A Deepening of Trust: My experience here these past several weeks has been one of deepening into a profound level of trust in Spirit. In this role, I’ve been given as the overseer of our volunteers at the Center, it can sometimes look and feel as though things are ‘spinning out’ or that people are just ‘doing what they want’ versus checking in for Guidance, but I’ve been learning how to gently address each of these perceptions through inner prayer and the willingness to be ‘communicated through.’
In the past, I’ve been quite resistant to the idea of ‘correcting a brother’ since the Course’s teachings are clearly about bringing the illusion back to the truth in my OWN mind. And yet, I’ve been learning how to do that while ALSO being open to let the Spirit speak through me in a way that my brother (who is my Self) can accept. It also has been helpful to think of this kind of communication simply as a helpful use of magic for my own mind when it is not at rest.
Being willing to be communicated through – even in the face of fear that it may not be ‘heard’ or accepted by the ‘other’ – opens up a whole new realm of helpful magic that was ‘forbidden’ to me in the past by my own fears masquerading as ideals about how a ‘teacher of God’ should act and communicate. In gratitude for this lesson, I look forward to the wondrous ways in which I’ll continue to be used in God’s Plan for my Awakening!
By Erik Archbold
After a ‘dark night of the soul,’ I awoke with the strong prompt to take an early morning walk. First I just laid down on the grass outside the house listening to the sound of the wind blowing and looked up at the dancing leaves in a tree. Suddenly, I became aware of the bird song accompanying this symphony of wind, leaves and sky and all the ‘dark night of the soul’ feelings dissolved in soft tears and laughter. It was all God singing to me through the birds, speaking through the wind and rejoicing through the shimmering leaves. The presence of God’s love was so strong and evident. I felt utterly surrounded by love and Peace.
After walking a few yards, a robin swooped in front of me and flew up to the peak of the roof of a house and began to sing out. I had to stop and watch, seeing a symbol of the singing of God’s never-ending love from the roof tops for all to hear! I heard the soft rejoicing voice saying, “He is risen! He is risen! The Son of God is One. Be of good cheer.” After walking a few more feet another robin flew out of the grass with a fat worm pulled from the ground, and came to rest on a nearby fence to gobble it up. Again, I had to stop and after uttering the words, “That’s a pretty fat worm to eat, isn’t it?” a permanent smile alighted on my face as tears of intense, overwhelming joy and deep gratitude fell down my cheeks. It felt sooooo good to smile with true joy just laughing softly at being greeted with such beautiful symbols of love messengers!
As the miraculous walk continued, I stopped again to listen to the music of the bubbling creek and experience the brilliant sun shining through the trembling bright green budding leaves. Again, all I could think of was the line in the Course that goes, “There is no effort, and you will be led as gently as if you were being carried down a quiet path in summer.” (T-14.IV.6.) Everything was sparkling with pure Holiness and all there was to do was laugh softly and let the tears flow and beam out an involuntary smile.
All is, in fact, love after all. This was an experience that was so reassuring, following a very intense ‘dark night of the soul.’ It was the whole Universe rejoicing, “He is risen! The Son of God is one!” The presence was so undeniable and so innocent and so very simple. Love is behind everything. There really is nothing else, ever. It’s just waiting for us to accept the invitation and let ourselves be the One Beloved. I surrender! I’m loved, bathed and surrounded by the presence of Peace and Joy.
Idols are given to Spirit and unworthiness is faced and let go. I can feel the desire now for “thy will be done” instead of mine. I see how giving everything to God and following guidance is the only option to choose now – to give everything over and reserve nothing, in trust that all things are orchestrated by one who loves me. I feel the stable presence in mind that I can abide in as all attack thoughts pass. It feels so easy now to take the jump and let go of everything in mind that no longer serves. I need do nothing. I’m only here to be helpful and to be done through, to be spoken through, to be in joy and to express Spirit. I rest now in the plan the Holy Spirit has for me. The only voice I care to listen to is His – the gentle, comforting voice that is calling me home.
In love, Nemo
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.