up in the morning, I go out and have breakfast, I brush my teeth, I make my bed, I go to work, I go to lunch; there’s all these separate situations and events. You can imagine a cord for a necklace or for a bracelet that would connect them all together. That would be like the golden cord in the middle, which would be analogous to this line we’re talking about. It’s a perspective, a way that if you were right there on the cord, then you wouldn’t be…
Friend: It feels like a flow instead of all these broken up isolated events. I start driving to work by getting in my car, I drive for a while, I stop driving and get out of my car, beginning and ending these separate events and when I’m in that place, it seems like a struggle. I can’t wait to get to the next thing, the next increment of time that I am moving towards.
Friend: And you are constantly readjusting which causes stress.
David: A key thing we can look at also is what our friend is saying about the person out there on the screen. That’s the person who seems to be part of these sequenced events. Even in your own personal history, there seems to be all these events that this person went through and that person will be going through, and the way to transcend that will be to come above the battleground or to really start to be identified as Mind instead of being the person on the screen, to be the Mind that’s watching the screen or to be the Dreamer of the Dream, the Course calls it, and that’s the flow. It comes back to mind versus body senses.
Friend: Then, in essence, you seem to be on the screen but it’s not your perception. The Course talks about that. You may seem just like everybody else on the screen but your focus is on your Mind, that’s not your goal, you’re at peace.
Friend: So you’re flowing on the screen like our friend says. It’s a flow, there’s no separate fragments, no readjustments to every box, no stress.
David: You see that’s the thing, when we really go into it. Every time I have attempted to be peaceful in linear time, in other words say Well I am dealing with people with their seeming problems and I have to meet them where they are at; you see you get out on the screen again. It really has to be questioned because it’s that whole thing of that Bible quote of being in the world but not of it. How do you do that? Well, in the end you have to come to such a detachment; you have to be so identified with Mind that you don’t perceive yourself as in it, even though Jesus certainly seemed to be walking around in it but with a real detachment.
Friend: But He wasn’t saying Well guys, I have an appointment at 12 o ‘clock with this other gathering over on Mount Olives so we have to cut it short. He stayed as long as they were willing to listen before he went on to the next Mount. That’s how his life was a flow.
Friend: That’s where that thing that we keep saying about pulling the mind back. Pulling the mind way back, like when I’m getting caught up in what’s going on out of here, the thing to remember is to pull back.
Friend: When I get caught up out there, I am one of the figures in the dream; I’m no longer the dreamer. I am out there.
Friend: Then you adjust by trying to fit in and distract yourself from your purpose with the stuff on the screen and it’s not wanting that distraction anymore. When that happens the screen is a distraction and you pull back? This is all you want; you don’t want to be in linear time because it doesn’t work real effectively. It’s a trick.
Friend: What’s the trick?
David: Well, you’re asking a good question because when you start to really follow this, the world as you know it starts to seem to crumble, or not make sense. There was a woman that our friend knew who was asking about jobs and this woman came to me and said, “This isn’t making sense anymore,” and she started going deeper and deeper into the Course and was listening to some of my tapes which is a really high level of not reconciling truth with illusion and trying to make it work. She just said, “I’m going to step out because this is not making sense any more.”
Friend: She was referring to stepping out of her job. Working at this job doesn’t make sense any more.
Friend: And I have found that to be true. I have just graduated with a Masters Degree in Health Education and I’m trying to figure out what job will fit with this goal of peace of mind. What job isn’t going to be a distraction? I’m a nurse. If my goal is taking care of people and giving medicine, then I really must believe in sickness. If I take it away and don’t believe in sickness and it’s just healing, can I just work with every patient at their level to help to heal their mind and work with my mind—because it is ultimately my lesson— at the pace that’s necessary or am I going to be on a doctor’s pace, a hospital’s pace, a nursing registries’ pace? How can I have Peace of Mind working at a pace the world wants me to work at? That doesn’t seem to work. There’s been something coming in my meditation for many years now and it says There is a job out there for you but you’re not prepared for it yet. I’ve kept that in mind so I got the degree for some reason because that opened up, but how that’s going to look I have no idea. There isn’t a job that I can find in the paper that’s going to give me peace of mind and hold onto this purpose that I desire so strongly.
Friend: And are you getting an inkling of what this other job might be?
Friend: Oh yes, I am; I’m getting an inkling.
Friend: It will never show up in the paper. [laughter]
Friend: No, it won’t!
David: I will say again, you have to start where you perceive you are. This is a direction. We’re starting to unveil a lot of things as we talk about them. It seems to be a process of a loosening where you just take the next step as it becomes apparent. You know when you feel it really strong. And often when you feel a really strong idea about what the next step is going to be, the ego will kick in immediately with all of its screeching...
Friend: But, but, but, but…
David: Right, and if you stay with it though this persistent guidance, this call to awaken doesn’t go away.
Friend: And you hang with it where you are in linear time. You don’t bolt out of it because you came to A Course in Miracles group and it seems like that’s what you do.
David: Part of the loosening too is when the mind is in its deceived state it perceives itself as splintered between many levels: physical, emotional, mental, so on and so forth. It seems to have a lot of needs and you can see if the mind is deceived and it believes it has all these levels and all these needs, that to yank out of a job situation, what good is that going to do? I still perceive I have needs, now how am I going to get the income to meet those needs? So that’s why it’s very important to question the beliefs and it’s been a process more and more of unifying the needs. It has become simpler and simpler to the point where I’ve seen that healing is my one need, healing of my mind. Initially, it certainly didn’t seem that way. I had student loans to pay off and very specific things, well you could say like healing but, [laughter] the government doesn’t particularly see it that way because you’ve signed a note to pay back a student loan. So, again, it was just listening and having that desire and then I would get specific guidance to get a job, to go and pay off the loans. Then it becomes the choice of jobs. I wanted to have a place where I would be interacting with people and I could do work on my own forgiveness lessons. I found I was working at a Good Will Rehab Center with 15 clients: schizophrenics, people with personality disorder, mental retardation. It was still my lesson in letting go of all my charges and the things I was projecting onto the clients and my supervisors and co-workers, but also it seemed to be paying off student loans. That involved listening to the guidance and going along step by step and then I started to see that where this was taking me was not fitting in with the system anymore. I liked it. It really helped when I read the Psychotherapy pamphlet because I kept trying my whole life to reconcile my work situation. I kept saying there has to be a job that will be my calling, that I can be in and be happy, fulfilled and complete. And I searched a long [laughter] time for that job. It kept shifting and saying Oh, it’s getting closer now. It’s psychology, humanistic psychology, transpersonal psychology. But there’s a line in the Psychotherapy pamphlet that really was helpful. It talks about the professional being very helpful in a profession but he can be even more helpful outside of one. And when I read the line, I thought I have to find a way to try and be in this profession and it was one of those lines that gave me the permission to start looking…
Friend: It was the first time you could look outside instead of inside.
David: Inside, yes and interesting because I’ve travelled around to hear people talk about their experiences at work and in some cases it involved just a demonstration of peace, not a lot of verbal stuff. In other cases, I have a friend who came to a couple of my talks and shared about when he was working on his doctorate in psychology and psychotherapy. They have all these people that are supervising, filming, and videotaping all of his sessions. Some of his clients are interested in the Course. It’s all being filmed and the graduate professors are watching him because they’ve tried to teach him all the techniques about how to be a therapist and he’s just like Hey, Holy Spirit, here we go; we’ve got a session. And it’s all being videotaped. He said at first it’s like Uh, oh, I’m in this real closed setting with all these graduate professors and I don’t know how I’m going to be able to do this, but he kept trusting and the professors were really learning. [laughter] They said, “The way you handled that was really interesting.” But he was really only calling on the Holy Spirit to do it and that was a good example of a time and place where it seemed as if there were constraints that he was working under, academic and professional constraints. But in the field of psychotherapy, it’s pretty much going into the mind and you talked about how the whole program of the prison is based on cognitive change and that seemingly gives you a lot of leeway.
David: It’s still a symbol, but it seems like that’s a place where you could really open up, as opposed to being a chemist. How do you bring that into your chemistry? But it’s not like there are certain situations that are more favorable to applying the Course than other situations. It can certainly seem like that on the surface. You’ve got free rein in the prison. I can’t do that. That’s the old situational thing we’ve gone into before like, sure David, if I wasn’t married, didn’t have kids, if your situation didn’t have all these other things… if my situation was like yours, of course I could have peace, but you see that’s the ego trying to tinker with things; if situations were different or circumstances were different. I found that part in here too and the question is posed to Jesus, “Is psychotherapy a profession?” And Jesus says, “Strictly speaking the answer is no. How could a separate profession be one in which everyone is engaged? [laughter] And how could any limits be laid on an interaction in which everyone is both patient and therapist in every relationship in which he enters. Yet practically speaking it still can be said that there are those who devote themselves primarily to healing of one sort or another as their chief function and it is to them that a large number of others turn for help. That, in effect, is the practice of therapy. These are therefore ‘officially’ helpers. They are devoted to certain kinds of needs in their professional activities although there may be far more able teachers outside of them”. P-3.II
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