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.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ask: I recently resolved an issue at work peacefully but I don't like to judge anyone...

“…I recently started a new position at work in which I am the supervisor of 6 people. 2 of them approached me about their unhappiness with one of their coworkers work ethic they demanded action. It was really hard for me as I just don't like to judge anyone. I did do it in the spirit of love and it did seem to work out pretty well but I was curious of your thoughts. I'm just learning that even in that situation I could be peaceful and not fearful. It was the first experience that I have had that kind of inner peace even in a conflicted situation. I also asked the Holy Spirit for the guidance and saw my onesies with these brothers…” – JW

            Since you experienced peace in the situation I’m not quite sure what more I can offer! You must’ve done something right. Perhaps you still feel conflicted over the idea of “judging” others even though you experienced peace in the middle of what you once considered a situation of conflict.
What you want to sort out in any situation is what is fact and what is your projection of meaning (judgment).  For example, it may be a fact that Jane habitually starts work late. That fact has no meaning in itself. And observing this fact is not judging her. It’s just observing a fact in the world. And it may also be an observable fact that her lateness violates your company’s policies. In this sense you may see her perpetual lateness as “wrong”, but neither of these observations would cause you to have a strong emotional charge. A strong emotional charge is the sign that you have judged.
I’m under the impression you did not experience this in the situation that you describe. It is never wrong to judge (to think so would be another judgment!). But believing in your judgments is an obstacle to peace. Your judgments, not the facts, are what cause emotional charges and feelings of conflict. They stem from your conscious or unconscious belief that there is a power over and outside of you (a god) that sits in judgment on you and that will punish you if you do not live up to its standards. Someone else being imperfect only reminds you that you, too, are not living up to your god’s standards and so would set off your own guilt and fear of punishment. Your own guilt and fear is what you really see in a situation where you judge. They cause the emotional charge. So ultimately your judgments indicate to you that you need to undo your belief in a god outside of you and over you that you must please or be punished.

            You’ve now had an experience to which to refer when you find yourself again in a situation where you must confront someone with the facts of their inadequate work ethic. And you can learn to discern whether or not you are projecting your own guilt and fear by whether or not you judge them and feel a strong emotional charge.

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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 16, 2014

Ask: Is there anything else that you think I could be doing?

“The more I read RG (Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace) the more it resonates with me. Since I'm retired and no longer have the imposed structure of a job and also divorced and no longer have the daily stress of my former marriage I can easily focus on what's going on with me. I can follow my feelings and what shows up is a free-floating, non-specific fear which according to the Course is guilt. There is no denying it or attributing it to anything outside of me. While I'm not happy about it I do believe this is what's true for me and an authentic way to see myself and live my life right now.
So I study the Course by reading. I meditate to invite the ToT (Teacher of Truth) into my awareness which so far has gotten little response. I started the lessons and gave up after 5 out of boredom. I refer to the 7 Rules for Decision Making from to time to time. I reach out to friends including my ex who loves your books. I distract myself by reading history, watching a ton of movies and drink my daily "medicinal" beer. That's me.
Is there anything else you think I could be doing?...I do think an honest account of how one student lives his daily life along with your response might be helpful to others who might be getting frustrated.” – ES

            The daily practice I recommend is in my book 4 Habits for Inner Peace. All you need to experience peace is to be aware of Truth. So just do what you want to do each day without judging it and bring your mind back to Truth when you remember to do so. If you find that you cannot do this then you need to look with the Teacher of Truth (Holy Spirit) in your mind at the guilt and fear that are your obstacles to peace.

Recognizing the guilt in your mind is the beginning of undoing it. The next step is to become aware of the unconscious and conscious beliefs that cause your feelings of guilt so that you can undo them with the Teacher of Truth in your mind.

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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.