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.