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Week Intensive part 4 - A Parable on Following Guidance
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: Since you weren't here and you came in a bit later, we haven't in this whole group gone over the metaphysics in the sense of this chart here. Does everybody have one of these?
Again the belief is, to tell the story, almost everyone has heard of the Adam and Eve story, the fall from grace and the eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil... In the Course it’s kind of described as “Into eternity where all is one there crept a tiny, mad idea at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh.”
You can imagine a very powerful mind that was created as the Son of God and this puff of an idea, if you gave a word to it call it the ego; it’s kind of analogous to the Garden of Eden story where the snake was the tempter to call Adam and Eve to Come away and listen to me instead of God. The puff you could say was like What if there could be more than everything?
Paradise, the Garden of Eden or eternity where all is one, is literally Heaven and the puff was kind of saying What if there could be more than everything or Gee, you're the Son, your Father created you, why settle for number two? Why not usurp, why not be number one? You can give a different wording but that is pretty much what the puff is saying. Why not come apart and have your own kingdom where you can be number one. You don’t have to answer to anyone, you aren't the created; you are now the creator, the maker.
And so the mind seemed to, just for one instant, instead of laughing at the idea, went Mmmm, I wonder if... and being such a powerful mind, and even focusing on such a teeny puff, was kind of analagous to the Big Bang. [laughter] Whoosh there was a big explosion somehow and matter and heat and lava was hurled away, well that's not even what the Big Bang was, it was giving power to this incredible belief; it was a seeming cleavage of the mind, but this mind of lightness seemed to be in darkness and the puff was the belief that you could separate from God. Immediately the puff turned to the mind and said You've done it now, you've ripped yourself apart from God, from Heaven and God is very angry for what you've done, you've stolen, you've done something terribly wrong here. And the mind listened to the puff and the puff kind of said… you know the Garden of Eden story with Adam and Eve, they were naked and they covered themselves. In this version it’s kind of like the world of time and space and form was made up as this giant screen, a smoke screen, a hiding place and the puff said God can’t chase you into form, into specifics and fragments. God is whole and complete and One. And he’s not going to come looking for you in the dust, so to speak, in all the fragmentation and separation. So if you go and hide… Here, we will make worlds, universes, bodies, so on and so forth, you can hide in specifics because God is abstract and one and whole. And so the mind listened to the puff and moved away from all this light and moved towards the darkness. Here is the seeming thought being taken seriously and the darkness over here is the ego, or the puff, or the tempter. And the mind moved out away from the split, out here, and identified out here where it says behavior/projection [on the chart]. Right out here at the very edge is the cosmos, the world. So the mind became identified with a body, a mind no longer, it had forgotten it was this vast mind.
The ego said Forget about this battle. It kept saying God’s going to get you and there’s this eternal war that will go on now. The ego says Forget about it; you've done it, forget about it now. And out here in the world is where the split seems to take place because the mind becomes identified with the body which you could call the subject. Now what was that show on TV where they said, “This is your life”? They would bring all these people, teachers and friends, and that person who was on stage is kind of like the subject. The person is the subject of the life and all the people who seem to come across that person's path, those are all the objects.
All those years and all those environments that the person seems to live in; all of that is the object. So out here you’ve got the subject/object split. So you see right away there’s this duality, the mind has forgotten the oneness of everything and believes it’s a tiny little subject in the world, an objective world. And it goes through life and it battles, it seems like this little subject has to do a lot just to keep its head above water; it has to survive. It seems to be in conflict right off the bat with its parents, you know the terrible twos, right away the subject wants to assert its autonomy and its will, and there are these rules; like Mom and Dad have rules and I’m teeny and have to live by these rules.
And it’s trying to assert its autonomy. It’s always in friction, sometimes with the parents, sometimes with siblings and it goes on. Who’d you get for your third grade teacher? Oh, terrible, she’s the worst teacher in the school. Once again, friction, sometimes with teachers, sometimes with ministers…
Then it grows older, sometimes it gets jobs and has frictions with co-workers or bosses who tell it to do things. It has moments where it seems like there’s a harmony, it seems like there’s a connectedness with other persons, it even seems like there’s some special persons.
Out here on the screen; the subject is always trying to solve its problems out here on the screen. It grows up, like I’m young and I’m single, if I just has a girlfriend life would be a lot better or if I have a boyfriend. It’s looking for something right away to make it feel better. Or if I had a job I wouldn't have to constantly take money from my parents, I could do more things on my own, you know, more autonomy. If I had a job or moved to a better place, I don’t like living in a rural area, I want to go out to the city, hit the big time. Then again it’s still seen as if I change something out here on the screen I can make a better life for this subject. And what all the teachings, all of the perennial wisdom teachings teach is that it’s a mistaken perception and as long as the mind is still believing in the ego, still paying attention to the tempter, as long as there is still this fear based thought system in the mind, it doesn't matter what it does in the world. It can seek until the end of the world to find peace and happiness but it won’t find peace and happiness until it begins to question the beliefs that are kind of like the stilts, or the underpinnings of the world. Like if this is the world on top and the beliefs and the thoughts are underneath it, you can see that the world is still going to seem to be the world until you question the beliefs and then the world dissolves. So that gives us a bit of a basis for everything we go into. To get back to the situation that you are bringing up, part of the belief system of the ego is that the mind is not a mind any longer, it’s a body and that our brothers aren’t really minds or spirits either, they’re flesh instead of minds or spirit.
So the concern for bodies is really just an expression out here of the belief that I have separated from God and I've taken on this made-up identity, this fictitious thing—and the mind knows. It tried to forget all this but deep down it knows what is going on. So in a sense, whenever we seem to get upset with something or someone, everything is just playing itself out in Divine order so to speak, you know “All things work together for good,” like the Bible says. But the mind is so afraid of knowledge and it has made judgements about the dream; that it seems to be a threat. Whenever this light approaches the mind it’s afraid of the Holy Spirit and instead of seeing that it’s afraid of the Holy Spirit or has an issue with God, it seems like I'm not afraid of God, I'm afraid I might starve to death or my daughters’ car might break down in the mountains and her safety might be threatened, whatever. Everything that seems like a problem is always a projection of this original error.
Friend: So it’s a non-problem, right, when you get down to the bottom line?
Friend: Until I feel at peace about it. As long as I’m feeling, as long as there’s any charge at all about it then yes, there's still more that has to be looked at, not out here, not about what she should or shouldn’t do, or what I should or shouldn’t do, but I’m still apparently not perceiving this correctly, because I still feel uneasy or something.
Friend: It’s another belief that has to be questioned.
Friend: But in questioning that, how can I say it, you won’t see the truth without the help of the Holy Spirit; you can’t do it without enlisting that aid. That’s what I’m saying, that’s the missing element. It’s not what we need to do on the screen, but how we need the Holy Spirit to help us see it differently; that’s when the miracles happen.
Friend: But when we talk, we’re talking like I go inside—I. I change something inside me then it comes out differently on the screen. It’s still that I that’s doing it but we get confused when it’s really not an I but the Holy Spirit. I don’t know how to explain it but you know what I'm saying? When I try and do it I’m still in the world of the ego, but when I'm doing it in concert with the will of God and the Holy Spirit, that’s a whole different person or whatever.
Friend: That’s the only way I will get clear and that’s the only way I will not feel uneasy or upset.
Friend: When my perception has changed, it’s not dependent on what happens out here. Events can go one way or the other but my perception will be clear, without fear.
David: I think it’s important to note too, it’s good to go into the questioning, because the whole thing about questioning your beliefs… the ego is not so keen on this, in other words it is the belief… or the ego! To question your beliefs is to question the ego. And again I could use some metaphors to give you an idea that you are really questioning with the Holy Spirit when you question your belief system. Now there’s a way that you can question with the ego. So we need to get into the difference between questioning with the ego, versus questioning with the Holy Spirit. First of all, the ego is happy if you don’t question at all.
David: You just kind of like say, Life’s miserable, I can’t do anything about it, I'm powerless, I'm helpless, all I can do is to try to partake in some of the pleasures of the world and use a Band-Aid approach and kind of distract from it, or just say, Admit that I can’t do anything about it and just try to handle it with some kind of arrangement with the world, drugs, alcohol, going to an amusement park, anything, to just forget the thought.
Then there’s the questioning of the screen which is really the ego studying itself. All the disciplines and everything that breaks it down. When you study biology, when you study chemistry, take your pick—all the learnings of the world, are just really studying the parts. First of all you’ve got to label all the parts—big job, so you pick a specialty and you label all the parts. Not only that, but you’ve got to figure out and name and question how all the parts work together. Like a combustion engine, if you go to mechanics school you’ve got to label all the parts, air filter, oil filter, spark plugs, different chambers, the radiator, how the cooling system interacts, how the oil system works, and so on and so forth. Not only do you have all the parts but how all the parts work together.
Friend: So in this case the ego way of breaking it down and looking at all the parts is looking at the motivation of your daughter for instance, looking at all the things that are still out there? What she is doing, why she is doing it; da de da de da.
David: Financially, with bringing the car back, the money involved in that, the financial kind of analysis we could call it. And then there’s the safety analysis tacked on of driving a 3 cylinder across the country.
Friend: Listing the pros and cons.
Friend: Yeah, which is what we’ve been trained for in many cases and gotten real good at and thought that was mature and responsible and that it works.
David: And even solicited advice, like if there seems to be lots of advice Your daughter is crazy! You can see it’s an ego alliance. But you're right; you are a very mature woman, a good mother to do this.
Friend: And they say Why don’t you tell her not to do this. Rather than telling me how good I am.
David: That's the ego questioning, that's its version of questioning, it questions the screen.
Friend: Commonplace problem solving is ego questioning.
David: Yes, because it’s dealing with all the variables, all the factors on the screen. It would be like, if we use our analogy, like running back and forth on the screen questioning and meanwhile under here are all the underpinnings, they aren’t being questioned, the ego’s happy Go ahead question all you want, you’ll give up after a while. But it’s like the underpinnings are there. So that’s why we say to start questioning the beliefs. To really question the beliefs must be a symbol of opening up to the Holy Spirit because that’s what the Holy Spirit is asking the mind to do.
Holy Spirit is saying Come back off the screen, come back down in here, I’m not going to hurt you, come here and look with me. To really see something or recognize something, you would literally have to be in your right mind or with the Holy Spirit. Because what does it mean for the ego to be looking at itself, it’s another deception. And that’s where the release comes in, when you’re right minded you simply are able to just see the false as false. It’s not a release in terms of something necessarily changing on the outside. You know it’s like Wow my problem is X and I need to get Y and oh I've got Y; the problem's solved! It’s more of a stepping back to a real place of detachment and just watch it. And from that place of detachment it’s also not completely passive in the sense that as long as the mind still has beliefs, and it asks for the Holy Sprit’s help, it may receive guidance through that belief system, in other words the Spirit will use the symbols that the mind believes in and there may be specific guidance that you may get in that moment of quiet clarity that may say Call your daughter up and suggest such and such. It could be specific guidance, again there would be no strings attached. It wouldn’t be I’m going to tell my daughter this and here I’ve got all my consequences ready to slam; it had better be the right answer. From that point of clarity, you could make a suggestion.
Friend: And there’s no fear.
Friend: She could take it or leave it and it wouldn’t effect how I feel one way or another. I'm not making the suggestion out of any fear in my own mind. She could look at it and it won’t matter whether she chooses that or not.
David: And, it can be helpful to discuss feelings, like I've had some concerns for your safety and I'm trying to have another way to look at this. And she might say Oh Mom, forget it, I’m going to be fine, don’t worry about me and this and that.
Friend: She doesn’t have a belief in fear about her own safety, probably.
Friend: No, she doesn’t.
David: So again that becomes a symbol of here comes the Holy Spirit seemingly to the others to say It’s ok, I'm safe and that would be a symbolic kind of representation.
Friend: Even if the car does break down, I'm safe.
Friend: And you know that's how she feels; it doesn’t matter, you know. And when you really think about it, it does for yourself. You can say Yeah, she is always safe because she is not that body, that body might be harmed but she is always safe.
Friend: And she is not fearful either which is a key element.
Friend: If there was fear in her mind, it would be something to take a look at too?
David: Yes, for me it’s been a journey of just listening to the guidance. For instance a lot of times when I've travelled around the country giving these talks I'll be driving along and it will just come real clear like Pick up that hitchhiker, while there’s some more conditioning, but the voice says Stop and pick up the hitchhiker. It’s being guided from within. The safety and the trust seems to be tied in to all the good intentions of you've got to be careful with strangers and this and that. I've been in inner city areas, if I'm breaking up in my mind who are the safe ones and who are the unsafe ones based on physical appearances; oh, look at that one, real raggedy, long hair, leather jacket and this and that, oh goodbye.
Again I need to be tuned in and listening because the Holy Spirit is the one who is orchestrating this plan of Atonement and he knows what encounters we are to have, he knows who can receive certain lessons and who is in a position to give them. He’s got like a bird’s eye view of the whole thing and if you try to do it from a personal standpoint, like a personal plan of Atonement, then you get into falling back on past experience and again the mind thinks it knows I'm not going to pick up that person because look at the way they’re dressed. Or it’s 10 o'clock at night and it’s dark; I've just heard the news where someone got murdered. Again it’s not a rule of thumb, I don’t go around saying I pick up every hitchhiker I see, it’s not a form thing but it gets back to, it’s a real clear guidance at times; like I’m driving around, I glance at someone, our eyes meet and something inside says Stop. And I’ve had wonderful encounters; I have travelled through three states with someone I picked up. When I picked him up he had a knife, he had a grisly beard, and he had a leather jacket. He was suicidal. He was in deep despair and almost despondent when we picked him up. And again it’s like I was definitely guided to pick him up, and as he came in the car it was that thing of asking Ok, Holy Spirit, now what? What do I say, what do I do? And the first thing I got when he got in the car was Listen. He's going to talk, he’s got something to say, listen to it. So I listened and little by little he opened up and he started talking about his life, he was homeless, he was 34 years old, he’d been homeless since he was 14 years old—that’s 20 years, he’d had a girlfriend recently, he’d moved in with her, she was pregnant with his child, she had just recently been hit by a car, her and the child were killed. He had some brothers and sisters, they had committed suicide, he was among a whole family of brothers and sisters who had committed suicide, and he'd basically got to the bottom line was “I don’t know that it’s worth going on and living anymore. I think I've about had it with this world.”
Friend: And did you say he'd been beaten up?
David: No, that was the next part. He'd been trying to hitchhike South for the winter just to get off the streets so he could be homeless in a warmer climate. And he really had no family, he was just in despair, he didn't make it all the way. He said two fellows had mugged him in a city on the street and had beaten him and he was in total despair, so dazed and disoriented that he thought I'm going back, I'm just going to start hitchhiking North, so he'd just hopped on the highway and was right there when I picked him up, after he'd just been mugged.
So this is kind of the background; this is the seeming situation, but again you know, for me it was just that I was to pick him up, and I was to just keep asking. So he told me his story. He then said “I've got to smoke, I got to smoke now. We’d been in the car for a while and he had to get out and go and have a smoke.
Friend: He found out we didn't smoke and we didn't have cigarettes in the car.
David: Yeah, and so he said “I gotta get out of here I think maybe you should just pull over and let me out.” I asked the Holy Spirit What should I say, what should I do and Holy Spirit said He’s going to be with you a while, don’t worry about that. And so I said, “We don’t smoke, but in a while we are going to be stopping off to go to the restroom and you're welcome to stop with us and take a smoke then. We're going to get some food and stuff.” He said Ok, he'd stay and little by little I started to open up and share a little more of my life and what I was doing and travelling around and trusting and being guided from place to place, a very loose life with not a lot of structure and everything and just sharing ideas that were inspiring and he said “Are you two religious?” [laughter] And we said “Well, kind of, it depends what you mean by religious.” Because we weren't by any stretch of the imagination formal ministers being pastors or anything like that but we were ministers of God in the sense that— but I didn't even go into that.
So he listened more and more and I told him some experiences we had, how we had gone for a walk and our car was gone, and everything we had taken with us had gone, and how we just trusted and were guided moment by moment. Then the police recovered the car and we had all these holy encounters, I just shared the whole thing. He said “Yeah, you’re as bad off as I am, you can’t trust people!” [laughter] He was interpreting the experience from the ego perspective even though for us it was a great thing of how you’re taken care of and how everything works out.
And he said, “You can’t leave money in the car!” And he was giving some advice, but he was opening up, and now he wasn’t quite so despondent. He thought he was giving us advice, but he was starting to talk. And so it went on. We started sharing more and more experiences and he started to get real interested. And then we stopped to get some groceries and he went to the bathroom and had a smoke and he really perked up. I mean he was listening very closely to the ideas that we were sharing and he started to get more and more open. He said “You know I didn’t always have this mean streak in me, I wasn’t always so hardened. I used to really relate to kids and take them out and do things with them.” And now the soft side that was under all the crust was starting to come up, and his voice was lifting up and now he was excited and he had some self-esteem because he was thinking about that soft side, that part of him where he had actually helped out people. And the more he talked about that the better he felt, more and more and more, and he started feeling better and better and he started to laugh and joke. And I was saying Thank you Holy Spirit. I was seeing how powerful Holy Spirit is; he can take seemingly a suicidal deep despair and turn the table on the ego just through being lined up. So we drove and he was laughing, we were telling jokes and everything, and I said, “Now we are getting off and we are going to visit a friend, and we are going to be getting off the highway.” I said “You know I have a trailer not too far away. If you don’t have any place to stay, you’re welcome to go to the trailer, there’s some food in it, a fireplace…” And he said “Will you guys be there?” I said “We’re actually going off to visit another friend and everything.” He said “Oh, if you’re not going to be there, I don’t think I’d like to be there by myself.” So we said “Ok.” We were getting ready to stop and get off and I said to him “Here, I’ll give you my phone number and whenever you’re travelling through you can give me a call.” So he looked me in the eye and said, “You don’t want to give me your number.” And I said, “Yes, I want to give you my number.” He said, “If you give it to me I’ll call.” I said “I know, that's why I’m giving it to you so if you pass through you can call, we can get together.” That was another hard thing for him to conceive, like “why would you give a stranger your phone number?” “I'm not family to you I’m not anything to you.” We both said, “You are family, we are family.”
Friend: At one stage he had looked at me and said “Why are you guys being so nice to me?” Like what’s the hook, what's going on here? I said “Well, if your brother needed for you to help him out a bit wouldn’t you do that for your brother?” And he said “Well yeah.” I said “Well I mean that’s all it is.” And for me the real power of the experience was that actually there’s no difference at all. I wasn’t giving to anyone else in any way. It’s like he was me and I was him. That was my sense of it and it was the feeling and experience of it, that there was no difference whatsoever, there was no “other.”
David: That’s the miracle, it has happened over and over. I’ve picked up a number of hitchhikers and had just wonderful experiences with people I met along the way. If you keep doing it and just practice it, as a way of just asking the Holy Spirit, it really becomes apparent that it is not better to give than to receive. Giving and receiving are the same. As you treat your brother, you are treating yourself. And that every time you get angry or upset at any brother, that's the ego's gift to yourself, you’re giving yourself that. So what happened at the end of all that was that I made a little care package. All my clothes had been taken and as quickly as they were taken I received so many donations of clothes. At an AA center they were all laughing and saying “You guys qualify!” So I said “Here, take my sweater, you can put it under your jacket,” and he said “I can’t take your clothes.” I said “They aren’t mine; somebody gave them to me just like I’m giving them to you.” So he said “Well, Ok.” It was like the Spirit was guiding everything that would come out of my mouth, he would say something else, it was always what he could hear, what he could take. And so we gave him some different things, some clothes and food, some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and I put some money in there. He said “You know what, I’ve got my Spirit back, I’m going to turn right around and get off the highway with you guys and walk across to the other end of the highway and I’m going to hitchhike all the way back down through all the states we have just come through and all the way down South. And I know a Christian family that I once met there and I’m going to go to them and see if I can do some work for them.” And as we pulled off he kind of looked back like this with kind of a sheepish look, it was like that feeling you have in your heart—such a feeling of gratefulness to the Holy Spirit, like Wow, you can handle anything, even the seeming extreme cases. To me that's what this is all about, this is just setting it up for I don’t know what’s best in any situation, I don’t know how to be most helpful, but there is One with me that does know and if I’ll listen… it’s so powerful.
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