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Week Intensive part 8 - Mind is the Learner
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: “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 But that learning device, guess what that is? The body. It’s more than a feather, it’s highly overrated. Look at the skills the body has, look at all these things, you’ve spent years developing these skills. The mind is the learner, bodies don’t learn, minds learn. In this world it doesn’t always seem that way. It seems like when you work on a golf or tennis stroke it can seem as if it somehow is in the body and in the brain. But again, the body is just a learning device.
Friend: What does overevaluating mean?
David: Raising it up, making it more than it is.
Friend: But evaluating means to me like analyzing it.
David: Evaluating, the word value....
Friend: Oh, so this is talking about putting value on something then, over valuing. OK
David: We had a whole discussion last night... I took a pen and a pencil, and I was saying the body is kind of like a pencil. I went through the whole deal of saying it’s as if you took a test and said to the pen You know the reason I flunked this test was because you did a terrible job you know. It would seem foolish to blame a pencil or a pen for failing a multiple choice test.
Friend: Or to commend and congratulate the pen if you did well.
David: Right, and yet that’s exactly what happens when the body and its skills and seeming abilities are raised up as if they are real important.
Friend: Or criticized, that’s what it means by overevaluating.
David: That seems to be a biggie. Again there is no order of difficulty, but as we are looking at things, those are the things that will probably start to surface. Like I worked long and hard Jesus, to develop this ability or that ability, or you know something to do with the body. Again bodies don’t learn lessons, minds learn lessons. Even from a reincarnation perspective where they talk about incarnations you pick it up, you lay it down, you pick it up, you lay it down, you use the body but what is that which uses it? The body is just a device for learning; it’s not the thing that is learning. The mind is learning. So again this is very subtle, but I’ve had people work with the Course and they will say “Well I’m going to stay in my particular job and I’m not going to leave this job until I come to peace, because it’s my classroom.” Or a defense could be used for the ego to say I’m a mother and that’s my classroom. And I can get that lesson in that classroom.
Friend: Because I want that classroom.
David: Yes, that’s what is underneath it and so I’m not going to leave that classroom because I need to get the lesson in that classroom. But that’s still seeing it as if I am a person in a classroom. And when one seems to be guided to move on, again it would be coming from a place of seeing yes, the mind is really the classroom. Right mind is one lesson of the classroom and wrong mind is another lesson, and which lesson am I going to learn? It takes the emphasis off the body being in a specific setting because the body and the setting are both on the screen, and the mind is the learner and where the lesson is. Once you just keep that clear you don’t get into all the trying to twist and distort things, to try to hang onto something specific that you like.
Friend: And nothing in the world is the teacher, the world is not the teacher, the teacher is either the Holy Spirit or the ego depending on which one I choose as teacher. Coming through relationships, is that what you are saying? So why would it matter whether you were at home with children or whether you were in a job or where you were if you were open minded, right minded? It seems you could learn anywhere, the circumstance would not matter?
David: Well, again there are a lot of assumptions in your statement. You are talking about right-mindedness and then you are saying why would it matter if you were in this circumstance or that circumstance, you see the mind isn’t in circumstances. It has concepts, for instance if it believed it was a mother; that’s a concept that has to be questioned. The right mind is free of the concepts. So that’s the thing that goes on. A lot of times, people will say it doesn’t matter; you can still be an American and wake up. You can still be a mother and wake up. You can still be a man or a woman and wake up. You can still be a chief executive officer of a corporation and wake up. Well, when you really start to follow it in, those are concepts that have to be unlearned, because the mind isn’t in those things, those are concepts that it has made up, it believes that it is…
Friend: ….is one of those.
David: Yes, that’s wrong mindedness, to believe you are in a situation.
Friend: To identify with any one of those things that David named would be not to wake up, would be to be wrong minded.
David: That was a question asked once of Emmanuel, channelled through him, and someone said “I want to achieve enlightenment but how will I achieve enlightenment and remain chief executive officer of this corporation?” And Emmanuel just said, “You won’t!” Just real direct, he doesn’t beat around the bush. That’s the same type of thing we are saying except we’re not just saying you won’t, we are looking at the metaphysics of how it would be impossible to conceive of yourself in a small role and be magnitude.
Friend: And once the mind steps back from that and no longer identifies with the role, then it couldn’t play the game as if it still identified with the role. It couldn’t pretend it did when it didn’t. That would be a lack of integrity and would not be the honesty that’s a characteristic of a teacher of God.
Friend: So isn’t there a part where you almost need to do what you have done, and extricate yourself from attachments on some level, not necessarily on the physical level? But there might be an easier way…
Friend: Not in form, it’s all in the mind.
Friend: I’m just saying to be more honest with yourself would be to extricate yourself from those circumstances, or not?
David: It wouldn’t be the circumstances it would be the beliefs.
Friend: How would you know you were doing that if you’re still playing those roles? How do you know you’re not deceiving yourself?
David: And again it wouldn’t be a sense of playing the role. It could be perceived all kinds of ways. Jesus was perceived in many ways, but again we are coming to that internal sense of being, of having questioned all the roles and concepts and taken on one concept, forgiveness. One box instead of Well I’m wearing many hats here, I’m a wife and I work here and I do this and oh in church I’m a deacon, I’m a republican, you know all these things over here, and it’s like saying I’m going to trade in all these boxes and all these different hats so to speak for forgiveness. I see where your question is going because there will seem to be changes on the screen that will automatically come when that happens. It would be a scam to…
Friends: … to try and hold on to all those things. I mean how could you be involved in all those things, because you know you have to weigh that against the other? How could you give that relevance?
David: Symbolically in the life of David, to get back to that story again, when I seemed to be in graduate school and had questioned all these disciplines, the concept of education and everything else, it got to a point where I was seeing beyond the game. In writing the exams for example, it became more difficult to put down the answers that I thought someone else wanted to hear. I started more and more to put down the answers and it got to the point where, Well I’ve questioned the system now and I don’t know how I am to be used but I can’t continue to perceive myself in the system.
Friends: And it wasn’t like you bolted, you said It seems appropriate I should be in school, but because I’m being called I’m going to leave. You were feeling a discomfort at being in school. It’s like you were being called and it wasn’t making sense any more to write those answers on exams.
David: It’s that whole thing of when you start to see beyond something, you can’t go back up there above those underlying assumptions and try to be something you are not. I tried to fit the round peg into the square hole for a long time then I thought This is nuts! A small voice was saying That’s right, come on, keep coming back; come to me. So that is just another one of those examples. That’s not a unique experience. I think all of us have had that in certain things, whether it seemed to be relationships or in certain things where it just didn’t feel conducive.
Friend: For me what felt natural was to drop all social activities. Every Monday night for 20 years I played mah-jong with the girls. We’d go, we’d eat, we’d talk, we’d chat and the chatting wasn’t what I wanted chat about. I would have loved to have gone deeper, that was irrelevant to them and it would have been arrogant to even try in that situation. So it just felt comfortable to get out of a situation I had been in for 20 years. I was dropping everything off my calendar and I’m just beginning to pick up and leave to go to a trailer, or leave to come here. And leave the family with some wondering about why I’m leaving again with the answer I’m being called; this is something I have to do. So those things are not feeling uncomfortable, they are feeling very appropriate and there’s no conflict there about leaving. Now for all those people around there’s lots of conflict, they think I’ve gone over the deep end, they are very worried about me, very concerned. My brother at two o’clock in the morning took my face saying, “Be Mary for a minute, be Mary!” He was shaking me and I’m looking at him going Oh my God this is what everyone is wanting. Out there is discomfort, but it’s not my discomfort.
Friend: I think there is something to what I heard that you were beginning to say about maybe making some kind of move that would allow the time and space to really examine. And it’s symbolic of the mind’s willingness to really dedicate itself and to really put the attention where it really wants to be.
David: And there is no sense of dependency, in our friend’s case moving isn’t feathers or Utopia, or the place you need to go, there is no place, but again it’s symbolic of that willingness. It seems to be taking the form of bodies sitting around, meditating and going into things, at least in the worldly eyes that’s what it may look like, or could be interpreted as, but as you are talking about the branching of the road, it’s not that, it just what it seems to look like on the outside. That’s the important thing, getting clear in the mind.
Friend: It sounds like you are saying you do have to give up these other things like jobs or seeing yourself as a mother or a wife or a daughter or whatever, and go apart.
Friend: David’s saying give up your attachments to those concepts.
Friend: So if you hadn’t felt you needed to go somewhere else you might have done while living in your family situation?
David: You did do that as a matter of fact.
Friend: Yes for years and going into these things. It’s just been the last few months that I really felt I needed to have that intense time to go into it. I felt ready to totally devote myself, I think up until then I just wasn’t ready, and you know it’s taken me quite a long time, the past four months, to really come to some understanding of what this really means. Because at times it did feel like separating from my family and at times it did feel like leaving them behind. I don’t even know how to describe it, but it really is a matter for me of coming to clarity in my own mind of what’s really going on and that’s where the peace is and that’s where the joy about it is. When I’m with them now it’s to be clear in my own mind that it’s not about leaving anyone behind. You know again, I hear what you’re saying about all the people saying things to you because I’ve had the same experience, and I’m sure there are a lot of parallels because I’ve talked to so many people along the way, friends, family, neighbors, you name it, who’ve said, “What the hell is going on; what are you doing?” And so I’ve had to go into it with so many different people in so many different ways, because everybody is coming at it from a different perspective. And yet in a lot of ways it’s almost indescribable for me. When I hear myself talking about it, it’s always just symbols because it’s about the experience of it, and it may look like one thing on the outside, but until I have the experience of it, it’s just words.
Friend: What I was hearing David say though was that you couldn’t be in a family setting and still do this. You know, have the experience of enlightenment. That was what you were saying?
Friend: So would that mean our friend could never go back to that situation if that was a choice.
Friend: If you say go back, to me that means I could never go back to who I was, who I thought I was as a mother, as a wife, as a family member in that way. Without the attachments, without the specialness, I won’t go back to that, I can’t.
Friend: She won’t go back in her mind to how it seemed before.
Friend: Where the body happens to be…
Friend: It sounded like you couldn’t be president of a company; that you have to step apart from roles and be totally neutral. You could not work and reach enlightenment.
David: Enlightenment would be defined as letting go of all separate concepts of self. And accepting first of all one concept, which Jesus calls forgiveness, which is just seeing the feathers as feathers; seeing the false as false, precedes the awakening, or what one may call enlightenment. You can see there are definite implications of this as we go in. And it’s good to really talk about those and get clear. People have tried to go round and round in circles, the ego’s version is to keep one foot planted pretty good over here in the world, and have peace and joy and happiness and you end up doing like the splits after a while, because the farther you go into it you see that the ways of the world are not the ways of Spirit. As Jesus said “My Kingdom is not of this world.” He’s guiding us; he is literally leading us out of the world, calling us to right mindedness, that’s the implication of where it’s going.
Friends: There’s no dancing around it, there’s dancing, but not like that. I think that could feel real scary, like Whoa, where is this going.
Friend: It seems like everything would dissolve then. [laughter]
Friend: Well, I’m still confused, are you saying then that she cannot return home if she wants enlightenment?
David: Well, it depends on how you are talking about home.
Friend: You know what I am talking about, because as I am not as far progressed as any of the rest of you.
David: Yes as a matter of fact on that kind of level you are talking about, we are all going home. You know I have been visiting that home in body for the last four and a half years and some of those bodies that have been in that home have been visiting this body so to speak. And again it’s very inclusive. In other words when you answer the call, symbolically you reach your arms out to everyone around you; you say Come, come join me.
Friend: And they are all your family.
David: Yes, and on the surface it may seem there are many reactions like You’re nuts! But again the invitation is there to everyone including what would seem to be our friend’s husband, son, and daughter. As I’ve gone up and just shared the ideas, they have questioned me and we have gone into things. And I have extended that invitation, and gone into things with the children. And more and more the husband is opening up to the ideas. So in a sense we are going back and that invitation is being extended there, as it is being extended everywhere we go.
Friend: I think an important distinction, and something that you have reminded us of again and again, is that you no longer go back to the home as mom or wife or as neighbor or as daughter-in-law, or any of those things, because that’s not who you are. And what we’re calling home isn’t home. You go back as a teacher of God, still teacher of God is a very helpful metaphor.
Friend: And it’s been totally transformative, totally. I have a totally different relationship with every one of those people and it is beyond anything I ever imagined. And we are going to the home at the invitation of the husband, who wants us to come so that he can go into these ideas at greater depth.
Friend: Because he is finding them more and more attractive as he sees the changes in me. So we are not going to the home because there is someone there that has been called husband in the past. That has nothing to do with why we are going there.
David: In a sense the invitation seems like it is coming from the husband, but it’s really internal direction and guidance as we come together. And you go into the silence and you just ask what is most helpful. We go through it moment by moment, day by day, it’s not as if we have itineraries and plans that seem to go very far into the future at all because it’s really staying tuned in to the Holy Spirit and asking again, how can I be most helpful?
Friend: Let me ask this, for people that study the Course, is the goal, the idea behind that, that you should accept the call at some point and become a teacher, or is it fine to just study the Course, and live the life without devoting yourself to it?
David: Well if you look at the way the Course is written, when you get back to the Teachers Manual, it’s written as a training manual for teachers of God. He actually talks about being called, “they come from many backgrounds, all religions, no religions, they don’t look alike, but once they’ve answered the call, once they have seen that there is no separate interest from their brother, then they have become a teacher of God.” And literally it’s written for their pupils, it’s written in the sense of becoming a teacher of God, more in the line of being like an apostle or like the mystics and the saints. Now again, for yourself, where you perceive yourself and where you believe you are, you work with the Holy Spirit’s curriculum, it’s highly individualized and it’s not even about trying to project, like Oh my gosh if I work with this am I going to end up like that or whatever, but it’s just saying Holy Spirit here’s where I am right now, this is what I perceive, this is the world I perceive, help me to move in that direction. You could see where if you got into all the expectations of where this will take you that it could seem overwhelming, and that would not be helpful. Admittedly, what you are hearing here is quite a deep, deep conversation and for yourself, the ego may start to come in with like, Oh boy!
Friends: Just watch the reaction.
Friend: “Changes are required in the minds of God’s teachers” M-9.1was real helpful to me. It’s clarification I’m seeking, clarification and understanding of what this is all about in order to put it into perspective. So it feels neither hot nor cold, it’s just there.
Friend: A lot of fear thoughts come in when I take this further and further and further. I feel like you don’t need to push it too far, just bring it back and deal with it right here. I think I’m getting caught in that future thing. But what about, what, what. Just wait, be right here, this is OK, this is a good space to be. Past and future thoughts take away the peace.
Friend: I was reading something in the Course today, or maybe it was one of the papers, something about there are useful past thoughts and I think it just meant those lessons. I’m not sure what it was but generally for me any thought of the past or the future in this world’s terms put it into a picture, past or future, take away the peace.
David: Yeah a reference to what you are talking about would be where Jesus talks about keeping the past in a purified form. Which can seem like an oxymoron, let go the past and the past is gone, but now you want to save the past in purified form, what’s this about? It’s a metaphor for what I was describing about the body’s eyes still reporting differences but the healed mind has put them all into one category. They are unreal. You see there is still a perceptual component; the body’s eyes still see differences. That’s the past, that’s definitely the past, it’s not the holy instant, but it’s that metaphor of a purified form of the past. If you can see the past as flying feathers that aren’t being ordered and judged and they are equally unreal, that would be a good example of a useful use of the past, a purified use of the past.
Friends: What you said about projecting out ahead of where this is taking me can be very scary was so helpful. In fact if I had seen a video of how it looks now, three years ago, I might have been terrified because it would have been such a stretch for my mind to imagine going from where I was to where I am. I mean how in the world… it would have just seemed impossible I think. If I had just seen the picture and not felt how it feels, not recognized the shifts in perception and the shifts in thinking and the internal changes that led up to it, but all along the way it hasn’t felt that way. It hasn’t felt terrifying you know.
Friend: But then you didn’t do that, look in the future.
Friend: Anytime you do look at the future it is terrifying. And for me I came to see that there’s no solution there. I was trying to see where is this all going to lead, what’s going to happen, how is it going to work, what about this, what about that. As long as I had my mind out there thinking about those things, there was no solution to any of that and none of the required shifts were taking place because my attention was out on the screen. And for shifts to take place the attention has to be drawn back to the mind. The only solution is in the mind, in the moment of choosing the right mind.
Friend: That’s where the idea of the Himalayas comes in. People bolt to the Himalayas, get rid of all their possessions, get rid of everything but haven’t changed. The Himalayas is just a symbol, it could be bolt away from family, David you have talked about story after story of people who have done that, thinking that was going to give them enlightenment but their minds hadn’t been changed at the pace of the behavioral change, and that’s not going to bring enlightenment, it’s another form of the ego’s deception. And it’s sort of like Well if this is what the future is supposed to look like let me get to it right now and skip all the steps because I’ll just go through all the pain at once, right now. What’s the purpose there? It’s always what’s most helpful to me and to the mind.
Friend: And what am I being guided to, we have to remember and keep pulling it back to that and asking moment by moment what am I guided to? There’s no formula, I didn’t make the decision. It was not my idea to go to the Peace House. I was called.
David: It’s really about trust. Jesus says that all characteristics of a teacher of God is based on the first one: Trust. It’s the ego again that is looking after the future. That’s what the ego has always done Oh you want to get into a career, plan ahead, what’s your five year plan, what’s your ten year plan? You see the ego is always looking to the future and trying to provide for itself and maintain its self-concept.
Then there is the beautiful line in the Teachers Manual where he says, “…trust would settle every problem now.” T-26.VIII It’s like I don’t have to know all the steps that I will seem to need to take in a perceptual sense. All I have to do is trust right now, and that really simplifies things. It doesn’t make it into a big complicated thing like a maze that I’m going to have to go through. If I can stay with the Spirit in the moment, and just moment by moment be guided What’s next, what do you have for me Holy Spirit, there’s a real gentleness, a real loosening that seems to take place, like loosening the screw. As our friend has said “As I hear David speak I’m picturing this big structure that I have made up. There is this bolt that holds it together and there is a screw and what I hear David saying is if I can just keep on unscrewing the nut little by little.” That is a good symbol of the present trust. Things aren’t going to crash down, just moment by moment, What would you have me do, where would you have me go, what would you have me say and to whom?
Friend: It’s such a relief to see that I don’t have to know it all, I don’t have to have the five year plan or the ten year plan, I don’t have to see the entire picture. I don’t have to have it before I start right where I am with what I know is right there for me. And I have repeatedly gotten that message in various symbolic ways. Don’t wait until you know the whole thing to get started, all you have to do right now is get started. You know that part; you know what’s called for there, just do that then the next step will be shown you as it is time to take it.
David: You could look in the other direction, saying “I don’t know.” That might be more helpful than saying “I know what I have right in front of me.” [laughter]
Friends: Our friend’s version of it is But I’ve got kids, they’ve got to go to college, this is the worst time in the world. Couldn’t you have waited 6 more years? That’s all I ask. Well it doesn’t happen that way and all those things are all the substitutions and adjustments. So I really have to be clear about answering this call and that I can’t possibly know everything before I accept the call. I can be clear about my intention and that’s all.
David: Again it comes back to the internal experience. If I am perceiving a lot of resistance out there and I’m feeling pulled out of peace, it must be that events are just symbolizing my own resistance. Remember everything in the world is an out-picturing of my own thoughts so in that sense, again it comes back to Help me to see this differently, and it is really empowering, because through the ego lens, the ego is going to say Great, you are going to follow this call, you are going to have to fight tooth and nail through this crowd that is going to be around you saying you can’t do this. But when you get really tuned in to the Holy Spirit he is clearly saying Not only you can do this but, it’s a done deal, you are doing great.
Friends: And that came in, you are doing fine. Sometimes this is a sad, disorienting, and confusing time for me because I’m beginning to look at everything I ever learned, everything I ever valued and all of my relationships. In fact in the Catholic bookstore it was interesting because Saint Faustina has a diary of her experiences of Jesus calling her. And there are many things identical to what Jesus was saying to Helen Schucman in the Course. There were identical resistances as Helen had to Jesus in the Course. And there were times when she didn’t feel peaceful and Jesus said You are doing just fine but you are in a state of confusion, sadness and disorientation which is also outlined in the Course. And so for some it may just swoop and feel real peaceful and joyful. For me the struggle has been the resistance and the feeling now that it wouldn’t be possible, and the peace comes in when, yes it is possible and you’re doing it. And you are OK.
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