Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I am determined

Lesson 20

I am determined to see.

We have been quite casual about our practice periods thus far. There has been virtually no attempt to direct the time for undertaking them, minimal effort has been required, and not even active cooperation and interest have been asked. This approach has been intentional, and very carefully planned. We have not lost sight of the crucial importance of the reversal of your thinking. The salvation of the world depends on it. Yet you will not see if you regard yourself as being coerced, and if you give in to resentment and opposition.

This is our first attempt to introduce structure. Do not misconstrue it as an effort to exert force or pressure. You want salvation. You want to be happy. You want peace. You do not have them now, because your mind is totally undisciplined, and you cannot distinguish between joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, love and fear. You are now learning how to tell them apart. And great indeed will be your reward.

Your decision to see is all that vision requires. What you want is yours. Do not mistake the little effort that is asked of you for an indication that our goal is of little worth. Can the salvation of the world be a trivial purpose? And can the world be saved if you are not? God has one Son, and he is the resurrection and the life. His will is done because all power is given him in Heaven and on earth. In your determination to see is vision given you.

The exercises for today consist in reminding yourself throughout the day that you want to see. Today's idea also tacitly implies the recognition that you do not see now. Therefore, as you repeat the idea, you are stating that you are determined to change your present state for a better one, and one you really want.

Repeat today's idea slowly and positively at least twice an hour today, attempting to do so every half hour. Do not be distressed if you forget to do so, but make a real effort to remember. The extra repetitions should be applied to any situation, person or event that upsets you. You can see them differently, and you will. What you desire you will see. Such is the real law of cause and effect as it operates in the world.

My comments... As the lesson states, "this is our first attempt to introduce structure." This is something I have been eager to "see". Until now, these exercises seemed all over the board, as if there were no sequence being followed, and this added to my confusion. Today's lesson is simple, I am to repeat a phrase every half hour... "I am determined to see."

I believe that I am determined. To see and to experience the true meaning of God. This is why I am sticking with these exercises and why I share my feelings with you (whoever you are). Conventional "religion" has always held a promise to me, but it failed to do more than tease me. I have always felt there was something being held back, whether it be on purpose or because the powers that be deemed it that way. A Course In Miracles still "teases" me, but I am hopeful that if I follow the lessons and complete the text, the true meaning of all will be unfolded. This is my prayer. I am determined to see.

No private thoughts - deep

Lesson 19

I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my thoughts.

The idea for today is obviously the reason why your seeing does not affect you alone. You will notice that at times the ideas related to thinking precede those related to perceiving, while at other times the order is reversed. The reason is that the order does not matter. Thinking and its results are really simultaneous, for cause and effect are never separate.
Today we are again emphasizing the fact that minds are joined. This is rarely a wholly welcome idea at first, since it seems to carry with it an enormous sense of responsibility, and may even be regarded as an "invasion of privacy." Yet it is a fact that there are no private thoughts. Despite your initial resistance to this idea, you will yet understand that it must be true if salvation is possible at all. And salvation must be possible because it is the Will of God.

The minute or so of mind searching which today's exercises require is to be undertaken with eyes closed. The idea for today is to be repeated first, and then the mind should be carefully searched for the thoughts it contains at that time. As you consider each one, name it in terms of the central person or theme it contains, and holding it in your mind as you do so, say:

I am not alone in experiencing the effects of this thought about ______ .

The requirement of as much indiscriminateness as possible in selecting subjects for the practice periods should be quite familiar to you by now, and will no longer be repeated each day, although it will occasionally be included as a reminder. Do not forget, however, that random selection of subjects for all practice periods remains essential throughout. Lack of order in this connection will ultimately make the recognition of lack of order in miracles meaningful to you.

Apart from the "as needed" application of today's idea, at least three practice periods are required, shortening the length of time involved, if necessary. Do not attempt more than four.

My comments... The statement, "There are no private thoughts", really struck a chord with me. I have a "friend" who I find very difficult to be around most of the time. I won't bore you with the details, but this person is full of himself and being around him literally saps my energy. Consequently, I often experience negative thoughts when I am around him and I've sometimes had the feeling that he senses these thoughts.

Today's lesson hit me between the eyes. On some level, my friend DOES sense my thoughts about him. To me, this is a reason why I must always be vigilant about my thoughts and realize what they are and that they are affection others. This is deep...

We are all connected

Lesson 18

I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my seeing.

The idea for today is another step in learning that the thoughts which give rise to what you see are never neutral or unimportant. It also emphasizes the idea that minds are joined, which will be given increasing stress later on.

Today's idea does not refer to what you see as much as to how you see it. Therefore, the exercises for today emphasize this aspect of your perception. The three or four practice periods which are recommended should be done as follows:

Look about you, selecting subjects for the application of the idea for today as randomly as possible, and keeping your eyes on each one long enough to say:

I am not alone in experiencing the effects of how I see ______ .

Conclude each practice period by repeating the more general statement:

I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my seeing.

A minute or so, or even less, will be sufficient for each practice period.

My comments... I have done some reading on the new science of DNA where they are now demonstrating that DNA from a person separated from that person reacts to stimuli (of the host) as if it were still attached to the person. This offers tangible insight to the statement that we are all "connected" regardless of our separateness. As implausible as it may seem, we are connected to the radical Muslim suicide bomber who is trying to kill us. That person perceives a tree or a book in the same manner in which I see a book or a tree. This is an interesting lesson to me and is easier to grasp than some of the earlier lessons.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Your Immortal Reality

Your Immortal Reality

If you are not familiar with how I came to discover A Course In Miracles, it was through reading a book by Gary Renard, author of Disappearance of the Universe. Well, I just learned that Gary has released a new book entitled, "Your Immortal Reality".

The write-up about Your Immortal Reality says that it expands the teachings of the Gospel of Thomas and A Course in Miracles. By implementing a unique modification in our understanding of forgiveness, and taking the true meaning of thought to a whole new level, the result will break the cycle of birth and death. Includes information from the Ascended Master Teachers, Arten and Pursah, who were first introduced to the world in Disappearance of the Universe. To learn more about what I have learned so far, see Your Immortal Reality.

I SEE nothing

Lesson 17

I see no neutral things.

This idea is another step in the direction of identifying cause and effect as it really operates in the world. You see no neutral things because you have no neutral thoughts. It is always the thought that comes first, despite the temptation to believe that it is the other way around. This is not the way the world thinks, but you must learn that it is the way you think. If it were not so, perception would have no cause, and would itself be the cause of reality. In view of its highly variable nature, this is hardly likely.

In applying today's idea, say to yourself, with eyes open:

I see no neutral things becauseI have no neutral thoughts.

Then look about you, resting your glance on each thing you note long enough to say:

I do not see a neutral ______ becausemy thoughts about ______ are not neutral.

For example, you might say: I do not see a neutral wall, because my thoughts about walls are not neutral.

I do not see a neutral body, because my thoughts about bodies are not neutral.

As usual, it is essential to make no distinctions between what you believe to be animate or inanimate; pleasant or unpleasant. Regardless of what you may believe, you do not see anything that is really alive or really joyous. That is because you are unaware as yet of any thought that is really true, and therefore really happy.

Three or four specific practice periods are recommended, and no less than three are required for maximum benefit, even if you experience resistance. However, if you do, the length of the practice period may be reduced to less than the minute or so that is otherwise recommended.

My comments... More training and preparation for my feeble brain. I am constantly reminded of cliches such as "you become what you think about most" (someone famous said that). Again, I see these exercises as training and preparing me to accept thoughts that are not easy to grasp and meet with so much resistance from my ego. As I've mentioned many times before in this blog... I'm still having trouble looking at a tree from my window and telling myself that it is not real. Maybe I'm just a slow learner, or maybe I'm textbook "normal"... I have no idea, but I know that these exercises are not easily accepted by my (ego) brain.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Getting it

Side trip today...

This was sent to me by a friend today and it really struck a chord. I think this mindset is what finally leads many of us to ACIM. Anyway, it is a powerful message by an unknown author. Enjoy...

A time comes in your life when you finally get it….. When in the midst of all your fears and insanity you stop dead in your tracks, and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out -ENOUGH--!! Enough fighting and crying or struggling to hold on. And, like a child quieting down after a blind tantrum, your sobs begin to subside, you shudder once or twice, you blink back your tears, and through a mantle of wet lashes you begin to look at theworld through new eyes. This is your awakening!!!!!!!

You realize that it's time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change or for happiness, safety and security to come galloping over the next horizon. You come to terms with the fact that he is not Prince Charming and you are not Cinderella and that in the real world there aren't always fairy tale endings (or beginnings for that matter), and that any guarantee of “happily ever after” must begin with you, and in the process a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.

You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone will always love appreciate or approve of who or what you are….and that's OK (They are entitled to their own views and opinions). And you learn the importance of being and championing yourself; and in the process a sense of newfound confidence is born of self-approval.

You stop bitching and blaming other people for the things they did to you (or didn't do for you) and you learn that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected. You learn that people don't always say what they mean or mean what they say, and that not everyone will always be there for you, and that it's not always about you. So, you learn to stand on your own and to take care of yourself; and in the process a sense of safety and security isborn of self reliance.

You stop judging and pointing fingers…and you begin to accept people as they are and to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties; and in the process a sense of peace and contentment is born of forgiveness. You realize that much of the way you view yourself, and the world around you, is as a result of all the messages and opinions that have been ingrained into your psyche. And you begin to sift through all the crap you've been fed about how you should behave, how you should look, and how much you should weigh; what you should wear and where you should shop, and what you should drive; how and where you should live, and what you should do for a living; who you should sleep with, who you should marry, and what you should expect of a marriage; the importance of having and raising children, or what you owe your parents. You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. And you begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for.

You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin to discard the doctrines and values you've outgrown, or should never have bought into to begin with; and in the process you learn to go with your instincts. You learn that it is truly in giving that we receive. And that there is honor and glory in creating and contributing; and you stop maneuvering through life merely as a “consumer” looking for you next fix.

You learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not outdated ideals of a bygone era, but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must built a life. You learn that you don't know everything, it's not your job to save the world…and that you can't teach a pig to sing.

You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility, and the importance of setting boundaries, and learning to say NO. You learn that the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry, and that martyrs get burned at the stake.

Then you learn about love. Romantic love and familial love. How to love, how much to give in love, when to stop giving, and when to walk away. You learn not to reject your needs or your feelings onto a relationship you learn that you will not be more beautiful, more intelligent, more lovable or important because of the man on your arm or the child that bears your name.

You learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as you would have them to be. You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes. You learn that just as people grow and change, so it is with love. And you learn that you don't have the right to demand love on your terms…just to make you happy.

And, you learn that alone does not mean lonely. And you look in the mirror and come to terms with the fact that you will never be a size 5 or a perfect 10, and you stop trying to compete with the image inside your head and agonizing over how you “stack up.” You also stop working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over and ignoring your needs. You learn that feelings of entitlement are perfectly OK…and that it is your right to want things and to ask for things that you want…and that sometimes it is necessary to make demands.

You come to the realization that you deserve to be treated with love, kindness, sensitivity and respect; and you won't settle for less. And, you allow only the hands of a lover who cherishes you to glorify you with his touch…and in the process you internalize the meaning of self-respect.
And you learn that your body really is your temple, and you begin to care for it and treat it with respect. You begin eating a balanced diet, drinking more water and taking more time to exercise. You learn that fatigue diminishes the spirit and can create doubt and fear. So you take more time to rest.

And, just as food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul. So you take more time to laugh and to and play. You learn that for the most part, in life you get what you believe you deserve…and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for, and that wishing for something to happen is different from working toward making it happen. More importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success you need direction, discipline and perseverance. You also learn that no one can do it all alone and that it's OK to risk asking for help.

You learn that the only thing you must truly fear is the great robber baron of all time. FEAR itself. You learn to step right into and through your fears because you know that whatever happens you can handle it, and to give in to fear is to give away the right to live life on your terms.

And you learn to fight for your life and not to squander it living under a cloud of impending doom. You learn that life isn't always fair, you don't always get what you think you deserve; and that sometimes bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people. On these occasions you learn not to personalize things. You learn that God isn't punishing you or failing to answer your prayers. It's just life happening.

And you learn to deal with evil in its most primal stage-the ego. You learn that negative feelings such as anger, envy and resentment must be understood and redirected or they will suffocate the life out of you, and poison the universe that surrounds you. You learn to admit when you are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls.

You learn to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted, things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about; a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot shower. Slowly, you begin to take responsibility for yourself; and you make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never, ever, settle for less than your heart's desire. And you hang a wind chime outside your window so you can listen to the wind. And you make it a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting, and to stay open to every wonderful possibility.

Finally, with courage in your heart and with God by your side you take a stand; you take a deep breath, and you begin to design the life you want to live as best as you can.

(Author unknown)

Friday, August 18, 2006

Thoughts are True or False

Lesson 16

I have no neutral thoughts.

The following is taken from the lesson...

The idea for today is a beginning step in dispelling the belief that your thoughts have no effect. Everything you see is the result of your thoughts. There is no exception to this fact. Thoughts are not big or little; powerful or weak. They are merely true or false. Those that are true create their own likeness. Those that are false make theirs.

There is no more self-contradictory concept than that of "idle thoughts." What gives rise to the perception of a whole world can hardly be called idle. Every thought you have contributes to truth or to illusion; either it extends the truth or it multiplies illusions. You can indeed multiply nothing, but you will not extend it by doing so.

Besides your recognizing that thoughts are never idle, salvation requires that you also recognize that every thought you have brings either peace or war; either love or fear. A neutral result is impossible because a neutral thought is impossible. There is such a temptation to dismiss fear thoughts as unimportant, trivial and not worth bothering about that it is essential you recognize them all as equally destructive, but equally unreal. We will practice this idea in many forms before you really understand it.

In applying the idea for today, search your mind for a minute or so with eyes closed, and actively seek not to overlook any "little" thought that may tend to elude the search. This is quite difficult until you get used to it. You will find that it is still hard for you not to make artificial distinctions. Every thought that occurs to you, regardless of the qualities that you assign to it, is a suitable subject for applying today's idea.

In the practice periods, first repeat the idea to yourself, and then as each one crosses your mind hold it in awareness while you tell yourself:

This thought about ______ is not a neutral thought.

That thought about ______ is not a neutral thought.

As usual, use today's idea whenever you are aware of a particular thought that arouses uneasiness. The following form is suggested for this purpose.

This thought about ______ is not a neutral thought,
because I have no neutral thoughts.

Four or five practice periods are recommended, if you find them relatively effortless. If strain is experienced, three will be enough. The length of the exercise period should also be reduced if there is discomfort.

My comments... This lesson (again) causes me confusion. It states, "Everything I see is the result of my thoughts." In Lesson 10 we learned that "My thought about ______ does not mean anything." If what I see is the result of my thoughts, how can it not mean anything - especially if it is either "true or false" (as stated in today's lesson). How can a thought not mean anything, yet be true or false?

Is this dichotomy part of the lesson? Am I trying too hard to understand this or is my ego putting up roadblocks disguised as logical thoughts (that don't mean anything)? It is questions such as this that create thoughts about the legitimacy of this program. When I wonder if I'm being duped with this CIM, the irrational thoughts that are produced cause me to believe the overall message. I don't know that a person could create such a course and not trip-up along the way? This helps me to believe that this actually was dictated by Jesus. However, I sure wish Jesus or Gary Renard's ascended masters would pay me a personal visit and make this a tad more clear.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Thoughts are things?

Lesson# 15

My thoughts are images that I have made.

The following is taken from the lesson...

It is because the thoughts you think you think appear as images that you do not recognize them as nothing. You think you think them, and so you think you see them. This is how your "seeing" was made. This is the function you have given your body's eyes. It is not seeing. It is image making. It takes the place of seeing, replacing vision with illusions.

This introductory idea to the process of image making that you call seeing will not have much meaning for you. You will begin to understand it when you have seen little edges of light around the same familiar objects which you see now. That is the beginning of real vision. You can be certain that real vision will come quickly when this has occurred.

As we go along, you may have many "light episodes." They may take many different forms, some of them quite unexpected. Do not be afraid of them. They are signs that you are opening your eyes at last. They will not persist, because they merely symbolize true perception, and they are not related to knowledge. These exercises will not reveal knowledge to you. But they will prepare the way to it.

In practicing the idea for today, repeat it first to yourself, and then apply it to whatever you see around you, using its name and letting your eyes rest on it as you say:

That ______ is an image that I have made.

It is not necessary to include a large number of specific subjects for the application of today's idea. It is necessary, however, to continue to look at each subject while you repeat the idea to yourself. The idea should be repeated quite slowly each time.

Although you will obviously not be able to apply the idea to very many things during the minute or so of practice that is recommended, try to make the selection as random as possible. Less than a minute will do for the practice periods, if you begin to feel uneasy. Do not have more than three application periods for today's idea unless you feel completely comfortable with it, and do not exceed four. However, the idea can be applied as needed throughout the day.

My comments... This lesson comes easier to me than many of the others. It makes sense, especially as one recalls the previous lessons. "Thoughts are things", we've been taught to believe, but this further expands that meaning into thoughts are things that WE create. I have yet to experience any "light" surrounding those items I focus upon, but I'm hopeful that as this comes together - all things such as this will be revealed to me.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Not God's fault

Lesson# 14

God did not create a meaningless world.

The following is taken from the lesson...

The idea for today is, of course, the reason why a meaningless world is impossible. What God did not create does not exist. And everything that does exist exists as He created it. The world you see has nothing to do with reality. It is of your own making, and it does not exist.

The exercises for today are to be practiced with eyes closed throughout. The mind-searching period should be short, a minute at most. Do not have more than three practice periods with today's idea unless you find them comfortable. If you do, it will be because you really understand what they are for.

The idea for today is another step in learning to let go the thoughts that you have written on the world, and see the Word of God in their place. The early steps in this exchange, which can truly be called salvation, can be quite difficult and even quite painful. Some of them will lead you directly into fear. You will not be left there. You will go far beyond it. Our direction is toward perfect safety and perfect peace.

With eyes closed, think of all the horrors in the world that cross your mind. Name each one as it occurs to you, and then deny its reality. God did not create it, and so it is not real. Say, for example:
  • God did not create that war, and so it is not real.
  • God did not create that airplane crash, and so it is not real.
  • God did not create that disaster [specify], and so it is not real.

Suitable subjects for the application of today's idea also include anything you are afraid might happen to you, or to anyone about whom you are concerned. In each case, name the "disaster" quite specifically. Do not use general terms. For example, do not say, "God did not create illness," but, "God did not create cancer," or heart attacks, or whatever may arouse fear in you.

This is your personal repertory of horrors at which you are looking. These things are part of the world you see. Some of them are shared illusions, and others are part of your personal hell. It does not matter. What God did not create can only be in your own mind apart from His. Therefore, it has no meaning. In recognition of this fact, conclude the practice periods by repeating today's idea:

God did not create a meaningless world.

The idea for today can, of course, be applied to anything that disturbs you during the day, aside from the practice periods. Be very specific in applying it. Say: God did not create a meaningless world.

He did not create [specify the situation which is disturbing you],and so it is not real.

My comments... I know I sound like a broken record with many of my comments. I keep expressing the trouble I am having with these "exercises" and their mystical qualities... There doesn't seem to be a direct path - to get anywhere you must first do these things, exercises, pay this price, etc. Why are we not told... "Just do this..." instead of these preparation exercises? Do I sound frustrated? I am. I search for answers and I keep being told . . . not yet . . . first you must do these things. Visualize, read, pray, keep searching... do these next 300 exercises and THEN you'll know. Yikes!

Sorry for the rant, I think it is a combination of frustration and lack of understanding. This whole "make believe" world where we have wars and bad people - and babies and sweetness, but God has nothing to do with any of it... makes my head swim.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A new book

A few days ago I mentioned a book, Disappearance of the Universe by Gary Renard. This was the book that aroused my interest in ACIM. As it happens I stumbled upon a Press Release about a new novel to be published this fall by a first-time author, Taylor G. Wilshire. The book is entitled "The What If Guy".

According to the release, "this is the perfect escape with spiritual meaning from A Course in Miracles and self help tools. A new novel offers a fresh approach on meeting life's challenges, overcoming them and achieving health and happiness." It sounds like a fun and interesting read and is obviously from a person who has been down this Course in Miracles road already, so I've added information about it on my website.

You can pre-order your copy from Amazon. I'll give you my "professional" review after I receive my copy. Anything that helps with the understanding of the CIM is greatly appreciated.


Lesson #13

A meaningless world engenders fear.

The following is taken from the lesson...

Today's idea is really another form of the preceding one, except that it is more specific as to the emotion aroused. Actually, a meaningless world is impossible. Nothing without meaning exists. However, it does not follow that you will not think you perceive something that has no meaning. On the contrary, you will be particularly likely to think you do perceive it.

Recognition of meaninglessness arouses intense anxiety in all the separated ones. It represents a situation in which God and the ego "challenge" each other as to whose meaning is to be written in the empty space that meaninglessness provides. The ego rushes in frantically to establish its own ideas there, fearful that the void may otherwise be used to demonstrate its own impotence and unreality. And on this alone it is correct.

It is essential, therefore, that you learn to recognize the meaningless, and accept it without fear. If you are fearful, it is certain that you will endow the world with attributes that it does not possess, and crowd it with images that do not exist. To the ego illusions are safety devices, as they must also be to you who equate yourself with the ego.

The exercises for today, which should be done about three or four times for not more than a minute or so at most each time, are to be practiced in a somewhat different way from the preceding ones. With eyes closed, repeat today's idea to yourself. Then open your eyes, and look about you slowly, saying:

I am looking at a meaningless world.

Repeat this statement to yourself as you look about. Then close your eyes, and conclude with:

A meaningless world engenders fear because I think I am in competition with God.

You may find it difficult to avoid resistance, in one form or another, to this concluding statement. Whatever form such resistance may take, remind yourself that you are really afraid of such a thought because of the "vengeance" of the "enemy." You are not expected to believe the statement at this point, and will probably dismiss it as preposterous. Note carefully, however, any signs of overt or covert fear which it may arouse.

This is our first attempt at stating an explicit cause and effect relationship of a kind which you are very inexperienced in recognizing. Do not dwell on the concluding statement, and try not even to think of it except during the practice periods. That will suffice at present.

My comments... How does one learn to recognize the meaningless, and accept it without fear? At the conclusion of these exercises, will I reach a place where this is so? It seems that most of the lessons are "preparing us" for something yet to be within reach or comprehension. I've said this before, but I can only proceed on faith... and hope.

Why does all this spiritual stuff have to be so mystical? Regardless of the religion or teaching, we're always instructed along a particular way or path - belief without proof. As a parent, I know the futility of saying to my kids... "because I said so" or "you'll understand some day". Are we not little children when it comes to such teachings and exercises? Yet we are supposed to believe that someday we'll understand.

Disappearance of the Universe
How come a person like Gary Renard, author of Disappearance of the Universe, gets to meet an ascended master and receives personal coaching? The rest of us are forced to read books and practice these exercises, but Gary gets a first-class ticket? Isn't that just more of the "someday we'll understand" standard answer? I have trouble with this, but I am not surrendering or losing "faith"... just wondering out loud and trying to make sense of this. If you have anything to say that can help me with this....