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.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

This Inner Work Is Time Consuming

Often I laugh with my students over how our inner work chews up time without any outward activity to show for it. There is a lot of vigilance and processing required on the path to peace! So we have a sense of being occupied but we can’t really explain this to others because the work is going on only in our minds.

Whenever I hear about theoretical physicists and their “thought experiments” I can identify. They spend a lot of time just thinking about how the universe of form works. They may eventually jot down some formulas, but for much of the time they are conceptualizing. It is the same with this inner work for inner peace. We may eventually write what we learn in a journal but for much of the time we are busy with understanding the workings of our own mind. We are occupied observing, analyzing, and processing what we learn.


The deeper you go into this process the more important busy-work for the body becomes to you. Those mundane, repetitive, every-day tasks like washing the dishes, sweeping the floor, pulling weeds, walking the dog, etc. keep the body busy but the mind free to think. Your outer life may look tedious and boring to others but your inner life, the life of the mind where you live, is rich and deeply fulfilling. In the sense of wholeness that results from this inner work you no longer need to seek “fun” or “excitement”. In fact, you find them to be unnecessary distractions. You’ve discovered that finding and then maintaining your inner peace is a much more satisfying and worthwhile way to spend your time.

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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.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Acclimating to Peace

This mind thought that all it had to do was stop believing in guilt and it would be at peace and any process would be over. Then it found peace, stopped believing in guilt, but found that it was still in a process. And that process is acclimating to peace. When a mind is used to conflict it does not immediately accept peace.

A couple of weeks ago (http://acimmentor.blogspot.com/2016/03/sorry-no-incantations-here.html) I wrote about how a mind used to forms (thoughts, ideas, feelings, material forms) experiences the Formlessness of Truth as emptiness. The contrast between form and Formlessness is jarring at first. Form is boundaries and busyness and contrasts and conflicts. Formlessness is boundlessness and stillness and the same throughout. This is Absolute Peace! What else could be peace but emptiness? It seems so obvious once you experience It.

But Absolute Peace is not the first peace to which you have to acclimatize. The first peace you have to get used to is the peace that occurs when conflict falls away. It begins at the very beginning of the process of growing your awareness of Truth. Very often new students of A Course in Miracles who are still in the lessons in the Workbook tell me how disturbed they are when they are no longer bothered by something that used to bother them. Isn’t this the peace they sought? Weren’t they looking to get off the up-and-down roller-coaster of drama that is the experience of the ego (personal thought system)? Not only do they not trust this new peace, but along with it comes a sense of something missing. It’s not necessarily a loss they mourn, but it is an uncomfortable sense of something familiar, even if painful, having fallen away. What fell away was conflict. So right away, even as you have years ahead of you of letting go of the belief in guilt, you begin the process of acclimatizing to peace.

The ego thrives in the discomfort of the split-mind. You (the mind split between ego and Truth) are used to listening to it and you are not used to peace. The ego tells you that something is wrong with you because you are no longer in pain, you no longer join with others in suffering, you feel a detachment from the world, etc. And you will fear that something is wrong with you to the extent that you still believe that suffering is normal or right and good and “spiritual”. It’s a hard belief to overcome because it is central to the ego. The ego is conflict and suffering. So it is never in the ego that you come to an awareness of peace. That you can experience peace is how you know you are not the ego.


Since you have to acclimate to the peace that you feel when conflict falls away you can imagine that you also have to acclimate to Absolute Peace. But by the time that It comes into your awareness guilt has fallen away so there is no longer a fear that you are wrong for being detached from the world. You recognize that Absolute Peace is simply not familiar and that now it is time to let It in more and more.

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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, March 23, 2016

Love, Peace, and Joy as Effects

Sometimes students tell me they want to reach a state of bliss or to be joyful all the time. What they do not understand is if they attained these states they would not experience them as bliss or joy because their new state would become the “new normal”. Bliss and joy are really only felt in contrast to unhappiness. Peace is only felt in contrast to conflict. Love, or wholeness, is only felt in contrast to lack. They are all personal experiences. And they are only the flipside of the experiences that they are set up to replace.
I could say that Truth is the absence of all feelings and experiences. But really It is not even that. Truth is not defined by an absence of any kind. It cannot be understood in contrast to anything. Truth is beyond all comparisons or contrasts because It is beyond all duality.

That which experiences pain and seeks to be out of pain are the same. So to seek to feel “good” is to seek for only the flip-side of feeling “bad”. They are the same coin and nothing real is accomplished by changing feelings. Real change is to be aware of That Which is so beyond all feelings that It is not even the absence of feelings. Feelings were never There.

If you’ve read my earlier writing you know that for a long time I pursued love and peace and joy. I even defined Truth as the experience of lasting love and peace and joy. Now I see that these experiences are not Truth Itself but only the effects of an awareness of Truth. This is why they can be experienced through other sources. For example, you hear of people who have taken certain drugs or who have had a stroke who have “transcendent” experiences where they feel an expansion of their being and/or boundless love or peace or joy. They have experiences of “light” or they see the illusion of form or the interconnectedness of all things. Those experiences are only effects of chemical changes in the brain brought on by drugs or a stroke or an awareness of Truth. (When the experience is caused by the latter I call it a “higher miracle” because of its source). These experiences are only meaningful in contrast to what had been accepted as reality. But neither the experience one has before and after the “transcendent” experience nor the “transcendent” experience itself is Reality.


This awareness clarifies for me the experience of my last Revelation in September ’07. There was the Revelation, Which is beyond description. And, as always, what follows is a higher miracle full of lessons for me. In that case what I experienced on the “way back” from the Revelation was so much joy that I felt that if I felt any more I’d be the joy. Then I swung all the way into the darkest terror of the ego (personal thought system): the fear of not existing. At the time, and for long after, I saw my mind as split between the joy and the terror. Now I see those were in the same place in my mind. The Revelation was the Thing apart. The joy/terror was only the effect of experiencing the Revelation.

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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, March 16, 2016

ACIM Dissolves Rather Than Absolves Guilt

Despite its use of Christian symbols there are many ideas in A Course in Miracles that are radically different from Christianity. In fact, they undo what is traditionally taught in Christianity. It is important for students of ACIM to not only recognize this but to meditate on these differences. Doing so clarifies ACIM and how learning what it teaches can set you free.

The betrayal of the Son of God lies only in illusions, and all his "sins" are but his own imagining. His reality is forever sinless. He need not be forgiven but awakened. (T-17.I.1)

A major tenet in the ego's insane religion is that sin is not error but truth, and it is innocence that would deceive. Purity is seen as arrogance, and the acceptance of the self as sinful is perceived as holiness. And it is this doctrine that replaces the reality of the Son of God as his Father created him, and willed that he be forever. (T-19.II.4)

In a nutshell, the fundamental and radical difference between A Course in Miracles and Christianity is in their approaches to guilt. Christianity presents a path to absolution from guilt. It validates guilt (sin) as real and then presents you with a way to escape from consequences for it through its god’s grace. ACIM teaches that guilt is not real. It is never justified no matter how much you feel that it is. It presents the way to dissolve your belief in guilt.

The path of absolution does not free you from guilt, only from punishment for it. The sin occurred but you are just not going to pay for it. So absolution increases your guilt because, in your guilt, you feel unworthy of absolution. Bow down and kiss your god’s feet because you who are unworthy have been granted undeserved freedom! How beholden you now should be to that merciful god! (Who, by the way, you feel can turn on you at any moment because, after all, you really are guilty and do deserve to be punished).

The path of dissolving guilt releases you not from actual guilt but from your belief that guilt is real. This is what is meant by “He need not be forgiven but awakened” in the quote at the top. You do not need to perfect or to seek absolution for the self but rather become aware of (awaken to) your Perfection in Truth.

To sin would be to violate reality, and to succeed. (T-19.II.2)

The Son of God can be mistaken; he can deceive himself; he can even turn the power of his mind against himself. But he cannot sin. There is nothing he can do that would really change his reality in any way, nor make him really guilty. (T-19.II.3)


This difference between Christianity and ACIM is not small! They are fundamentally opposed. What Christianity says is a real, therefore uncorrectable, sin, ACIM says is a mistaken perception that can be corrected for your peace of mind. Absolution does not offer freedom or peace. But the awareness that there is no guilt but only a belief in guilt that can be undone offers true and lasting freedom and peace.

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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.