Sunday, December 21, 2008

'Tis the Season to Remember that You Never Walk Alone

For a good part of my life, I felt completely alone. I mean I had family and friends and acquaintances and coaches and teammates and students, but I felt alone in that if I couldn’t get it done, it wouldn’t get done. If I were not up to the task, I had no sense that I had anything else in myself to rely upon. It was always a case of my personal toughness, and I suppose, I took a certain amount of pride in being able to get it done, although I did become very weary.

This misplaced pride in standing alone is expressed in this poem that has, unfortunately, served as a rallying cry for getting it done, personally, individually.


OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbow'd.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
William Ernest Henley (1849-1903)

. . .master of my fate. Sure. Finally, when I was about fifty-six years old, I experienced for the first time that I am not alone. A few years earlie, I had come across A Course in Miracles, but it did not really penetrate until one day I was in devastation, and I went to my room, and just stood there in the middle of the room, refusing to do anything to sedate, to relieve me from the pain. After a while, a thought came into my mind, “Pick up the Course and open it at random.”

I stepped across to my desk, picked up the Course, and “happened” to open it to Chapter 18, Section VII, I need do nothing. I sat down and read it, sobbing. These passages, in particular, showed me that I was not alone.

To do nothing is to rest, and make a place within you where the activity of the body ceases to demand attention. Into this place the Holy Spirit comes, and there abides. He will remain when you forget, and the body's activities return to occupy your conscious mind.

Yet there will always be this place of rest to which you can return. And you will be more aware of this quiet center of the storm than all its raging activity. This quiet center, in which you do nothing, will remain with you, giving you rest in the midst of every busy doing on which you are sent. For from this center will you be directed how to use the body sinlessly. It is this center, from which the body is absent, that will keep it so in your awareness of it.
T-18.VII.7:7-9, 8

Those were tears of recognition and of gratitude. I felt the Presence within that always has been and always will be there.

And now, at Christmas time, I simply want to look again at inspiring passages that I have recently, miraculously, come across, expressing this Presence that is in all of us, uniting us all in Oneness.

From the Course.

The sign of Christmas is a star, a light in darkness. See it not outside yourself, but shining in the Heaven within, and accept it as the sign the time of Christ has come. He comes demanding nothing. No sacrifice of any kind, of anyone, is asked by Him. In His Presence the whole idea of sacrifice loses all meaning. For He is Host to God. And you need but invite Him in Who is there already, by recognizing that His Host is One, and no thought alien to His Oneness can abide with Him there. Love must be total to give Him welcome, for the Presence of Holiness creates the holiness that surrounds it. No fear can touch the Host Who cradles God in the time of Christ, for the Host is as holy as the perfect Innocence which He protects, and Whose power protects Him.T-15.XI.2

And here is Jesus speaking in John.

I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
John 14:18-20

Jesus reassures us in Lesson 70.

Try to pass the clouds by whatever means appeals to you. If it helps you, think of me holding your hand and leading you. And I assure you this will be no idle fantasy. W-p1.70.9:2-4

Awareness of His Presence enables us to be in the world, but not of the world. This is how Michael Brown expresses it in The Presence Process.

Awareness of the Presence is a state of Being in which we effortlessly integrate the authentic and Divine Presence that we are with each God-given moment that we are in so that we are able to respond consciously to every experience we are having. By accomplishing this, our response is always the same: gratitude—a flow of gratitude that washes us of all our illusions. Entering such a state may sound hard and complicated when we are living in time. It is, however, effortless and completely natural because this awareness is our birthright. It is the kingdom of awareness through whose gates the prodigal children return. The hard part has been attempting to find what we did not know we had lost. The best part is realizing that we have been looking for something that has already found us. (Michael Brown, The Presence Process (Namaste Publishing, Vancouver, Canada, 2005), p. 13.

In His Urtext, Jesus demonstrates to Helen how He activates those around her to communicate to her what she needs to learn for herself. In the following example, she would have been late to work because of her focus on Jesus’s dictation of the Course.

The reason you have been late recently for work is because you were taking dictation merely because you didn't remember to ask me when to stop. I prompted that call from Jack (the taxi man who couldn’t pick Helen up) to show you that this is not necessary. Also, the other man needed the money more today. Scribes must learn Christ-control to replace their former habits, which did produce scarcity rather than abundance. Urtext, The Original Unexpurgated Manuscript as it Emanated from the Mind and Heart of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, p. 14

In another situation, Jesus says to Helen:

I inspired Bob, the elevator man, to make that remark to you. Urtext, p. 35.

When I first read, I inspired Bob, the elevator man, it exploded off the page and stayed with me for a long time. It is so clear how Jesus activates those around us to assist in our awakening to the recognition that we are truly One.

And from the Epilogue.

You do not walk alone.
God’s angels hover near and all about.

His Love surrounds you, and of this be sure;

that I will never leave you comfortless.


When I look back at this essay, I can see how Jesus inspired me. While I was sitting on the couch, next to the wood-burning stove, looking out the window on a cold, snowy day, with my notebook in hand, thinking about the ideas that had been running through my mind for the past couple of days, into my mind came most of the passages that I quoted, above. In particular, my chest warmed with gratitude when it came into my mind to look at the Epilogue. You do not walk alone is the theme of this essay, and the last line echoes comfortless in John.

Finally, this song comes to me from over the years, You’ll Never Walk Alone.

When you walk through the storm

Hold your head up high

And don't be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
There's a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of the lark.

Walk on, through the wind

Walk on, through the rain

Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk alone.

Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone

You'll never walk alone.

And now, Dear Reader, here is the last line of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One.

And God Bless you, Master Teacher.

To listen to a recording of You'll Never Walk alone, click here.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

We Truly Are Surrounded by Angels

We had about three inches of snow fall overnight here in Wisconsin Dells. Walking to Session at Endeavor Academy this morning, I fell, slipping on the ice beneath the snow, and landed perfectly on my back. Walking home, I fell again, but this time I landed on my right side, my arm jammed against my ribs. I laid there for a moment, unable to move, and I was surprised by a young woman’s voice because I hadn’t seen anyone around. She looked deeply into my eyes, being completely present, and asked if I were OK. I got up slowly and said that I might have broken my ribs. She asked if I wanted a ride, but I said I’d better walk it off.

Then she said do you want to pray and I said yes, and she held out her hands and I clasped them, and she prayed this long, spontaneous prayer, beginning “Dear God”, asking that I be healed and that my family be well and so forth. I actually felt much better, felt healed, and I thanked this angel profusely, knowing that we truly are surrounded by angels.

God's Name can not be heard without response,
nor said without an echo in the mind
that calls you to remember. Say His Name,
and you invite the angels to surround
the ground on which you stand, and sing to you
as they spread out their wings to keep you safe,
and shelter you from every worldly thought
that would intrude upon your holiness.

I turned and walked away with a grateful heart, never looking back. I don’t know where she came from, or where she went, or where her car was.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

It is Always, Simply and Profoundly, a Matter of Awareness

Yesterday morning I woke up around 8 o’clock and faced the rather pleasant prospect of allowing the morning to unfold as it would because I had no particular agenda. I sat down with a cup of coffee and read the day’s Lesson. Everything was moving slowly, as I just sat quietly, looking out the window watching the pine branches swaying in the wind, listening to the wind chimes, seeing the first feathery flakes of snow falling, tentatively.

Then a Thought came to mind, “”Read something, randomly, from the Manual for Teachers.” I opened to, What is the Peace of God? I read it very slowly, lingering over each paragraph, sitting quietly between each one.

Then I came across this astonishing passage.

Forgive the world, and you will understand that everything that God created cannot have an end, and nothing He did not create is real. In this one sentence is our course explained. In this one sentence is our practicing given its one direction. And in this one sentence is the Holy Spirit’s whole curriculum specified exactly as it is. (M-20.5:7-10)

When I looked back at the words forgive, world, create, and the Holy Spirit, I was inspired to read the first paragraph of each of these four instructions on a theme of special relevance, as stated in the Introduction to Part II of the Workbook:

1. What is Forgiveness? 3. What is the World? 11. What is Creation? 7. What is the Holy Spirit?

1. What is Forgiveness?

Forgiveness recognizes what you thought
your brother did to you has not occurred.
It does not pardon sins and make them real.
It sees there was no sin. And in that view
are all your sins forgiven. What is sin,
except a false idea about God's Son?
Forgiveness merely sees its falsity,
and therefore lets it go. What then is free
to take its place is now the Will of God.

3. What is the World?

The world is false perception. It is born
of error, and it has not left its source.
It will remain no longer than the thought
that gave it birth is cherished. When the thought
of separation has been changed to one
of true forgiveness, will the world be seen
in quite another light; and one which leads
to truth, where all the world must disappear
and all its errors vanish. Now its source
has gone, and its effects are gone as well.

11. What is Creation?

Creation is the sum of all God's Thoughts,
in number infinite, and everywhere
without all limit. Only love creates,
and only like itself. There was no time
when all that it created was not there.
Nor will there be a time when anything
that it created suffers any loss.
Forever and forever are God's Thoughts
exactly as they were and as they are,
unchanged through time and after time is done.

7. What is the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit mediates between
illusions and the truth. Since He must bridge
the gap between reality and dreams,
perception leads to knowledge through the grace
that God has given Him, to be His gift to
everyone who turns to Him for truth.
Across the bridge that He provides are dreams
all carried to the truth, to be dispelled
before the light of knowledge. There are sights
and sounds forever laid aside. And where
they were perceived before, forgiveness has
made possible perception's tranquil end.

In the beginning of this essay, I said that a Thought came to me, and I capitalized Thought because the Thought was from God. It all comes down to awareness. In each moment, where is my awareness? Am I aware only of God’s Voice, the Holy Spirit speaking to me all through the day, or am I aware only of the incessant chatter of my separated mind?

It is always, either/or, on or off, wholeness or separation, Heaven or the world, Everything or nothing, Thoughts or thoughts, Love or fear, Real or unreal.

It always comes down to my awareness. When I am aware only of the peace of God, so be it, I am grateful for the grace of God, experiencing what is Real. When I am aware of fear, I ask the Holy Spirit for help to forgive my fear thoughts, so that I can be aware, again, of the peace of God, letting go of the unreal.

Forgive the world, and you will understand that everything that God created cannot have an end, and nothing He did not create is real.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Catching a Glimpse of the Truth Increases My Awareness of the Presence of God.

Just after I turned forty, I was taken by complete surprise when I was told by my Dean that I was terminated from my job. I was coaching and teaching at a small college, and he had invited me to lunch at a rather nice restaurant. Just after our food was served, he informed me of my termination with very little explanation. I felt ambushed, and having lost my appetite, I stood up and left. To that point in my life, I had never felt such devastation and shame and fear. I rationalized that we had just brought in a new college president, and I had been caught in faculty politics.

On a practical level, I still had mortgage payments and bills and a family to take care of. On an emotional level, I was facing shame and unworthiness and a complete lack of identity. I remember walking home from the restaurant with tears in my eyes saying to myself, “If I’m not a coach and a teacher, who am I?” Further, I had nothing to fall back on as far as faith, or spirituality, never having gone to church or taken a spiritual path. My life was becoming increasingly difficult, and I was in the early stages of undergoing psychotherapy.

To fill my days, I would walk the three miles from my home to downtown Kalamazoo, Michigan, go to the library, look for jobs, and read all morning, go to lunch at a nearby restaurant, and then return to the library for the afternoon, and walk home in the evening—all the time wounded and depressed and lonely.

One day I was walking into town, and the words “sea change” came into my mind. Through therapy, I had begun to pay attention to such “free associations,” and as soon as I arrived at the library, I looked it up. It comes from a song by Ariel in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, a play I had studied in college as an English major.

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;

Those are pearls that were his eyes:

Nothing of him that doth fade

But doth suffer a sea change

Into something rich and strange.

(Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1, ii,399-404)

This was my first break since the termination. I felt buoyed up, I felt there was hope, I felt that, perhaps, even I, a shameful bottom-feeder, could be transformed into something rich and strange, just as eyes turned to pearls and bones turned to coral. I love that “sea change” means “a profound transformation.”

At about the same time, I read an article where the columnist explained the meaning of the Chinese ideograms that make up the meaning of the word, “Crisis.” (An ideogram is a symbol used in some writing systems, e.g., those of Japan and China, that directly but abstractly represents a thing or concept itself rather than the word for it.) It seems that in Chinese two ideograms are used to express it, one means danger and the other opportunity. I saw that the danger in my crisis would be to continue looking at the world as I always had, that it was a given, and I was a victim, and that the only thing I could do was to adjust to it, always trying to find more peace and less conflict, that I would always be facing such dualities, there being no alternative.

Or I could see this as an opportunity to look at things differently. I could begin to trust ideas that came to mind, ideas that were glimpses of Truth beyond the world I saw. I could begin to trust that I was not alone. I could trust that there is an alternative to this way of looking at the world, that, perhaps, this is all a dream, as Prospero says in The Tempest.

We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep.

(The Tempest, IV, I,156-158)

Looking back, I realize that the termination truly turned into an opportunity. I began seriously searching for truth beyond my sensory experiences. I focused on my therapy, I read books, voraciously, like Lao Tzu's The Way, The Bhagavad Gita, and Krishnamurti, and Jung, and books on Zen. I joined “New Age” groups, I meditated, and finally, five years after the crisis, I came across A Course in Miracles, in fact, my wife, Christine, gave me the Course on Christmas Day, 1986, and seventeen years after the termination, I crossed the threshold of Endeavor Academy in the Wisconsin Dells.

In retrospect, I am grateful for that “fateful” lunch and realize that my Dean was, indeed, my savior. I was saved from my investment in the dream, the illusion, the mirage, the mass hypnotism projected from my limited, egoic self, and I began to catch more and more glimpses of the true alternative that I am the holy Son of God, Himself.

This all came back to me yesterday while reading a chapter in a book by Joel Goldsmith (1892-1964) entitled, The Art of Spiritual Healing. He reminds me that I do not really hear the truth until I feel hopeless, until I am on my knees.

Spiritual healing often has far greater success with incurable diseases than with the curable ones because when a doctor says, “I’ve done all I can do,” the patient gives up hope of a cure from material medica and, in his hopelessness, he is receptive and responsive to the spiritual impulse. (Joel Goldsmith, The Art of of Spiritual Healing, Chapter V, "What Did Hinder You!", p. 57)

And “sea change” was, indeed, a spiritual impulse. That was the beginning of my awakening, a process continuing to this day, the initial realization that I am dreaming.

Just for a moment imagine that you are experiencing an unpleasant night dream: You are in the ocean, swimming; you have gone out too far; you look back toward the shore and see that there is very little hope of rescue. Even though you shout your lungs, no one can hear you. And so you are seized with fear. You struggle and strive to reach the shore, and, of course, the harder you fight the harder the ocean fights you. There is only one thing left for you to do—drown. Yes, drown—but wait! In your fight, you shouted and someone heard you, came over and shook you, woke you up, and behold the miracle! The drowning self disappeared; the ocean disappeared; the struggle disappeared. You awakened and found that you had never left your comfortable home. All that was necessary in order to be released from the struggle was to awaken. This is the nature of spiritual healing. Whether you are struggling with some form of sin, false appetite, disease, poverty, unemployment, or unhappiness, stop struggling and wake up. Wake up to your true identity. You are not a swimmer in a deep ocean; you are not a sufferer in sin and disease; you are not a coach, teacher; you are the Christ-consciousness, a child of God, and the very error you are fighting, you are perpetuating by that fighting. (Goldsmith, p. 58)

. . . unemployment.

Whatever the form it takes, I need constant reminders that “This is not so, I am dreaming, Help!”

I have come to learn through A Course in Miracles that reminders of the Truth of what I am, God’s holy Son, are always available, and that these spiritual impulses will come into my awareness when I stand still for a moment and ask for help. I have learned to trust that they will come into my mind just as “sea change” came to mind, gifts, infused with the power of God. These reminders come to me in a variety of forms: Reason, Forgiveness, Trust,
Gratitude, Peace, Receptivity, and God’s Will.


Reason helps me sort out the true from the false in respect to the premises, or foundations, of my thinking process. The clearest way to look at this process is to consider a syllogism, for example:

All men are mortal.
Socrates is a man.
Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

A syllogism demonstrates that if the first two premises are valid, then the conclusion is valid. Of course, the irony here is that philosophers through the generations have used this syllogism as a good example of establishing validity, when, in fact, it is completely invalid because all men are immortal. It is also ironic that they would use Socrates because he said these words about his immortality at his trial:

If death is a removal from here to some other place, and if what we are told is true, that all the dead are there, what greater blessing could there be than this, gentlemen? . . .How much would one of you give to meet Orpheus and Musaeus, Hesiod and Homer? I am willing to die ten times over if this account is true. . .They are now immortal for the rest of time, if what we are told is true. (The Collected Dialogues of Plato, Pantheon Books, New York, 1961, “The Apology,” p. 25)

Jesus begins the Lessons of His Course by establishing a valid premise in the title to Lesson 1:

Nothing I see means anything.

We learn through His systematic mind-training how to complete the syllogism:

I see a tree.
Therefore, the tree means nothing.

Jesus teaches us from the beginning that what is visible is unreal, meaning nothing, and He leads us to experience that what is invisible is real, meaning everything.

Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.

Herein, lies the peace of God.

Jesus begins where He does because He knows that for our entire lives we have taken for granted that seeing means something, basing our lives on this syllogism:

Everything I see means something.
I see a tree.
That tree means something.

And, of course, what the tree means depends on my past—memories and judgments and associations, and what it means to you depends on your particular memories and judgments and associations. And we think we can communicate with each other on this level?

Thank God for A Course in Miracles. It is a systematic mind-training that reverses our habitual, conditioned way of seeing falsely, so that we can learn to see truly. That complete reversal is what a “sea change” means, a sudden reversal of the tide.

Fidelity to premises is a law of the mind and everything God created is faithful to His laws. But fidelity to other laws is also possible not because they are true, but because you made them. (The Urtext, p. 128)


Forgiveness is a shift in awareness from the dream, the unreal, the past, to the awareness of the truth, the real, the present, the peace of God.

Unless the past is over in my mind,
the real world must escape my sight. For I
am really looking nowhere; seeing but
what is not there. How can I then perceive
the world forgiveness offers? This the past
was made to hide, for this the world that can
be looked on only now. It has no past.
For what can be forgiven but the past,
and if it is forgiven it is gone.

Can you imagine how beautiful those you forgive will look to you? In no fantasy have you ever seen anything so lovely. Nothing you see here, sleeping or waking, comes near to such loveliness. And nothing will you value like unto this, nor hold so dear. Nothing that you remember that made your heart sing with joy has ever brought you even a little part of the happiness this sight will bring you. For you will see the Son of God. You will behold the beauty the Holy Spirit loves to look upon, and which he thanks the Father for. He was created to see this for you, until you learned to see it for yourself. And all his teaching leads to seeing it and giving thanks with him.

This loveliness is not a fantasy. It is the real world, bright and clean and new, with everything sparkling under the open sun. Nothing is hidden here, for everything has been forgiven and there are no fantasies to hide the truth. The bridge between that world and this is so little and so easy to cross, that you could not believe it is the meeting place of worlds so different. Yet this little bridge is the strongest thing that touches on this world at all. This little step, so small it has escaped your notice, is a stride through time into eternity, beyond all ugliness into beauty that will enchant you, and will never cease to cause you wonderment at its perfection.



I know I am experiencing gratitude when my chest becomes infused with warmth, and I tear up, and my mind is still, my heart filling with love.

Walk, then, in gratitude the way of love.
For hatred is forgotten when we lay
comparisons aside. What more remains
as obstacles to peace? The fear of God
is now undone at last, and we forgive
without comparing. Thus we cannot choose
to overlook some things, and yet retain
some other things still locked away as "sins."
When your forgiveness is complete you will
have total gratitude, for you will see
that everything has earned the right to love
by being loving, even as your Self.

Our gratitude will pave the way to Him,
and shorten our learning time by more
than you could ever dream of. Gratitude
goes hand in hand with love, and where one is
the other must be found. For gratitude
is but an aspect of the Love which is
the Source of all creation. God gives thanks
to you, His Son, for being what you are;
His Own completion and the Source of love,
along with Him. Your gratitude to Him
is one with His to you. For love can walk
no road except the way of gratitude,
and thus we go who walk the way to God.


And now I trust that no matter how I feel while my awareness is on seeing through the body’s eyes, using false premises, experiencing pain and despair, I know that I can shift to another awareness, knowing that “This is not so.” There is only the peace of God, that nothing I see means anything, even though there may be a gap between the recognition and the peace.

For an expression of trust, I am turning to a little book, God Calling. In 1932, a woman came across a book entitled For Sinners by A. J. Russell. Reading the book, she was led to believe that if she were to sit down with a good friend, a “spiritual” woman with “pencil and paper in hand, “ they would receive messages from Jesus. And, indeed, they did. In this little book are messages for each day of the year. Here is the message of October 6, entitled "A Child’s Hand."

Yes, cling. Your trust shall be rewarded. Do you not know what it means to feel a little trusting hand in yours, to know a child's confidence? Does that not draw out our Love and desire to protect, to care? Think what My Heart feels, when in your helplessness you turn to Me, clinging, desiring My Love and Protection. Would you fail that child, faulty and weak as you are? Could I fail you? Just know it is not possible. Know all is well. You must not doubt. You must be sure. There is no eleventh-hour rescue I cannot accomplish. (A. J. Russell (Ed.), God Calling (Barbour, Ohio, 1989, October 6)

And this is Jesus speaking:

If it helps you, think of me holding your hand and leading you. And I assure you this will be no idle fantasy.


One morning I was sitting on the couch looking out the window, absent-mindedly running through the events of the coming day, and all of a sudden I was overcome by utter peacefulness; I was lifted out. Then, this came into my mind, “This is my only function, this is my only purpose.” I realized that while I walk in the world, but not of it, my only function is to come into this state of mind, the awareness of the peace of God. This is my only purpose, and this is simple. I came into full understanding of Brother Laurence’s phrase, “It’s not what you do, it’s the state of mind in which you do it.”

The peace of God is shining in you now,
and from your heart extends around the world.
It pauses to caress each living thing,
and leaves a blessing with it that remains
forever and forever. What it gives
must be eternal. It removes all thoughts
of the ephemeral and valueless.
It brings renewal to all tired hearts,
and lights all vision as it passes by.
All of its gifts are given everyone,
and everyone unites in giving thanks
to you who give, and you who have received.


While you stand to one side as a witness or a beholder, eventually a state of peace will come. Then you will catch a glimpse of God as Is—not a power over anything, just God is. You begin to understand that no power does anything to anyone, and you become a beholder as reality begins to appear. All problems fade out in proportion as you develop this ability to be quiet, to behold, and to witness divine harmony unfold. (Goldsmith, p. 68)

Please read the following passage aloud and hear Jesus saying to you, The hush of heaven holds my heart today, (Lesson 286), as you would soothe a crying baby, “Hush, shhhhh.” Listen to Jesus’s soothing “s” sounds.

In Him you have no cares and no concerns,
no burdens, no anxiety, no pain,
no fear of future and no past regrets.
In timelessness you rest, while time goes by
without its touch upon you, for your rest
can never change in any way at all.
You rest today. And as you close your eyes,
sink into stillness. Let these periods
of rest and respite reassure your mind
that all its frantic fantasies were but
the dreams of fever that has passed away.
Let it be still and thankfully accept
its healing. No more fearful dreams will come,
now that you rest in God. Take time today
to slip away from dreams and into peace.


When I am experiencing the peace of God, I am receptive to God’s Voice, the Holy Spirit. Often, during the day, I experience an idea coming to me, unbidden. It’s the having of wonderful ideas.

. . . “sea change.”

Let every voice but God's be still in me.

Father, today I would but hear Your Voice.
In deepest silence I would come to You,
to hear Your Voice and to receive Your Word.
I have no prayer but this: I come to You
to ask You for the truth. And truth is but
Your Will, which I would share with You today.

Today we let no ego thoughts direct
our words or actions. When such thoughts occur,
we quietly step back and look at them,
and then we let them go. We do not want
what they would bring with them. And so we do
not choose to keep them. They are silent now.
And in the stillness, hallowed by His Love,
God speaks to us and tells us of our will,
as we have chosen to remember Him.


And so, in conversation with a friend, perhaps one who has come to me for help, I simply listen, step back, and often find myself saying, “This just came to mind,” and I trust that whatever it is, it will be helpful for both of us.

Your healing Voice protects all things today,
and so I leave all things to You. I need
be anxious over nothing. For Your Voice
will tell me what to do and where to go;
to whom to speak and what to say to him,
what thoughts to think,
what words to give the world.
The safety that I bring is given me.
Father, Your Voice protects all things through me.



Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.

When I get out of the way, God’s will and mine are one; not mine but Thine.

Your will be done, you holy child of God.
It does not matter if you think you are
in earth or Heaven. What your Father wills
of you can never change. The truth in you
remains as radiant as a star, as pure
as light, as innocent as love itself.
And you are worthy that your will be done!


God does not know of learning. Yet His Will
extends to what He does not understand,
in that He wills the happiness His Son
inherited of Him be undisturbed;
eternal and forever gaining scope,
eternally expanding in the joy
of full creation, and eternally
open and wholly limitless in Him.
That is His Will. And thus His Will provides
the means to guarantee that it is done.


Wherever I am, the Father within me is; therefore, wherever I am, the Father within me is about His business. (Goldsmith, p. 41)

These reminders, literally, "bring to mind again" the remembrance that I am God's most holy Son in whom He is well pleased.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"The mind is an instrument of awareness." Joel Goldsmith

One day back in the early 70’s when my son, Stephen, was a very young boy, we were driving around the town where we lived in central Illinois, and he was standing in the middle, just in back of the front seats in his customary position, taking everything in. Then he asked, looking at a factory, a dark building with few windows, dark and gray, stretching for a block, “Daddy, is that a school?” Having been a junior high English teacher, I laughed at the aptness of his comparison. After all, factories are organized to turn out finished products completely alike in appearances, and schools seem intent trying to stamp out finished students who look alike in spite of the fact that each student is as remarkable individual.

Not to worry, though, because we have both come to learn through
A Course in Miracles that, in fact, there are no factories, there are no schools; there is no world. Through the Course we have learned, systematically, to train our minds to distinguish the difference between what is real and what is unreal, as Jesus sums up in His Introduction.

Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.

Herein lies the peace of God.

It is quite possible, in fact, it is necessary to let go of the belief that what you see, hear, taste, touch, and smell is real, and that what you do not see, hear, taste, touch, and smell is real. This is the great undoing, enabling homo sapiens to evolve in to homo illumina, the wise ones into those filled with light, experiencing oneness with God. Coming into this experience of oneness is completely natural because it is our inheritance; we are as God created us.

Thomas Merton once expressed it this way.

My dear brothers and sisters, we are already one. But we imagine we are not. So what we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are.

To demonstrate that this is our birthright, individuals across the centuries have come into this experience of being what we are in truth in a variety of ways. One great example is Joel Goldsmith (1894-1964). What I love about Goldsmith is his ability to express the Truth I have learned through the Course with a different set of metaphors. The other day, Stephen brought to my attention a wonderful chapter in Goldsmith’s book, The Art of Spiritual Healing, entitled The Language of Spiritual Healing. I was so inspired by this chapter because of the way he found his own language to express his experience.

The Infinite Way is a spiritual teaching consisting of principles which anyone may follow and practice, irrespective of his religious affiliation. The Infinite Way reveals the nature of God to be one infinite power, intelligence, and love; the nature of individual being to be one with His qualities and character, expressed in in¬finite forms and variety; and the nature of the discords of this world to be a misconception of God's expression of Himself in His universe. These are universal principles based on the message of the Master, Christ Jesus, who taught that man can realize his oneness with God through conscious com¬munion with God, thereby bringing about peace on earth, harmony, and wholeness.
Joel Goldsmith, The Art of Spiritual Healing (San Francisco, Harper, 1959), p. 40.

He goes on to express how to reverse our deeply-ingrained belief that our senses are showing us what is real by teaching us to look through what we apparently see to what is real.

You train yourself to see people, not as they look, but to see through their eyes, back of their eyes, realizing that there sits the Christ of God. As you do that, you learn to ignore appearances, and instead of trying to heal or reform someone, or improve him, you are really bearing witness to his Christ-identity.
(Goldsmith, p. 42)

It matters not what the outer senses may testify. Something within has to sing a song, and the song it must sing is, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. . . I in the midst of you am mighty.”
(Goldsmith, p. 43)

He goes on to make his meaning absolutely clear.

In the work of The Infinite Way, the words "real" or reality" pertain only to that which is spiritual, eternal, im¬mortal, and infinite. Only that which is of God is understood to be real or is recognized as reality. With this definition of reality in mind, it should be easy to grasp the statement that we cannot see, hear, taste, touch, or smell reality.
(Goldsmith, p.50)

It all comes down to our awareness, to our conscious awareness. Goldsmith expresses it perfectly in one sentence:

The mind is an instrument of awareness.
(Goldsmith, p. 43)

Our mind, our consciousness, can, in truth, be aware of only one state, the peace of God, our real Self. However, our consciousness can appear to be aware of another state, an unreal state, the state of fear and conflict brought to us by our senses. Goldsmith demonstrates with every sentence how to use this instrument truly, being aware of what is real, spiritual, eternal, immortal, and infinite, in the middle of a world made up by our senses.

It requires the faculty of the Soul to behold reality. Reality pertains only to that which is discerned through an inner awareness. Jesus referred to this as, “Having eyes, see ye not? And having ears, hear ye not?” In other words, there is that which must be seen and heard with the Soul faculties.
(Goldsmith, p. 50)

As a healing practitioner, he makes a very useful distinction between existence and non-existence.

When we speak of sin and disease as unreal, we do not mean that they are nonexistent. We are not just fooling ourselves and using our imagination in saying that they are unreal or untrue, but if a person has ingrained in him from infancy that the material is the real and the material body the whole, then to him the disease is existent. When sin, disease, and death are called unreal, it is not a denial of the so-called existence of these things: It is a denial of their existence as a part of God or reality.
(Goldsmith, p. 51)

The beginning of wisdom is the realization that these conditions need not exist. Freedom from them comes not from seeking relief from God, but through seeking God and rising to that dimension of life in which only God is. There is not freedom from discord; there is not freedom from sin, false appetites, or desires; there is not freedom from poverty: There is only freedom—freedom in God, freedom in Spirit.
(Goldsmith, p. 51)

Towards the end of this essay, he makes it all crystal clear by using the metaphor of a mirage.

Let me illustrate this. If you were traveling on the desert and saw, as is often the case, that the road ahead of you was covered with water, and if that were your first experience in the desert, you would automatically stop your car because obviously you could not drive through a sea of water. Your first thought would probably be, "What shall I do? How will I get through that water? How can the water be removed from the road?"

You look around and do not see any help. Then you look back again at the road, and if you look long enough, intently enough, you awaken to the fact that there is no water there. What you have been seeing is a mirage, an illusion. You smile, start your car, and go forward. As long as you were seeing water on the road, you would sit there helplessly waiting for that water to be removed, but the moment that you understood it to be a mirage, an illusion, the water disappeared, and you were free to go forward.
(Goldsmith, p. 53)

The mirage of the water does exist because, for a moment, it is your awareness. But that awareness of its existence does not make it real. My awareness of the reports of my senses does not make the reports real. My awareness of the existence of sin and disease does not make them real. Only by shifting my awareness to the peace of God do I experience what is real.

When I make this shift to the awareness of my Real Self as God created me, then sin and disease cease to exist. It is always on or off, 0 or 1, all or nothing, love or fear. That which exists or does not exist is dependent on my awareness. And I can always ask for help to shift my awareness from seeing water to experiencing the peace of God. This is healing. This is forgiveness.

Healing takes place, not through the intervention of some God, but through arriving at a state of consciousness in which sin, disease, and death have no reality, a consciousness which no longer battles these forms of discord and no longer tries to get rid of them. Our attitude toward them is the same as our attitude toward the water on the desert after we have discovered that it is not water, but an illusion, or mirage.
(Goldsmith, p. 54)

. . . you awaken to the fact that there is no water there. You smile, start your car, and go forward.

When my awareness shifts to the peace of God, my heart fills with gratitude, I smile and go forward.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Seeing a Game Within a Game is an Act of Charity

Last Sunday evening, my wife, Christine, and I went to see the movie, The Women. It was aptly named because not one male character ever appeared with any of the women. The movie depicts the ebb and flow of friendship among four women—Sylvie, a magazine editor, Alex, a lesbian, Edie, pregnant for the fifth time, and Mary, a devoted wife, doing volunteer work, organizing charitable events, working for her father, and being a mother. Within the context of this circle of friends, the film focuses on Mary dealing with the dissolution of her marriage and her triumphant struggle to become her own person.

Mary (Meg Ryan) learns of her husband’s infidelity, becomes estranged from her daughter, initiates divorce proceedings, hits bottom, begins her recovery, and starts her personal business designing clothes. All this time she is developing her potential, finding the self that she let go of in her attempt to step back and be the perfect wife.

Finally, she mounts an incredibly successful fashion show, reconciles with her daughter, and at the end, her husband pleads for a second chance.

During the movie, I found myself saying, “I’m watching a game within a game.” I picked up that phrase from my son, Stephen. Just that afternoon we had watched a football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions. He is a loyal, but long-suffering, fan of the Lions, having grown up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and I am a fan of the Packers, having switched loyalties after living in Wisconsin for years.

I was cheering for the Packers, and I was surprised to hear him cheering for the two wide receivers for the Packers, Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, particularly when they made spectacular plays that doomed his hapless Lions. When I asked him about it, he said, “I’m watching a game within a game.” He went on to explain that he and eleven of his buddies were playing “Fantasy Football” on their computers. At the beginning of the season, each of them selected a team of twelve players from all the teams in the National Football League and charted their performances in games throughout the season. That afternoon, he was pitted against his buddies, each one surveying the NFL landscape to see how their fantasy teams were faring.

Now I understood the concept of a game within a game. Each time Jennings or Driver caught a pass or scored a touchdown, Stephen earned a certain number of points based on the yardage and the scoring. For example, in this game, his two wide receivers earned a total of 27.9 points, helping his fantasy team win this weekend’s competition. Although the Lions lost the game that afternoon, he won the head-to-head matchup. This goes on for the entire season, and at the end the winner collects $1000.00.

Whew. That’s why I found myself watching the movie and seeing a game within a game. That is, my mind is sufficiently trained to see that there is always only one Game going on. Regardless of what seems to be going on in the fantasy, the dream, I am always driving towards the goal of recognizing that I am the holy Son of God. I am my true Self as created by God; I am not the self I made with false perception. My salvation is the recognition that this is already accomplished; this is the real Game. I am not saved by improving my false self—the game within the Game.

So, while I cheered for Mary’s effort to come into her own as a woman, building her self-esteem, and giving her points for her pluck and determination, I was well aware of the real Game going on, the real Game that is always going on. While she appeared to be racking up points in the aptly named “Fantasy,” she is always, already safe at Home, and the only real outcome is to come into this recognition. Her pluck and determination simply need to be redirected.

Perhaps, there will be a sequel entitled, This Woman’s Game. In this movie, Mary realizes that her hard-won sense of a strong, independent self begins to fall apart again, as it inevitably will because nothing in the dream, nothing in the fantasy, sustains you. This time when she hits bottom, instead of trying to shore up her false self, she will, miraculously, hear the still, small Voice in her mind whisper to her that she is not a victim of this world; that, in fact, she invented the world she sees; there is another way of looking at the world; she could see peace instead of this. Now that she is playing the real Game, she can come into the recognition of her true Self, God’s holy child, realizing that there is nothing to fear. She is now and forever sustained by the love of God.

Finally, whether I am observing a game within a Game while watching a football game, or sitting in movie theatre, or interacting with those around me, I am, actually, performing an act of charity, seeing the Christ in others because charity is a way of perceiving the perfection of another. (T-2.V.9:4) This is seeing with vision. And with this vision, I look upon the world and on myself with charity and love. (W-p1.56.2:6)

“Game On!”

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Glistening of the Light

The sunlight of my Presence is on your paths! (God Calling, 8/26)

I am walking home after my cooking shift at the Cheese Factory Restaurant on a Sunday afternoon in early fall. Just across the bridge over the Dell Creek, I cut through the blacktop parking lot of a real estate office.

The surface of the asphalt is still wet from the morning rain, and the sun is at just such an angle that the surface is glistening. As I step into the glistening, it disappears and the next step sparkles as I step into it, and I proceed to walk into sparkly light, my thoughts disappearing and my mind becoming light.

Around you angels hover lovingly,
to keep away all darkened thoughts of sin,
and keep the light where it has entered in.
Your footprints lighten up the world, for where
you walk forgiveness gladly goes with you.

Our shining footprints point the way to truth,
for God is our Companion as we walk
the world a little while. And those who come
to follow us will recognize the way
because the light we carry stays behind,
yet still remains with us as we walk on.

When I am in light, there is no thought.

When I am in thought, there is still light because there is only light; it is just that a thought blocks my awareness of light’s presence.

With each step I became increasingly aware of the light that we are.

His step is light, and as he lifts his foot
to stride ahead a star is left behind,

to point the way to those who follow him.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

My Declaration of Release

I am the holy Son of God Himself; (191)
this situation does not define me.

The word situation derives from the Latin, situare, meaning “place.” A situation is a set of circumstances appearing to exist in space and time. Define comes from the Latin, definire, meaning “limit and determine.” The definition of my Self as God's holy Son will not be limited by my projected images in space and time. This is my declaration of release from worldly situations.

By refusing to be limited, I
come into the experience of being
limitless, a state of mind beyond space
and time, resting as God created me,
standing behind the drama of ego mind.

Father, my thanks to You for what I am;
for keeping my Identity untouched
and sinless, in the midst of all the thoughts
of sin my foolish mind made up. And thanks
to You for saving me from them. Amen.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

We Are Always Dealing Only With Thought

The other day, early in the morning, I was sitting on the couch, tying my shoe laces, about to walk out the door, and I looked up and saw movement though the window. I thought, “That’s my damn neighbor walking his dog whose barking often wakes me up during the night.” I finished tying my laces and looked up again, and there was no one there, only my reflection in the window. No neighbor, no dog. Only me catching my movements in the window. It happened real fast. So did the thought.

So, there we are. It’s all in that story. The thought, for example, "My damn neighbor," always comes first. There is only thought. I am always only looking into a mirror, reflecting back to me my thoughts.

This is actually a good thing because it demonstrates that I am totally responsible for what I see in the mirror. My thoughts are the cause; the images are the effect. I am not a victim of these images. I can change them by changing my mind.

It gets even simpler. There are only two kinds of thoughts. Thoughts are either true or false, real or unreal, loving or fearful. Jesus expresses it this way in His Course in Miracles.

Thoughts can represent the lower or bodily level of experience, or the higher or spiritual level of experience. One makes the physical, and the other creates the spiritual.

And He expresses it this way in Lesson 199, I am not a body. I am free.

Freedom must be impossible as long
as you perceive a body as yourself.
The body is a limit. Who would seek
for freedom in a body looks for it
where it can not be found.


The mind that serves the Holy Spirit is
unlimited forever, in all ways,
beyond the laws of time and space, unbound
by any preconceptions, and with strength
and power to do whatever it is asked

Seeing my "damn neighbor" is clearly a thought from a level of experience that has no source in reality, bound by my preconceptions. For a split-second, I actually had a choice between the lower or higher levels, but the thought came so rapidly, unconsciously, naturally, automatically, habitually that I did not catch it, and it carried its own emotional baggage. It is always moment to moment. In the state of mind of the peace of God, I would have looked through the image and caught the reflection of my true Self, experiencing the spiritual level of my mind. This is because I am as God created me.

I am the holy Son of God Himself. (Title, Lesson 189)

And the key thing here is to observe that this is a thought; we are always dealing only with thought, and this realization that I am God's Son is a thought from the higher level of experience.

One holy thought like this and you are free;
You are the holy son of God Himself.


Your Self and God’s Self are the same—Himself, your true Identity.

However, if you were to think this thought, “I will deny this Identity,” a bodily level of experience, then you will look into a mirror and see images and form associations and make judgments based on preconceptions.

Deny your own Identity, and you will not escape the madness which induced this weird, unnatural and ghostly thought that mocks creation and laughs at God. (W-p1.3:1)

Yet, you are simply playing a game with thought.

Yet what is it except a game you play
in which identity can be denied?
You are as God crated you. All else
but this one thing is folly to believe.
In this one thought is everyone set free.
In this one truth are all illusions gone.


It is folly to damn my neighbor. This is all going on only in one place, my mind. There is only my mind. There is only your mind. There is not a world “out there,” and my mind “in here.” There is only my mind, either projecting thoughts from a lower level, or reflecting thoughts from a higher level.

And I always have choice, because my mind is the mechanism of decision.

Your mind is the means by which you determine your own condition, because mind is the mechanism of decision. It is the power by which you separate or join, and experience pain or joy accordingly. (T-8.IV.5:7,8)

As God’s most holy Son, all power is given you in Heaven and on earth. (W-p1.20.3:7) The obvious question is with this power why does the mind habitually choose for hell over Heaven?

What just came to mind is Hamlet because he, too, poses a question to begin his famous soliloquy.

To be, or not to be—that is the question.

He assumes that the human condition is hell, and his only choice is to endure it, or commit suicide. He is caught in the bodily level of experience, not realizing that he does, indeed, have choice. He sees himself as a victim of the world, not realizing he is the cause. The reason is that his thoughts come to him so rapidly, unconsciously, naturally, automatically, habitually that they obscure his real thoughts from a higher level of experience, those from his True Self.

Seeing the world in this manner, he finds himself a victim.

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th' unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin?

In these lines he catalogues the human condition of looking into a mirror, darkly.

To die, to sleep--
No more--and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to.
'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished.

Since these are thoughts that have no source in reality, it is wrong to conclude that death is the way out; the fact is that we are the holy Sons of God who cannot die, and the real way out while we are on earth is to become aware of our real thoughts by asking the Holy Spirit for help to relinquish thoughts of the bodily level that seem so real.

What is helpful in reading Hamlet’s soliloquy is that it eloquently describes the world from the human, egoic perspective. These are his thoughts. After all, that is the meaning of a soliloquy, to be an actor alone on stage speaking his thoughts directly to the audience. (If you wish to read the soliloquy in its entirety, please scroll to the end of this post.)

It is also helpful because we can adapt Hamlet’s phrase to be or not to be to make clear the truth of our being. Now I can say to be means to experience becoming aware of, my real thoughts, experiencing that I am God’s holy Son, I am a Thought of God, I am being his presence on earth.

Into His Presence would I enter now. (Title, Lesson, 157)

Nothing is needed but today’s idea
to light your mind, and let it rest in still
anticipation and in quiet joy,
wherein you quickly leave the world behind.


This is the experience of to be, being in the world, but not of the world.

Not to be, however, means to deny my Identity as the holy Son of God and see in the world the projections of my unreal thoughts. We can begin to see through our images when we become aware of what we automatically do in our lower level minds, as we decide for insanity instead of truth.

Jesus, of course, having been a man himself, knows of our habitual addiction to bodily thoughts and designed His early lessons to help us see, first of all, exactly what we do with our thoughts from moment to moment, and secondly, how to forgive them.

Here is as Review of Lesson 11 in Lesson 53, My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world.

Since the thoughts of which I am aware do not mean anything, the world that pictures them can have no meaning. What is producing this world is insane, and so is what it produces.

Alone on stage, Hamlet reveals his thoughts, the ones of which he is aware, but this awareness does not make them real. In fact, they are obscuring his real thoughts. By remaining unaware, he is choosing not to be.

Reality is not insane, and I have real thoughts as well as insane ones. I can therefore see a real world, if I look to my real thoughts as my guide for seeing.

Lesson 12. I am upset because I see a meaningless world. Insane thoughts are upsetting. They produce a world in which there is no order anywhere. Only chaos rules a world that represents chaotic thinking, and chaos has no laws. I cannot live in peace in such a world.

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

…a sea of troubles.

We can go beyond Hamlet and see that we have a real choice, not one between living and dying, but between what Thoughts are valuable and what thoughts are valueless.

I am grateful that this world is not real, and that I need not see it at all unless I choose to value it. And I do not choose to value what is totally insane and has no meaning.

Lesson 13. A meaningless world engenders fear. The totally insane engenders fear because it is completely undependable, and offers no grounds for trust. Nothing in madness is dependable. It holds out no safety and no hope.

The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to.

But such a world is not real. I have given it the illusion of reality, and have suffered from my belief in it. Now I choose to withdraw this belief, and place my trust in reality. In choosing this, I will escape all the effects of the world of fear, because I am acknowledging that it does not exist.

Lesson 14. God did not create a meaningless world. How can a meaningless world exist if God did not create it? He is the Source of all meaning, and everything that is real is in His Mind. It is in my mind too, because He created it with me.

Why should I continue to suffer (the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune) from the effects of my own insane thoughts, when the perfection of creation is my home? Let me remember the power of my decision, and recognize where I really abide.

Lesson 15. My thoughts are images that I have made.

Whatever I see reflects my thoughts. It is my thoughts that tell me where I am and what I am. The fact that I see a world in which there is suffering and loss and death shows me that I am seeing only the representation of my insane thoughts, and am not allowing my real thoughts to cast their beneficent light on what I see.

Although Hamlet dies fearing the sleep of death and what dreams may come, Horatio, his friend glimpses the truth. Holding Hamlet in his arms as he utters his last words, The rest is silence, Horatio says,

Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Yet God's way is sure. The images I have made cannot prevail against Him because it is not my will that they do so. My will is His, and I will place no other gods before Him.
It is really quite simple, to be or not to be. A friend said to me a long time ago, “All I know is that when I am feeling peaceful (to be), I say ‘Thank you,’ and when I am in conflict (not to be), I ask for ‘Help.’ ”

Moment to moment, it is always “Thank you” or “Help,” and it is always your decision to lose yourself in thought or find your Self in Thought.

And by the way, when you do find yourself lost, you can always say “Stop it,” reminding me of this 6-minute routine by Bob Newhart that is very practical and very funny.

Please click here to see this routine.

HAMLET: To be, or not to be--that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep--
No more--and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep--
To sleep--perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th' unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprise of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action. -- Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia! -- Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remembered.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

"Screen of smoke" or "smoke screen?" The Absolute Precision of Jesus' Language in His Course in Miracles.

It is simply miraculous that Jesus brought from out of time His Course in Miracles through the scribe, Helen Schucman. Though reluctant, she persevered over a seven-year period to write down in shorthand the words of A Course in Miracles. On a daily basis her colleague, Bill Thetford, took her transcription and typed it up into words and sentences and paragraphs. The prose and poetry of this masterpiece is impeccable, demonstrating that it could have come only from out of time.

Nevertheless, students occasionally joke about certain words and phrases because of their connotations in English. For example, Lesson 140, Only salvation can be said to cure, is usually called the “ham lesson” because cured ham is considered a delicacy. In the Reviews of Lessons 171-180, this phrase begins and ends the repetition of the daily Lessons, God is but Love, and therefore so am I, sometimes brings laughter because of the wordplay of “but” and “butt.”

Over the years, students have rolled their eyes when they came across the phrase, a screen of smoke, in Lesson 133, I will not value what is valueless.

All things are valuable or valueless,
worthy or not of being sought at all,
entirely desirable or
not worth the slightest effort to obtain.
Choosing is easy just because of this.
Complexity is nothing but a screen
of smoke, which hides the very simple fact
that no decision can be difficult.
What is the gain to you in learning this?
It is far more than merely letting you
make choices easily and without pain.

Students, of course, think it should be “smoke screen” and smirk and say things like, “Well, after all, Jesus’ first language wasn’t English, but Aramaic.”

Finally, after all these years, I came across the phrase “screen of smoke” in another context, and I flashed on this phrase from the Course and saw the absolute precision of Jesus’ language. This epiphany occurred while reading an article in The New Yorker about ancient cave paintings in France and in Spain. Here are three paragraphs that provide a context for the insight.

During the Old Stone Age, between thirty-seven thousand and eleven thousand years ago, some of the most remarkable art ever conceived was etched or painted on the walls of caves in southern France and northern Spain. What those first artists invented was a language of signs for which there will never be a Rosetta stone; perspective, a technique that was not rediscovered until the Athenian Golden Age; and a bestiary of such vitality and finesse that, by the flicker of torchlight, the animals seem to surge from the walls. In the course of some twenty-five thousand years, the same animals—primarily bison, stags, aurochs, ibex, horses, and mammoths—recur in similar poses, illustrating an immortal story.

In the century since the modern study of caves began, specialists have tried to understand the culture that produced them. Of course, over the years, a number of theories have been developed. One group of specialists developed the theory that cave painting largely represents the experiences of shamans or initiates on a vision quest to the underworld. The caves themselves served as a gateway. Where the artists or their entourage left handprints, they were palping a living rock or summoning a life force beyond it.

Jean-Michel Geneste, a leonine man of fifty-nine with a silver mane, told me about an experiment that he had conducted at Lascaux in 1994. He decided to invite four elders of an Aboriginal tribe, the Nganinyins—hunter-gatherers from northwestern Australia—to visit the cave, and put them up in his house in the Dordogne.
(Judith Thurman, First Impressions: What does the world’s oldest art say about us?, The New Yorker, June 23, 2008, p. 59)

And now here is the paragraph that brought into perspective the unerring accuracy of Jesus’ language.

Before visiting the caves, they first had to purify themselves, so they built a fire, and pulled some of their underarm hair out and burned it. Their own rituals involve traversing a screen of smoke—passing into another zone. When they entered the cave, they took a while to get their bearings. Yes, they said, it was an initiation site. The geometric signs, in red and black, reminded them of their own clan insignia, the animals and engravings of figures from their creative myths. (Thurman, p. 60)

There it is. Their rituals required traversing a screen of smoke—passing into another zone. In His Lesson, Jesus is teaching us how to pass from one world into another, passing from the false world to the true world.

There are no satisfactions in the world.

He is expressing how easy it is to make the transition from valuing the valueless to valuing what is of value, passing in effect, from one zone to another, shifting from the false, egoic state to our true state of mind where only the truth is valued. To do that, we simply part the veil, move to another state; it is as simple as passing through a screen of smoke.

“Smoke screen” has a different connotation. It suggests “an action taken to mislead somebody or obscure something.”

Jesus shows us, however, that the ego’s complexity can be walked through as simply as we can walk through a thin screen of smoke, leaving behind the ego’s valueless state and entering into our true state of mind, the only state of any value, the only state there is.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Favorable Wind Gently Carries You Home

A couple of days ago, I had a rather long conversation with an individual, and during the course of this conversation I became increasingly angry at some of things he said. I was surprised at the extent of my anger and contempt.

The next day, I played it over in my mind. I actually listed the things that he said that pissed me off. I imagined scenarios where I really trashed him. I imagined another where I got into a teaching, even though he is barely familiar with A Course in Miracles. Then I turned on myself and asked how I could get so angry for so long when I have been at this mind-training for some time now.

Finally, I asked for help and sat down to read something that would remind me of the truth of what I am and what he is, the holy sons of God. I picked up, or rather I realize in retrospect , I was guided to pick up a folder of readings by Raj/Jesus who speaks through Paul Tuttle at the Northwestern Foundation of A Course in Miracles. I just love this material because Raj/Jesus reads a section of the Course and comments on it through Paul during a Study Group meeting. It is simply Jesus commenting on what he transcribed to Helen Schucman, only using a different set of metaphors, making it incredibly personal while expressing the truth of His unworldly masterpiece. I “happened” to select the transcript of March 13, 2005, as Raj/Jesus reads the section, “Two Evaluations,” Chapter 9, Section VII.

Early on, Raj/Jesus cites this sentence from the Course:

Every minute and every second gives you a chance to save YOURSELF.

He goes on to comment:

You’re presented with the opportunity to see and be in your Sanity again. Every single thing that confronts you is nothing less than the Kingdom of Heaven seen clearly, or through a glass darkly. (Raj/Jesus Transcript, March 13, 2005, p. 2)

After reading those two sentences, I simply melted into the peace of God with no trace of anger or contempt. The dark night of the soul was over. It is always a matter of remembering and forgetting.

When I was reminded that the conversation presented me with an opportunity to choose to see clearly, or see through a glass darkly, I was free to choose, and melting into peace was the choice.

At this point, I became curious about the origins of the word, “opportunity.” The key is to see “port” hidden in the word. In Latin, opportunus, means “favorable,” deriving from ob portum veniens, meaning “coming toward port with a favorable wind.” What I had labeled as extremely negative, seeing through a glass darkly, was, in fact, an opportunity to see clearly, returning Home with a favorable wind.

And now, sitting here experiencing the peace of God, I am grateful for this individual and our conversation, and I trust when it happens again I will remember to look at it as an opportunity, a chance.

Do not lose these chances, not because they will not return, but because delay of joy is needless. God wills you perfect happiness now.

Now, I am not making this up; as I am sitting here typing this, he just knocked on the door. He is my landlord, and he came, unexpectedly, to take care of some problems created by the recent flooding here in Lake Delton, Wisconsin. I took a deep breath, invited him in, and he, typically, said some things that would ordinarily have provoked me, but this time, I managed to look at him clearly, and we had a rather enjoyable conversation.

You can never forgive a person. You can only ask for help to let go of your unreal thoughts about him, projected from your insane, egoic mind.

Do nothing, then, and let forgiveness show
you what to do, through Him Who is your Guide,

your Savior and Protector, strong in hope,
and certain of your ultimate success.
He has forgiven you already, for
such is His function, given Him by God.
Now must you share His function, and forgive
whom He has saved, whose sinlessness He sees,
and whom He honors as the Son of God.
(W-p11. 1 What is forgiveness? 5)

Now, Dear Reader, I invite you to practice forgiveness, just in case your ego-mind sometimes makes up a storm, driving you out to sea.

Please bring to mind an individual who seems to be out there, causing you to see through a glass darkly.

Imagine looking at him through the ego’s eyes, the body’s eyes, projecting on him all of the scorn and anger from this state of mind, separate from God. Just allow the negative stuff to surface without resistance. Resist not evil.

Thank you.

Now, look at him with the vision of Christ, looking through his body to the Christ that he is, seeing a reflection of your true Self, joining with the Christ that you are. Namaste.

Thank you.

Obviously, I have no idea how this worked for you. Just stopping for a moment, stepping back, is sometimes enough to experience a shift in your mind.

It turns out then that everything can be used to undo perception, enabling you to learn to see with vision. Sometimes, when I find myself persistently looking through the body’s eyes, I practice by literally closing my right eye and looking at his image through my left, representing the egoic state of mind. Then I imagine looking through his image with my right eye, representing Christ’s vision. This literal shift from left to right, from misperception to vision is sacred.

Brother, this day is sacred to the world. Your vision, given you from far beyond all things within the world, looks back on them in a new light. And what you see becomes the healing and salvation of the world. The valuable and valueless are both perceived and recognized for what they are. And what is worthy of your love receives your love, while nothing to be feared remains.

Regarding this exercise, I find it helpful to look at the connotations of left and right in our culture. “Left” comes from Old English, lyft, meaning “weak.” And worse, “sinister” comes from the Latin, sinister, “on the left side, unlucky, inauspicious.” While “right” comes from the Old English, riht, “go straight.”

The act of forgiveness, this shift from one state of mind to another, to the only true state, can be expressed in a variety of ways.


Letting go of the unreal.
Being carried Home.
Loosing the world.
Remembering and forgetting.

Raj/Jesus expresses it in reference to wishing to see the Evidence of Love.

Now, “I wish to see the Evidence of Love” doesn’t mean looking at somebody who’s behaving badly and say, “Man, I wish to see the Evidence of Love there. I wish they would change. I would like to see them behaving nicely.” That isn’t what it means. What it means is, I wish to see them without looking through a preexisting definition I am holding about them. I wish to see there what I know is the Truth about them. I wish not to see my misperception of them. I wish to see what revelation, insight, has uncovered to me about them which I am seeing there, in spite of the way I used to interpret their behavior, and in spite of the way they see themselves.

You see what I’m saying? When you say, “I wish to see the Evidence of Love,” it’s you engaged in an act of projecting the True Consciousness of them there, instead of getting hung up on your perceptions of what’s going on based on your own tiny, fearful frame of mind, coupled with their behavior that is based on their tiny, troubled frame of mind. To say, “I wish to see the Evidence of Love there,” doesn’t mean, “I wish they would change.” It means I wish to see them in a new way. I wish to extend to them whatever Consciousness of Truth God will reveal to me. You see? It’s far different from saying, “Gee, it would really be nice if they were a little more pleasant to be around.” That’s not wishing to see the Evidence of Love. There’s no gift in it.

“I wish to see the Evidence of Love” means you are going to take the proactive step, we’ll say, of insisting upon asking for the Vision that will let you see or grasp the meaning of the fact that if there’s anything there at all where your Brother or Sister is, it has to be God. The moment you do that, the lens through which you’re looking shifts and you are looking for something different. You are looking to see the Evidence of Love there. You’re looking to see the more of What’s Really There than what you had seen, or even what your Brother thinks is there and calls himself or herself. Are you getting what I’m saying?

To wish to see the Evidence of Love is not a wish to stand in receipt of something. It’s a wish to make a gift of a new way of seeing that is gathered not from your memory, but a willingness and an expressed desire to have the Holy Spirit reveal to you What Is Truly There, just as the Holy Spirit, your Right Mind, looks at you and sees What’s Truly There and extends it to you, and does not believe what you think you are and all the feelings you have associated with what you think you are. And that’s why your communion with the Holy Spirit is always healing. And that’s why the Holy Spirit can turn everything, every situation to your advantage. You have the OPPORTUNITY with your Brothers and Sisters to be that which turns whatever is happening in their life to their advantage.

(Raj/Jesus Transcript, March 13, 2005, pp. 5,6)

And now I understand what it means to say I am responsible for what I see. It is significant that the following quotation comes from a section in the Course entitled, “The Responsibility for Sight.”

I am responsible for what I see.
I choose the feelings I experience, and I decide upon the goal I would achieve.
And everything that seems to happen to me I ask for, and receive as I have asked. (T-21.II.2:3-5)

All along it has been difficult to understand how I could possibly be responsible for the things happening to me, particularly the bad things. Why would I ever ask for that? And now I realize I am responsible when I choose to see through the body’s eyes. I can just as well choose to see with vision. My choosing is my responsibility. My choice is the cause; I get the results, fully responsible for the choice.

Sometimes I go about pitying myself
all the time
I am being carried on great winds across the sky.
(A Native American Saying)

And so I say to myself:

Each moment is an opportunity
to be carried gently home by the wind.

The Raj/Jesus transcript is available at the Northwest Foundation for ACIM.
Scroll down to the March 13, 2005, transcript.
Click here for the website.