Thursday, April 10, 2008

I Am Saved, or Damned, Simply by a Thought

Yesterday, I found myself in conflict with a good friend. Since I went to bed with it unresolved, I started thinking about it as soon as I woke up this morning, feeling sad and fearful. Just after getting out of bed, I prepared coffee in our French press and started reading Lesson 96, Salvation comes from my one Self. Even while doing the lesson, I kept hearing this nagging, frantic voice in my mind saying things like, “You’re not a good friend;” “You really fucked up this time.” This was obviously the voice of the ego.

Ordinarily, I try not to use the term “ego” because this usage tends to objectify it, making it easy to disown, as if it were outside of me. When, in fact, I am the ego when I think I am that, while in truth, I am That, the holy Son of God. It is remarkable that the word “ego” comes from Latin, the personal pronoun meaning “I.”

When I realized what I was doing to myself by paying attention to this painful voice, I put down the Workbook, grabbed my notebook and began transcribing what was going on in my mind, trying to slow things down so that I could be aware of just one thought at a time.

The ego is always eager to pounce, particularly when I am feeling down.

The pounce is in the form of a thought.

This thought is the ego’s attempt to keep me down, literally, as I hang my head in shame and fear.

This is the ego’s attempt to defend itself against God.

While my head is down, I am not likely to look up to see the face of Christ, not likely to look up to ask the Holy Spirit for help.

While feeling the pain of this attack thought, I encourage other attack thoughts by indulging in past memories and associations, and the ego keeps pouncing.

This defensive strategy works me over pretty well, until I recognize the ego’s intent.

In this recognition, I do look up and ask for help.

The Holy Spirit is the bridge between the ego’s defensive intent and my awareness of my true Self.

The Holy Spirit’s help also comes in the form of a thought, reminding me that I am invulnerable, the holy Son of God.

I am created perfectly; I am not as I made my egoic self, a cruel parody of my birthright, my true Self.

Salvation, too, is simply a thought, just as the ego’s pounce is a thought.

We are always dealing only with thoughts.

Right now, the Holy Spirit’s Voice is an easy choice, reminding me of the truth of what I am, and I am saved from the attacking voice, experiencing the peace of God, as the conflict with my brother dissolves.

I do not know whether or not he is still having conflicting thoughts.

He is totally responsible for his thoughts; I am totally responsible for mine.

While experiencing peace, I cannot project pain; while experiencing peace, I have an opportunity to join with him.

I can now join because conflicting thoughts are not in my awareness.

Actually, it is more accurate to say that conflicting thoughts do enter my awareness, but now I just don’t pay them any attention. I saw a good analogy in the newspaper today. A woman said, “It’s like a ticking clock keeps you up at night. You eventually fall asleep, not because the ticking stops, but because you figure out how to stop hearing it.”

When I figure out how to stop hearing attack thoughts, I, of course, wake up, rather than fall asleep, but it does not mean that they are not still ticking away.

In this waking state, I can now extend an invitation to my friend to join because I am clear in my mind, and my clarity is my responsibility, his state is his.

The chances are good now that the light will do the work, and we will join.

And then I put down my notebook and picked up the Workbook again to finish Lesson 96, Salvation comes from my one Self.

I invite you now, Dear Reader, to read today’s lesson in blank verse, meaning ten syllables per line, with the accent on every other syllable, for examples:

we WILL at TEMPT to DAY to FIND this THOUGHT W-p1.96.8:1

Lesson 96 follows, below, in blank verse. You will observe that the first paragraph is in prose. Jesus has been making the transition from prose to blank verse in the recent lessons. Starting with Lesson 91, Miracles are seen in light, Jesus has been increasing the stanzas of blank verse, while decreasing the paragraphs of prose. Finally, the first lesson entirely in blank verse is Lesson 98, I will accept my part in God’s plan for salvation. Each lesson from 98 to 365 is entirely in blank verse, the rhythm echoing the beating of your heart.

To take a look at all of the passages in the Course in blank verse, please go to my website to peruse Steve Russell’s book, The Rhythm and Reason of Reality.

Although you are one Self, you experience yourself as two; as both good and evil, loving and hating, mind and body. This sense of being split into opposites induces feelings of acute and constant conflict, and leads to frantic attempts to reconcile the contradictory aspects of this self-perception. You have sought many such solutions, and none of them has worked. The opposites you see in you will never be compatible. But one exists.

The fact that truth and illusion cannot

be reconciled, no matter how you try,

what means you use and where you see the problem,

must be accepted if you would be saved.

Until you have accepted this, you will attempt

an endless list of goals you cannot reach;

a senseless series of expenditures

of time and effort, hopefulness and doubt,

each one as futile as the one before,

and failing as the next one surely will.

Problems that have no meaning cannot be

resolved within the framework they are set.

Two selves in conflict could not be resolved,

and good and evil have no meeting place.

The self you made can never be your Self,

nor can your Self be split in two, and still

be what It is and must forever be.

A mind and body cannot both exist.

Make no attempt to reconcile the two,

or one denies the other can be real.

If you are physical, your mind is gone

from your self-concept, for it has no place

in which it could be really part of you.

If you are spirit, then the body must

be meaningless to your reality.

Spirit makes use of mind as means to find

its Self expression. And the mind which serves

the spirit is at peace and filled with joy.

Its power comes from spirit, and it is

fulfilling happily its function here.

Yet mind can also see itself divorced

from spirit, and perceive itself within

a body it confuses with itself.

Without its function then it has no peace,

and happiness is alien to its thoughts.

Yet mind apart from spirit cannot think.

It has denied its Source of strength, and sees

itself as helpless, limited and weak.

Dissociated from its function now,
it thinks it is alone and separate,
attacked by armies massed against itself

and hiding in the body's frail support.

Now must it reconcile unlike with like,

for this is what it thinks that it is for.

Waste no more time on this. Who can resolve

the senseless conflicts which a dream presents?

What could the resolution mean in truth?

What purpose could it serve? What is it for?

alvation cannot make illusions real,

nor solve a problem that does not exist.

Perhaps you hope it can. Yet would you have

God's plan for the release of His dear Son

bring pain to him, and fail to set him free?

Your Self retains Its Thoughts, and they remain

within your mind and in the Mind of God.

The Holy Spirit holds salvation in

your mind, and offers it the way to peace.

Salvation is a thought you share with God,
because His Voice accepted it for you
and answered in your name that it was done.

Thus is salvation kept among the Thoughts

your Self holds dear and cherishes for you.

We will attempt today to find this thought,

whose presence in your mind is guaranteed

by Him Who speaks to you from your one Self.

Our hourly five-minute practicing

will be a search for Him within your mind.
Salvation comes from this one Self through Him
Who is the Bridge between your mind and It.

Wait patiently, and let Him speak to you

about your Self, and what your mind can do,

restored to It and free to serve Its Will.

Begin with saying this:

Salvation comes from my one Self.
Its Thoughts are mine to use.

Then seek Its Thoughts, and claim them as your own.
These are your own real thoughts you have denied,

and let your mind go wandering in a world

of dreams, to find illusions in their place.

Here are your thoughts, the only ones you have.

Salvation is among them; find it there.

If you succeed, the thoughts that come to you
will tell you you are saved, and that your mind
has found the function that it sought to lose.

Your Self will welcome it and give it peace.

Restored in strength, it will again flow out

from spirit to the spirit in all things

created by the Spirit as Itself.

Your mind will bless all things. Confusion done,

you are restored, for you have found your Self.

Your Self knows that you cannot fail today.

Perhaps your mind remains uncertain yet

a little while. Be not dismayed by this.

The joy your Self experiences It

will save for you, and it will yet be yours

in full awareness. Every time you spend
five minutes of the hour seeking Him
Who joins your mind and Self, you offer Him
another treasure to be kept for you.

Each time today you tell your frantic mind

salvation comes from your one Self, you lay

another treasure in your growing store.

And all of it is given everyone

who asks for it, and will accept the gift.

Think, then, how much is given unto you

to give this day, that it be given you!