Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ask: How are others just ideas in my mind?

A Course in Miracles tells us:Everyone makes an ego or a self for himself, which is subject to enormous variation because of its instability. He also makes an ego for everyone else he perceives, which is equally variable.” (T-4.II.2) I have to admit that I have a hard time seeing how others are just ideas in my mind. There they are, a body, which seems so solid and real to me… (September 12, 2014)

The body, like all of the universe of form, is only an empty symbol onto which you project the idea of a “person”. For example, my mother died over 10 years ago and yet when I think of her I still get a feeling that I think of as “Mom”. It’s the same feeling I had when there was a body here onto which to project “Mom”. It’s really an aggregation of thoughts and the feelings to which they lead that I think of as “Mom”. Sometimes it is so vivid that it is as though she is present. So it’s pretty clear now that Mom’s body is gone that the body could not have been the source of my experience of “Mom”. Since I still feel her she must be an idea within me. And since it’s the same feeling I had when there was a body here she must have always been an idea within me.
            It’s the same with anyone who is not in the room with you right now. Think of someone still “alive” but whose body is not with you right now. You get a feeling that you think of as that person. That’s obviously coming from you because their body is not present to you right now. So they are only an idea – an aggregation of thoughts and the feelings to which they lead – in your mind. Your experience of them is coming from you. When they are with you their body says and does things, but those actions are meaningless in themselves. You give meaning and a story to those actions based on your story for yourself and your story for them. When you do not know this, you respond to the story in your mind as though it is a fact outside of you over which you have no control. But once you do know this you can deal with your thoughts and change your experience from conflict to peace.
            You learn that you are mind, and that everything is an idea in your mind, by watching your mind and seeing how it constructs with thoughts and ideas the world in which you think you live. This does require that you slow down and pay attention to what is going on in your mind. This is the practical way to learn that what you perceive in the universe of form is an illusion – merely a projection of ideas from your own mind.

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Read 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.
If you have a question the answer to which you think will help others send it to Liz@acimmentor.com and indicate that you want it answered in the ACIM Mentor Newsletter/Blog.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Ask: Can you give examples of personally extending or creating?

“…Please can you give specific examples of how you personally "extend or create" as Truth?  My understanding is that as egos we extend and this is seen in all examples of projecting and then believing our projections as truth.  But egos' projections are illusions that end in chaos. For the awakened mind, instead of projecting it "extends or creates" in Truth.  Can you translate how as a unified One we constantly create? I recently read that Albert Einstein described himself as someone "just wanting to know the thoughts of God."  When I try to commune with Truth I try to just center myself on Truth so I might be able at some point "download" intuitive thoughts or feelings from the Truth. Creating peace. Don't know if perhaps this communing with the Truth inside me is the "extending or creating in Truth"?  Can you elaborate?” – SS

            As it does with so many terms, A Course in Miracles re-defines the word “creation”. In the world we think of “creating” as bringing something into being that was not there before. In ACIM, “Creation” means the infinite extension of God’s Being (Truth). It’s really just another way of saying that Truth is one and the same throughout. As you can tell by this definition the experience of Truth is wholly unlike the personal experience, which has multiple levels and variations.
True Extension only happens in Truth so I cannot give you examples of personally extending Truth. If my mind is on the personal, or form at all, I am blocking my awareness of Truth’s Infinite Extension.
            Projection is extension plus denial. It’s the same mechanism as extension except you deny that what you see are your own thoughts. You “project” your thoughts away from you onto a meaningless universe of form. The meaning that you project is what makes form seem real to you. They are illusions because they are just ideas and interpretations, not facts.
            Extension is something that occurs in the mind. It goes inward, not outward, because it is the recognition that there is no “outward”! You can practice extension (though not True Extension, which only occurs in Truth) by choosing to come from your awareness of Truth in your interactions with the world. In this practice you are aware of the Truth within you and you choose to attend to It and overlook the ego’s (personal thought system’s) projections of meaning onto the universe of form. Your awareness of Truth therefore extends (grows) in your awareness. You are no longer projecting because you are aware that your perception of the world is in your own mind.

            As for Albert Einstein I suspect that since he was a physicist the universe of form was very real to him and he thought that by understanding its laws he would understand the mind of some god that supposedly made it. But of course all it could lead him to are physical laws that have nothing to do with Truth.

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Learn about the book 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.

If you have a question the answer to which you think will help others send it to Liz@acimmentor.com and indicate that you want it answered in the ACIM Mentor Newsletter/Blog.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ask: Why become aware of God if we're going to go back There anyway?

My friend’s friend passed away recently and my friend said, “I am happy he is home in God now and relieved his pain is over.” But the man who passed did not seem to have any interest in spiritual awareness at all. So is it true that he went home to God? If so, then why go through the hassle of becoming aware of God in the world if you are going to go back there in any case?

            There is a faulty premise behind your questions and it is that in you there is some part of God (True Being; Reality) that left God and that will, upon the death of the body, return to God. But God is whole and complete always (eternal now). No part of It ever leaves It or needs to return to It. This idea is how the ego (personal thought system) makes it seem that the illusion has some reality. No part of illusion comes from Truth (God) so no part of it needs to return to Truth. All of not-Truth is wholly illusory.
            Your friend’s friend did not “return” to God and would not have if he was as aware of God as one can be. No aspect of a self is from God. And all that is real, ever, in any seemingly-individual mind is God. And God is here right now untouched by the illusion of an idea in the mind that is unaware of God, is becoming aware of God, or is fully aware of God. What happens in an illusion only affects the illusion.
            You do not have to wait for the body to die to be aware that God is already whole and complete in your mind right now.  There is no “you” to “go on” to become aware of God after the seeming-death of the body. If you want peace now you want to open your awareness to God now (the Holy Instant). The part of your mind that seems to lack or to have an awareness of God is never real. The need for peace is only a temporary, illusory need. Your choice in every moment is to be in the story of lack or in the awareness that you are already whole in God.

Your friend did not need to wait for his or her friend to seem to “die” to be relieved that his or her friend is no longer in pain. Your friend could have come to the realization that only God is real and that all manifestations of pain are not real. Death does not bring this realization. Nothing happens in death. It is just part of the same illusory story that is called “life”.

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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.
If you have a question the answer to which you think will help others send it to Liz@acimmentor.com and indicate that you want it answered in the ACIM Mentor Newsletter/Blog.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ask: Will you share how your practice started and has evolved?

“Would you do a blog on how you first started practicing and how it has evolved over the years? I would be very interested to hear that and I'm sure it would be a big help to a lot of people.” – WW

            My spiritual path began in 1984 with A Course in Miracles. I was 20 years old. I had been doing some other psycho-spiritual reading before I found ACIM but ACIM is what grabbed me. Its teaching was really my whole path until study fell away naturally.
            In the beginning I did not really practice. Oh, sure, I did the lessons. But I was terrified and I could hardly stand to read them every morning and evening. If I remembered twice a day to do those lessons that were supposed to be done every hour it was a good day! However, much more sunk in than I knew at the time. I repeated the Workbook for another year and didn’t do much better
            But my “practice” for a long time was really just reading. I was very hungry for ACIM. I read the Text and Manual for Teachers as I did the Workbook. I couldn’t get enough of it. Early on I experienced higher miracles and the miracle of a holy relationship. These experiences showed me directly that what ACIM said was true. But I pushed those experiences aside and focused on understanding ACIM. Reading was when I allowed myself to feel the Holy Spirit. And because I had a house cleaning business my mind was free much of the time. So at some point I began to use that time to bring my questions about ACIM to the Holy Spirit (I actually didn’t call It  “the Holy Spirit” then. I didn’t call It anything. I just called on It.) I did not always accept Its answers right away. But I was always answered, and usually accepted them within a few days. The answers sometimes came into my mind as unformed thoughts or intuitions. Sometimes the answers came from a book or someone else.
            I was probably about five years into this before my trust in the Holy Spirit was enough that I started bringing to It questions about things in the world. Decisions, yes, but the Holy Spirit also functioned as a type of therapist and guide for me. However, I wasn’t really practicing the principles of ACIM in my daily life. I read, I meditated in a superficial way, and I asked for the Holy Spirit’s help now and then.
            I met my wife in ’94. She was in a 12-step program and she told me that it was like I had my own program. What she saw was that I was willing to take responsibility for my own thoughts and feelings. But I didn’t have peace. My efforts were largely in trying to understand ACIM. Once I was miserable over some guilty reading of ACIM and she said to me, “I’ve never known anyone who could think about God so much.” This really struck me. I realized I was thinking not practicing. But I still didn’t put much into practice. I just stopped thinking too much!
            Then in the late 90s spiritual study tapered away naturally for me. I got away from all spirituality for about 2 years. (In that time I did take a year to read the Bible from beginning to end but it has never functioned as a spiritual teaching for me). Then one day I picked up ACIM again and I was hooked with renewed commitment. I knew I was not going to let go again. This time, though, my reading of it was very different. I came back to it with fresh eyes. I still read guilt into it, but not as much as before. And where I had once understood pieces of it here and there I now saw the whole message. I saw how every part fit together. It was like for me there was a book within the book. (This eventually became the book The Message of A Course in Miracles).
            I understood ACIM now because I allowed myself to read it through my experiences of Truth. Over the years I’d had the rare Revelation (only Truth) and the occasional higher miracle (seeing that Truth is true and illusion is illusion but still aware of both) but I had pushed them aside. Now I realized I had to let them fully in or I’d just go in circles merely reading ACIM and not experiencing any real shift toward peace.
            This is when I entered what ACIM calls the “period of relinquishment”. I found an incredible willingness to follow only the Holy Spirit. I allowed the Holy Spirit to work in me and through me. My trust in the Holy Spirit really deepened during this stage. It became my primary relationship and constant companion. I brought It with me into all of my relationships. My meditations became meaningful as I used them to truly open to Truth rather than to just go through the motions.
            There was a direct correlation between my awareness of the Holy Spirit and the peace I experienced. One day I realized that peace had come to stay in my awareness. I was still aware of the ego, but peace never left. And since then it has only grown in my awareness. When others asked me how I stayed centered I thought about it and realized that I did four things to stay centered. These are my 4 Habits for Inner Peace, which I eventually also wrote a book about. After a while they were just my way of being in the world.

            So now there’s no “practice” so much as a way of being. It’s natural to me to know that what I experience comes from my own mind. So I attend to my mind. Each day is about maintaining my awareness of my wholeness in Truth.

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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.
If you have a question the answer to which you think will help others send it to Liz@acimmentor.com and indicate that you want it answered in the ACIM Mentor Newsletter/Blog.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ask: Does ACIM say anything about tithing?

“…Many people extol the benefits of tithing (usually in the amount of 10 percent or more) to wherever they feel they are being spiritually fed. I'd very much like to hear your views on tithing from A Course in Miracles perspective. I'm sure nothing in either the text, workbook, or manual mentions it (or not that I've come across anyway), but some ACIM teachers recommend it nonetheless. Is there a sound basis for this Course-wise?...” –LH

            You are correct that tithing is not mentioned in A Course in Miracles. No behavior is necessary for inner peace. If you want inner peace you only have to be willing to be aware of God (True Being). And willingness is of the mind, not of the body.
            Like all behavior in the world, tithing is meaningless in itself. Some people tithe as a traditional practice. Others tithe as a practical way to express gratitude. And there are some who view tithing as part of the process of attracting or manifesting wealth in the world.

Tithing reveals an obstacle to peace in your mind if you tithe out of guilt (“I should”) or out of a belief that you must make certain things appear in your life to be happy and at peace. But if you tithe because you are used to doing so or to express gratitude then it will not get in the way of your awareness of God.

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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.
If you have a question the answer to which you think will help others send it to Liz@acimmentor.com and indicate that you want it answered in the ACIM Mentor Newsletter/Blog.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Ask: Aren't we addicted to the ego?

Aren’t we addicted to the ego?

            No. But when you think that the ego (personal thought system) is your reality you do think that you need it to live. So you feel that you have a dependency on it.
Let’s look at the distinction between abuse, addiction, and dependency. These words are often used interchangeably but there is a difference between the experiences.
            Abuse refers to using a substance, behavior, or situation improperly, thereby harming or risking harming yourself. This does not necessarily lead to addiction or dependency. For example, most of us abuse food on occasion. You may overeat at a meal or regularly overindulge in a certain food. Or you may get drunk or high, even quite often, without developing an addiction or dependency on alcohol or drugs. Abusing substances can be a passing phase, for example when you are young and want to enhance your fun or when you experience a crisis.
            The hallmark of addiction, which makes it different from abuse or dependency, is that when one is addicted to a substance they go through painful physical withdrawals when they have been without the substance for a length of time. An addiction is caused by the hijacking of the survival mechanisms in the brain by the substance. The brain becomes conditioned to the substance and responds as though it needs it for survival. So withdrawals are really a misplaced experience of starvation. The body responds as though it is dying without the substance, much as it would without food, when it really is not. Withdrawal does eventually pass, though not necessarily all physical cravings for the substance.
            Psychological dependency is the belief that one’s well-being is dependent on a substance, person, or behavior (sex, video games, etc.). One does not feel physical withdrawal symptoms if their object of dependency is withdrawn, but they experience an agonizing psychological sense that they cannot live or deal with life without it. Most addicts are also psychologically dependent on the substance that they abuse but not all psychological dependents are addicts. Twelve-step and other recovery programs are centered on learning to deal with psychological dependency even if for the addict withdrawals and possibly physical cravings pass. The dependent must learn to approach life in a manner contrary to the way that their brains are wired and this is why for many recovery is a life-long process.
[There can be a physical dependency on drugs that does not involve psychological dependency. One may be dependent on a medication to live (such as an immunosuppressant for a progressive auto-immune disease) or to have any quality of life (such as an anti-depressant for a depressive disorder). One who is dependent on drugs for life or quality of life does not experience either physical withdrawal symptoms or psychological stress if the drugs are withdrawn].
In a sense you could say that the ego is for abusing yourself, so you’re not misusing it when you believe it’s you. You are using it the way it means to be used! And you experience relief, not withdrawals, when you release the ego, so you are not addicted to it. But you do seem to have a dependency on the ego. However, you seem to only when your mind seems to be in ego. Only in ego does ego seem real and only in ego do you feel it necessary to resist your True Being (God). You feel that to let go of the ego is to die. You persist in listening to it, even long after you’ve learned how much it hurts you to listen to it, because you think that you need it to live. This is why you resist releasing it.
           But your existence and the ego are not the same thing. You exist, whole and complete, apart from the ego. Ultimately, this is what you have to learn to release the ego and be at 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.
If you have a question the answer to which you think will help others send it to Liz@acimmentor.com and indicate that you want it answered in the ACIM Mentor Newsletter/Blog.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ask: Is there an affirmation to break through dark fears?

Could you help with some guidance in the work of quieting fear from thought when facing seemingly unchangeable physical problems, i.e.,  the slow loss of one's  vision or serious health diagnosis in one's child or a close loved one.  What can one do consistently in a practical way to combat the frightening feelings that come so tenaciously.....so often in the nighttime?  I am wondering if there are honest affirmations or words that might help break the dark fears of the future - and give one a sense of hope and control of the right kind?”  – LK

            The personal experience is one of limitation, lack, and inevitable losses. Peace comes only from the awareness of the whole, unchanging, eternal Truth (“God” in A Course in Miracles) within you. Truth is untouched by anything that does or does not happen in the world. It is wholly apart from the personal experience. So as often as possible remember your experiences of Truth. Use the limitation, lack, and loss of the personal experience to remind yourself to turn inward and remember the Truth. In fact, this is how you can use these experiences to grow your awareness of Truth and peace.

            As you remember your experiences of Truth you can say things like: “Only this experience of Truth is real. Everything else falls away.”; “Only God is real.”; “Only the Truth within me is true.” – or some phrasing that helps you to remember the Unchanging and Eternal.

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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.
If you have a question the answer to which you think will help others send it to Liz@acimmentor.com and indicate that you want it answered in the ACIM Mentor Newsletter/Blog.