Wednesday, May 25, 2016

As Though It Should Be Different

“Dreams are perceptual temper tantrums, in which you literally scream, "I want it thus!" And thus it seems to be. And yet the dream cannot escape its origin. Anger and fear pervade it, and in an instant the illusion of satisfaction is invaded by the illusion of terror. For the dream of your ability to control reality by substituting a world that you prefer is terrifying. Your attempts to blot out reality are very fearful, but this you are not willing to accept. And so you substitute the fantasy that reality is fearful, not what you would do to it. And thus is guilt made real.” (T-18.II.4)

A Course in Miracles likens the experience of the universe of form to a dream that is a temper tantrum against Reality (Truth/God). The dreamer is the “Son of God” (split-mind) and the self with which you identify is a figure in the dream, one of billions of projections of the Son of God. (To be clear: This dream is only a meaningless idea of the opposite-of-God that has no intention behind it. Only within the dream does the dream seem to have the intention to be in defiance of God).

There are many layers to the way ACIM addresses the idea of “dreams”. The section that includes the quote above begins with the dreams you have at night when you sleep. Then it segues into discussing the whole experience of form as a dream. In any case, any dream is an attempt to have another reality, whether that new reality is meant to replace the “reality” of the awake-dream or to replace Reality Itself with the awake-dream. And it is not the dream-to-replace-reality (the universe of form) or Reality that are frightening. Your resistance to them and your attempts to change them frighten you by increasing your guilt. Only if the world is real are you guilty. And you only try to change it because you think it’s real.

So in identification with the ego (personal thought system) you resist not only Reality but the reality (universe of form) that is meant to replace It. On a daily basis you struggle against the way things are in the world.  A lot of the sense of being a victim that one has in the world comes from an often unconscious belief that the world is supposed to be different from the way that it is. It is an unconscious belief not just that the world is perfectible, but that the perfect world is here and that somehow you are kept from reaching it.

For example, Georgette leaves job after job because in each job she finds that she is in conflict with someone. Well, yeah, the world is a place of conflict between personal identities (egos). She will be in conflict with everyone she knows sometimes. And she will be in conflict with someone in every situation. The process of growth into full adulthood is adjusting to this by taking responsibility for one’s own attitudes, beliefs and behaviors to mitigate conflicts. But Georgette’s attitude is that there is a job out there where she will get along with absolutely everybody all the time. This may not be a conscious attitude, but unconsciously she goes from job to job seeking for the perfect situation. And when she can’t find it she feels that she is being unfairly deprived.

The world is not a perfect place and it never will be. It is not meant to be. It is the idea of the opposite of Perfection (Truth). It is a place of lack and conflict and dysfunction. It is not perfectible because then it wouldn’t be what it is. If it was perfectible it would no longer be the opposite of Perfection.


This does not mean that you should never work to change things in the world for what you think would be the better. But it does mean that you have to accept that you will never change the world to be perfect. If you seek to improve (the world as well as the self with which you identify) rather than perfect, you take a lot of pressure off yourself. And you eliminate a sense of victimhood, too. The world is not perfect for anyone.

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Learn about one-on-one mentoring, how to send a donation for this blog, and 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 www.acimmentor.com.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The ACIM Student and Being Different

A reoccurring theme with many serious students of A Course in Miracles is how they have felt different all of their lives. Some are okay with this; others still want to be accepted and to fit in. The difference can show up as having been more perceptive than the average person; having a psychological orientation; never accepting what the religion of their family of origin taught; being more sensitive and intuitive; always sensing that there was something more than the world had to offer, etc. The question they often have is, are they different because they were always headed toward a spiritual path (or really already on one)? Or did their being different lead them to seek relief in a spiritual path?

The answer is both. Because you are on a spiritual path you were always headed toward one. But in the unfolding story how you end up on a spiritual path could show up as looking for relief from the pain of being different. In any case, the spiritual path resonates or you would not remain on it.

When I was in life-coach training I once asked a teacher, how large is our market? She said that it is estimated that at any given moment about 1 in 5 (20%) people are on a path of personal growth. (Of course, this is only in the developed world. Where people do not have access to basic education and/or struggle to survive they do not have the luxury.) By a “path of personal growth” she meant anything from reading self-help books to attending 12-step or other self-help programs to psychotherapy to being on a spiritual path. And it is my experience that only a tiny minority (probably less than 1% of the world’s population) on a spiritual path are very serious about growing their awareness of Truth. It is no wonder ACIM students often feel they are “different”!

And as your awareness of Truth grows you will only feel more “different” as you detach from the values of the world. The more at peace you are the fewer people to whom you will relate. But the upside is, you are at peace so it does not matter! However, until you experience wholeness in Truth you may have a nagging sense of not fitting in. Humans are social animals. Fitting in is necessary for survival so it is frightening to feel that you don’t fit in.

But then again, the whole human condition is one of feeling unique and therefore alone. You may belong to a group but you are a unique member of the group. You can relate to many somewhat but never to any one person wholly. No one ever feels that they wholly fit in anywhere, not even in their families. Until you transcend a human identity you will be afraid of being too “different”.

In ACIM it says “‘All are called but few choose to listen.’” (T-3.IV.7) This means that the Truth is in every mind but not every mind is moved to find It and to grow their awareness of It. If you need a story for this, ACIM provides one. The story of time is a projection of the idea of the opposite-of-God. This idea was over as soon as it was thought because God cannot have an opposite. In the story of time this undoing shows up as seemingly-individual minds going through a process of becoming aware of Truth.


Some students tell me that they think that the world is in a new era of “awakening”. Well, you won’t see this if you step back and look at the whole world. They think this because they have surrounded themselves with like-minded people. Their world has changed and they project this to the rest of the world. But as their awareness of Truth grows they will stop taking stock of themselves and a world. They will live in the awareness that only the Truth is true.

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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 www.acimmentor.com.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Itch to Share and Learning What You Teach

Apparently my last article (http://acimmentor.blogspot.com/2016/05/your-itch-to-share-is-your-own-desire.html) was not clear because I received several questions and comments about it. So I will attempt to clarify and answer some questions here.

The point of the article was that one’s urgency, or “itch”, to share what they learn while studying A Course in Miracles is their own desire to “get” what they are studying. You read something in ACIM that you get at a shallow intellectual level and you find yourself with a strong urge for others to get it, too. What occurs is that you, as the split-mind (decision-maker), want the lesson to go deeper for yourself. But the ego (personal though system) in your mind projects this desire outward and sees the lack in others. They need this; you already have it. The ego pushes away your desire for the lesson to go deeper by seeing it “out there”. It does not want you to get the idea more deeply.

But doesn’t ACIM teach “what you give you receive” or “what you teach you learn”? Yes. But both the ego and the Holy Spirit can use the same ideas. So what ACIM means is that you reinforce a thought system in your mind when you share from it with others. If you share an idea from the ego you reinforce the ego in your mind. If you share an idea from the Holy Spirit you reinforce your awareness of Truth. So in last week’s article I emphasized from where the itch to share an idea came from within you. When you feel urgency you can be sure that you feel the ego.

The ego’s itch for others to get an idea is not about you teaching to learn the idea more deeply yourself. It is only about projecting guilt (your own imperfection - you do not really fully get the idea yourself yet) onto others. They lack; you don’t. So your itch for others to get it is a projection of your own desire to get it. And your teaching from the ego will only reinforce your sense of lack and guilt. You will find yourself emotionally charged up when you teach. [For some the ego is also so insecure that this shows up as wanting to teach others to show that they (the teacher) are superior to them (the student)].


When you are ready to integrate an idea you may be moved by the Holy Spirit to share it to reinforce both the Holy Spirit and the idea within you. Teaching then flows out of you naturally, without the emotional charge that indicates it comes from the ego. For myself, I have never taught from a place of urgency. If I cannot put the ego aside and hear the Holy Spirit I keep my mouth shut. And anyway, if I am not ready to teach an idea from the Holy Spirit, either in speaking or writing, the words just will not flow. I cannot approach the idea with any depth, nor could I answer further questions about it. This does not mean that when I teach an idea I fully get it yet. But it does mean that it is in me enough to teach it from more than a shallow intellectual understanding. The process of teaching deepens my understanding until eventually I see the idea from every angle. That’s why you can see my own evolution with concepts over time. What I taught about a concept 2, 5, 10 years ago is not what I teach today.

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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 www.acimmentor.com.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Your Itch to Share is Your Own Desire to Learn

When I began as a student of A Course in Miracles over 3 decades ago I was itching to share what I learned with everyone. I didn’t, though, because I knew how much I hated it when others proselytized. Even if I didn’t mean to convert anyone I knew that’s how my sharing would be perceived. I also knew that if I shared what ACIM really teaches others would think I was nuts. I knew how radical it was and I only trusted it myself because I’d experienced Revelation and miracles early on. In fact once in my excitement I took a chance and shared with some acquaintances something I heard from the Holy Spirit and one of them, a nurse, asked, “Was this Voice inside your mind or outside of you?” I reassured her that I was not psychotic; the Voice was in my mind. The experienced reinforced for me how it was best to keep my new experiences private. I only discussed some of them with other ACIM students.

I also suspected, correctly, that my itch to share was not from the Holy Spirit. The feeling was too strong. The Holy Spirit is a quiet knowing, not a strong or passionate feeling. So I didn’t trust the itch and I didn’t want to be led by it. I wrote in my journal when there was no one with whom to share a lesson. If I was ever going to teach ACIM, and I didn’t know that I was, I wanted to be led into it by the Holy Spirit. And when it came time to teach, that is how it happened. It wasn’t an itch that moved me, but a quiet knowing that this was what I was to do next. And ever since then, when I do share in my writing what I am learning or what I have learned, I am not led by an itch. Instead it just flows out of me.

So what was this itch if it wasn’t the Holy Spirit? In time I realized that my own itch to share with others was my own itch to deepen or clarify the particular lesson I wanted to share. The itch still came at times, but the lesson never flowed out of me then. I wasn’t ready to share it because the lesson wasn’t solid in me yet. I needed to deepen and clarify the lesson in myself before I could share it with others. I’ve come to see that my writing occurs when I am consolidating a lesson, not when it is new to me. In fact, my writing about something means I’m ready to move past it, on to a deeper level with the same lesson, or on to other lessons.

The vast majority of students of ACIM do not eventually teach others. But of course the itch to share is not limited to those who do end up teaching. The itch is just a sign that you want a lesson to go deeper in yourself. If the itch won’t pass it can help to write about it in a journal. And if you journalize with the Holy Spirit it can be a practice that helps the lesson deepen in you.

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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 www.acimmentor.com.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Mindfulness and Being Present to Truth

Once I was in conversation with a client and mentioned something about “being present to Truth”. Suddenly he exclaimed, “Ohhhhh. Present to Truth.” He explained that he had read over and over again in spiritual teachings about the importance of being mindful, or present to what he was doing, whatever it was, as a way to peace. He practiced this for years but he did not experience anything remarkable. It had never been explained to him that he needed to make the conscious effort to be open to Truth in the present. He thought that merely being present was supposed to be enough. And once he did practice being present to Truth his experience was transformed.

This is another example of how cause and effect in spiritual practice are not always adequately explained (see last week’s article (http://acimmentor.blogspot.com/2016/04/theres-no-need-to-put-cart-behavior.html). Someone has a moment of being present and they experience Truth (a transcendent experience of peace or joy, the awareness of the illusory nature of the world, a sense of the expansive nature of True Being, etc.) They don’t realize that this happened only because they were unconsciously open to Truth. They think that merely coming into the present resulted in their experience of Truth. They then teach others in writing or speaking to be mindfully present so that they, too, can experience Truth. But what brought Truth into their awareness was not merely being present. It was their openness to Truth. So when their followers practice mindfulness and do not experience anything remarkable they are left confused about the practice. They do not experience Truth. They wonder, what am I doing wrong?


Mindfulness is actually an effect of being present to Truth. It will not lead to an awareness of Truth unless you are unconsciously or consciously open to Truth in that moment. But once you are present to Truth you find that you are mindful simply because the effect is that when you are present to Truth you are present in the world, too.

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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 www.acimmentor.com.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

There's No Need to Put the Cart (Behavior) Before the Horse (Shift)

If I was Queen of All Things Spiritual I would decree that no one could have access to spiritual teachings that were more advanced than they were ready to understand, practice, or accept. I say this because students (and this once included me) do so much harm to themselves reading things that they are not ready to understand or attempting practices that do not come naturally to them. In their guilt they judge themselves as failing because they do not measure up to what they study. And what they study they can only try to understand through the limitations of what they’ve already experienced and this leads to distortions. I spend a lot of time reassuring readers and clients that they are not failing because they have not yet attained in understanding or practice what someone more advanced has attained. They are in a process and judge against themselves for being in a process. I also spend a lot of time clarifying experiences that they have not yet had but that the ego has distorted or struggles to understand.

It is true that some teachers add to a student’s sense of guilt because they seem to forget that they
went through a process to reach their level of understanding and of practice. (I try not to do this myself, but it is difficult to not teach from where you are). Teachers engage in practices that come naturally to them at their current level of awareness, forgetting that internal shifts led to these practices; the practices did not lead to the shifts. The practices that come naturally to them now are not what came naturally to them two, five, ten years ago.

For example, for years I tried the Buddhist practice of observing the body’s breathing as a way to quiet and center my mind. This went nowhere for me. But now when I rest in the Quiet in my mind observing the body’s breathing occurs naturally because there is nothing else to do. It is the bare minimum awareness of the universe of form. I do not have to work at this. It just happens. It makes me wonder if others attained this practice naturally and then turned around and taught it to others, forgetting that the practice is an effect that occurs naturally at a certain point. The practice did not lead to the awareness.

Another example is simply observing the personal thought system (ego), which you cannot do until you are able to come from the perspective of the Awareness of Truth (Holy Spirit). You have to observe the personal thought system from somewhere and you are not going to do it when you are in the midst of it. First you have to grow your awareness of Truth. Then observing not-Truth will come naturally.

There can be some benefit in attempting these practices to see if you can do them or if you learn something from the attempt. But you have not failed if you cannot do them. You simply are not yet at a stage where they come naturally. For example, I attempted to live in the present with Truth many times before I was able. What I learned was that I was uncomfortable in the present. I had to accept this. So instead I practiced bringing my mind into the present with Truth several times a day and then I let it wander off again as it would. Only after I had undone my belief in inherent guilt in my mind was I able to live in the present with Truth. The discomfort I had felt before was due to the unconscious guilt that was right below the surface of my conscious awareness when I tried to be present. My mind had to scoot off to the future (mostly), the past (occasionally), or just elsewhere (often).  Anywhere but here with the guilt I unconsciously believed was real!


Wherever you are on the path of growing your awareness of Truth useful practices will unfold for you naturally. Any effort that you make should be natural because you are motivated and willing. Any sense of force indicates that you are not yet ready and you are trying to make something happen yourself. I know that it is very difficult in the beginning because you are very undisciplined and you feel that you are going nowhere and that you are not doing enough. You doubt yourself and you fear your commitment is not adequate. But really the only part you have to play is to invite Truth into your awareness. Once you have that experience your part is over. The rest will happen of itself. Being initially undisciplined and unwilling are part of the process. Eventually you will have enough of that and the motivation and willingness for discipline will come naturally.

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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 www.acimmentor.com.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Everyone Can't Be In The Front Row

A reoccurring theme in my work as a mentor is relationships and the need to set boundaries with others who are unhealthy. I came across this and thought it offered a useful guide for determining which relationships need boundaries:

Everyone Can’t Be In The Front Row

Life is a theater. Invite your audience carefully. Not everyone is healthy enough to have a front row seat in our lives. There are some people in your life that need to be loved from a distance. It is amazing what you can accomplish when you let go, or at least minimize, your time with draining, negative, incompatible, not-going-anywhere relationships/friendships.

Observe the relationships around you. Pay attention.

Which ones lift and which ones lean?
Which ones encourage and which ones discourage?
Which ones are on a path of growth uphill and which ones are going downhill?
When you leave certain people, do you feel better or feel worse?
Which ones always have drama, or don’t understand, know or appreciate you?

The more you seek quality, respect, growth, peace of mind, love and truth around you, the easier it will become for you to decide who gets to sit in the front row and who should be moved to the balcony of your life.

You cannot change the people around you but you can change the people you are around.


-Anonymous

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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 www,acimmentor.com.