Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Unconscious/Subconscious

Lately I’ve received some questions about the terms “unconscious” and “subconscious”. Students want to know what we are talking about when we talk about unconscious thoughts and beliefs. Unconscious thoughts and beliefs are thoughts and beliefs in your mind but out of your conscious awareness. We refer to them as being in your “subconscious”, or below your level of conscious awareness. You can only hold a limited amount of what is in your mind in your conscious awareness. The rest is in your subconscious.

Some of what is in your mind that you are not conscious of is there through your denial. These are thoughts and beliefs that you find frightening or painful. These include, but are not limited to, memories. Beyond specific memories there are beliefs that you have internalized and find too painful to look at, like the belief in intrinsic guilt, fear of a god outside of you that is going to punish you, unworthiness, the belief that you are “bad”, etc. Some people repress these thoughts more than others. Sometimes you are aware of these thoughts but not always aware of how deep they go in your subconscious and how they drive you. These are your “obstacles to peace”, the “darkness” in your mind that A Course in Miracles says you must bring up to “light”, or conscious awareness, to dispel.

When beliefs are integrated into your way of thinking they end up in your subconscious because there is no reason for you to hold them in your conscious mind. Not all of these are negative beliefs. Even helpful ones eventually end up in your subconscious as they are integrated.

Some thoughts occurring in your mind happen so fast that you are not conscious of them, nor do you need to be. Intuition works this way. Intuition is your mind making unconscious connections and seeing patterns so quickly that it results in you feeling immediately that you know something about someone, something, or an event. Connections (negative, fearful, guilty) made by the ego (personal thought system) may show up intuitively. Your mind may also make neutral intuitive connections that merely make an observation. And helpful communications from the Holy Spirit (awareness of Truth in your mind) may show up intuitively.

Your subconscious is not something outside of you that drives you. Nor is it a mysterious force within you. It only seems mysterious when you do not understand it. But when you understand that you have thoughts and beliefs in your mind of which you are not aware you can choose to become aware of them. When you say that you did something unconsciously it is an explanation, not an excuse, for dysfunctional behavior. You can take responsibility by becoming aware of what is going on in your subconscious so you are not blindly driven by it. You do this by being willing to know what is going on in your own mind. You can say to the Holy Spirit in your mind, “I am willing to see what thoughts I have hidden in my mind that caused this feeling/behavior/attitude.”

You were born into a state of consciousness that denies God (True Being). But Reality cannot be wholly denied. So beyond all of the thoughts and beliefs in your subconscious there is always God, whether or not you are consciously aware of God. Do not underestimate the ego’s (personal thought system’s) resistance to you looking into your subconscious. It is heavily invested in you not learning that God is in your mind. When you look into your mind and learn how it works the ego will be threatened. It will tell you that you will find horrible things if you look within your mind: You will find out how evil you really are. This is how it protects itself from you. But you can only fully take responsibility for yourself when you know what is going on in your mind. And you can only find God by looking into your mind.

You do not have to root out every thought and belief in your subconscious. Just deal with what comes up naturally and what you learn will eventually generalize and undo unhelpful thoughts and beliefs. All feelings are caused by thoughts and beliefs. So if you don’t like how you feel, and you are not consciously aware of the thoughts and beliefs that cause the feeling, willingly ask yourself what beliefs are in your subconscious. I guarantee that they are never so bad that you cannot deal with them. It is only their being hidden, and the ego’s fear of being undone, that makes them seem frightening. They are, in the end, only beliefs, not facts.

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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 22, 2015

A Follow-up to "Death, Reincarnation, and Guilt"

I knew my last article was on a loaded topic: reincarnation. I did receive some positive emails. But I felt that many of the comments on the article at my blogsite, via email, and in discussion with clients missed the central points of the article. This is a common phenomenon! I learned a long time ago that everyone reads through their own filters. But I want to clear up some of the issues that came up in the comments and then I’ll be done with it. When I write an article all I can hope is that the readers read it with the Holy Spirit and get something useful out of it for where they are now in their process, even if it’s not what I intend for them to get.

The point of the article was how the belief in guilt persists through the concept of reincarnation. As long as you believe in guilt the ego (personal thought system in your mind) will provide stories for your guilt, whether they are from this lifetime or from another. As long as you want to go in search of guilt in your mind it will provide stories from this lifetime or another lifetime. When you work out the guilt in your mind you will not be interested in these stories any more. The ego in your mind will still have them. But you won’t attend to them because you will see that they are not true.

Stories of guilt in your mind are not really the source of your guilt. Your belief in guilt gives rise to the stories. The value of looking at these stories is that they bring your belief in guilt to your conscious awareness. This belief takes many forms. But each time as you drill down to the source of guilt you will arrive at the same underlying belief: that there is a power outside and over you (a god) taking your measure and judging you. This, ultimately, is the only belief that you have to undo. It is what holds guilt in place. It is what makes you fear Truth. Eventually you will not be deceived by the many forms guilt takes. Instead when guilt comes up you will go right to undoing your underlying belief in a judgmental god. (My book, Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace, explains all of this in depth).

There are some who believe firmly in reincarnation and I have no doubt that, if they are willing, the Holy Spirit will use that belief in a way that will help them undo guilt now. But there is no reason to despair over the idea of reincarnation. Nor is there any reason to adopt the concept if it fills you with fear or does not make sense to you. The other important point that I made in the last article is that it does not take lifetimes to undo your belief in guilt. It just takes willingness now to look at guilt when it comes up naturally.

Sometimes when you study something like ACIM there are concepts beyond your ability to understand. If you cannot understand Eternity as timelessness or existence without a self then accept that you do not understand Eternity and True Being (God) yet. Understanding will come as you are ready to understand. You don’t have to adopt concepts that scare you or that do not make sense to you in the meantime. It is a more helpful practice to keep your mind open to the Holy Spirit. It will bring you the concepts or experiences that you need to understand. (And, yes, for some it may be reincarnation but not if it scares you or does not make sense to you. If you feel despair you are listening to the ego, not the Holy Spirit!).

The concept of reincarnation was used by the Voice she called “Jesus” to motivate Helen Schucman to be a channel for and scribe of ACIM. When you read about a person’s specific experience with the Holy Spirit (or “Jesus”) what you want to take away is that they were answered, not necessarily what they were answered. The Holy Spirit speaks to your mind and the unique way it works. It meets you where you are in the process. (For more on this: http://acimmentor.blogspot.com/2007/06/one-limit-to-holy-spirits-guidance.html and http://acimmentor.blogspot.com/2012/05/ask-what-makes-course-different-from.hml).

For those who have had past life experiences but who are made fearful by the concept of reincarnation I offer you two alternative ways of looking at those experiences. The first is that as each of us in our seeming-individuality are figures in the “dream” of one mind then past life experiences are really just “memories” of other dream figures in that one mind’s dream. In other words, you did not personally live those lives. You are just remembering something in the collective dream. This is why many different people can have past-life experiences of being the same historical person.

The other view is one that comes from my own experience. I, too, have had past life “memories”, three in total, two of them under hypnosis over 20 years ago. Right away I recognized that they were analogies for what I was experiencing at the time. For example, while I was dealing with what I perceived as a painful rejection one of the regressions revealed how in a past life this same person had “stabbed me in the back” and killed me. The “memories” in these regressions seemed to me to be just like a dream I have at night that produces analogies to what I am experiencing awake. They were stories from my subconscious built around my feelings.


Beyond specific stories for guilt the concept of reincarnation reinforces guilt by emphasizing your identification with a self. It can therefore only come from the ego, which is the thought system for you as a self. The concept is an attempt to give an attribute of Reality – immortality – to the ego to make it seem real. For this reason even if the concept is helpful for some temporarily it will eventually fall away when they recognize it as an obstacle to complete 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.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Death, Reincarnation, and Guilt

“In the ultimate sense, reincarnation is impossible. There is no past or future, and the idea of birth into a body has no meaning either once or many times. Reincarnation cannot, then, be true in any real sense. Our only question should be, ‘Is the concept helpful?’” (M-24.1)

The belief in reincarnation is one that bafflingly persists in the A Course in Miracles community. It’s baffling because ACIM states that it cannot be real. And it’s baffling because in the experience of the Holy Instant, the experience central to understanding ACIM, you know that it cannot be real. Yes, ACIM also says it may be a helpful concept if looked at the right way. It goes on to say that if it’s comforting to the believer its helpfulness is obvious. And that you can emphasize the aspect of the concept that leads one to understand that there is more to existence than this passing life. But those are very slim aspects of the concept to find helpful. They could only be temporarily helpful at best.

I have yet to run across a student who looks at the concept of reincarnation in a way that is comforting or helpful. Always they speak of it with guilt and fear. Either they are unhappy and fear having to repeat life in a body. Or they feel that they will never see the end of guilt. How many lifetimes of guilt do they have to undo? How many lifetimes will it take to undo the guilt? How can they stop from making more guilt in this lifetime? Guilt is built into the concept of reincarnation.

One of the most difficult questions for students of ACIM to answer is “What happens to me when I die?” It is difficult to answer because that which asks does not exist! “Eternity”, as ACIM uses the word, is not “endless time” but “timelessness”. Eternity is outside of time. It has no beginning and no ending. It simply is. That Which is eternal within you is not touched by the story that you have for yourself in time. Peace is attained by becoming aware of the Eternal within you and focusing on It as you let go of the story that you have for yourself in time. When you do that you stop having questions about death. That which would be concerned with death has already fallen away from you when you are aware of the Eternal within you.

“Reincarnation would not, under any circumstances, be the problem to be dealt with now. If it were responsible for some of the difficulties the individual faces now, his task would still be only to escape from them now.” (M-24.2)

The trap is the belief that there is something out there in the future to be attained. The Eternal is within you now. You are only unaware of It. Your obstacles to peace are beliefs in your mind now. If you are unhappy now the source of your unhappiness are thoughts and beliefs in your mind now even if they seem to be about the past, of this life or of another life. This is why you can undo them now. If the source of the thoughts truly was in the past then you would not be able to undo them. The source of anything you feel now is a belief in your mind now.

“The ego teaches thus: Death is the end as far as hope of Heaven goes. Yet because you and the ego cannot be separated, and because it cannot conceive of its own death, it will pursue you still, because guilt is eternal. Such is the ego's version of immortality.” (T-15.I.4)


Reincarnation is a very comfortable belief for the ego (personal thought system) because it is the belief that guilt is real. Though students may say that they understand that guilt is not real and that the problem is that believe in it, there is no way to avoid feeling punished as they contemplate an indefinite number of future lifetimes to undo an indefinite number of past lifetimes of the belief in guilt. This is just guilt and punishment in disguise. In fact, all you have to do is deal with the feelings of guilt that come up now. Feelings always reveal your true beliefs. So look at them with the Holy Spirit and undo them. In time you will realize that you always come back to a single core belief – that there is a power over you (a god) that judges you and that you have to live up to. As you correct this illusion again and again in its many forms you will eventually undo it. The ego will always tell you that you are guilty. But you will no longer believe it so the idea will have no power over you. This is something that you can accomplish in this lifetime.

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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 08, 2015

The Sanest One in the Room

I used to intellectually understand that the ego was insane. Now I experience it as such. I get what I call the “falling down the rabbit hole” sensation of disorientation when I try to understand an ego (personal thought system). This includes the one in my mind. What I experience is the chaos of a multitude of possible interpretations and responses without any criteria to establish which is the best to choose. The mere fact that there is choice indicates that there is no absolute correct interpretation or response except to acknowledge it is insane and not engage with it. Not engaging with the ego is easy now that I experience it as insane. While I still thought it made some sense I couldn’t let it go.

“Whoever is saner at the time the threat is perceived should remember how deep is his indebtedness to the other and how much gratitude is due him, and be glad that he can pay his debt by bringing happiness to both. Let him remember this, and say:

I desire this holy instant for myself, that I may share it with my brother, whom I love.
It is not possible that I can have it without him, or he without me.
Yet it is wholly possible for us to share it now.
And so I choose this instant as the one to offer to the Holy Spirit, that His blessing may descend on us, and keep us both in peace. (T-18.V.7)

The above quote was the suggestion made to Helen and Bill in A Course in Miracles for those times when they were in conflict. Of course they were in a unique teaching-learning relationship where what one experienced the other did as well. But what about the rest of us who do not have a partner in this practice? The “saner” one at any given moment is the one who is able to put aside the ego (personal thought system) and access the Truth in their minds. Since the vast majority of people you come across are not aware of the Truth in their minds this most often means you. If you want harmony in your relationships with others you are going to have to be the one to find that harmony for yourself in your awareness of Truth. The Holy Spirit (your awareness of Truth) in your mind will help you find another way of looking at the other or the relationship or help you to find ways of approaching the other so that you do not increase fear in either of you.

When dealing with others it helps to remember that just as you view things through the filters of your mind they view things from the filters in their mind, too. This can help you to not take their responses personally and escalate a conflict. What they feel and how they respond is never about you. If you can take a deep breath and focus on what they need in the moment rather than on your personal response of fear you will drop your defenses. And when you drop your defenses you will often find that they drop theirs, too. Then you can get on with a rational discussion to deal with the conflict between you.


As you grow closer to Truth and sanity and away from the insanity of the ego there will be fewer people to whom you can relate. You will feel increasingly different from others and apart from the world. The ego will tell you that you should feel lonely. But you will feel whole in your awareness of Truth so you will not feel lack or “loneliness”. True Oneness is not the joining of egos but an inward experience of Wholeness. And because the mind always sees itself you will see the same Wholeness in others even when they are manifestly not aware of It themselves. Wholeness will feel more present to you and the superficial, passing ego drama will be insignificant to 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 01, 2015

One Story

I have come to a higher vision where I see the universe of form as a tapestry; a unitary, unified story where once I saw it as a collective (macro story) of independent stories (micro stories) all playing on each other. The choices for this self have not been independent choices influenced by and influencing the larger macro story as I thought they were. The choices for this self have all been part of one whole unfolding story. I experienced those choices, and still experience the choices for this self now, as though they were made by a singular independent split-mind among many independent split-minds. But now I know they are simply the singular unfolding of one larger story. Every choice is the effect of only one split mind. And none of the choices have any real effects. The Truth goes on untouched by any of it. It is just a story.

I knew back when I studied A Course in Miracles that the “you” it was speaking to was not what I experienced as the individual “me”. For example, where it speaks to the choice to be separate from God I knew it was not referring to a choice that I made as an individual. This individual, like all individuals, is an expression of the choice of one split-mind (what ACIM calls the “Son of God”) to be separate from God. But only now do I see this. And of course this choice, again, is not a real choice. Nothing real is occurring. It is just the playing out of the idea of the opposite-of-God.

I went from being almost wholly ego-identified and feeling that the self was reality. I thought this self was one among many. Then I shifted to being aware of a mind split between ego (personal thought system) and the Holy Spirit (the thought system that comes from an awareness of Truth). I thought this split mind was one among many. Eventually I saw that there is really only one split mind that takes many forms. The content of all of these minds is the same though their forms are different. So I came to understand that these minds were a projection in the likeness of one split mind. But I still thought of them as independent of that one split mind. And now I see that they are not.


Does this change anything for the self? No. Whatever its choices they are part of the one story. They cannot be anything else. But I say this vision is “higher” because, apart from the self, I can see the whole story, as though I am above it, rather than in the midst of it seeing only what is in front of me.

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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 25, 2015

In the Flow of the Universe

Many years ago I met a woman who told me that as soon as she wanted something for the self it manifested for her. This had never been my experience. In fact, I was confused about the whole manifesting thing. (This has since become popularly known as the “Law of Attraction” because of the book that brought together long held ideas behind manifesting what you want). I was left wondering if she truly did manifest what she wanted or if the desire for something grew in her just before it showed up. Maybe she was just in tune with the universe of form.

I first learned about manifesting when I was a new student of A Course in Miracles. The theory, as I understood it anyway, was that what did or did not show up in the self’s life was determined by my own thoughts. If I didn’t have what I wanted for the self it must be because of obstacles within me. For example, maybe I felt unworthy of or afraid of what I wanted. I was supposed to dig around in my mind for those obstacles and, if I removed them, lo and behold what I wanted would show up. My initial discomfort with the idea of manifesting, or attracting, what I wanted was the recognition that I would only be concerned with what did or did not show up for the self if I thought that this was the cause of my peace or conflict. Wasn’t I learning that being aware of God (True Being) was the only lasting source of peace and happiness? I wasn’t there yet, but I felt early on that concerning my mind with manifesting was a distraction from being aware of God (True Being).

My other problem with the concept of manifesting was that I had always intuited the flow of the universe of form, whether I wanted to or not. Sometimes I wanted something for this self but would feel that it was not going to happen. Sometimes the feeling was “not yet”. Other times I would know that what I wanted was coming soon. Also, desires for the self would shift. They would show up or fall away. Yes, I was sometimes aware of unworthiness or fear when it came to something I wanted. But more significant to me was the sense that I was trying to force something to happen if what I wanted didn’t jive with my intuition about the flow of the universe. And how was I supposed to know what was best for this self, anyway? It doesn’t live in a vacuum. Anything that shows up for this self affects others selves, too, especially those close to it. Wasn’t this self’s life part of a larger picture? It always felt that way to me.

I learned to look for the “flow” rather than to try to force what I wanted to happen. I was not happy with this, because I wanted what I wanted. But I always eventually concluded that it was easier to ride the flow than to swim against it. Especially since swimming against it wasn’t going to make happen what I wanted to happen anyway!


Eventually I gave more and more of the self’s life to the Holy Spirit (Teacher of Truth in my mind). It has become clear to me recently that some of what I thought was guidance from the Holy Spirit over the years was really my tuning into the flow of the universe. Where the Holy Spirit came into it was in my willingness to be rational, open, and without judgment.  This opened my mind to the flow of the universe of form. So the Holy Spirit was not so much my guide as my mind-set. But even though I sought the flow, rather than to manifest what I wanted, I still lived through the self. I sought through it for happiness and peace. But when I undid guilt I let go of a need for a story – for a self. I let the self go into the flow of the universe – where it always was, anyway. It was always just a character in a story, though I selfishly thought it was there for me to live through! Now I simply watch it, without judgment. Since I don’t identify with it I am not concerned with controlling its life. It is only part of a meaningless story that has nothing to do with 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.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

How "the world isn't real" Shows Up

I often tell students that much of this path has not unfolded in the way that I expected. I had ideas about how it was going to look and feel. So I often missed shifts in my experience because I was looking elsewhere for a shift. Or I simply didn’t recognize them for what they were. Eventually I learned I have no idea how this will unfold! I learned to release expectations, to trust the process,  and to keep an open mind.

One of the first examples of this is with the awareness that the world isn’t real. It’s hard to know how I expected this would show up. I think I expected a wholesale shift in my perception and that the world would disappear. But the shift in awareness began almost immediately after I became a student of A Course in Miracles with a shift in my values.
           
A Course in Miracles tells us that we believe in what we value:
“Remember that where your heart is, there is your treasure also. You believe in what you value.” (T-2.II.1)
“And your thinking but reflects your choice of what you want to see. Your values are determiners of this, for what you value you must want to see, believing what you see is really there.” (W-130.1)
“I am grateful that this world is not real, and that I need not see it at all unless I choose to value it.” (W-53.2 [12])

This used to confound me. I thought it was backwards. Don’t I have to believe something is real before I value it? No, ACIM was telling me my giving something value is what makes it real to me. I did not understand this until I experienced it. The way that “this isn’t real” first showed up for me was in my no longer according value to certain thing that I once valued. They no longer seemed significant or to have meaning for me. So I did not think about something “this is not real” or “this is an illusion”. Instead I just stopped thinking about it no longer had meaning for me. It “disappeared” for me in that it was no longer on my mind even if in form it was still in my mind. What has no meaning to me does not exist for me. Eventually, this generalized to the whole world as I found value and meaning in my awareness of Truth instead of in the world.

This is not a foreign experience. Everyone does this all the time. You do not give your attention to thousands of things that pass before you every day. The whole world does not exist for you all of the time. Your attention automatically goes to what has value for you. And things that once had value for you fall away from your attention when something you value more comes into your awareness.

Another way that “the world is not real” showed up for me was in the acceptance that everything in the universe of form passes. This includes not just painful things but also pleasures. Only the Eternal is real because it always is. What passes is not real because it passes. Interestingly, this not only mitigated the pain of life in the world for me. But I enjoy pleasures more because I do not cling to them in desperation to “save” me from the pain of the human experience. I accept them for the time that they are present and then let them go. So my enjoyment of them is not diminished by my desperation to hold on to them. All in the world passes but the Eternal is always with me.

Lately another way that the world isn’t real shows up for me is in how stories in my mind about the world fall away easily. They can be about the past, present, or future. They can be a story for this self or a person I know or a public figure. As soon as I start to give anything any real thought I become acutely aware that it is only a story in my mind and nothing more. Then it seems to turn to dust and fall away and my mind is set free.


I do not go around thinking “this is not real” all of the time because that awareness has quietly become my “new normal”. This came about through a slow and steady shift in my mind over time. I become aware of how dramatically my mind has changed only when I hear how much others still believe in the world and are so invested in it. Then I remember that I used to be that way, too, and I feel the contrast. I can remember that I used to be that way but I cannot recall the actual experience. It seems alien to me now and it doesn’t make sense.

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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.