I’ve been living in community now, part time, for just under three months. I come in on Friday nights, then stay till sometime Sunday morning, when I say my good-byes and am gone till the next Friday. What I noticed right away from the community was this invitation to step off the stage. This was massive for me. Stepping off the stage. Just reading those words again stirs something inside that’s very deep, fearful, and yet exhilarating. You can come down from the stage here, with us. We’re here to help you see Who you are, in Truth. My entire life have I had some awareness or sense that I was merely fulfilling a role and some made-up persona. A persona that states: I will be who I think you need me to be so that you stick around, and better yet, stick around and validate me as a someone … and dare I say it … someone special. But I’ve always had this rebellious streak – a reluctant role-taker, as it were.
Recalling a line from a poem written when I was 20: “And with contempt as the stage-man hands me my role, I listen to the wind, to the wind of my soul.” That’s been my life, till recently, in a nut-shell.
And so stepping off the stage into trust has been huge. It’s invited me into a whole experience of melting – a selfhood melting, at moments gushing, all over the place. But what I’ve also learned, so far, is that the ego is extremely sneaky. Given the tiniest foot-hold, it will lure me back up onto stage using fear tactics: You need me! I’m here to protect you! These people don’t really have your back – come back with me, and I’ll show you what safety is. And that’s when I spin out, lose my frame of reference, and become ambushed with doubt. At times I have thought “I have to get out of here. I need to get away, this isn’t safe.” Other times I have just hid out: “They can’t see me like this. What if they found out? They’d throw me out!”
But sooner or later, I come back around, a glimmer of light enters my mind, a gentle voice prompting me “go talk with….(so and so)”, “go for walk” … or whatever. The spin out starts to spin back in, often ending is feelings of relief, joy, serenity, laughter, and lightness. Now I’m at a point of knowing and expecting the spinouts will happen, and just working to stay open and willing to hear the quiet Voice inside to lead me back to love. And at the heart of it, it’s my brothers who are most helpful in this regard. My “stage” self is quite suspicious and fearful about asking for help, and appearing weak and needy. But stepping off the stage, more and more, I go where my heart directs me, because this is where I MUST go, there is no other way. And each time I follow those inner pointers, I end up feeling the big Love more and more. Oh yeah! I CAN trust!!!!! Does it get any better that that???
Sometimes. Occasionally I get these stretches of what I can best describe as expansion. Like unexpectedly jumping out of an airplane and having that “wheeeeeee” sensation. They come and they go, and are amazing reminders of what Truth is, and where I’m going with my brothers. Where we are all headed. For example, last week when I went to leave the center on Sunday morning, I had such an experience. The weekend was riddled emotional releases, and I walked around a lot of the time in a dazed and confused state. For the most part, I wasn’t exactly in the joy, but knew intuitively that what was coming up needed to come up and get released. So, when I went to leave in the morning, I remember trying to leave quickly because I could feel something starting to erupt. It didn’t seem to have any specific scenario or memory or concept attached to it. I didn’t want to let it blow while I was walking out the door, and as soon as I had that thought, lo and behold, the tears started to come.
This was an explosion of emotion and sobbing and release that would not be contained despite all my best efforts. Driving home I just sobbed and sobbed, and felt like it would never end. What was striking about the experience was that it was completely joyful. I felt enormously and expansively happy and didn’t know why. There was no earthly reason, and it just had to ‘blow’ and get out. Alongside the intense joy was an unmistakable sense that I made it all up. That the whole thing – all these people, all these stories, all the cosmos, all of it – was made up. That remembering was what seemed to be the joyful thing. That there was nothing ever to feel bad about – ever. That it’s all supremely and infinitely joyful and innocent and glorious.
So as the experience of being ‘off the stage’ while in community starts to ooze into my life while outside community (at home, at my job, with my kids etc.), can I begin to really get that all of this is perfect and is for my healing, which is really for everyone. There’s no more need to try and work to define my little self in these weird terms around these stage roles of who I think I am and who I think I need to be or imagine that I need to be. The melting is a thaw of ALL of it, no matter where I seem to be or whatever I seem to be doing. There is no real distinction in form, except when I try and push to have one or make one true.
I’m just in the movie theater watching all these weird and wonderful images fly by, and my only job is to let go and Let God.
So lately, I’m thinking about really trying to make the transition from being a seeker to being a finder. Theoretical frameworks are good and all, but just because I can talk to you about things doesn’t mean that I will be peaceful. As peace, love, and true joy are rapidly becoming my only goal, seeking just doesn’t really do it for me anymore. It’s interesting to me how the ego can use these frameworks as another delay maneuver to actually prevent progress. There are plenty of frameworks that point to an experience of perfect peace, but without applying these frameworks, they are ultimately worthless. David is fond of saying that the spiritual journey is one percent framework, ninety nine percent application. The framework was useful in releasing blocks and increasing willingness, but ultimately, I must look inward to an experience, because the words are not what generate peace in me. Seeking other texts or tools to help are useful until contemplation and inquiry have taken me as far as they can. I must practice. I must accept that if there is ever going to be lasting peace, I must find it now. Now is all there is. I must empty the contents of consciousness and admit that I was wrong about absolutely everything. Seeking for patches in form is not useful because the problem is not in form. The problem is in my mind. I have a perceptual problem that goes far past thought (I’m unworthy) past belief (the ego is a real choice) to desire (I want to make myself and be special) The desire to make myself and hide from light is ultimately the reason that I believe that there could be something other than love. I am finding what I am seeking because I am afraid of the light. It is necessary to correct perception then so that my thoughts change. As my thoughts change, so will my belief. I will finally see that my desire is misplaced. Ultimately I must look on the insanity of the ego thought system and dismiss it as worthless. And I will not see that it is worthless if I do not see it exactly as it is. As I choose love in each moment, all that is unlike love will be raised into awareness. The purpose of my practice is to fully understand the depth of guilt and pain the mind feels by identifying with the ego. Only then will it be forgiven, because only then will the ego seem unappealing. Only when the ego is forgiven will I be able to realize the ego never was.
I can tell you the ego never was. A Course in Miracles would say the ego never was. Blindly believing the words offers some comfort, but practice is the only way to eliminate doubt in my mind. The practice is simple for me now, because I am starting to approach the simplicity of truth.
I ask in each moment:
1. ‘What is given now?’
And watch peacefully as that which is given now unfolds. By making a choice to try and give up control, this corrects the belief that I can control. While choice seems possible I must choose to not control so that I can see there was no choice. When I accept the correction, I can see my desire was misplaced, and that I am actually happier when I do not identify with the self I made. I see this by becoming aware of the witness of the events unfolding in this world. This witness is perfect and has no lack. All thoughts come and go but the witness just watches and shines. There is a light in my mind that is thoroughly unconcerned because it has never attacked, nor can be attacked. There is infinite joy and peace in being aware of this light. The light does not change, but if I choose to identify with a concept, or believe that choice is meaningful, I will lose awareness of this light because I still want to be special and make choices by myself. Guilt will surely follow, because I have chosen against all there is in reality.
The light in my mind calls to me. The course states that this light actually is me. This realization will end all guilt forever, because in this realization, the world disappears. The light has never sinned, is eternal and cannot ever be broken into fragments. It was just the light’s identification with a mad thought system, the ego, that made the images seem real. All this I understand intellectually, but I do not desire the experience enough to experience myself as the light. This would mean the dissolution of the sense of self, the end of specialness, and the end of the belief that I can create myself. It is interesting to note that I could even look upon the full insanity of the ego were it not for the fear of the love buried underneath it.
Words cannot cure this fear. The only remedy is practice. By giving my heart over to the light within, I become aware of all things in my mind unlike the light. This fear of the loss of self will evaporate eventually, because it is the only thing I ever wanted but it may seem to take a while. Consistent awareness of the witness to the dream is my one goal now. By giving my mind over to this light, I can watch as the symbols of the world demonstrate that the light is all there is. I can use the symbols to convince my mind that the light is not to be feared, but rather, embraced. That is my way home.
Will my mind identify with the ego during this process? Probably… Literally all my past learning has taught me that that was my identity. Even when I feel pain, it is becoming easier to stomach because I know the pain will go. The witness remains unchanged and I can identify with it as soon as the thoughts that are blocking the awareness of the witness pass. It is becoming easier to catch these egoic thoughts and dismiss them as unreal, because I am becoming more convinced of the constant nature of the witness in my mind. This is the meaning of true forgiveness. I forgive what never was, instead of forgiving out of charity to make myself ‘better’ and build a self concept.
When I cannot even forgive, I find that two other thoughts are helpful:
2. ‘My one goal is to be aware of my self.’
This clarifies purpose in my mind. Often, upset comes to my mind because I put other goals before this one. I think finishing a project, or having enough food or anything in form is more important than this goal. I then lose awareness of my self because I have chosen against it. This clarification of purpose reminds me that nothing in form is causative, and I can just step back from what I think I want out of any situation and accept the peace that is. Usually, thinking it is enough to effect the change. However, the thought is no more magic than any other thought. If my desire is not to experience my self, I will not in that moment whether or not I think that thought. The desire to have something other than myself will pass though, and I can choose once again.
3. ‘I do not know anything.’
All thoughts are concepts. They are not the light in my mind, and this witness will never be reached by concepts. All concepts are equally false. Sometimes the awareness of light is blocked by thinking I know something about the world or myself. These concepts create expectations about scenarios, which in turn will block the awareness of Self if the expectation is not met. This thought helps me to realize I don’t know my best interests. If I don’t even know who I am, how can I judge what will help me? This thought allows me to recognize when I am holding a concept as more valuable than acceptance of what is. Again, I may desire the concept more than the acceptance, but this desire will pass because the concept is unreal. And I choose once again.
These three thoughts together form most of what is my current practice.
1. What is given now?
2. My one goal is to be aware of my self.
3. I do not know anything.
Of course this may all get simpler. Thoughts 2 and 3 are not strictly necessary for a mind that can forgive ego thoughts and recognize their unreality quickly. Even thought 1 is unnecessary for a mind that trusts. I think. Which is part of the problem of course…
Well, we’ll see how it goes.
I would sign off with, ‘may you find what you seek,’ but really, you always find what you seek. The mind is that powerful, so…
May you choose what you seek wisely!
This is a description of what we call mystical experiences which seemed to occur a few weeks ago. It was quite simple, instantaneous and undramatic but powerful and profound in it’s impact. I was prompted to go for a walk along the riverbank one afternoon as the snow was thawing. I chanced to step in a spot where the snow gave way and I fell into it up to my thigh. This seeming mishap had the added benefit of slowing the mind down into a contemplative state. I found a nearby rock. I sat down on it resting and meditating on accepting the idea that I absolutely had a knowing in my heart what the Spirit is guiding in each moment. I have only to stop and ‘take a knee’ or check in with Spirit and ask for clear and present guidance. There was no real need to look ‘outside’ myself for this source of inspiration and direction.
I eventually continued the walk still pondering deeply Spirit’s ever present guidance, and came back up to the Devotional Center. The instant I did suddenly a flash entered my consciousness almost like a lightning bolt of awareness of an image of me walking as though a photo had been taken in the mind’s eye. Surrounding this image of a body walking was a brilliant light which connected directly with heaven. The concept of a body moving through time and space in that instant was false. It was ‘seen’ that in reality the nature of time and space is not unlike a series of ‘still life’s.’ The most apt analogy is looking at a roll of motion picture film. In each photograph nothing is seen to be happening but when run through the projector and back-lit with a bright light it appears that there is movement. Things are done or said but it is not real. Nothing is really happening.
In that instant a clear awareness dropped in that although it appeared that I had continued walking and nothing unusual had occurred I had in fact never left the Heaven. That simple footstep and everything else in time and space was simply a ‘still life.’ In which nothing had ever occurred in reality. With this awareness came a sense of freedom and expansion which seemed to enfold everything in it’s simple presence with lightness, joy and ease. I shared my new found insight at lunch and was surprised when it resonated with several around the table. They recognized the authentic truth in this lightning bolt of insight dropped into the mind just at the point it was ready to be received. So, there is my mystical experience described to the best of my ability. To sum it up you could say that it taught me not to be fooled by the appearance that anything is ever really happening and brought an awareness of that deep silence and stillness available behind all appearances of movement, sound and light.
“You who hold your brother’s hand also hold mine, for when you joined each other you were not alone. Do you believe that I would leave you in the darkness that you agreed to leave with me? In your relationship is this world’s light. And fear must disappear before you now.” (T-18.III.4)
In the Living Miracles community there is emphasis on joining and collaboration. In ACIM the words join and joining are found hundreds if not thousands of times. Jesus talks about joining in prayer and joining in decision making. I have felt resistance to the concept of “joining,” particularly in decision making with a brother. I asked the Holy Spirit, what is this “joining”? What is the purpose of this joining?
“Healing is a thought by which two minds perceive they are one and become glad. This gladness calls to every part of the Sonship to rejoice with them and lets God go out unto them and through them.” (T-5.I.1.1.)
“The atonement is a lesson in sharing which is given to you because you forgot how to do it.” (T-9.IV.3.1)
It is the joining and the experience of truth revealed in sharing with a brother that shows the illusion false and opens the mind to new perception. The source of love that is hidden can be revealed in this way, by the two joining is bringing together what seemed separate to ask for God’s will, their own Devine will to recognize each other as the same, equal Sons of God.
“Even the joining, then, is not enough, if those who pray together do not ask, before all else, what is the Will of God. From this Cause only can the answer come in which are all specifics satisfied; all separate wishes unified in one.” (S-IV.3.1)
Joining is a celebration of what is most holy. God’s holy sons honoring what is true – they are joined always and forever – One in light and One in truth. It is a re-enforcement of the choice to remember light or darkness and the beauty that can be found when brothers join together to step toward heaven. It recognizes that brothers share this light as all brothers are equal. All brothers have the power to say yes to light in this moment (the right mind and Holy Spirit), to make the choice to stand in light and that by offering light to each other they can remember that there is only one Light and one Son.
“The Atonement can only be accepted within you by releasing inner light. (T-2.III.1)
This offering between brothers is a gentle invitation to the beauty of the now and shows that darkness is impossible.
“But forget not that your relationship is one, and so it must be that whatever threatens the peace of one is an equal threat to the other. The power of joining its blessing lies in the fact that it is now impossible for you or your brother to experience fear alone, or to attempt to deal with it alone.” (T-18.V.6.3)
I’ve realized that when I’ve been in a state of fear I allowed my mind to agree to the illusory belief I am separate.
“Fear seems to live in darkness, and when you are afraid you have stepped back. Let us join quickly in an instant of light, and it will be enough to remind you that your goal is light.” (T-18.III.2.5)
I can choose to return the power of the mind to the Holy Spirit in any moment and one of the most helpful gifts provided by Jesus is the reminder to join with a brother. The more I step forward to join (pray to ask God’s will together or just recognize that we are joined in mind) with a brother (and deny that I am separate) over time there is only the recognition of trust and gratitude for this shared gift and the peace that comes from knowing minds are joined. It is as though any thought of fear becomes the signal to remember what is already joined. This joining has been a beautiful way to feel the ever present stillness and hear the gentle, precious voice of the Holy Spirit within it. And in that thought of joining in light love pours out in deep waves. Welcoming joining is a gentle boat ride into presence.
“Now can you say to everyone who comes to join in prayer with you:
I cannot go without you, for you are a part of me.
And so he is in truth. Now can you pray only for what you truly share with him. For you have understood he never left, and you, who seemed alone, are one with him.
The ladder ends with this, for learning is no longer needed. Now you stand before the gate of Heaven, and your brother stands beside you there. The lawns are deep and still, for here the place appointed for the time when you should come has waited long for you. Here will time end forever. At this gate eternity itself will join with you. Prayer has become what it was meant to be, for you have recognized the Christ in you.” (S-VII.8.)
Hello lovely people!
I’ve been thinking and feeling lately like there’s a world of difference between conceptual frameworks and practical application. Sure I can talk to you about Christianity, Buddhism, Quantum “new agey” things, energy healing and reiki, Wiccanism, A Course in Miracles and more besides. But what does that really do for me? Would I rather be right, or happy? Sure I can feel smart in talking about these things, but in doing so, I will inevitably fall into a devious egoic trap … Thinking I know something. Anything, really, about this world.
That sort of seems like the past few years in a nutshell. David is fond of saying the path to awakening is one percent theoretical framework and ninety nine percent practice. As in, if you really want to experience perfect peace in every moment, practice experiencing perfect peace in every moment. That’s really the only way. And sure, it may seem like I feel good when I talk about things to other people, but underneath that illusion of pleasure is and has been guilt. I think I’m special. I think I know something you don’t. And if I take seriously the idea that anyone could be better than anyone just for a second, peace is impossible. If I am really better than you than that allows for the possibility that I could be worse than you and no one’s good at feeling peaceful when that idea is taken seriously.
So me and the ‘spiritual ego’ that has decided to come along on the ride have duked it out in a major way recently. I first became aware that I may not know as much as I think I do when I expressed to Michael, the center overseer (a lovely bit of Spirit that one!) that there was this ball of icky grossness that was proving fairly resilient. Like there was something big down there in my consciousness that I was taking seriously and I didn’t know what it was and it wasn’t going away. To which Michael responded, ‘you just need to stay in the moment. Follow the prompts. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You are love.’ All of which I had heard about a bajillion times before and was very clear on the Course’s method of dealing with perceived fear from studying the Course for the past year and a half! So my initial reaction was anger. ‘How dare you tell me what I already know!’ Closely followed by, Do I really already know it? Because if I knew it, why exactly am I upset? I know theoretically that the present moment is supposed to dissolve fear away but I wasn’t actually using the tools in the moment. So perhaps I did need a reminder and perhaps I should be thanking him rather than projecting my anger out on him to cover up the guilt of, ‘I should know this by now. I should do better. I should be better.’ Hmmm. So I realized that I am far more willing to think the principle rather than be the principle, because being the principle requires honesty to know when you are feeling upset and then see that the hurt disappears in the light of the present moment. Why would I be more willing to think it rather than be it I ask?
Specialness. In a word. I wanted to hang onto my little identity. I’m a musician. I’m a scientist. I’m a good student. I’m smart and spiritual and know all these concepts. You don’t know all these concepts. Doesn’t that feel good to be better then someone else? Isn’t it just great? Because I knew that if I consistently practiced being the principle, that identity would fade fast. The ego counsels, ‘sure it’s ok if you experience the blazing light and love for a few instants each day. That way you can talk about light and still hang onto the belief that you are better. That you are a person in a world who is more ‘advanced’ than other people in the world.’ I knew that consistently moving into the light, I would lose all sense of the personal. All sense of specialness which I had protected and clung onto so dearly for my entire life.
But what had the specialness really offered me? I thought I could hide away in my specialness and be justified in being the gentle teacher. How often had people offered me salvation and I had just skipped right by it, thinking that I already knew the concept, like I thought I already knew the concept Michael offered me and responded in anger rather than love? Friends beyond measure came to mind who had offered me love that I had not seen because I thought they were offering me a concept which I already knew. I did not listen to the message behind the concept. Love is not a concept. Love Is.
So now while I was questioning whether I had ever really recognized love in anyone except for maybe a few people in my life where love was undeniably present, (Do I know what love is rather than the concept of love as described in the Course?) a conversation with a friend came up in which he asked whether I liked this movie or that movie better? To which I replied (truthfully, I thought) it doesn’t matter to me. None of this is real. And he replied, ‘That just isn’t fair.’ And in that conversation, I could see how I needed to be inauthentic in order to defend my specialness. The specialness that was made as a defense against the blazing light and total love of Oneness. In order to maintain a special self concept I needed to keep on reinforcing the belief that I was spiritual (and no one else was as spiritual as me) I mean, honestly, how was my response to that conversation helpful? It definitely wasn’t coming from a place of love on my part. That was clear to me at least. But in order to maintain this specialness and hide behind concepts, I had to by necessity be inauthentic and cover over my true feelings with these concepts in order to make myself belief that my self-concept is true. So how much inauthentic bullshit was I spewing in order to support my belief that I was better than others? How much darkness was I hiding from my awareness simply because I didn’t want to look directly at it and cover it over with words. This feeling is not real. This world is not real. No preferences. It’s all an illusion. Well it might not be real, but I’ve made it real by believing in it, so pushing it out of awareness with concepts doesn’t seem to helpful.
Might as well start to look at the darkness now, right? About time too! So the questions on my mind were…
1. To what extent was I using these words to cover over guilt and pain and fear in my awareness?
2. To what extent was I actually terrified of love, and using these concepts to avoid having an experience of love with another fragment of mind?
3. To what extent was I using concepts such as no preferences to cover over the fear of loss of love?
And these questions together led to some other interesting ones, such as,
1. Have I ever truly loved another human being in this world?
2. Have I ever allowed myself to truly connect to another human being in this world?
If you’ve ever wondered what going through the darkness to the light is like, you may find yourself asking these sorts of questions in the process. They are not the most fun questions to ask, but they should be asked. I was essentially asking, do I know what love is? My concepts told me that it is impossible to know what love is. Love just is and you are love. But I was feeling far from loving at the moment because I recognized how much I had defended against love and perceived lovelessly all my life.
Because you see, it became clear to me that with one notable exception (thankfully!), and even then, only for a short time, all my ‘loving’ interactions and relationships had this dynamic of wanting something, fear of losing something, fear of connecting, expectation, anger, specialness, any and all of those in all my previous relationships with every single person I had ever talked with. My experiences of pure love opened me up to this awareness that there was always some belief in fear buried down there. I cannot play the innocent victim anymore. I cannot pretend I am a good person in a fearful world. The guilt of looking lovelessly was in my mind all along and I simply projected that out onto the screen. The world is not fearful, but I perceived it that way, because the guilt of loveless perception was in my mind.
Sure there were moments, last year more than ever, where I was genuinely in the present moment and could shine that joy. But it was not consistent, and honestly I would say more often than not I was using loving concepts to cover over the fear and guilt of perceiving my brother without love. There are only two choices. Either you see your brother as perfect and part of you or you do not and allow fear and guilt to enter the mind.
It is given to me to see you, all of you, as my savior for so you are. I can choose to hide behind concepts or I can choose to express myself authentically and know that as I make that switch from perceiving lovelessly to loving perception, so will that love be reflected back to me from you. None of you are my enemy. I just choose to perceive you that way by thinking I was better. Thinking I knew something. Love is you as much as it is me. On coming face to face with my recent realization, it was definitely tempting to see myself as a cruel, vicious, twisted monster. It seemed like upon coming to the realization that I have never truly loved, that I was so guilty. So evil, even. But it is given to us to choose again in the present moment. The love that I am is apparent now. One moment, the guilt was there. The next it was gone because I chose to be the love that I am in that moment.
Needless to say, cutting through this darkness has been exhausting but well worth it. The idol of specialness does not look so appealing now when I can look at it for what it is. Guilt must come with specialness. And my experience of right mindedness is becoming far more consistent far more quickly. I look forward to seeing how far down the rabbit hole goes!
P.S. Listen to David talk about painting over experiences with words here.