Thursday, January 27, 2011

Render Unto God

For many years now, I have started over doing the Lessons in the Workbook of A Course in Miracles on New Year’s Day, Lesson 1, Nothing I see means anything. And now, today, January 20, Lesson 20th, I am determined to see.

These early Lessons make it abundantly clear that I am walking around in a dream of my own making. The dream is woven by thoughts that have no source in Reality; they are not my Real Thoughts. These Lessons are helping to remind me, again and again, to reverse my way of thinking because I think that the object comes first, and then I think about it. In fact, the thought that makes the object comes first.

It is always the thought that comes first, despite of the temptation to believe that it is the other way around. W-p1.17.1:3

When I truly ask for help to reverse my thinking, something else occurs beyond my making, and I begin to see with vision, looking through my dream, seeing with the eyes of Christ, seeing the reflections of my True Self. And this brings me to Lesson 29, God is in everything I see, because when I see with vision, I am seeing His sure Reflection.

Even though I diligently practice in this manner, I still often find it confusing. While I am in the world, in the body, what do I do, especially as I am coming to realize that there is no world, that I am not a body, that I am free, being God’s Son? How do I conduct myself in the world, in the dream?

So, all kinds of questions arise while I walk through this world that is not so. To what extent do I take care of my body, since I am not a body. If I have a sore throat, should I go to the doctor? Perhaps, I do not need to work to make money for rent and clothes and things?

To learn to reverse my thinking, is it OK to read anything other than the Course? I mean, what about books by Eckart Tolle and Murdo MacDonald-Bayne and Adyashanti and Mary Baker Eddy and Michael Brown and Joel Goldsmith?

Is it all right to do Yoga and breathing exercises and chant and TM?

Is it all right to read novels and magazines and newspapers and watch television and go to movies?

Dear Reader, you are probably beginning to realize that I have been raising questions that seem legitimate, but, really, they are taking me deeper into the dream by maintaining the duality. Whether I choose this or that, I am dragging myself into choosing among illusions, demonstrating that I am in an illusory state of mind myself.

Fortunately, I have found a way out of this apparent dilemma. The way out for me is to stay conscious, to stay aware of the fact that being is the key, not doing, not choosing this or that, but becoming aware of my True Being.

When I face these apparent dualities, I ask for help by remembering certain key phrases. For example, here is a life-saving sentence for me from Brother Laurence.

It is not what you do, it is the state of mind in which you do it.

This simple phrase helps me face false dualities. When I slip into a state of mind of the peace of God, I am free; in this state of mind, I am free of the thoughts pouring through my mind that are posing these dualities in the first place, having no source in Reality. And experiencing this freedom, I am receptive to hear the Voice of God speaking to me, God's Voice speaks to me all through the day. Lesson 49

By slipping into this state of mind, I am free to do as I am directed, and this answers the question I posed earlier, how am I to be in the world, knowing I am not of the world. This is one way that Jesus expresses it in His Urtext, The Original Unexpurgated Manuscript AS It Emanated from The Mind And Heart of Jesus Christ Of Nazareth.

Having been restored to your original state, you naturally become part of the Atonement yourself. You now share MY inability to tolerate the lack of love in yourself and in everyone else, and MUST join the GREAT CRUSADE to correct it. The slogan for this Crusade is “Listen, Learn, and DO. This means: Listen to MY Voice, Learn to undo the error, and DO something to correct it. Urtext, p. 6.

This is the value of slipping into that state of mind of the peace of God: receptivity. Now my little "I" does not have to choose. My True Self is receptive to the Voice for God, answering these questions.

What would You have me do?
Where would You have me go?

What would You have me say, and to whom?


This is another way Jesus expresses it in His Course.

So do we lay aside our amulets, our charms and medicines, our chants and bits of magic in whatever form they take. We will be still and listen for the Voice of healing, which will cure all ills as one, restoring saneness to the Son of God. No voice but this can cure. Today we hear a single Voice which speaks to us of truth, where all illusions end, and peace returns to the eternal, quiet home of God.

And in His Urtext, He expresses it this way.

Plan ahead is good advice in this world, where you should and must control and direct where you have accepted responsibility. But the Universal Plan is in more appropriate hands. You will know all you need to know. Make NO attempts to plan ahead in this respect
. Urtext, p. 1

(Have a good day.) Since only eternity is real, why not use the illusion of time constructively. You might remember that “underneath are the Everlasting Arms.
Urtext, p. 5

Because my feet are on the ground and my hands are in heaven, I can bring down the glories of Heaven to my brothers on earth.
Urtext, p. 21

As I quote Jesus, what comes to mind is this: It is obvious that Jesus, walking in the world, receptive only to the Voice for God, would be confronted by the Pharisees, attempting to entangle Him, demanding to know what to do, for example, when asked to pay taxes to Caesar. Here is a passage from Matthew 22.

Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.

And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.

Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?

But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?

Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.

And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.

When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.

Matthew 22:15-22

And this is what I learn from Jesus: Emptying my mind of worldly thoughts, I ask to be directed how to conduct myself in the world, trusting the Voice from out of this world.

Recently, I have been enthralled by reading a book entitled The Holy Spirit's Interpretation of the New Testament, scribed over a one-year period by Regina Dawn Akers. I quote now from the Introduction because it demonstrates the value of stepping back and listening.

Regina learned that scribing is a process of letting go. As she read the New Testament, she found that her mind was filled with thoughts about what she read. Sometimes she felt she understood what she read. Sometimes she seemed to judge what she read. But Regina learned that as she held to her own thoughts regarding what she read, she could not hear the Holy Spirit’s thoughts. Regina learned to empty her mind by letting go of any thoughts she had about her reading. She found that when she came to the point of complete emptiness within her mind, desiring only the words of the Holy Spirit, a Voice would come streaming into her mind. At this point, Regina would begin scribbling into a spiral notebook as fast as she could, focusing on capturing the words that she heard. (The Holy Spirit's Interpretation of the New Testament, O Books, John Hunt Publishing, 2007,)p. 7

Here is an example of what came streaming into her mind. This is the Holy Spirit's interpretation of Matthew 22.

The journey to the wedding banquet seems to be time in the world. On this journey, the distraction of the world may be great.There will be times that you have forgotten you are on the journey, because the distraction of the world is great. Let this not distress you.Your joy will come when you have completed the journey, for then you will know where the journey led. But until then, do not feel guilty for journeying, my child. For this seems to be something you must do.

This is the meaning of the analogy of the wedding banquet:

Marriage is the symbol of joining, and the kingdom of Heaven is joining. It is all right to journey in the world, as long as you remember that you are not of the world.

On your journey, remember Me and keep Me close to your heart. But do not deny the journey you are on. It leads to Me and the disappearance of the journey. “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” means, do what you seem to need to do while you are in the world.

When you have forgotten you are on the journey, there will seem to be many things that need your attention. I am in those things too, whether you see Me or not, so do them in peace.

It is not what you do, it is the state of mind in which you do it.

When you remember you are on the journey, many things of the world will seem to fall away. Let them go, but do not worry about the things in the world that seem to need your attention. Just as I have always been with you, I am there in those things too. As you learn to see Me in all things, the journey will seem easier, but it is not until you arrive at the wedding banquet that the journey will fall away. So live within your journey in peace and with Me. Be happy, and rest your mind. I am walking beside you, pleased, as we journey to the wedding banquet together.

Do not be confused by what you see in the world, for Heaven is nothing like the world at all. In the world, there are differences; there are conflicts; there is suffering, and there is death. But none of these things exist in Heaven. Think of the world as a dream, for it seems real while you are here. But think of Heaven as awakening. Upon reaching Heaven, you will realize that the world, and all you thought there, was never true and so it mattered not.

I tell you, the truth is always true, and there is no truth in the world. Do not let your worldly concerns distract you long. Lay them aside that you may continue your journey and awaken to that which calls you.

And so the greatest commandment shall lead you on your journey: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. Let your love for God be your guiding light in all you do and all you think. Never forget your love for God, and give all things to Him. In this way, you will move steadily along your journey.

And the second commandment is like it, for the second commandment guides you within the distraction of the world. Love your neighbor as your Self, because he is. There is no greater truth than this. Your Father, of course, is right. You are joined and at the wedding banquet, but the dream of the world keeps you from knowing this is true. Awaken from the dream by accepting the truth. The journey to acceptance is the journey to Heaven. Accept the truth, and you are there.

Finally, here is the Holy Spirit's interpretation of Matthew 23:1-4, summing up how to be in but not of the world.

Listen.The truth is calling you, and the truth is not of this world. I have already told you that you are free to give what is Caesar’s to Caesar. This means, you are free to live in the world and do as you need to do while you live in the world. Do not feel guilty for paying taxes, obeying laws, raising children or for doing any of the things that the world requires, but do not get lost in those things either. The world is but a distraction, and it distracts you from Heaven. So you must live in the world, but not be of the world. You do this by doing all things for giving all things the purpose of Heaven. In this way, all things can be used to lead you to Me. And I will show you how to use them. So live in your world, but be not distracted by it.

The root meaning of the word, distract, is tract, Latin, meaning "to be drawn", and dis, "apart"; I do not want to be drawn into duality, apart from God.

I am going to end with some practical ways of expressing being in but not of the world.

I have always appreciated this sentence from the Course:

. . .if your brothers ask you for something “outrageous,” do it because it does not matter. T-12.111.4:1

The key to understanding this sentence is to realize that the two "its" have different references. The first "it" means to find a peaceful state in your mind so that you are not drawn into the duality, and the second "it" refers to whatever your brother is asking in his dream. In a peaceful state, I am drawn out of the duality and receptive to the Voice for God, and then I will know what to do, where to go, what to say, and to whom, and I am saved.

Salvation is for the mind, and it is attained through peace. This is the only thing that can be saved and the only way to save it. Any response other than love arises from a confusion about the “what” and the “how” of salvation, and this is the only answer. T-12.5:1-3

A long time ago at a New Age Workshop, the presenter wrote this phrase on the board, and it puzzled me until I saw its meaning after I learned to reverse my thinking through the Course.

It makes a difference,
and it doesn’t matter.

And now I see that the "it" refers to what seems to be happening in the dream;

It seems to make a difference in space and time,
but it does not matter in eternity.

God knows nothing of my choices in duality, and I am free.

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


I am the stillness of God's creation.

Finally, my friend, Diane, taught me something she learned through doing Improv, or improvisational, skits over the years. When you are on stage making it up, and someone in the skit asks you to do something, you never say, "Yes, but . . ." because that will kill the skit by stopping the flow. The key to Improve is always to say, "Yes, and . . ." then the whole thing flows, just as my life does when I am in the world saying "Yes and . . ." trusting that I will be directed from out of this world, thereby rendering unto God.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

On Gratitude

For the Christmas Holidays, my wife, Christine, and I were grateful yet again to spend time in her childhood home in southwest Michigan in her hometown of White Pigeon, traveling from Wisconsin Dells, where we have been students of A Course in Miracles at Endeavor Academy for the past several years. Staying with her mother, we celebrated Christmas with Christine’s brothers and wives and children and grandchildren.

Out of my regular routine at the Academy and with considerable time on my hands, I wandered into a mall bookstore in a nearby town, and a book practically fell off the shelf into my hands, On Gratitude, a book in which 51 celebrities share what they are most grateful for. The award-winning journalist, Todd Aaron Jensen, interviews each of them, and his brief introductions are very succinct and insightful, capturing their essence.

I knew this was just the right book when I read the first interview with Ray Bradbury, and he related this anecdote with a Christmas theme.

Love is easy. You can’t resist love. You get an idea, someone says something and you’re in love. I went to dinner in Denver about twenty years ago and heard the lady at the next tab e say to her friends, “Oh, my God, I’ll bet dogs think every day is Christmas.” I went up to her and said, “Madam, thank you. You’ve just given me a title. I’m going back to my hotel, and I’m going to write a book called Dogs Think That Every Day Is Christmas.” That’s how these things happen.

Here are some other juicy quotations from other celebrities regarding gratitude and love.

Jeff Bridges

You can’t take yourself too seriously, and you can’t take your thoughts too seriously. They’re only thoughts. That awareness allows what you really are to just be there, to be open. I believe that’s where creativity and happiness come from.

Deepak Chopra

The measure of your enlightenment is the degree to which you’re comfortable with paradox, contradiction, and ambiguity. I have been married for forty years. The secret? Total acceptance and give up being right. It’s the advice for everyone in every relationship.

Ben Kingsley

But life is always richer when we’re not playing who we are, but being who we are. We are all spiritual creatures and live spiritual existences, however confused and disguised and sometimes downtrodden these lives might sometimes feel. But this is why we can be so profoundly moved by certain experiences and certain art, why millions of people can be moved by a sequence of notes written by Mozart or Beethoven or Elgar. Why does that series of notes move us? It resonates with something inside of us that is beyond explanation. It’s ineffable. That is spiritually. That is what connects us all. That is why it is important to me to do what I do, to be a storyteller. Because telling stories heals us, doesn’t it?

Dolly Parton

Everything I do, all of these blessings, everything I give, it all come back to me ten-fold. I just give it away, everything I can, everything about me. It’s always a cycle. I give. It comes back to me. Then I energize it and put it right back out there. That’s just the way I share, and it’s the best blessing of all to me.

Ringo Starr

I heard a great line recently by Carl Jung. He was being interviewed when he was, like, 300 years old. His family was ministers and church people. At the end of the interview on this old BBC show, they said, “Well, do you believe in God?? And he said, “No, I know.” And it stuck with me so hard. How beautiful was that? “I know.” Well. . .okay then. . . .

At the end of his book, Todd Aaron Jensen invites the readers to share what they are grateful for and send it to him:

Well. . .okay then. .
., thanks for the invitation.

I am so grateful for A Course in Miracles, the unworldly-masterpiece, a direct communication from Jesus 2000 years after His Resurrection. By using this Course as a guide over the years, I have trained my mind to reverse my thinking from believing to knowing, from belief to knowledge.

When I experience gratitude, say, when a brother makes direct eye contact with me, or a brother smiles, or an acts in a kindly way, I slip into a state of mind beyond belief, the experience of peace, a state where the narrative voice is silent, a state of stillness, serenity, knowing.

Gratitude is a springboard for experiencing this peaceful state.

Through A Course in Miracles, I have learned to be receptive to gratitude, to go beyond perceptual beliefs to knowing. This training is systematic, and the Course uses our perceptions to go beyond them.

Perception is the medium by which ignorance is brought to knowledge. (T-14.VII.1:7)

I have learned to utilize the 365 Lessons of the Workbook of the Course, day after day, each year, for many years, to learn to slip into peace and knowledge. For example, today’s Lesson is Lesson 1, on New Year’s Day. Happy New Year!

Lesson 1: Nothing I see means anything.

To give you, Dear Reader, an idea of how the Course works to reverse your thinking from believing to knowing, here are some other titles in the first few Lessons.

Lesson 10: My thoughts do not mean anything.

Lesson 21: I am determined to see things differently.

Lesson 34: I could see peace instead of this.

Lesson 45: God is the mind with which I think.

Lesson 50: I am sustained by the Love of God.

By simply reading these Lesson titles, you can see how the daily practice outlined in each Lesson enables you to learn to reverse your thinking, incrementally, from believing to knowing.

After 123 days we come to this Lesson, I thank my Father for His gifts to me, and we can pause for a moment and spend a day in gratitude. As I expressed earlier, gratitude is a springboard into knowing from believing.

Today let us be thankful. We have come
to gentler pathways and to smoother roads.
There is no thought of turning back, and no
implacable resistance to the truth.
A bit of wavering remains, some small
objections and a little hesitance,
but you can well be grateful for your gains,
which are far greater than you realize.

A day devoted now to gratitude
will add the benefit of some insight

into the real extent of all the gains
which you have made; the gifts you have received.
Be glad today, in loving thankfulness,
your Father has not left you to yourself,
nor let you wander in the dark alone.
Be grateful He has saved you from the self
you thought you made to take the place of Him
and His creation. Give Him thanks today.

The self you made is the ego, the narrative voice that ceaselessly speaks to you, until the moment you slip into a peaceful state of mind. The momentary lack of mind chatter is the main reason for this moment of experiencing peace.

Give thanks that He has not abandoned you,
and that His Love forever will remain
shining on you, forever without change.
Give thanks as well that you are changeless, for
the Son He loves is changeless as Himself.
Be grateful you are saved. Be glad you have
a function in salvation to fulfill.
Be thankful that your value far transcends
your meager gifts and petty judgments
the one whom God established as His Son.

As God’s Son, our function while we are in this world is to learn to shift away from believing that we are egos, personalities, our narrative voices, to knowing that we are our True Selves, the holy Sons of God. Thank you, Carl Jung. Well. . .okay then. . .

Today in gratitude we lift our hearts
above despair, and raise our thankful eyes,
no longer looking downward to the dust.
We sing the song of thankfulness today,
in honor of the Self that God has willed
to be our true Identity in Him.
Today we smile on everyone we see,
and walk with lightened footsteps as we go
to do what is appointed us to do.

We do not go alone. And we give thanks
that in our solitude a Friend has come
to speak the saving Word of God to us.
And thanks to you for listening to Him.
His Word is soundless if it be not heard.
In thanking Him the thanks are yours as well.
An unheard message will not save the world,
however mighty be the Voice that speaks,
however loving may the message be.

Dolly Parton's comments about giving and receiving echo the following passage.

God knows that we need help in making the transition from believing to knowing, and he created the bridge, the Holy Spirit, the Voice for God, His Voice.

Thanks be to you who heard, for you become
the messenger who brings His Voice with you,
and lets It echo round and round the world.
Receive the thanks of God today, as you
give thanks to Him. For He would offer you
the thanks you give, since He receives your gifts
in loving gratitude, and gives them back
a thousand and a hundred thousand more
than they were given. He will bless your gifts
by sharing them with you. And so they grow
in power and in strength, until they fill
the world with gladness and with gratitude.

It is truly amazing to come to the realization that God is grateful for us, His Children.

Receive His thanks and offer yours to Him
for fifteen minutes twice today. And you
will realize to Whom you offer thanks,
and Whom He thanks as you are thanking Him.
This holy half an hour given Him
will be returned to you in terms of years
for every second; power to save the world
eons more quickly for your thanks to Him.

Receive His thanks, and you will understand
how lovingly He holds you in His Mind,
how deep and limitless His care for you,
how perfect is His gratitude to you.
Remember hourly to think of Him,
and give Him thanks for everything He gave
His Son, that he might rise above the world,
remembering his Father and his Self.

My gratitude enables me to slip into the remembrance of my Father and my True Self.

Thank You, Father.