“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.
Earlier this week I happened to find my may to the ACIM Devotional Center web site. I noticed there was a blog and clicked the link. A beautiful blog entry unfolded before me from my mighty companion and devotional center co-habitant, Zach. As I read through the blog I felt a crunch in my chest and heard the words “how come I haven’t been asked to blog”? The contraction of smallness seemed to grab my attention. Yep, I could feel it. I just defined myself as less. It is so humbling to recognize how in that moment I had chosen to give up joy. The opportunity to fully experience the deep lesson and love in Zach’s expression dropped from awareness.
“Stand still an instant now, and think what you have done. Do not forget that it is you who did it, and who can therefore let it go.” (Song of Prayer, 1.III.4 )
Oh, I can choose again! Gratitude sweeps into my heart knowing that it has been through the help of my mighty companions at the Center that I remembered quickly to sink back into the now in order to find peace. It is their dedication to all joy is a choice in this moment that helped me quickly recognize this misperception and give it over to truth. I handed the idea of blogging over to the greater wisdom of Spirit and my mind floated free.
Yet in the ineffable way Spirit has of showing me I really don’t know anything, the next day Salita asked, “Who wants to write blog for the Center?” I thought, “Oh jeeze, there you go. You can share how you watched your mind spin around blogging.” Humble, yes indeed. I am gently reminded that Spirit definitely has a sense of humor and wisdom far beyond my understanding. Thankfully Spirit keeps showing up in my mind through these mighty companions who shine a light in the right direction.
In the story of the past I felt I was “less quick” in linear time in accepting my choice and thus would spin into fear. It felt so real. I have come to realize how often I accepted the spinning into fear of separation. I did not want to be responsible for my thoughts and choice to join with Spirit and his representatives, my brothers. To my ego this felt like loss. I wanted someone or something else to be responsible. There was a deep anger about it, too, this resistance to owning the power of my mind to choose again to join.
Yet I know in my heart that stepping forward to join with a brother is the healing of this fear of separation. It is a celebration of what is already joined and honors what God made as holy and blessed. My gratitude pours out when I remember the times in the past when I spun out in fear, only to look up find the stillness in the eyes of a mighty loving companion here at the Center. Like the Holy Spirit, they stand beside me beaming light and inviting me to join in stillness and in love that is ever present. Where I would have found guilt about spinning out I can recognize that now is a new choice for love in each moment.
This constant gift is given that I may remember always to welcome the opportunity to choose again. The memory of light brings great joy as I reflect the gift back to my brothers.
“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)
It is becoming more and more evident and obvious that the simplicity of the present moment is actually all there is. It just feels like a slowing of the mind and soft melting of something that never had any substance at all. Today at the expression session Peter expressed that he kept having the recurring thought of giving of yourself completely, holding nothing back and with no reservations. My heart burst with a ‘Yes!’ as I heard this spoken. It’s becoming so clear that trusting ourselves and consequently our seeming brothers is beyond important, it’s essential. As each moment is met with an open and grateful heart all doings dissolve into joy and laughter. All appearances are forgiven as nothingness and the content of present joining and purpose is all that remains in shining radiance.
Always being mindful of ‘What is it for?’ and what is being called for in this moment? As Michael shares, ‘There is always something in the present moment which is truly helpful.’ I don’t know my own best interests and only He who does can communicate this to me in the most clear and obvious manner possible. It’s a matter of trusting this Voice of Truth implicitly and allowing myself to be completely dependent on this voice for Wisdom. I can join with my brother’s when I don’t feel clear which is one of the many gifts of community but in most instances there needs to be constant attention and devotion to listening for that Voice for Love which is always always speaking closer than our own breath or the beating of our hearts. It is this that we are learning to trust and depend on and welcome with each precious living moment! Don’t miss out on the present! Taking the perimeters off and dropping all the ‘shoulda, woulda, coulda’s’ in a gentle surrender inward to what simply is in the miracle. There is a place in the Mind that is so Holy where all that is heard is a soft singing and gentle laughter. I will meet you there!
I awoke yesterday morning with a fervent prayer to God, ‘Help me to come to you! I don’t know how. Please show me!’ Rebellion had been playing out for me in the form of not being prompt with the timing of ringing the bell. Always just a few minutes off or needing to be reminded. It was addressed during expression sessions and I resolved to whip all rebellion into line and set my alarm five minutes ahead for all the times that the bell was to be rung. The next morning I hear that the schedule is to be unceremoniously dropped! As I had moved through the rebellion, I no longer had to ‘act’ out the ringing of the bell promptly. It was a symbol for me that Spirit is not asking me for proof that I am ‘worthy’ of love because of how perfectly timed my bell ringing is or anything else to do with form. My prayer had been promptly answered! As the concept of a schedule is released and all resistance is moved through I felt a beautiful expansiveness and relaxing in mind. Spirit is just reminding and teaching how loved and safe we all are and offering the invitation literally in every moment to drop into the all encompassing expansive quantum love that is who we are. That’s the invitation. “There is never nothing going on,” is a line from the movie “The Peaceful Warrior.” Spirit is always speaking to us in every moment asking us if we want to be truly happy and sinking into our deepest knowing that love is truly all there is. I feel a beautiful yes bubbling up in response to this increased trust and Self responsibility.
I feel gratitude to Spirit and my mighty brothers for allowing the mind to be shown the way and all concepts of hierarchy or planning be dropped as the ever present moment comes into sharper and sharper focus. The mind is so eager and willing to drop all sense of limitation and expand into the magnitude of present joining! If I trust absolutely in every instance the Spirit will ALWAYS be there to show everything in the stillness and reverence of the sparkling moment! Spirit is freely showing the way to be passers by and be stepped back in the mind without a thought of the past and zero interest in the future! It feels exciting to give full allowance to drop into the fullness of that invitation to welcome what is given and let go of all that interferes with that Yes!
I’m now taking a more persistent, devoted approach to mind training. There is so much time to sit and meditate or do inspired activities that I’ve made it through two days without going insane. The ego will ask questions like “what are you doing here, this is a waste of time, you’re weak and vulnerable and aren’t doing this right. And I’ll say one thing about removing all distractions from mind training, it does tend to bring up doubts and fears incredibly fast. But then I sink beneath these doubts and realize that there is no “me” “doing” anything “here,” what is time to eternity anyway and it is only my body and personality-self that is weak, while the mind that I am is so incredibly strong. And then my glimpse of right-mindedness ends and I’m back to the fear and doubt. But, you know… that’s part of becoming more consistent in right-mindedness. Undoing the doer, undoing the self-concept, undoing beliefs in time… It really is a lot of undoing! Truth is true, and it would be a strange sort of truth indeed if I had to go searching for it. The truth cannot be searched for, but one can search for blocks in awareness of truth’s presence.
The other people here are very helpful in raising these blocks to the truth. Two tenets which facilitate the dissolution of these blocks are no people pleasing, and no private thoughts. How often have you walked on eggshells in order to smooth things over? How often do you have a thought that you do not share because you are fearful you will be judged? There is incredible potential for healing in sharing absolutely everything on one’s mind when the shared purpose is consistent peace. What is shared is shared for the whole group. The personality self that is sharing is releasing a block in love’s awareness through the sharing. Other people may be able to stay in right-mindedness to hold a space of love while the sharing is occurring. By so doing, I see that there is no thought that could cause another pain when he is in his right mind. Therefore, there need be no hesitation to share the thought because either we help ourselves see that what we were afraid to share is simply nothingness, or we help others see that they have an attachment that they can release. In this way, sharing always results in healing the one mind that is behind all seeming personality selves. And when the clarity process is applied to everything, when we don’t try to fix people or situations and simply either radiate love or become aware of blocks to radiating this love in response to the sharing, you start to get a sense that attack is impossible. It was a mistaken belief that there could be both attack and love, because what is all encompassing can have no opposite. Through this process, attack is translated into a call for love. And if you live in a world where everything that happens is either love or a call for love, peace will become consistent. This is the purpose of no private thoughts and no people pleasing.
So I’m floating along, becoming aware of how much anger and guilt is still trapped in this mind, but that would be part of the process of expressing myself authentically every minute of every day. And sure living in a house with six people doing this lends itself to moments of brutal honesty, but it also lends itself to giving up on the church service halfway through in favor of an impromptu dance party. And if brutal honesty is the “price” I must pay for impromptu dance parties, I’m fine with mixing my peas with my porridge, as long as both peas and porridge seem real to me.
With Love, Zach