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Week Intensive Part 7 - Death as the Ego’s Purpose and Relationships and Responsibility
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: It’s really not going too much into the fear of death as much as it’s saying it seems as if there is a fear of death. Like when you’re watching a movie and something seems to happen to a body or something like that. But the fear is really the fear of life, or the fear of God. Take the title The Fourth Obstacle, The Fear of God. That goes way down under that, because it seems like the mind is identified with the body and it’s afraid of dying. But really in the third paragraph it’s saying that “this is the darkest veil upheld by a belief in death and protected by its attraction.” So the deceived mind is attracted to death. It doesn’t seem on the surface that I’m attracted to death, it seems like there is a fear of dying. But there is really an attraction to it and a fear of God. And as you go back, the third obstacle is titled The Attraction of Death.
Friend: Is it talking about death of the body?
David: No. If you go back two pages earlier there’s The Attraction of Pain, then if you go back a few pages it’s The Attraction of Guilt.
Friend: Do I understand that you are saying this is not talking about the attraction of death of the body?
Friend: What death is it talking about?
David: Well that’s where we take it down, in the sense that the ego is death and the ego seems attracted to the deceived mind. In other words the ego seems to offer something of value to it. It’s taking it out of the physical realm, that it has nothing to do with the body. The Course is teaching that death is wrong-mindedness.
The attraction of the ego is death in the sense that it gets played out on the surface in that the mind ends up seeking a lot of things to make its life and its kingdom better. And really it’s falling right into the hands of the ego. So that’s the thing about the attraction of guilt. I mean who here hasn’t experienced pleasure and who here hasn’t gone mmmmm with that experience. Whether we are talking food, all kinds of stimulation, sexual, pleasure of sunsets, pleasure of certain climates and on and on. Now, if pleasure and pain again are part of the ego’s system, and one seems attractive and by getting any part of the ego’s system you get the ego. You get the whole thing, you keep the ego; that is what we are really trying to get at here. We are talking about the attraction to death, the attraction to guilt, the attraction to pain. On the surface it doesn’t seem like that’s what it is. It’s so sneaky, it’s like that movie we watched last night where he’s saying, “Have some excitement, don’t be such a stick in the mud, go sailing and do this and...”
Friend: Be alive, it’s like you can’t do this 50% it’s a 100%!
David: Yeah, making money was just the beginning part of it. You’ve got to know how to spend it and that’s where you go when we start to trace it in, that’s where the attraction of guilt, pain and death is. But it’s certainly not seen that way on the surface. That’s what is so great about the Course is that Jesus just unveils the ego and he says by pursuing these things “It is impossible to seek for pleasure through the body and not find pain.” T-19.IV Well, thanks for telling me about that! It can be very helpful metaphysically, if I don’t see the connection, if I think this world is about maximizing one and minimizing the other. He’s saying; they’re connected. You can’t have one without the other. You’ve got to take them both, then it’s like Oh, I would rather have a miracle. [laughter] Hold the order, I’m changing my decision! I’m going for the miracle. That leads out of the dream. Let’s go to Burger King, I want a miracle!
Friend: I know we are going deeper here, but just at a very beginner level, take the fear of death of the body away, and it changes everything right away to want to look deeper. If that in fact isn’t real then we really need to look at what is, because if you ask people if they want to live forever they will say no. So there’s no attraction to eternity in this type of living. I mean how much pleasure can you have before it gets boring?
David: Some people have said that but they see it as immortality of the body. Yes they do want that, and death is part of the attraction.
Friend: And they want the body not to age. What would be the point? But there’s something to that.
David: You might be 2 billion years old.
Friend: There’s something to that.
David: Yes as long as life is defined in physical terms. There are people, one of them is Deepak Chopra, talk about life extension. And there are some good metaphysical ideas in a lot of those teachings, however when you get down to thinking life is of the body, and wanting to extend it to 100, 110, 120 years, again the Course goes to the level above and says if you want peace of mind, if you want to wake up and remember your Father. That’s life.
Friend: And about life after death, a lot of people will say, “If people think they are going to be having lunch with their friends after death, they’ve got another thing coming” because they don’t believe in anything. Well there’s something much greater than that. But that’s the concept of life after death; a light, then seeing my grandmother, seeing my kids. And again in life after death we are back into the same attraction and substitutions that we have here. But isn’t that like saying on the other side there’s a perfect world? Where there are your loved ones and everything is harmonious but it’s only part of it, isn’t there a real catch there?
David: Yes again, that would be towards paradise on earth, like Jehovah’s witnesses talk about the hundred and forty-four thousands, and compare to the Garden of Eden. Which again seems to be in form, and the Course just says “No, the world was made as a defense against God.” The world is kind of saying you can’t enter here God, and so we go beyond those kinds of concepts. What the Course does talk about is the real world, which you could think of symbolically, as once you come to the place of clarity where you just have one box, so to speak. Then in a sense everyone is there with you, because the differences have faded, including the differences of time.
It’s tempting to through the ego lens say, Well I’m advancing spiritually, but so and so is not. There seems to be a time lag, like with consciousness, and it seems very linear and spread out, for example when you read the book 2150, or Urantia, very spread out. And the Course is just going time collapse! If you come to the state of right-mindedness you see Oh that was just my misperception that evolution was linear.
Time and space have to be questioned, so that in right-mindedness you see that everyone is there. That’s a very deep concept so Jesus gives a lot of metaphors to step up to that. One of them in the Course is charity, from the Bible. He says charity is like perceiving your brother as if he was much further along in his evolution than he really appears to be in the world. And Jesus says again, you can tell that perceiving your brother further along or charity is still a time concept. But he says it’s very beneficent because you can relate to him in a very loving way. You aren’t so tied in to the behaviors and attributing thoughts like This one has got a long way to go, you see past that. That’s what is so neat about the Course; it gives you concepts that can be really helpful if the top rung just seems too out of reach.
Friend: When my father was going through the dying process; I got a lot of comfort, even if there is a transition in the mind, going to a place. It’s interesting in the experience of being in that space, it was not about individuals but it’s real, we are all part of that.
David: It’s really about loosening the mind from the belief that death is of the body. That’s the first step because it seems like the body can be sick. It seems to be well, or it seems to be born and it seems to die. It is more like death is wrong-mindedness. Death is the ego’s purpose; that’s pulling it off the screen and seeing that it is in the mind. I know people who have asked questions and recently a woman was saying, “My husband has recently died, where is he? Where is his mind?” And you start to work a little bit towards the idea when you ask the question Where is his mind? “Where” is a concept. There is an assumption underneath, which is place, as if a mind has a location. You know how we talked about private minds. If you get under the question Where is the mind is the assumption of place, time and space. So you can see space and time and place is just a concept in the wrong mind. Instead of the mind being some place, place is a concept in the mind, the wrong mind, obviously not in the mind of Christ or the mind of God. You see it’s like a total turnaround and when you can start to get a sense of that, then there goes that question Where is the mind. You can see how that question just dissolves in the sense of that understanding.
So that’s what is so neat about coming together and just examining assumptions and concepts. You get to the point where the questions will cease and there will be an experience in which questions cease. You know there have been glimmers of it, like when you were in that real powerful experience of Jesus, there wasn’t a question, there was a total joy in receiving, and then the mind seemed to come back. So many people I’ve talked to when I travel , some have had revelatory experiences and then it seems like there’s an end to the mystical experience and they seem to be back, rooted in the world again, usually with ego backlash. It’s pretty sharp, the ego is terrified of that experience.
Friend: And so the ego experiences that as well?
David: No, but the ego reacts. That’s why a lot of times people will go for mystical experiences and try to pierce the veil and Jesus is saying Well we really need to question all the underpinnings of the veil. In a sense you may seem to pierce it, but you don’t want to pierce it and seem to come back to the illusory world, you want to pierce through.
Friend: But if there is something holding you to that world you will come back.
David: Yes, if you have unquestioned beliefs and assumptions then you will seem to come back.
Friend: What about these great yogis that make the transition consciously, they go into lotus position and die, I mean they consciously choose?
David: That’s a good symbol in that everything is a choice, and Jesus says when you come to the place of your clarity the Holy Spirit will tell you when it’s time to lay the body aside.
Friend: Just like everything else....
David: Yes so again, Jesus talks about the yogis. People will say Well, so and so died of cancer or was a great master but got hit by a car at the end. Again it’s pointless to get out there on the screen. You see how sneaky that is, the ego says here we go, fascinating, how did this one go, but again Jesus is always in our mind saying come back, come back to your own mind and everything. What is so neat about this is that you start to see all these delay manoeuvres that the ego tries to go through, and then you start to not fall for them, you start to say no.
Friend: Why bother questioning. Everybody reaches enlightenment before they cross over into the Mind?
David: There’s a place in the Workbook where Jesus says “Only salvation can be said to cure” W-140 which is a good way to say it. And he says “cure” is a word that has many meanings in this world. Gosh you know all the different things that seem to be Oh we’ve got a cure for polio, yay, everybody get happy, now we have cured a disease. That’s a pseudo cure, if you think you have cured anything that way. Jesus is saying only salvation can be said to cure. And it makes perfect sense, salvation, atonement, that’s a correction, a real cure. So it takes it all away from speculating even about others, well, were they enlightened, weren’t they enlightened? It comes down to going for the experience yourself and not being delayed by speculating about the screen or trying to figure out the screen. That makes it real simple, go for the experience, that’s what we are about. In other words, it’s really going for the experience, not trying to dilly-dally. It’s like every time we come together it’s so precious to really say let’s look at this ego, let’s throw the stuff on the table and let’s have it unveiled.
Friend: So was your question really about other people or was your question about myself? Will I become enlightened?
Friend: No, something that David said really made me think that when you cross over it’s because you have seen the light so to speak, or maybe I was misunderstanding what you said. What is cross over for you?
Friend: To cross from this illusion into the right mind which I assume could be death for people whose physical bodies die at that time. Is that the process of death of the body, because people have seen something better and choose to leave?
David: There really isn’t any association with the body in terms of when they die or when they see the light or whatever, there is no real association. Jesus says at one point “Some see it suddenly on point of death and rise...” W-135.7 He says “Some will find it in this course and in the exercises that we do today.” W135.8 It seems different than at the point of death, you mean here we are right now, you mean today!? He is not seeing it as this enormous project, you can choose it today, it’s that close.
Friend: So this is something everyone ultimately has to choose, if we don’t do it today then we have to do it later in order to join the Mind?
David: It seems that way. Again, it can seem like either we do it today or we do it in the future. Then you read one of the sections in the Text on The Immediacy of Salvation and he’ll throw you a line like “Be not content with future happiness, it has no meaning and is not your just reward.” T-26.VIII Again it’s focusing, desiring it. That’s really what can bring the awareness of the holy instant or the Atonement, it is just your desire. You don’t have to go to X amount of seminars, read X amount of good books, do X amount of good deeds, you know some of the things people have thought is how you get your way back to Heaven. If we use our rings diagram, there is nothing in the outer ring that will bring Atonement. There is nothing in the second ring, there is nothing in the thought ring, and there is nothing in the belief ring. The bullseye is desire, that’s the thing that brings Atonement into awareness.
Friend: It says we are already there but you seem to be talking about some place we have to go to or some place to cross. We are already there, so waking up is just lifting the veil, or removing your hand from your eyes. It’s all symbolism, we are already there. Really, life is the experience of that and death is not the experience of that, it has nothing to do with the body, is that what you’re saying? Any time we put the veil across that’s death, not life; true life would be consistent, not up and down, right?
David: Again it’s like we are trying to come to an understanding here and say OK I got it, and I tell you, you can even use all sorts of metaphors of vacillating, but all we want to do now is just look at the belief. It can be real tempting to say I got it, I followed you, great, now I’ll get an intellectual understanding of it. Who has an intellectual understanding, and have I done anything? You see? That’s why it’s important if you have any kind of thought patterns or preference patterns in seemingly a particular area in your life, and you want to look at those and you want to loosen. You can see it’s just words, as long as there are preferences. Preferences gets back to no, those aren’t a swirl of feathers, there are some feathers up here, no they are not swirling right like this in no particular order, you know random, there are the high feathers, medium feathers and the low feathers. And as long as there are categories, do I have the experience of the Atonement? NO. So that’s why we want to be practical in that sense.
Friend: A new metaphor [laughter]. Look at the high feathers, the medium feathers and the low feathers, examine feathers.
David: That’s how we get into the practical.
Friend: So the invitation is talk about, look at, examine the high feathers or any feathers; examine what’s ruffling the feathers? Today my lesson was “The peace of God is shining in me now.” Oh yeah, if I’m not experiencing that, then why not? That’s what I had to do. Why not? If I’m not experiencing it right this minute, now, what’s on my mind, why not? Think of my children as a projection of my mind, well I don’t know about that one, they are some high feathers. Let go of time, you know being here is wonderful, I have no time schedule. I don’t care if I go to bed at three o’clock in the morning, I don’t care if I get up at three o’clock in the afternoon. I don’t care if we talk and talk and talk. I don’t even know what time it is, nor do I care, and that is joyful, that is a wonderful peaceful feeling. I remember just sitting here for a moment, just sitting here and joy just came over me, I didn’t even know what we were doing. Just what was that? So that’s what I think is helpful for me and I journaled it; what is it for me right now that’s preventing me from having that peace right now? Those are the things to examine, you know.
David: Yes and when you said being here, I have no sense of time, there’s even an implication but I’m going to go back to something, that’s the “but.” We just want to take a look at that, not good not bad, but there we are, there is something there. I think that I’m happy and joyful now, and there is even a thought that crosses, and there is something I have to take care of or....
Friend: ....and that was the thing that pulled me out of that state of being with God. I mean seriously, I could actually see across the screen and it says don’t forget to pick up your daughter, I mean that was it, like I was going so far with it that I was going to forget everything here. Yay! That must be one of my high feathers too. That was the fear; what if I didn’t come back to pick up my kid?
David: The thing that we could look at a bit would be relationships, there are special relationships and holy relationships and our friend was saying as we were on our walk today that there might be some questions evolving about this. What is holy relationship, what does it involve and is there any kind of leaving behind something for the holy relationship or is there any kind of...
Friend: …abdication of responsibility? Oh, there we have it!
Friend: Well that was the thing that came up today, it was very helpful. Do you feel like you are abdicating something to have that peace? What, citizenship? I went no, no big deal I could care less about voting, I know nothing about politics. It’s a good time not to get involved, you know, that’s not a charge. OK you don’t abdicate that, now that’s what looking is about, let’s look. Are you abdicating responsibility to your family? Well, the issue of college education, I’m not working, my husband would like help with three kids going to go to college, one next year. Oh, a little bit there, we need to look at that, and I’m still looking at that. It’s loosening; I mean I’m not feeling like I need to analyze this thing to the hilt, but why not have peace now? You know for me that was my lesson all day today.
David: It’s the responsibilities. It seems in this world that once the mind has identified as a person, there are roles, duties, and responsibilities tied in. If you seem to have taken on the role of parent, there are seemingly responsibilities to go with that. If you seem to have an employee-employer relationship, whether you are the employee or the employer, there seem to be responsibilities. I mentioned citizenship; you know it can be different forms. We try to take it to broader things, the president of the United States seems to have a packet of responsibilities, the judicial system, congress, lawyers, defense lawyers, prosecuting attorneys, seem to have different responsibilities, different purposes, and so it’s all at a relative level. What we want to do is start there and you feel like all of a sudden you have a calling to wake up. So you want to go from where you perceive yourself as a person, maybe as a mother, maybe as an employee or a different kind of thing and Oh, this is where I perceive myself Jesus now, help me lift up and transcend beyond those duties and responsibilities to my one responsibility, to accept the Atonement for myself. And our friends have done a search through the Course on responsibility.
Friend: You know this brings up an interesting story. When I was visiting with my parents, my mother was of course telling me about how I’m responsible for my children and it’s very important. And she told me a story that really happened to her in a dream. She was very sick with the flu and in the dream she died and had a life after death experience like you’ve read about with the tunnel, the light, and God in this dream said Come and she said it was so clear and she said Do you know what I did? I said, No God. I still have seven children to raise and I need to go back to them. And she said, “I came back.” And I’m thinking about that now because that wasn’t what God said in that dream. He didn’t say Go back, you have responsibilities, he said Come. So to me that’s a metaphor for the feeling of the call and what it means. In fact I said, “Mom, did God say go back?” and she said, “No, it was very clear He wanted me to come, but I wasn’t going to go there.” And her whole reason for telling me was I’m being very selfish about answering the call right now, if it means leaving children. It’s interesting that in her very vivid dream God said Come, the light is here, come. It wasn’t No, you go back. She thought she knew to go back which is a symbol of No God I have responsibilities here, I have seven children who need me and I can not come to that beautiful light right now.
Friend: And is it possible that God would ever call and in that calling there would be detriment, sacrifice, hurt, that the one called would know better than God what’s appropriate?
David: To give another experiential context from the life of David; it was back in my 20’s when I seemed to be hearing the call, the things that were really on my mind were relationships and career at that age, in the 20’s. And I felt like there was this very deep calling, it almost felt like some kind of a mission. I felt it was God even before I was using the word God, like it was something to do with a much higher purpose and everything like that. And those are the kind of things I had to question through my 20’s and on into my 30’s. Well this is a fine time to call me you know, right during my prime years of when I’m supposed to be earning and getting established in the world. This calling was like calling me out of the world. This wasn’t a midlife crisis like in the terms of the 40’s or whatever; this was like a mid-life crisis in the 20’s. And I can clearly remember that I one point said, “Alright, alright, alright, I know it’s you, I know you’re calling, but I haven’t experienced a real romantic male-female relationship and I’m not coming until I do.” And about two months later I seemed to embark on probably the biggest roller-coaster ride of my life. I thought I’d hit emotional highs and emotional lows until that. It was like pshoo, pshoo, pshoo and at the same time I was reading a lot of things that were very helpful in helping me sort through beliefs and see where my attachments were in my mind, and then the Course came during that relationship so to speak, which really accelerated the process.
This is a Course to be used with relationships, not a Course that’s designed to go up to the Himalayas, take all your food, never see anybody ever again, and pop open your book. You could use it that way if you were guided to, but generally it’s designed, as he says in the Course itself, for healing through relationships, and again the way relationships are perceived is with bodies. We are going to work towards a state of one-mindedness but you begin with seeing that Oh everything I can’t stand in my mind I’m going to dump and project onto this other, significant others, family members, employees, employers, those kinds of things. So to give you a little flavor; I was really questioning those things. They were the feathers. It became very obvious to me, seemingly at the end of that relationship, that the Course was to be my path. I was going in a direction, I had a sense of where it was going, but what form would unfold I had not a clue, and I couldn’t have even ventured a guess at what seemed to happen after that, so it gets back to faith.
“The sole responsibility of the miracle worker is to accept the Atonement for himself. This means you recognize that mind is the only creative level and that its errors are healed by the Atonement. Once you accept this your mind can only heal. By denying your mind any destructive potential and reinstating its purely constructive powers you place yourself in a position to undo the level confusion of others. The message you then give to them is the truth that their minds are similarly constructive and their miscreations cannot hurt them. By affirming this you release the mind from overevaluating its own learning device and restore the mind to its true position as the learner.” T-2.V.5
Friend: Every sentence has meaning there for me.
David: Well you could start perhaps with the second sentence and take a look at, “you recognize that the mind is the only creative level” and that’s when I talk about level confusion. That’s the only level confusion there is, to believe that the world of form—if we had our diagram of concentric circles—believe that the screen, the outer circle, is causative. That’s the level confusion, that’s not realizing that the mind is the only creative level. That’s seeing that the wrong mind or the world of form seems to be causative or creative. So any direction we come at it, whether we come at it from seemingly fields of medicine, where it seems like certain treatments given to the body bring about relief to the mind, where things like operations to the body bring about relief to the mind, treatments like putting ice onto a joint that is swelling seems to bring relief to the mind. Even therapeutic touch, even massage and some of the more subtle realms, you know where you massage the body. Or even the laying on of hands; that if you think it was the laying on of hands in the spiritual sense that brought comfort to the mind, it would all be something on the screen. We’ve talked a little bit about diets, vegetarian, vegan and cholesterol, calories, all the different things, it seems like if you could control your diet that you won’t be so obese, that the body won’t be such a strain on the heart. All those things we’ve learned are part of that system and it seems like diet is an important part of feeling good, of the mind feeling good. Again that would have to be that there’s something on the screen that is causative; that can bring the mind relief. It seems as if eating certain kinds of foods brings gas and gas and belching is not a comfortable feeling. Oh, I can’t eat those things or I can’t drink too much soda or too many beans or too this or that because I’ll have digestion problems or something like that. Again that’s experienced as something on the screen influences the state of mind. It seems like climate has a lot to do with state of mind, you know I like a drier climate, I can’t stand this or that, or if I have allergies… I’m sure people have come to visit and it seems polite to say There’s a cat here, are you allergic to cats? or whatever. Again it seems like there are certain things in the environment that are more conducive to the health and relief of the mind.
So, I’m giving out a lot of specific examples to say that that one thing—to accept the Atonement for oneself—means you recognize that the mind is the only creative level. And that means we really need to question a lot of beliefs in which it appears that the screen is the creative level. That’s how we come to that awareness of the mind being the one creative level.
Friend: One of the other ways David talks about this is seeing backward thought and forward thought. Backward thought would be any thoughts that support the belief that there is something on the screen that is causative, and forward thought is the thought that supports the fact that only the mind is causative.
David: Maybe not saying it supports the fact, more it represents the fact that only the mind is causative. That would be a definition of right-mindedness. The right mind sees that the mind is powerful, the mind is causative and the projections don’t influence the mind. That everything that’s a miscreation, where even if you saw two bodies and one body seemed to be beating another and one body seemed to be inflicting pain on another, it would be saying that something on the screen, one of the feathers is inflicting pain on one of the other feathers. And Jesus is saying no that’s not how it works. It certainly seems that way. In this world it seems as if there are causative events and circumstances that certainly seem to inflict pain from one image to another image, and Jesus is saying those are miscreations, to use the word that he talks about in the second sentence from the bottom. The message you then give to them is the truth that their minds are similarly destructive or creative and their miscreations cannot hurt them.
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