Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Getting Past the Ego's Response

Back in the day when I was a political junkie I’d occasionally read an editorial or an opinion in the newspaper that would get me so fired up I’d dash off a letter to the editor in response. But before sending the letter I would go back and re-read the original offending article to be sure my response was as sharp as possible. And many times, much to my embarrassment, I found that the original article was not offensive at all. Sometimes it was even on my side and my response said the same thing it did. After expending my emotional response the original article would read completely different from the way I originally read it. Fortunately, because I didn’t send the letters before re-reading the original articles, my embarrassment was limited to myself.

After this happened a few times I finally caught on: My emotional response to something early in the article blinded me to the rest of the article. In my expectation that I would be attacked I read attack. I was experiencing how the ego always speaks first. It not only speaks first but its response is always emotional and defensive. I learned to step away when I read something that evoked an emotional response in me. I’d let my own response run its course and then go back and re-read the article later. Needless to say after a while I wrote far fewer letters to the editor.

This lesson came in handy as a student of A Course in Miracles. Much of ACIM seemed loving to me, but there was also much that I felt condemned me, too. I was reading through the filter of the guilt in my own mind. I would have fearful and sometimes angry responses that closed my mind and blinded me to what followed. I was defensive because I expected to be attacked and condemned. This is why later I’d read something in ACIM that would release me from guilt and fear and I’d feel like I never read it before. Each time I read ACIM it was a new book! As layers of guilt and fear peeled away ACIM became more charge-neutral (matter-of-fact) and more loving. I began to read its parts through its whole message rather than as isolated, unconnected concepts.

It took another long while but eventually I learned to extend this lesson beyond my emotional responses to what I read. I learned to take a moment when I had an emotional response to something I heard from another, whether in person or on the radio or TV. I was always amazed by how much I didn’t hear once my emotions were engaged. I had nothing to lose but embarrassment by taking a moment to let the emotions and defensiveness pass before responding.

My emotional responses were very revealing. They taught me that I expected to be attacked and condemned because I felt guilty. The specific form of what upset me showed me the specific form that guilt took in my mind so that I could undo it. I was never grateful for the upset. But I learned to be grateful for the opportunity to see what was going on in my own mind.

Learn about the books The ACIM Mentor Articles, The Plain Language A Course in Miracles, 4 Habits for Inner Peace, and Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace at

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Questions for Deeper Study and Practical Application

Studying is more than just reading. It is thinking about what you read. Early on in my study of A Course in Miracles I found I was asking questions while I studied that would help me to take the ideas in deeper. This was especially important for me as a student of ACIM because ACIM gives so many words and concepts new definitions. The questions were like this:

1. How do I think of this concept now? What do I feel about it?
2. How is this concept being used here? Is it different from how I’m used to using it?
3. If I accepted this concept (or how it is being redefined) as true how would that change how I feel about myself?
4. If I accepted this concept (or how it is being redefined) as true how would that change my relationship to the world?

For example, ACIM was not the first place that I read that God is within rather than an outside being. But it was as a student of ACIM that I realized that I had to integrate this idea or ACIM would have no real effect on me. So:

1. How do I think of the concept of “God” now? What do I feel about it?

Traditionally, I think of “God” as a paternal, authoritative being outside of me that sits in judgement on me. This is a frightening idea to me. It makes me feel ultimately powerless and angry. And I feel guilty for feeling that way.

2. How is the concept of “God” being used in ACIM? Is it different from how I’m used to using it?

In ACIM “God” is the one Being That is. God is my True Being.  Yes, it is significantly different. God is not another being sitting in judgment on me. There is no separation between us.

3. If I accepted as true that God is within me how would it change how I feel about myself?

I would feel completely empowered. I would feel whole. I would not fear “sinning” and being punished by some outside being. This concept is so staggering that I don’t think I can even see all the ways that it would affect me. But it would all be positive.

4. If I accepted as true that God is within me how would it change my relationship to the world?

I would feel I could do anything I wanted. I would feel always safe and secure. I would feel wholly empowered.

I did not ask myself these questions to force myself to accept the concepts, only to understand them better. Nor did these questions cause me to immediately shift in a new direction. But they helped me to see what had to be accepted and the shift that had to be made. Often they made me see how much my mind had to change to align with Truth. So they helped me to formulate the correction that I had to bring into my day-to-day life to bring about the change. I realized I had to pay attention when I found myself falling into the old way of thinking and correct it to the new way. For example, let’s say I was driving and I saw a bumper sticker that said, “God loves you.” My initial feeling would be to try to convince myself that something outside of me loved me. Then I’d catch myself and think, “God is not outside of me. God is my True Being. So what does ‘God loves me’ mean to me now?” I’d realize that “God loves me” was an unnecessary statement. God is Love and is my True Being. That was a radical change in how I thought about “God”.

Deeper study led to practical daily application. This eventually led to the necessary shifts and integration of the concepts into my experience.

Learn about the books The ACIM Mentor Articles, The Plain Language A Course in Miracles, 4 Habits for Inner Peace, and Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace at

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ask: What steps can I take to overcome this fear of loss?

“My best friend and husband died suddenly one night a little over 3 years ago and your help was wonderful…the fear and pain of that sudden "loss" opened up a door to the Truth and I was able to move forward…However at the present time, I fallen back into the trappings of the dream.  With T gone and no family I've put all of my security and sense of well-being into the two Pugs we were raising together and our home…I see that I've come to believe my safety lies in having these things around me, this while studying every day and going into silence almost as consistently…
Each time something "happens" to threaten whatever illusion I've put my faith in, obviously, I quake with fear and run to the Course. Now it's one of the dogs. I can't believe what happens whenever something seems to go wrong with one of them…And with my years of studying I have felt the feeling of dark terror so much less than I did that when it does come I feel as though I might die. And then I remember that what is frightening me so isn't these "things" at all. And then the fear really comes.
My question is whenever I take anything in the dream seriously, do I bring those thoughts to the Truth in my mind? I do this, but with my head bowed in shame for being duped yet again, for taking it all seriously and making it real. How do I laugh gently
at these things I believe are so real and threatening. How do I get to look at the dream battle field from above?
The Course says it is never talking about form or to the dream figure reading its words, that the decision maker is the one who will lift the veil… My real question is...What, if anything, can the dream figure do to help the decision maker change its mind? I've reached a point where I feel like I'm banging my head against a huge iron door with the decision maker on the other side and there's nothing I can do to get in touch! And I know the more I believe it's impossible that is exactly what I will experience.
            …What's next? I guess I'm looking for steps... I've got one foot planted firmly in the dream and the other tentatively dipping it's toe in Truth and I feel lost.” – SB

            First, let me clarify that you are the “decision maker”. This is not a term in A Course in Miracles but it was one coined by Ken Wapnick to describe your mind in its split between Truth and illusion. The “dream figure” is the body/personality/ego (personal thought system) with which you as the decision maker erroneously identify. You have the choice to continue to identify with the dream figure or to grow your awareness of Truth. And what you describe indicates that you are smack in the middle of the process of choosing Truth over illusion. For a long time we students of ACIM vacillate between the two thought systems in our mind as we learn that Truth is more valuable than illusion. It is as though we have two competing realities. This is simply how this process works. You are not failing when you find yourself back in ego. It just means you have not fully realized it has no value for you. And identifying with the ego is not “wrong”. It is simply not Reality. Whether or not you want Reality is up to you. There is nothing and no one who says you have to choose It.
Two statements that you wrote explain why, instead of just going back into the ego (personal thought system) and being uncomfortable for a while, you experience such fear. One was your statement that you are aware that what frightens you is not the fear of losing things in the world. I assume that you mean that you are aware that your real fear is fear of Truth. And this fear makes you even more afraid. This indicates that you feel guilty for your fear of Truth. The other statement that you made was also of guilt: the shame you feel for being “duped” again by the ego. These statements reveal that you still believe that there is a god that holds you to a certain standard that you are failing. No wonder your fear is so extreme! And no wonder you keep turning back to the ego. You may not like the ego but it must feel safer to you than a disappointed god. You are experiencing one of the very reasons why for a long time students continue to turn back to the ego.
So what you must do now is root out that belief that there is something outside of you with power over you (a god) sitting in judgment on you and who is waiting to punish you for not being perfect. That god does not exist. It is a construct of the ego and your conscious and unconscious belief in it is the source of your fear. While you do this you want to remind yourself that the Truth goes on within you, whole and perfect, no matter what you seem to do or to not do in the universe of form. Remind yourself of these facts every time your fear of loss comes up.

If you want to know in more detail where guilt comes from, how it is maintained in your mind, and how to release it you may be interested in my book Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace. It is only in digital form and you can find it at (for Kindle) or (PDF or ePub).

Learn about the books The ACIM Mentor Articles, The Plain Language A Course in Miracles, 4 Habits for Inner Peace, and Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace at

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Ask: Why do I feel guilty after setting boundaries with my mentally ill brother?

My brother, let’s call him Sam, (71 y/o) is brain damaged from an industrial accident 40 years ago. He functions somewhat but has very little “common sense” and has fanatical ideas of about God speaking to him and telling him to fight ISIS and have a new baby Jesus with a woman, etc…He has gone off his anti-psychotic medication so that is contributing greatly to his fanatical ideas… Off meds results eventually in a breakdown (deep depression) which has happened several times over the years, and the signs are there again. The family will then have to bail him out in many ways since he ends up in a mental hospital, without funds, without a place to live, and an inability to survive alone etc. He feels it’s his own business that he is off meds but obviously it is affecting many of us…he attacks me in emails, I mostly ignore it…So, I know to do my forgiveness work and let Holy Spirit do the rest. That work is constantly with me whenever thoughts of Sam come up. Maybe that answers the esoteric part of this, but I feel a responsibility to my brother, as a Son of God, but especially as a sibling. What does ACIM say about the mentally disturbed?  Right now, after this past week of frustration with him, I am disengaging from him, just responding to emails of inquiry on non-hot subjects and I continue to send him Light and Love. I still feel guilt there though, so something isn’t right yet! More forgiveness work. Any light you can shine on this?...” – JP

            You have a social-moral responsibility for the physical care of a mentally ill member of your family. It is not fair but that is the way of the world. And that is where your responsibility for “Sam” ends. You cannot change the mind or behavior of what are considered healthy adults in the world so you certainly cannot expect to do so for the mentally ill! Beyond encouraging him to take his medication there really is nothing else you can do for him but let him know that you love him. But loving him does not mean putting up with abuse from him. You have taken wise action by putting up boundaries with Sam to keep yourself away from his abuse and engaging with him on a limited basis. Now you need to extend those boundaries within yourself so that you stop taking more responsibility for him than is really yours.

You need to ask yourself why you feel you have more responsibility for Sam than you do. Who says so? Where did that idea come from? How deep does it run? Is it based on fact or on false ideas? Do you take responsibility that is not yours in other areas of your life? This may be part of a larger pattern. When you have worked that out and released (forgiven) yourself from a false sense of responsibility you will find that the guilt falls away.

If you find yourself resenting the time, money, and energy that you have to put into your social-moral responsibility toward Sam then you need to look at what stories you tell yourself about the situation. For example, that it is wrong and that you are a victim. You react to the story you tell yourself, not to the situation, which has no meaning in itself. So it is the story in your mind that you have to forgive (release). So sort out the story (“I’m a victim of my brother.” Or “I’m a victim of this situation.” Or “This is my punishment for…” etc. ) from the facts (“This body has a social-moral obligation to take care of that body. This has no meaning. It is not personal. I am not being attacked. I am not being punished.” Etc.) When you release (forgive) the story you will be freed from resentment.

Learn about the books The ACIM Mentor Articles, The Plain Language A Course in Miracles, 4 Habits for Inner Peace, and Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace at

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Ask: How can my personal desire become a means for peace?

“Your response to a student's recent question re. visualization included the following: [The Course] ‘teaches you to use your goals in the world as the means to become aware of the Truth within you. Instead of ends in themselves your goals become means to the goal of peace.’ How would you apply this to my desire to get a sailboat?...because I did truly enjoy every aspect of owning one. I know that getting a boat will not bring me peace but I still would love to get one… How could this personal desire for a sailboat become a means to my ultimate goal of peace?” – ES

Some of our desires and preferences are just expressions of personality. They are neutral in themselves. We are not always looking to them for salvation (wholeness, peace), in which case they would be obstacles to peace. If you feel moved to act on this desire simply bring the Holy Spirit (awareness of Truth in your mind) with you in the process. Let It be your partner in decision making and in any actions you take. Then the situation will be a means to be aware of the Holy Spirit. As your awareness of and trust in the Holy Spirit grows so will your peace.

Learn about the books The ACIM Mentor Articles, The Plain Language A Course in Miracles, 4 Habits for Inner Peace, and Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace at

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ask: Can you address the discrepancy between daytime "dreaming" and nighttime dreaming?

“…I was wondering if you could address in one of your articles the seeming discrepancy between our daytime 'dreaming' in which we more and more frequently turn to Jesus or the HS to help us remember Truth and our nighttime dreams in which (in my case anyway) it is as if the Course never entered my life.  This has puzzled me for a while...” - LG

            This seems to be common among A Course in Miracles students, although some students do tell me they call on the Holy Spirit or Jesus in their dreams. For myself, it is very rare that my spirituality comes into my dreams at night, at least as far as I remember.
            Dreaming at night is really just our mind’s way of blowing off steam. For some it seems to be more of an avenue to self-awareness than for others. For myself, some dreams have been significant and I recognize that right away on waking. Other than that I usually only pay attention to them when I recognize a reoccurring theme. Then I know something in my mind is being revealed to me.

            However you dream, just accept that as natural to you.

Learn about the books The ACIM Mentor Articles, The Plain Language A Course in Miracles, 4 Habits for Inner Peace, and Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace at

Thursday, June 18, 2015

My Computer Crashed

I made a mistake. I had been backing up my computer every sixth months. The last time was January 15 so I was coming due to do it again. But my computer crashed June 17! Obviously I have not been backing up often enough. Painful lesson learned. Such is life in the imperfect universe of form.

My IT department (my beloved techno-savvy wife, Courtney) has used a recovery program but it looks like much of what I’ve done in the past 5 months has been corrupted and is lost. I’m still sorting it all out (very tedious) but I’ve already found some significant losses. I’ve lost my journal for the past 5 months. And I lost my articles. I can rebuild what has been published from my blogsite but I lost articles I had written to be put out in the next few weeks. Hopefully I will be inspired in the coming weeks!

This week’s article was supposed to be an answer to a question a reader had about dreams. Dear Reader, if you still have your question and my response please email it to me at and I will put it out next week.

If you have an appointment coming up with me, please contact me to be sure I have you on my schedule (I lost that, too). Also, remind me of how often we meet! If you became a new client of mine this year please email me your contact information [address, phone number(s), email address]. Also, remind me about payment. For example, if you bought a block of time and still have some on account.

Now back to sorting out what has been lost and what needs to be rebuilt…

Learn about the books The ACIM Mentor Articles, The Plain Language A Course in Miracles, 4 Habits for Inner Peace, and Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace at