Sunday, November 27, 2011

What I Have Come to Know: A Distillation

A couple of days before Thanksgiving, I was sitting on the couch in our Sun Room early in the morning, reading the day’s Lesson 325, All things I think I see reflect ideas, enjoying the warmth of the wood-burning stove and watching the birds at our feeders, and the thought came in, “What does it all boil down to, after all these years of reading A Course in Miracles, learning from Master Teacher at Endeavor Academy, reading the New Testament, and going to Sessions almost daily at the Academy? What, exactly, is the distillate from the heat of this transformative process?

And then these words and sentences came into my mind, and I grabbed my notebook and scribbled them down.

* * *


I am seeing either through the body’s eyes, or through the eyes of Christ.

The Holy Spirit is the bridge.



God’s Voice speaks to me all through the day
. Lesson 49

Since I am in the world, and not of the world,
how do I conduct myself while I am walking in the world?



* * *

Then it came to me that Lesson 325 provided a perfect context for expressing this transformative distillation.

The question is always, just where is my awareness. This Lesson makes it clear right away, that my salvation is my awareness of the source of my ideas.

All things I think I see reflect ideas. Lesson 325

This is salvation's keynote: What I see
reflects a process in my mind, which starts
with my idea of what I want.

I am seeing either through the body’s eyes. . .
and now the Lesson makes it clear the process I engage in when I am seeing through the body’s eyes and brain.

From there,
the mind makes up an image of the thing

the mind desires, judges valuable,

and therefore seeks to find. These images

are then projected outward, looked upon,

esteemed as real and guarded as one's own.
From insane wishes comes an insane world.

From judgment comes a world condemned.

What I am seeing through the body’s eyes is a projection of what is in my mind, first; I am, literally, “throwing” out of my mind images, and then I “catch” them, thinking they are in the world, first. Not only are they second, but I initially judged the image, choosing this one over that one. Not recognizing the source of the image in my mind is insanity.

. . .or through the eyes of Christ.

And from
forgiving thoughts a gentle world comes forth,

with mercy for the holy Son of God,

to offer him a kindly home where he
can rest a while before he journeys on,
and help his brothers walk ahead with him,
and find the way to Heaven and to God.

When I am aware that I am seeing my insane projections, I ask for help, asking the Holy Spirit to bridge the gap between my world and the Real world.

With His strength, I am able to forgive, to relinquish, my insane thoughts that have no source in reality, and my dream vanishes, to be replaced by seeing through the eyes of Christ. This is a reflection of the peace of mind I am now experiencing.

Our Father, Your ideas reflect the truth,
and mine apart from Yours but make up dreams.

Let me behold what only Yours reflect,

for Yours and Yours alone establish truth.

And now in this peaceful state, I am receptive to the Holy Spirit, the Voice for God, speaking to me all through the day.

For me, this is absolute key. When I manage to remember to ask for help to step back and be aware of God’s Voice, I trust that I will receive His Thoughts.

Since I am in the world, and not of the world, how do I conduct myself while I am walking in the world?

The root meaning of conduct is crucial here. It comes from the Latin con, “with” and ducere, “to lead.” I am being led through the world by listening to the Voice of the Holy Spirit.

And now I know what my intention is. Intention comes from the Latin intendere, meaning “ to stretch towards.” I ask for help in a peaceful, receptive state of mind, stretching upwards to receive guidance coming down from the Holy Spirit.

And now I experience gratitude, a warmth in my chest, and I am exceedingly receptive to the Holy Spirit's intention.

And that is exactly what happened a little while ago when I began receiving thoughts about this distillate and grabbed my notebook and began scribbling down these thoughts coming into my mind.

And now that my intention is realized and honored, taking this particular form, I can stop writing, right now.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

We Do Not Forgive People "Out There;" We Forgive Thoughts In Our Minds

Recently, my friend, Pat Connor, came across a web site calling for papers for a Conference on this subject: Forgiveness, Probing the Boundaries. The Conference will be held at Mansfield College, Oxford, England, July 11-13, 2012.

The Conference organizers are calling for papers on Forgiveness. The abstracts for the papers are to be limited to 300 words, and they must be submitted by Friday, January 13, 2012. If an abstract is accepted for the Conference, a full draft of the paper must be submitted by Friday, May 11.

I am not sure that I want to prepare a paper to present at the Conference in England, but I like the challenge of capturing in 300 words, or less, what forgiveness means to me. Here is my writing exercise, weighing in at 281 words.

* * *

Forgiveness is an idea terribly misunderstood in this world. It usually takes the form of an individual saying to himself, “She wronged me, but I forgive her.” And in his "forgiveness," he feels superior. This is more like bargaining than forgiving; the wrong may be overlooked this time, but you owe me.

Forgiveness has nothing to do with another person "out there." Forgiveness is letting go of a thought in here, in the mind. Forgiveness is letting go of a thought/image projected outward. These thoughts are based on our individual judgments, stemming from our personal, past memories. A person standing next to you would see the situation differently. Forgiveness is liberation from these thoughts, these personal judgments.

That is why in The Lord’s Prayer, Jesus links trespassing to forgiveness. When I project my thought/images onto another, who is, in fact, the Christ, it is as if I am encroaching on His property, His Christhood.

Forgiveness is a shift from seeing thought/images through the eyes of the ego to seeing the reflection of an inner peace, seeing through the eyes of Christ. It is a shift from a state of mind of conflict, to a state of peace, a shift from seeing projected thought/images, to seeing a bright reflection of the Truth of what we are, the Christ.

Forgiveness is looking at your brother and saying to yourself, “Namaste, the Christ in me greets the Christ in you.”

And now I will walk into the world, inspired by this sentence from today’s Lesson in A Course in Miracles.

I have no purpose for today except
to look upon a liberated world,
set free from all the judgments I have made.

Lesson 312

* * *

To visit the web site, please click here.

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Sleeping Dream's Affirmative Message for my Waking Dream

A couple of nights ago, I had this dream:

I am dressed up in a black sport coat, button-down collar, blue shirt, no tie, and gray slacks. I am about to go on stage as a main character, but I realize I have not memorized any lines. I am familiar with the play, but I don't know my lines. I think that, perhaps, I could carry the script on stage, but that doesn't seem right.

I have been puzzled by this dream ever since, and when I mentioned it today, my wife, Christine, over lunch, she immediately said, "That's good. It means that now you are in the waking dream, and you don't have a script. You are open and receptive to be guided." That's it! She cut right to it. I realized that lately I have been walking around, saying to myself, "Just be present, ask for help, breathe, let go of thoughts about what to do, resist the temptation to plan, trusting that I will be guided."

And, of course, the Holy Spirit is always offering guidance, whispering to us, and it is just a matter of making a space in our minds to hear His Voice, and letting go of our script is the way to make that space.

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.

When I look back at my sleeping dream, I see now why I was not the least bit upset about not knowing my lines. I was surprised, curious, but not concerned about what would happen. That mirrors my state of mind, now. I am trusting that all is well, and that all will be well, as long as I let my script go.

What do your scripts reflect except your plans
for what the day should be? And thus you judge
disaster and success, advance, retreat,
and gain and loss. These judgements all are made
according to the roles the script assigns.
The fact they have no meaning in themselves
is demonstrated by the ease with which
these labels change with other judgements, made
on different aspects of experience.

I remember that not long ago, I was sitting on the couch, looking out the window at the falling leaves, sinking into deep peace, and I said to myself as I was coming out of it, "This is all I have to do, be present, let it all go; that is my only function, remembering that I am in the world, and not of the world. " What a relief.

In my sleeping dream, the play is a good analogy for the illusory world. Being without a script in a play is analogous to not following the dictates of my ego voice in the illusion. This creates a space in my mind for receiving the Voice for God, letting go of the temptation to follow the voice of the ego.

It is most appropriate to end with excerpts from Lesson 49, God's Voice speaks to me all through the day.

It is quite possible to listen to God's Voice all through the day without interrupting your regular activities in any way. The part of your mind in which truth abides is in constant communication with God, whether you are aware of it or not.

Here is whee my script comes in:

It is the other part of your mind that functions in the world and obeys the world's laws. It is this part that is constantly distracted, disorganized and highly uncertain.

Help me hear the next part:

The part that is listening to the Voice for God is calm, always at rest and wholly certain. It is really the only part there is.


The other part is a wild illusion, frantic and distraught, but without reality of any kind. Try today not to listen to it.

The Holy Spirit:

Try to identify with the part of your mind where stillness and peace reign forever. Try to hear God's Voice call to you lovingly, reminding you that your Creator has not forgotten His Son.


Now, listen up!

Friday, August 05, 2011

My Passion for Creative Writing: How and When it was Aroused in Me

In the preceding blog post (13 July 2011), I invited readers to participate in the upcoming event at Endeavor Academy in the Wisconsin Dells, The Passion of Creative Mind, 16 September -25 September, 2011, particularly in the writing portion of the Event.

The invitation is to write about an extraordinary experience in your life when you were Touched by God.

Meanwhile, I have been conducting Writing Workshops with members of the Academy, helping them learn how to express themselves in the written word. This has been an extraordinary experience for me and for them. Their essays are coming in, and we are collecting them in a book that will be available during the Event.

The experience has been extraordinary for me because it has triggered memories of how and when I became passionate about creative writing.

* * *

I was as freshman at Kalamazoo College, a small, liberal arts school in Michigan, founded in 1833.

This is me in the fall of my freshman year.

I am scared. No one in my family had ever gone to college, and I did not know what to expect. Not only that, but the Chicago Tribune had recently reported that Kalamazoo College ranked in the top 10 liberal arts colleges in the nation whose graduates went on to earn MD’s, and I had absolutely no scientific aptitude.

In fact, my primary concern is how I will measure up as a football player, having already been practicing for two weeks before school started. Yet, between me and the practice field are courses, five of them:

The History of Western Civilization
Freshman Biology
Introduction to Art
Freshman Composition

I had no confidence. I remember walking into my room in Harmon Hall after the first week, my desk littered with five syllabi and textbooks and notebooks, and I was already hopelessly behind.

One day in The History of Western Civilization, Lester Start was talking about euthanasia, and I wrote in my notebook: “youth in Asia.”

And then Larry Barrett threw me a life line.

Twenty of us gathered in Dr. Laurence Barrett’s classroom in Bowen Hall for Freshman Comp. Larry Barrett. Ph.D., Princeton; special field of study: John Milton. He is sitting on his desk, cross-legged, making searing eye contact with each of us in turn. He has the haircut of the times, a short flat top, his sport coat is dusted with chalk, his shirt collar ends are pointing up, his tie is awry across his chest, and he holds forth in a gruff, but loving manner. I loved it that his vocabulary is occasionally laced with mild profanity, like damn, piss and shit.

Here is the context for my inspiration. The standing assignment is this: Every two weeks, write an essay. No assigned topic. Write about what is important to you. It reminds me now of the opening stanza from Langston Hughes’ poem, Theme for English B.

The instructor said,
Go home and write

a page tonight

And let that page come out of you—

Then, it will be true.

The way Larry handled these tender pages was inspired and inspiring. He asked us to type our essays on mimeograph masters. He would then run them off, each one identified with a number instead of a name. He handed out these precious packets, and he lovingly taught us how to read and write, using our own writing. Over the course of the semester, in spite of the anonymity of the numbers rather than our names, we began to recognize each others’ distinctive writing voices that were slowly developing.

So, one day, while reading through a packet, Larry came to my essay. He read the first three paragraphs without stopping for a comment, or correction. Then he looked up and said, “Do you know what that means? You bet your bootstraps you know what that means.” He went on to say that it was a model of coherence.

Well, that was it, and that was everything.

At that moment, I breathed in the divine, and that is the root meaning of the word inspiration, from the Latin, inspirare.

After class, I walked out of Bowen Hall, headed across the quad, and resolutely said to myself, “If I can write for Larry Barrett, I can write for anybody.”

I remembered a line we had read from E. B. White’s 1947 essay, The Second Tree from the Corner:

In the jungle of my fear I glimpsed the flashy tail feathers of the bird courage.

In this case, it was confidence, and this gave me courage for the days and nights ahead.

Soon after reading my paper in class, Larry called me into his office about another essay, one whose topic was, of all things, the lack of school spirit. I had written a sentence something like, “On a Saturday afternoon, instead of going to the football game, pallid science majors head across the quad to Upton Hall, the science building, with slide rules strapped to their sides.” He read that sentence aloud, then he said. “Give me some more of that.” I began seeing images in my mind, and immediately turned them into sentences, as he nodded in approval.

Then it happened again. Breathing in the divine. I got it that writing is simply paying attention to the first thoughts going through your mind, trusting them, and turning them into sentences. Writing is standing back, listening, and then stepping up. It is not just the province of dead white men in anthologies. You and I can write, right now.

And let that page come out of you—
Then, it will be true.

* * *

In the fall of 2002, Christine and I had been at the Academy for five years. One day I received a call from a woman who said she was Larry Barrett’s daughter, that he had recently died, and that in going through his papers she came across this note:

“Ask Ray Comeau to give my eulogy.”

A few days later, I stood at the lectern of Stetson Chapel that crested a small hill, crowning the beautiful campus of Kalamazoo College, reading his eulogy. As I was coming to the end of my reading, I felt an insertion of Light, and I stepped aside from the lectern and said, “Larry didn’t really go anywhere, he is with us now in spirit.”

After that luminous moment in the Chapel, I stepped back behind the lectern and finished my eulogy.

What Larry extended to me as a freshman, and what he is extending to us in this moment, is Love and Love is Eternal. His Love is in this room at this time. His loving presence is in our thoughts. In this respect, there is no death. There is only the peace of God. The Son of God is free and loving and eternal.

Hold Larry in your thoughts, as I read this sonnet from A Course in Miracles, the incomparable modern day scripture:

The grass is pushing through the soil, the trees
are budding now, and birds have come to live
within their branches. Earth is being born

again in new perspective. Night has gone,

and we have come together in the light.

From here we give peace to the world,

for it is here peace was received.
The song of our rejoicing is the call

to all the world that Love is eternal,

that time is almost over, and God’s Son
has but an instant more to wait until
His Father is remembered, dreams are done,

eternity has shined away the world,

and only heaven now exists at all.

Incidentally, the motto for Kalamazoo College, adorning its walls and its letterhead, is this Latin word:


Let there be Light.

* * *

Christine and I returned to the Academy, and as we walked in for Session on a Monday morning, we saw that Dear One was teaching in the Reading room. When he saw me enter, he said, “Did you know I was there?”

I realized, then, that it was his presence that filled the Chapel with Light, and I cracked up saying, “Yes,” and he rolled back on the couch, his feet came up, cycling in the air, as he laughed uproariously.

Thank you, Larry. Thank you, Dear One. Thank you, Father.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Experiencing The Thought of God While Wandering in the Dream: A Writing Assignment

Dear Reader,

I am extending to you an invitation to participate in The Creative Communication of Writing and Sound for the upcoming event at Endeavor Academy in the Wisconsin Dells, September 16-September 25, The Passion of Creative Mind.

This is an opportunity to share with us an extraordinary incident in your life, experiencing the Thought of God, as you wandered through your dream. Since we are God’s perfect Creations, it is inevitable that we will experience our inheritance, no matter how much we try to maintain the dream.

The Thought of God protects you, cares for you, makes soft your resting place and smooth your way, lighting your mind with happiness and love. Eternity and everlasting life shine in your mind, because the Thought of God has left you not, and still abides with you.
Lesson 165.2:6,7

When I was talking with my wife, Christine, about the inevitability of experiencing the Thought of God, she said, “Oh, yes, I remember being very young when it happened,” and here is how she expressed it.

When I was a small child, I went to a funeral home for the first time, not for the funeral, but a visitation. I am holding my mother’s hand in this room filled with people. It is very quiet. People are speaking in whispers. My mom walks up to Grampa Percy and, letting go of my hand, hugs him and whispers something to him. He looks sad. She takes my hand and leads me up to what looks like a huge jewelry box where my Grandma is lying. I remember everything being pink. We are standing in front of the casket. My mom is looking in. I am too small to be able to look in. I can only see the outline of her form.

Then, I see my Grandma peaking around from behind the casket. She sees me and has this mischievous look on her face. Her eyes are sparkling, and she looks happy. I look up at my mom, and she is still looking into the casket and does not see that Grandma is not in the casket. When I look back at Grandma, she is holding her index finger over her lips as though “shushing” me in a conspiratorial way, and then she was gone.

Here are excerpts from an example written by my friend, Doris.

One night, a very clear memory of Home came to my mind while I was asleep: I dreamed of Heaven.

There was a song. It was the most beautiful melody I ever heard. Only thinking about it makes me cry. I remember Home.

Angels sang that song for me, me the holy Son of God who is at Home at last.
They sang only out of joy that I am created as God created me.

They sang to praise me and to praise God.
And sometimes when I am united with my brothers in that memory of Home, I hear them sing again for me.


I am quite sure that an incident has already come to mind for you. Here is an opportunity to share with us your experience of a Thought of God.

Please describe it in one page, or less, and send it along with your name, location, and e-mail address.

Please send it to me:

We will be publishing these articles in a book that will be available at the event, and through Amazon.

Please submit as soon as possible, no later than August 15.

Click here for the web site of The Passion of Creative Mind.

Thank you.

Ray Comeau

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Escaping the Self-Made Matrix and Resting in God

When I first awakened yesterday morning, I found myself in a state of mind where I had no sense of identity.

This is difficult to express; I was in a state of total, let's say, blankness. I did not begin saying to myself, "Well, today, I'll do this, I'll do that." I was totally blank. I felt totally relieved. Words can hardly express this sense of relief.

My sense of identity, or Ray, my limited self, narrating my life, was simply not in my awareness.

There was an experience of a state of mind that was still, limitless, changeless, and eternal.

There. That's more like it; no sense of an identity as a person, as a body, commenting on its state of mind.

My experience while waking up in this manner provides a clear reference point for certain passages in A Course in Miracles. For example, here is a helpful sentence from Lesson 161:
Complete abstraction is the natural condition of the mind. W-p1.161.2:1

This is a reminder that complete abstraction is natural; my state that identifies with my self, my ego, is totally unnatural.

While this post was still in draft form, I read the Lesson for the day, 129, Beyond this world is a world I want, and this passage leaped off the page.

Communication, unambiguous
and plain as day, remains unlimited
for all eternity. And God Himself
speaks to His Son, as His Son speaks to Him.
Their language has no words, for what They say
cannot be symbolized. Their knowledge is
direct and wholly shared and wholly one.
How far away from this are you who stay
bound to this world. And yet how near are you,
when you exchange it for the world you want.


My experience while waking up is the reference point for this passage, as well.

I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.

W-pl.Review Vl.Intro.3:3-5

And Jesus stops our minds for a moment in His effort to slow us down, by the two meanings, simultaneously, of the word "still;" I continue to be as God created me, and I am the stillness of God's creation.

Here is another sentence for which we now have a reference point.

I am God's Son, complete and healed and whole,
shining in the reflection of His Love.

W-pll.14.What am I?1:1

When I was reflecting on these ideas, I was driving down the highway. While idly driving along, I glanced at a passing billboard that said, "After you die, you will find God." Chuckling, I said to myself, "That's funny, I don't think I'm going to have to wait that long, I found God this morning."

That brought to mind, two phrases.

An ancient Hermetic precept stating, "Know ye not ye are gods?"

And St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:31, "I die daily," meaning that he experiences daily a state of mind of limitlessness, changelessness, thereby dying to limitation and change and mortality that we now refer to as the matrix.

It is no surprise that this experience occurred the day after an extraordinary weekend conference entitled, Out of the Matrix that took place at the Unity Church of the Heights, in Cleveland Heights, OH, May 20-22, 2011. This is a powerful program designed to be taken into schools and colleges and universities and prisons, enabling participants to transform their minds to come into a state of mind where they can take personal responsibility for constructing the matrix they find themselves in. This program is solidly based on the principles of A Course in Miracles, and they are expressed in secular metaphors, so that the illusion, or dream is the matrix, the Holy Spirit is the Inner Guide, and God's Son is What you Be, limitless, changeless, eternal.

In the sessions, worksheets are used to enable us as participants to recognize, own, and let go of limiting core beliefs. This emphasis is on learning to let go of our projections that constitute our self-made matrix. By learning to take responsibility for our thoughts and beliefs, we come into an awareness of our Being, and we are then able to walk in the matrix, knowing we are not of the matrix. To illustrate this, we were shown a clip from the movie, The Matrix, where Morpheus is taking Neo for a walk through the matrix, and all the time while walking through crowds, Morpheus, knowing he is in but not of the matrix, walks smoothly, his head half-turned to talk with Neo, gliding through, while Neo is constantly bumping into people, often distracted, particularly by an attractive woman walking by in a red dress.

The two men who presented during the weekend, Tony Senf and Christ Lauretig , were outstanding in articulating in straight-forward, clear language, often citing personal examples, the basic principles of A Course in Miracles, using parallel matrix metaphors that could easily sink into the ears of the person in the street. Their presentation was well-illustrated with a large number of salient clips from movies, slide presentations, worksheets, and all the time questions and comments were encouraged from the participants. Each participant was shepherded by a mentor each step of the way.

On Sunday morning, Rev. Tony delivered a powerful lesson entitled, "It's All a Dream," frequently quoting A Course in Miracles, demonstrating that the basic principles of the Out of the Matrix Program are soundly grounded in the Course.

Sunday afternoon during the conference, Chris, after making it crystal clear that our beliefs and thoughts are the foundation of our self-made matrix, these beliefs having been imprinted in us over the years by those conditioned by the matrix, said that he often had the thought that he should come in with a baseball bat, call us up one at a time, and hit us up aside the head; when we woke up, we would experience amnesia, and be open to experiencing our Being. We would forget our imprinting and conditioning, and no longer automatically construct the matrix.

For a moment this morning, I experienced complete amnesia, and thank God, I didn't need to be hit aside the head to experience it.

Amnesia is a powerful metaphor, demonstrating that forgetting what we wrought in the first place is liberating. Walking in the world, and recognizing that we are not of it because we realize that we constructed the nothingness of it is the true meaning of forgiveness, letting go of what never occurred, the dream, the matrix. And in this act of forgiveness, we rest in God.

This is the day of peace. You rest in God,
and while the world is torn by winds of hate

your rest remains completely undisturbed.
Yours is the rest of truth. Appearances
cannot intrude on you. You call to all
to join you in your rest, and they will hear
and come to you because you rest in God.
They will not hear another voice than yours
because you gave your voice to God, and now
you rest in Him and let Him speak through you.

And now, after the weekend, experiencing the peace of God while waking up the other morning, I am increasingly receptive to hear the Voice of the Holy Spirit, talking to me all through the day, and trusting, and the more I trust the more I am hearing the guidance.

For more information on the Out of the Matrix Program, please click here.

An Out of the Matrix Conference is scheduled to be held in the Wisconsin Dells, August 26-28, 2011.

For more information, please contact me:, 608 254-2320

For registration, please contact Cindy Stanley:, 330-284-1025

Payment plans are available through Cindy.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Breathing in the Breath of God: The Holy Spirit

I remember taking a class in graduate school that I found fascinating at the time, and I find myself today still drawing benefits from it, particularly as I read Jesus’ unworldly masterpiece, A Course in Miracles. The class was phonetics, a study of special speech sounds and their production.

I learned that each language operates from a set of phonemes, the smallest unit of sound. For example, in English, although the alphabet consists of only 26 letters, these letters represent 42 different sounds, or phonemes. For example, the letter /a/ is pronounced in two different ways, depending on the context. There's the /a/ in gap, and the /a/ in gape. This is one reason English is a difficult language to learn by a foreign speaker, same letters, different sounds.

One reason I am fascinated by phonetics is that it drives home the fact that words are air, i.e., each word is air passing from our lungs through our larynx and shaped by our tongue, lips, teeth, and cheeks. For example, the word “voice” consists of 4 phonemes, and each phoneme can be described. There is formal way to describe what happens in the mouth for each phoneme, and the following is a crude description.

/v/ vee

The upper front teeth touch the inner part of the lower lip and the air is forced out.

/o/ oh

The teeth release and the inside of the mouth constricts and the lips form a circle, emitting air, while the vocal chords in the larynx vibrate.

/i/ ee

The tongue rests on the back teeth, the front of the tongue slightly touches the back of the lower teeth, and raises up, and the lips are slightly open.

/ce/ hiss

The lips widen, the teeth almost close, the tip of the tongue slightly touches the back of the lower teeth, raises up and a hissing sound pours through the narrow slit formed by the teeth.

Now, I hear the word “voice” in a whole new way; my voice is truly air, a breath of air.

The reason for this unusual foray into phonetics is to lay the groundwork for this powerful connection: inspire and spirit have the same root meaning. Both words spring from the same Latin root: spirare, meaning “to breathe.” When I am inspired, I am breathing spirit, the Holy Spirit, the breath of God. His Voice is always speaking to me, and I am reminded of this each time I speak, knowing that my voice is breath.

God’s Voice speaks to me all through the day. (Title, Lesson 49)

It is quite possible to listen to God's Voice all through the day without interrupting your regular activities in any way. The part of your mind in which truth abides is in constant communication with God, whether you are aware of it or not.

The part that listening to the Voice for God is calm, always at rest and wholly certain. It is really the only part there is
. W-p1.49.2:1,2

Listen in deep silence. Be very still and open your mind
. W-p1.49.4:1,2

This reminds me of a passage from the Urtext. Jesus is talking to Helen, and He says to her:

I inspired Bob (refer to elevator man who took Helen down from her apartment) to make that remark to you. (Urtext: The Original Unexpurgated Manuscript As It Emanated From The Mind And Heart of Jesus Christ Of Nazareth, p. 38)

This is so encouraging because it is as reminder that Jesus, indeed, is walking with us all the time.

If it helps you, think of me holding your hand and leading you. And I assure you this will be no idle fantasy. W-p1.70.9:3,4

As far as breathing, yesterday I came across a brief review of a new book of poetry by the American poet, Robert Pinsky. The reviewer just happened to quote the first stanza of his poem, Song.

Air is an instrument of the tongue,
The tongue an instrument
Of the body.
The body

An instrument of spirit,

The spirit a being of the air.

Reading today’s Lesson 125, In quiet I receive God’s Word today, brings it all back to me, the phonetics, the breathing, the words, and I note once again the connection between my past experiences, e.g., the phonetics class, and the present, and how sometimes I feel I have been directed all along.

Since we come to the Course to learn to reverse our thinking, the first thing we need to do is to slow down.

Three times today, at times most suitable
for silence, give ten minutes set apart

from listening to the world, and choose instead
a gentle listening to the Word of God.


First, as we read this passage aloud, we, unconsciously, structure our breathing, i.e., we can only speak the lines by breathing out, and we are silent as we breathe in, preparing to breathe out. Isn’t that amazing? It is so habitual that we have forgotten that we breathe in in order to breathe out.

Secondly, Jesus postures our voice by the way He orders His words. For example, read the title of the Lesson aloud:

In quiet I receive God’s Word today.

First, Jesus is using only 10 syllables for each line; He has been doing this since Lesson 98, and He will continue using this convention for each line of each lesson until the end, Lesson 365. Not only that, but He postures our voice to speak each line by placing each syllable in a particular way, some are STRESSED and some are slack.


Five sets of syllables, basically in a slack STRESS, or iambic pattern. And Jesus, not only slows us down with this rhythmic pattern, but He postures our voice to say the words as He intends. GOD’S VOICE is what’s important here, and we find ourselves emphasizing those two words, whether we know it or not. And at one level, we certainly know it, and this is a reminder.

Only be quiet. You will need no rule
but this, to let your practicing today

lift you above the thinking of the world,

and free your vision from the body's eyes.

When I am looking through my body’s eyes, I am making up a world, unconsciously and habitually, and listening to the wrong voice, my narrative voice, associating, judging, separating, but when I slow down and listen to the Voice of God soothing me into silence, I slow down my breathing, and I can begin to see with vision, seeing a bright reflection of my silent mind.

For the past several weeks, I have been facilitating a class here at Endeavor Academy in the Wisconsin Dells. The class is called, “Listen, Learn, and Write.” It is highly interactive because we are doing writing exercises that enable us to be inspired by the Holy Spirit to express ourselves. At the end of the class a couple of days ago, we were sitting quietly, listening to music after sharing our inspired writing, and suddenly and spontaneously, Peg Elizabeth, a woman who has been at the Academy for some time, said to no one in particular, “Boy, in this class it is easy to get in touch with your soul.” That pretty much sums up what it means to open up and be receptive to spirit.

Peg Elizabeth's sentiment is echoed in a article I came across in the Wisconsin State Journal about Maggie Delaney-Potthoff who teaches voice in a class offered through UW-Madison Continuing Studies. What caught my eye is that she starts and ends her training with emphasis on breathing.

Someone looking in the window of the church’s gathering room, where the class is held, might easily mistake this for a yoga class or some kind of new-age meditation session. (Wisconsin State Journal, May 1, 2011, Section G, Unleash the Scream, Andrea Azni, p. 1.)

Delaney-Potthoff says, “Our voice is directly connected to our soul. The voice is the ultimate instrument. . .I am looking for that natural voice that’s behind the curtain, and all singing takes place through the third eye.” (Azni, p. 2)

Breathe in, breathe out, knowing that you are spirit, the holy breath of God.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Matter Doesn't Matter; What's Real Matters

In spite of the fact that I have been at this for some time, i.e., the transformation of my mind through A Course in Miracles I still find myself in a bit of a funk lately. I mean, without going into specifics, I find that certain individuals around me are really pissing me off.

You see, I know better.

There is no one outside of me.
I am not a victim of the world I see.
There is only my mind.
I am never upset of the reason I think.

Still. . .

So, this morning I woke up early, grabbed a cup of coffee, and sat down to find some solace in reading the Course, specifically this morning I found myself reading, randomly, Chapter 14, Teaching for Truth, Section Vlll, The Holy Meeting Place.

Let your mind wander not through darkened corridors, away from light's centre.

OK. I took a sip of coffee, closed my eyes, and experienced a moment of peace, light, not hearing my narrative voice tempting me to wander.

You and your brother may choose to lead yourselves astray, but you can be brought together only by the Guide appointed for you.

I brought to mind a particular person pissing me off and realized that I didn’t have to play the “If only game,” i.e., if only she wouldn’t do this or say that, I’d be OK. We cannot join at the level of time and space, but I can be guided to experience peace and light, no matter what she does or says. The “If only game” places me squarely in the duality; if she only did this instead of that. This is like waking up from a sleeping dream and saying, “I’m going to try to go back to sleep and hope for that to happen instead of this.” I would be trying to make better a dream of my own making.

He will surely lead you to where God and His Son await your recognition.

We can never recognize each other in time and space, but only join when I recognize that my being pissed off is occurring in the dream only; it’s of my own making, and it can be undone. I can choose to wake up.

They are joined in giving you the gift of oneness, before which all separation vanishes.

They, of course, refers to God and his Son, and in the experience of their oneness, I let go of separating thoughts, seeing only light. It does not matter what I thought she did to me.

Unite with what you are. You cannot join with anything except reality.

I had forgotten for a moment that in time and space there is no possibility for joining; it’s a dream. Wake up and be what you are, real.

God's glory and His Son's belong to you in truth. They have no opposite, and nothing else can you bestow upon yourself.

Prior to this recognition of reality, I had tried in my mind to make the dream real by fixing it and suffering the consequences.

There is no substitute for truth. And truth will make this plain to you as you are brought into the place where you must meet with truth.

By being preoccupied with substituting my thoughts for truth, I was depriving myself of the peace of God.

And there you must be led, through gentle understanding which can lead you nowhere else.

Indeed, I was grateful to gently understand these passages, finding solace after wandering along in a funk.

Where God is, there are you. Such is the truth. Nothing can change the knowledge, given you by God, into unknowingness.

Here it is again. This is the Word of God. My separating thoughts, and they are only my thoughts, cannot undo our Godly connection.

Everything God created knows its Creator. For this is how creation is accomplished by the Creator and by His creations. In the holy meeting place are joined the Father and His creations, and the creations of His Son with Them together. There is one link that joins them all together, holding them in the oneness out of which creation happens.

And now I can create because in this state of mind of the peace and oneness of God, I look out and see the reflection of my own peace of mind. I am seeing with the vision of Christ; I am creating.

So, I took another sip of coffee, looked up with soft eyes, seeing the loveliness of God’s Creation.

It’s so simple.

Just then, Christine, my wife walks into the room and says, “I stand here, and I am connected, and I stand there, and I’m disconnected.” And I thought, my God, what a metaphor for what I am writing at this moment. I allow my thoughts to disconnect me from peace when a particular individual says or does something, and in a moment, I can ask for help and reconnect.

I know Christine can read my mind; in fact, I often feel that my forehead is really a window for her to look into, but I say to her, “What are you talking about?”

She says, “My Bluetooth in my ear and sometimes I’m connected with the source, and then with the slightest shift of my head, I’m disconnected.”

And I think, Thank you very much for the metaphor because that is what I am trying to express right this moment, the utter simplicity of this conversion in my mind, shifting from funk to peace; it’s as simple as a slight movement of my head, connecting, or disconnecting with Source.

And once again, the phrase comes to mind, “It makes a difference, and it doesn’t matter.” What happens in space and time seems to make a difference, yet it does not matter in eternity. For example, just after writing this, I ran into a woman who generally pisses me off, and sure enough, she said something completely out of line, and I went into reaction, but this time only for a moment, because I caught myself, took a breath, and peacefully walked on by. What she said seems to make a difference in the dream, it matters not in eternity. She can say the same thing the next time, and what will it have to do with me, my Self, and I, joined with God? She doesn’t have to change; no "If onlys" here; I just need to shift out of the duality.

I just remembered that a long time ago, I was walking in a mall, and two women passed by, and I heard one say to the other, "It's a case of mind over matter; if you don't mind, it doesn't matter." That is, if I am in my right mind, the peace of God, it does not matter.

Nevertheless, navigating in the dream can sometimes seem quite difficult, and we are not alone. We are, indeed, in the world, and not of it. So the last point I want to make is that when I am experiencing peace, I am in a receptive state of mind, disregarding my narrative voice, receptive to hearing the Voice for God speaking to me all through the day, and in hearing His Voice, I know what to do next.

Right at this point, as Christine was reading the draft of this essay, she looked up and said, "That's like what happened once when I was riding my horse."

After she told me the story, I said, of course, "Write it up."

And she said, "I knew you'd say that."

The thought of God’s Voice speaking to me all through the day is reassuring. What is it like to hear God speaking to me all day, all the time? This reminds me of something that happened to me a long time ago. This is the story:

I was riding bareback on my all black appaloosa named Aphrodite, nicknamed Aphro, through the woods on a beautiful summer day. Then, I decided to leave the woods and ride through the brush, down a small incline to the road. Suddenly, Aphro was thrashing and trying to back up, her eyes wild with fear. I slid off to discover she was tangled up in an old fallen, wire fence, covered with brush and leaves. I realized that if she didn’t calm down, I would not be able to get near enough to her to untangle the fence from her legs without injuring myself and her. I began whispering to her in a soothing voice, petting her, becoming calm in my own mind. I kept talking to her, telling her everything will be okay in a soft, reassuring voice. She began to settle down, to stop struggling. I was able to untangle the fence, still talking with a calm voice. She stopped struggling as I removed the fence from her legs and walked her down the embankment to the road still whispering to her, reassuring her, petting her on her neck, the side of her face and the bridge of her nose. She started nuzzling into me, and I knew she felt safe.

When I am walking along in the dream and become entangled and fearful, I can remember to be still and ask to hear the Voice for God softly speaking, and I can become untangled and continue walking, trusting and smiling.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Our Brains Bring Color To A Dirty, Gray World, But What We Are Looking For Is Vision.

One of my great joys in life is reading A Course in Miracles. What is particularly joyful is transforming a general statement into a specific experience. For example, I read the sentence, I am the light of the world; I close my eyes, letting the statement wash over me, and feel a lightness and a tingling in my head and a warmth in my chest, my narrative voice is silent, and I sit and smile in gratitude, experiencing light.

In today's Lesson, 92, Miracles are seen in light, and light and strength are one, we are reminded of this strength.

You do not think of light in terms of strength, and darkness in terms of weakness. That is because your idea of what seeing means is tied up with the body and its eyes and brain. W-pl.92.1:2,3

As far as making the general specific, regarding how the brain works to make up a world, I came across an an article yesterday in the current Harper’s Magazine, entitled, Video Ergo Sum: Oliver Sacks and the Plasticity of Perception. In the article, Israel Rosenfield reviews a book by Oliver Sacks entitled, The Mind’s Eye.

What caught my eye was Rosenfield describing, precisely, how the eyes and brain interact to make up a world we think is real.

There is a simple fact about evolution that, although rarely mentioned, is very revealing: plants don’t have brains. Only animals—even very primitive animals and insects—have brains. Brains evolved because moving creatures, no matter how simple, are confronted by ever-changing, unpredictable surroundings. Plants don’t have brains because they don’t need them; they don’t move from place to place. For animals, motion creates a world of visual, tactile, and auditory sensations that are unorganized and unstable; in short, the world is constantly changing. What the brain must do—it’s probably the principal reason brains evolved—is create a stable, coherent sensory environment for the individual organism to understand and use. (Israel Rosenfield, Video Ergo Sum: Oliver Sacks and the Plasticity of Perception, Harper's Magazine, April, 2011, pp. 78-82)

This passage brought to mind these passages from the Course.

Nothing I see means anything. Title, Lesson 1

Perception is a mirror, not a fact. W-pll.304.1:3

Perception is projection. The world you see is what you gave it, nothing more than that. T-21.Intro.1:1,2

All things I think I see reflect ideas. Title, Lesson 325

The brain does this by “inventing” a range of perceptions: a series of constructs that we “see,” “hear,” and “feel” when we look, listen, and touch.

What really inspires me is the specificity of exactly how the brain works to make a world that we think we see, hear, taste, touch, and feel. And then Rosenfield describes how this is done, demonstrating the interaction between the brain and the wavelengths given off by various objects.

The creation of a coherent environment out of chaotic stimuli is one of the brain’s primary activities. There are no colors in nature, only electromagnetic radiation of varying wavelengths (the visible spectrum is between 390 and 750 nanometers). If we were aware of our real visual worlds we would see constantly changing images of dirty gray, making it difficult for us to recognize forms. (Rosenfield, p. 79)

Wow. There’s the specificity. What we “see” in general is merely an activity of the brain interacting with wavelengths of energy.

Our visual stimuli are stabilized when the brain compares the variations in the different wavelengths of light; the consequence of these comparisons is what we perceive as “color.” The brain creates a sense of “color constancy”: no matter the lighting conditions—bright sunlight, filtered sunlight, or artificial lighting—colors remain more or less the same. But colors themselves are not in our surroundings. Brains therefore create something that is not there; and in doing so they help us to make sense of our environments. (Rosenfield, p. 80)

I have invented the world see. Title, Lesson 32

Rosenfield ends with this metaphor.

We might say the brain is baking a cake. The ingredients that go into the cake are transformed when they are put into the oven, transforming the raw batter into springy chiffon. (Rosenfield, p. 80)

What I think I see now is taking the place of vision. I must let it go by realizing it has no meaning, so that vision may take its place.

In the title of his review, Video Ergo Sum: Oliver Sacks and the plasticity of perception, Rosenfield uses the metaphor of a video camera, i.e., the brain is like a camera, capturing moving images of whatever our eyes glance upon. His title echoes the famous dictum by the philosopher, Rene Descartes (1596-1650), Cogito ergo sum; I think therefore I am.

Both men make the mistake of ending their phrases in a limited manner. In both cases, the implication is. . .therefore, I AM, i.e., videoing and thinking are the essence of what I AM.

You also believe the body's brain can think. If you but understood the nature of thought, you could but laugh at this insane idea. It is as if you thought you held the match that lights the sun and gives it all its warmth, or that you held the world within your hand, securely bound until you let it go. Yet this is no more foolish than to believe the body's eyes can see, the b rain can think. W-pl.92.2

I described in the beginning of this essay that I closed my eyes and experienced the light. What I did not go on to say is that when I opened my eyes, I looked through what my body's eyes glanced upon, seeing a reflection of the light within, seeing with vision.

We know that we are not limited to our brains, either videoing, or thinking. False perception is an obstacle to knowing the truth of what we are; we are the holy sons of God, seeing through our limitations, seeing with vision.

God is my strength. Vision is His gift. Title, Lesson 42

Specifically, seeing with light is seeing with vision; although the video camera keeps running, as you look through its images, catching the reflection of your true Self.

Right at this point, when my wife, Christine, was reading this post as a rough draft, she looked up and said, "That's what I experienced in Saugatuck," referring to an experience last summer when we were vacationing in Michigan, and I said, "Write it up."

When we checked into this simple, old-time motel, the man at the counter was very business-like. My impression at the time was that he was very rigid and unforgiving. As we were leaving, he said, “There will be coffee and donuts in the morning;” as I turned to look at him and acknowledge what he said, the atmosphere shifted, everything seemed to be in slow motion, and as I looked into his eyes, there was a profound connection that we both entered into. All pretense fell away, we were so connected, I realized that nothing was as it seemed. The room quietly disappeared and there was only the awareness of a profound nature that left the world behind. This experience lasted less than a minute and yet was timeless.

The next morning I was in the dining area, pouring my first cup of coffee. As I was looking around, thinking these digs are not too impressive, there was this profound shift in my seeing, again. The entire room became alive, effervescent. It is difficult, impossible to put the unworldly into worldly terms. The motel did not change in appearance in the sense that everything became clean and new and fresh, it changed in the sense that everything, every thing, had a quality about it. All I saw was what I felt-- love, peace. There was a profound stillness, and as I walked back to our room, I realized I was seeing everything in Truth and not through my body's eyes. I was walking on the sidewalk, feeling part of the sidewalk; I opened the door and walked into part of me, I felt a part of everything immersed in myself. Everything was one, the same. I was seeing beyond my own eyes. I was the awareness of the experience. I was pure, free and unlimited. I was joy, happiness and love. I was everything and yet nothing. I was affected and unaffected. I was functioning in my world, and yet I knew I was not of my world. I fell through the false into certainty. Everything and everyone is all-encompassing singularity.

Then, what came to mind for me almost immediately when she mentioned this incident is that a couple of days ago I was caught in the act of seeing with vision, all-encompassing singularity.

Beth, our little neighbor, seven-years old, lovely and loving, was sitting on our deck with Christine and me on a beautiful Spring afternoon, eating cookies and drinking juice, chattering away in her child’s innocence about her four sisters and her cat, Jingles, and her teacher and television programs and her Dad taking her for ice cream, and then she looks at me and says, “You’re doing it again.”

I said, “Doing what?”

She said, “That look in your eyes.”

I said, “What look?”

Then she stood up right in front of me, her hands on her hips, and looking directly into my eyes, she said, “This one,” slightly staring and widening her eyes, mirroring for me how I looked when I was seeing with vision.

Then, I realized what she was referring to; occasionally, while she was chattering away, I would look up, gazing at the leaves in the high branches canopying our yard, watching the play of light and shadows of the leaves moving in the soft breeze, feeling the peace of God, seeing the reflection of the eyes of Christ. Her gift to me was the recognition that what I was experiencing was being communicated through me to all that I looked upon, and I was exceedingly glad!

A miracle is a shift in perception, a shift from seeing with the body's eyes and brain to seeing with vision. I consider it miraculous that I just came across for the first time a poem by Walt Whitman (1819-1892 ), entitled Miracles. In this poem, Whitman gives us a delightful tapestry by shifting from seeing through the body's eyes and their associations of the limited, false self, to seeing the bright reflections of his true Self.

If Beth had been walking with Walt, she would have looked into his eyes and said to him, "You're doing it again."

Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,

Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dark my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,

Or talk by day with anyone I love, or sleep in the bed at night
with anyone I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,

Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.
To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.
To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—
the ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?

Miracles are only strange to the body's eyes, conditioned to see only appearances.

Strength sees past appearances. It keeps its steady gaze upon the light that lies beyond them. It unites with light, of which it is a part. It sees itself. It brings the light in which your Self appears. W-pl.92.4:1-5

Walt, you are definitely a singer of your Self, and your title of one of your greatest poems is prophetic, Song of Myself, because we know it is a song of your Self, and what you celebrate is your Self appearing, a pure reflection.

* * *

And now I invite you to enjoy a YouTube photo presentation, 1 minute 54 seconds, of Walt Whitman's Miracles by Susan Nastro. Click here.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Listen, Learn, and Do: The Holy Spirit Bridges the Gap

As day was dawning one morning in July, 1922, Robert Frost, forty-eight years old, felt “impelled” to write the poem, Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening. He had, uncharacteristically, stayed up all night writing another poem. It is fascinating to see how he came to write one of his best poems.

Fatigued and yet elated, after finishing the rough draft of the poem “New Hampshire” in one stretch of work, Frost was not immediately aware he had written straight through the night. When he put his pen down and stretched, looking out through the window, he was surprised to see there was light in the east and that the syringa bush at the end of the front lawn was already coming out of darkness. With a sense of unusual excitement, he stood up, walked stiffly to the front door, opened it, descended the stone steps to the dew-heavy grass, and stood marveling less at the dawn than at his night’s work. Never before, in all his years of sitting up late to write, had he worked straight through until morning. Even now, with the poem tentatively finished, he was not ready to stop. There was something else he wanted to write—or felt impelled to write—although he had nothing immediately in mind as a starter.

Back into the house he went, moving through the living room to the dining room almost as though he were sleepwalking. He picked up his pen, found a clean page, and began a lyric that had nothing to do with the dawn of a July day. He seemed to hear the words, as though they were spoken to him, and he wrote them down as best he could, in his fatigue, even though they came so indistinctly at times that he was uncertain what he heard. In a short time, and without too much trouble, he completed these four quatrains.
(Lawrance Thompson and R. H. Winnick, Robert Frost: A Biography (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston: 1981), pp. 26,27.)

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound's the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

This entire poem poises for a moment on one word in the second line of the last stanza, “But.” Here the narrator is perfectly balanced between staying and leaving, then he falls, inexorably, towards moving on.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,

The word “poise” comes from the Latin, pensum, meaning “to weigh”. The narrator stops, weighing his options of stopping, or moving on, but the tension of fulfilling his promises forces him to move on.

Although the promises are abstract in the poem, they have specific references for Frost.

The tensions between his promises to himself as artist and to his wife and family (and others who made demands he often resented) continued to make him feel guilty. Equally serious to him was the feeling that although he had promised himself, years ago, he would do everything in his power to succeed as a poet, he often doubted whether he had the creative energy to keep adding elements of newness to his poetic performance. (Thompson and Winnick, p. 287.)

Frost’s narrator feels that he accomplishes something by resisting the temptation to stay stopped. In human terms, this is an accomplishment in will power, but we are not human, Thank God, we are divine, having the function to follow God’s Will and not our own, not mine but Thine. Not only does it seem to be a human imperative to keep moving, but it also seems to be a manly thing. You can see this in the last four lines of Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem, If.

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

So, there it is, you can decide to inherit the Earth, "But," Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (Corinthians 3:16)

To understand how it is that we tend continually to decide for earthly promises over divine treasures, it is necessary to take a hard look at where everything begins, and thank God, can end. It all begins and ends in my mind. Our minds are like a stage where a cast of characters is acting out the drama of our lives, where there is probably more tragedy than comedy. These characters have well-defined roles, and the best description of these roles comes from Jesus’ unworldly masterpiece, A Course in Miracles. In a Shakespearean playbill the characters would be referred to as Dramatis Personae: Self, Christ, ego, Holy Spirit, and the mechanism of decision, the Stage Manager.

Let’s start with the first character that ever appears in my mind, my Self. I am as God created me.

What Am I?

I am God's Son, complete and healed and whole,
shining in the reflection of His Love.

In me is His creation sanctified
and guaranteed eternal life. In me
is love perfected, fear impossible,
and joy established without opposite.
I am the holy home of God Himself.
I am the Heaven where His Love resides.
I am His holy Sinlessness Itself,
for in my purity abides His Own.

And the second character on the playbill:

What Is the Christ?

Christ is God's Son as He created Him.
He is the Self we share, uniting us

with one another, and with God as well.
He is the Thought which still abides within
the Mind that is His Source. He has not left

His holy home, nor lost the innocence
in which He was created. He abides
unchanged forever in the Mind of God.

Then there is in your mind what is called the ego, a part that split off from your Self, separating into a dream-world of darkness, forever guilty and fearful that it will be punished for its separation. To defend itself, it always keeps preoccupied, always keeps moving, fulfilling promises.

What is the ego?

But a dream of what you really are. A thought you are apart from your Creator and a wish to be what He created not. It is a thing of madness, not reality at all. We name it but to help us understand that it is nothing but an ancient thought that what is made has immortality. But what could come of this except a dream which, like all dreams, can only end in death?

Fortunately, there is a plan in place, God’s plan, and God placed in your mind a bridge between the ego and your Self, the Holy Spirit.

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.

Finally, there is you, Dear Reader, the one deciding which character will take the stage next.. You are experiencing yourself, right now, speaking these words in your mind as they unfold on the page. You are your voice, narrating your life’s drama. As narrator, as Stage Manager, you are the center of consciousness in your mind.

Consciousness is the receptive mechanism, receiving messages from above or below; from the Holy Spirit or the ego. (C-1.7:3)

Your mind is the mechanism of decision, always deciding between listening to the voice below, the voice of the ego, or the voice above, the voice of the Holy Spirit.

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-8.1V.5:7,8)

Now the stage is set, the actors are standing on their marks, making last-minute adjustments to their costumes, clearing their throats, and we can take another look at the poem. The narrator stands poised for a moment, but decides to move on, rather than experience the lovely woods. Within the frame of reference of the characters in your mind, you can see that he decides in that moment to listen to the voice of the ego. The ego fears its own loss, and if it stops in its frantic journey, driven by fear and guilt that it may disappear. If it ever stops for a moment to face its Self, that may be long enough to lose itself, the ego’s greatest fear.

This reminds me of the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. Alice saw him run by, saying to himself, “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late, actively taking a watch out of its waistcoat-pocket, looking at it, and then hurrying on.” (Lewis Carroll, The Annotated Alice (Norton: New York, 2000), p.6.)

Here is another poem, but in contrast to the first one, this narrator truly stops in silent expectancy.

My Name

One night when the lawn was a golden green
and the marbled moonlit trees rose like fresh memorials

in the scented air, and the whole countryside pulsed
with the chirr and murmur of insects, I lay in the grass
feeling the great distances open above me, and wondered
what I would become—and where I would find myself—
and though I barely existed, I felt for an instant
that the vast star-clustered sky was mine, and I heard
my name as if for the first time, heard it the way
one hears the wind or the rain, but faint and far off
as though it belonged not to me but to the silence
from which it had come and to which it would go.
Mark Strand

When the narrator first lays in the grass, his mind is still preoccupied with ego thoughts,

what I would become—and where I would find myself—

realizing at some level that he barely existed. In fact, he does not exist at all as an ego; he is the Self, always, already, here, now, and he stays, and he hears his name,

as if for the first time

because he allows himself to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit whispering to him, and he remembers his Self, his true Identity, his name.

as though it belonged not to me but to the silence

from which it had come and to which it would go.

And this is exactly what Frost experienced in writing his poem.

He picked up his pen, found a clean page, and began a lyric that had nothing to do with the dawn of a July day.

His poem was given him, Voiced from within, not influenced by externals; on a July day he wrote about snowy woods.

He seemed to hear the words, as though they were spoken to him, and he wrote them down as best he could, in his fatigue, even though they came so indistinctly at times that he was uncertain what he heard.
In a short time, and without too much trouble, he completed these four quatrains.

I will step back and let Him lead the way,
For I would walk along the road to Him.


And I heard my name for the first time.

God keeps his promises; His Son keeps his.
In his creation did his Father say,

“You are beloved of Me and I of you

forever. Be you perfect as Myself,
for you can never be apart from Me.”
His Son remembers not that he replied
“I will,” though in that promise he was born.
Yet God reminds him of it every time
he does not share a promise to be sick,

but lets his mind be healed and unified.
His secret vows (But I have promises to keep) are powerless before
the Will of God, whose promises he shares.
And what he substitutes is not his will,
who has made promise of himself to God.

Now, you can see the narrator’s secret vows in contrast to God’s promise to you. We are tempted to keep promises that are of this earth, forms that we can see, hear, taste, smell, and touch. These things are thought-images projected out from a thing that does not know itself, the ego.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth,

where moth and rust doth corrupt,

and where thieves break through and steal.

Matthew 6:19

Do you realize that the ego must set you on a journey which cannot but lead to a sense of futility and depression? To seek and not to find is hardly joyous. Is this the promise you would keep?


But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,

where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt,

and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Matthew 6:20-21

The Holy Spirit offers you another promise, and one that will lead to joy. For His promise is always, “Seek and you will find,” and under His guidance you cannot be defeated. His is the journey to accomplishment, and the goal He sets before you He will give you. For He will never deceive God’s Son whom he loves with the Love of the Father.


Frost went on to write poems for another 40 years, often saying that he “lodged a few poems where they can’t be gotten rid of easily,” and we can see in his poetry that he learned to overcome the “But” in order to stop and listen to God's Voice, hearing the words, as though they were spoken to him.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

When you stop by the lovely, dark and deep woods, really stop.

It is most appropriate, sitting here on my couch next to the wood-burning stove, looking out of the window on a snowy evening in late January, the snowflakes slanting at an angle blown by a strong wind, to take another look at a poem by Robert Frost (1874-1963), Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound's the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

Sitting here, it is easy to be lulled into the peace of mind while reading this poem. Frost is a master poet. Look at his internal rhyming that is a perfect blend of sound and sense, almost hypnotically lulling your senses.

The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

Here is the internal rhyme of sound and downy and sweep and easy, and the rhyming of flake with shake and mistake. As far as the over-all rhyme scheme, in the first stanza, we have know, though,snow, and here is picked up in the next stanza, queer, near, year, and then lake, in the third, shake, mistake, and flake, and finally, sweep, is picked up in the fourth, deep, keep, sleep and sleep.

In addition, with all this going on, Frost casts the poem in iambic tetrameter, meaning each line has four sets of iambs, a slack STRESS cadence.

The ON ly OTH er SOUND'S the SWEEP

Last night, I woke up in the middle of the night, thinking about this post, and I tried to go back to sleep focusing on my breathing, and then I got real excited because I discovered that our breathing is iambic! That is, breathe in, breathe out:

in OUT/ in OUT/ in OUT/ in OUT/ in OUT/

No wonder Frost lulls us into an easy state of mind with his masterful blend of rhythm and rhyming, sound and sense.

Now, to contrast my peaceful state of mind with the mind of the narrator, I want to point out that in the last stanza, he will not permit himself to stop and sit there, idly, peacefully. It is as if he is hearing his parents say to him, as they probably did when he was a child, “Don’t just sit there, do something!” Rather than saying to himself, “Don’t just do something, sit here,” he forces himself to move on, tempted by his thoughts, his promises that he must keep. Frost does not elaborate on these, but we can imagine his sense of obligations to family, and friends, and his job; his goals and aspirations and his worldly responsibilities. His life is ahead of him. He has too far to go, too many miles to travel before he sleeps, too much to do before he dies.

But, in truth, we know that there is only this moment, there is only now. What is pushing him along on his journey can only be his thoughts. In today’s Lesson in A Course in Miracles, Lesson 34, I could see peace instead of this, Jesus speaks directly to this fact that only our thoughts are the problem. Here is the sentence that captures exactly what I am doing right now, as my thoughts arise and fall, sitting here on the couch watching the snow flakes fall.

Note them all casually, repeating the idea for today slowly
(I could see peace instead of this) as you watch them arise in your mind, and let each one go, to be replaced by the next. W-p1.34.3:3

It is always a matter of becoming aware of your thoughts and then letting them go, releasing them, forgiving them, so that you can experience your natural, still, peace of mind. In the Lesson, a few sentences later, Jesus uses the word temptation, referring to your thoughts.

The purpose of these exercises is to protect yourself from temptation throughout the day. 5:2

My thoughts tempt me to turn from my peaceful state to face my troubled world that I have made up with my thought-images, and it is only by standing here in my certainty that I can see peace instead of this this thought, that temptation.

In fact, sitting here on my couch, I find myself rewriting the last stanza, with apologies to Frost.

The woods are filling with snow, deep.
I sit here, still, almost asleep.
I have no promises to keep,
I have no promises to keep.

In addition, I asked a young friend of mine, Veronica Mejia , to practice writing the last stanza as well. She is a young woman, 16, from Cali, Colombia, South America, who is transforming through A Course in Miracles, and I am tutoring her in literature in preparation for college.

Nature at peace calls me with ease.
I enter to find God waiting for me.

And in a Holy Instant I join Him,
And in a Holy Instant I join Him.


And now here is a passage from Jesus, Lesson 182, I will be still an instant and go home.

When you are still an instant, when the world
recedes from you, when valueless ideas
cease to have value in your restless mind,
then will you hear His Voice. So poignantly
He calls to you that you will not resist
Him longer. In that instant He will take
you to His home, and you will stay with Him
in perfect stillness, silent and at peace,
beyond all words, untouched by fear and doubt,
sublimely certain that you are at home.

And now, if you would like a respite from your worldly promises, I invite you to take a moment to listen to my friend, Doug, play the piano and sing his song inspired by Lesson 182, I will be still an instant and go home. Click here.