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Showing posts from February, 2006

The Time Saving Tools of the Course

You may be attempting to follow a very long road to the goal you have accepted. It is extremely difficult to reach Atonement by fighting against sin. Enormous effort is expended in the attempt to make holy what is hated and despised. Nor is a lifetime of contemplation and long periods of meditation aimed at detachment from the body necessary. All such attempts will ultimately succeed because of their purpose. Yet the means are tedious and very time consuming, for all of them look to the future for release from a state of present unworthiness and inadequacy. (T-18.VII.4)

Your way will be different, not in purpose but in means. A holy relationship is a means of saving time. One instant spent together with your brother restores the universe to both of you. You are prepared. Now you need but to remember you need do nothing. (T-18.VII.5)

What makes the Course different from other paths to God is its two tools to help save time: The holy instant and the holy relationship. They are intended to…

When the Course Becomes an Idol

An idol is something you would interpose between yourself and God. It seems odd to suggest that the Course can become and idol when its intent is to lead you back to God. Yet some have become so concerned with the form of the Course that they lose sight of its message.

The Course is an idol when you feel you need to evangelize the Course. This means you feel a need to make others become students, too. The Course is a tool to use in your awakening, nothing more. It is one form of a universal curriculum. This means that the lessons in it are necessary to learn your way back to God, but that those lessons can come in many forms. While the lessons are required, the form of the lessons is different for different people. The Course is the form for you, not for everyone.

The Course is an idol when you obsess about the books themselves – how they were written, exactly what was included and what wasn’t, who had input in the editing, the language, etc. Either the Course resonates with you or it d…

Can You Be Married to a Non-Student?

The meaning of love is the meaning God gave to it. Give to it any meaning apart from His, and it is impossible to understand it. (T-15.V.10)

Many single students I have studied with ask if my life-partner is a student of the Course, too. When I tell them she is not, they wonder how I can be in such an intimate relationship with a non-student. They think they never could! Yet I suspect more often than not that the spouses of married students are not students themselves.

Actually, Courtney is Christian. She considers my spirituality to be dry and requires a warmer, fuzzier God than she thinks I experience. She disagrees with much in the Course and believes the ego and this world are as real as God. But she sees how the Course affects me and wholeheartedly supports and encourages my study of the Course and my mentoring of other students. Like me, she believes there are many paths to God. We both put our relationship to God first from the beginning of our relationship and twelve years later…

The Essential Holy Instant

The holy instant is the Holy Spirit's most useful learning device for teaching you love's meaning. (T-15.V.1)

For the holy instant reaches to eternity, and to the Mind of God. And it is only there love has meaning, and only there can it be understood. (T-15.V.11)

The holy instant and the holy relationship are the two “tools” the Course offers to you to use on behalf of awakening. They are the same experience, in that the holy relationship is the expression of the Oneness with God you experience in the holy instant.

Ultimately, there is only one holy instant – the instant of awakening. But until you are ready for that, you can experience the holy instant in time whenever you choose. This is essential for you to understand what awakening will mean. The holy instant is a glimpse into Truth, a little trip to Heaven nestled within time. Without this experience, you will fear that God and Heaven are frightening, alien experiences. You need the holy instant to remind you they are not.

Th…

Getting Past Father/Son

Father=Whole/Son=Part of God

Not being Christian and already having had some experiences of God before I became a student of the Course I had a hard time with the Father/Son language of the Course. Some women have had a hard time with the masculine-gender-only aspect of the Course, but my issue was with the humanness of it. In this world father and son are distinctly different people yet in the Course I’m supposed to see Father and Son as One. A father is outside his son, yet I’m supposed to see the Father within the Son. Moreover, I have never experienced God as a parent in any form. God simply is for me. This aspect of the Course’s language made the Course’s message seem distant from my own experience.

Eventually I learned to look at the Father/Son language in another way: Father=Whole/Son=Part of God. God is Whole and Christ is Part of God. The separated “sons of God” are the separated “parts of God”. Some may find this too impersonal. Some prefer to read Father/Son as Parent/Child. …

"Special" Abilities

Inventiveness is wasted effort even in its most ingenious form. The highly specific nature of invention is not worthy of the abstract creativity of God's creations. (T-3.V.2)

All abilities should therefore be given over to the Holy Spirit, Who understands how to use them properly. He uses them only for healing, because He knows you only as whole. (T-7.IV.4)

In the world, inventiveness, ingenuity and special talents are seen as gifts from God. The idea that these are from ego is hard for many new students of the Course to accept. Even after they have accepted that God did not make the world, or bodies, or personalities they have a hard time accepting that the genius of da Vinci, or Einstein or Mozart are simply part of the ego’s use of “specialness” to prove separation from God is real.

We all have attributes that we are proud of and that maybe we once thought were God-given. You may experience the awareness that they have no value in themselves as personally insulting. Of course, onl…

Attack of the Killer Ego!

When the ego experiences threat, its only decision is whether to attack now or to withdraw to attack later. (T-9.VIII.3)

Whenever I have a profound spiritual experience or share my spiritual experiences with someone else I soon after experience a pendulum swing back toward the ego. This can take various forms:

Depression because I feel God wants to take me away from this “life”.
With the holy relationship, a strong desire to get away from the one I am experiencing it with.
With the holy relationship, a sense that I was being “deprived” of the special relationship. (This has passed completely).
Actual verbal attacks by the ego, telling me the experience wasn’t real and I’m an idiot to think it was.
A sudden burst of creativity to distract me from my path of awakening.
Absorption in a completely unrelated part of my life so that I almost forget what I experienced.
Suggestions from the ego that I change my life, take up a new interest, get a new job, move to a new city, etc.
Feelings of extreme …

Facing Your Fear of God

To look upon the fear of God does need some preparation. Only the sane can look on stark insanity and raving madness with pity and compassion, but not with fear. (T-19.IV.D.11)

It would make the students in my study group uncomfortable whenever I acknowledged my fear of God. “Why do you fear God?” they would ask with surprise. I would tell them that I still identified with the ego and that I felt that I would lose my identity in God. This answer seemed to make them even more uncomfortable.

Sometimes they would claim they didn’t fear God. “Do you experience only peace and happiness at all times?” I would ask them. Of course they said no. “Then you fear God, too,” I would explain.

I think they were uncomfortable because I was bringing them face to face with their own fear of God, which they wanted to deny. Yet how would my denying where I am serve either me or them? It does you no good to pretend you have attained a state you have not yet attained. Better to accept you are where you are ho…

Feeling Unworthy?

The truth about you is so lofty that nothing unworthy of God is worthy of you. (T-9.VII.8)

One of the hardest concepts of the ego to overcome is the idea you have to make yourself worthy of God. This is just another way the ego teaches you that you made yourself. Of course, as Part of God you are wholly worthy of God! But watch your mind, notice your feelings. The idea that you have to earn God’s love is slyly interwoven throughout our experience in this world, and is greatly reinforced by the values in this world.

Here are some experiences you may have that indicate you do not feel worthy of God:

You need to “do” all the time because you feel you need to “earn” something.
You are busy, busy, busy and have no time for meditation and reflection.
You can’t feel good about yourself unless you are sacrificing in some way.
You cannot approach God in prayer or meditation.
You can’t even sit still to meditate.
You find excuses not to do the Workbook – not enough time, you don’t do the lessons perfec…

"Benign" Forms of Attack

All attack is Self attack. It cannot be anything else. Arising from your own decision not to be what you are, it is an attack on your identification. Attack is thus the way in which your identification is lost, because when you attack, you must have forgotten what you are. (T-10.II.5)

All attack is the same, whether you are attacking God, yourself or someone else. That’s because there is only one form of attack and that is the belief that you are not as God created you. Because you believe this, you believe you have attacked God. What you don’t see is that the attack was on yourself. And this you project by believing the world attacks you. And then you attack yourself again by thinking you must attack back to protect a “self” God did not create but that you believe you are. Round and round we go.

Some versions of attack are obvious: Physical violence and aggression, anger, yelling, negative thoughts. Others are not commonly recognized as attacks: Seeing bodies as real, striving toward g…

This Meaningless Life

Recognition of meaninglessness arouses intense anxiety in all the separated ones. It represents a situation in which God and the ego "challenge" each other as to whose meaning is to be written in the empty space that meaninglessness provides. The ego rushes in frantically to establish its own ideas there, fearful that the void may otherwise be used to demonstrate its own impotence and unreality. And on this alone it is correct. (W-13.2)

If you ever saw Woody Allen’s movie “Hannah and Her Sisters” you will remember that Woody Allen’s character faces his mortality when he believes he has a brain tumor and is going to die. But his real crisis begins when he finds out he does not have a brain tumor because he realizes that one day he is going to die anyway! Then he recognizes this life is meaningless and goes on a search to find a religion or philosophy to give his life meaning.

But realizing that life in this world is meaningless should not be a crisis but rather a happy embrace …

Resistance to the Workbook

A theoretical foundation such as the text provides is necessary as a framework to make the exercises in this workbook meaningful. Yet it is doing the exercises that will make the goal of the course possible. An untrained mind can accomplish nothing. It is the purpose of this workbook to train your mind to think along the lines the text sets forth. (W-in.1)

I’ve observed that some students of the Course are reluctant to do the lessons in the Workbook. In case they are afraid the lessons will require a commitment of too much time in their busy lives I show them how simple they are to integrate into their daily life. At the beginning, the lessons in the Workbook take no time at all, then the time they take increases incrementally. If this doesn’t allay their resistance to the Workbook, I show them some of the lessons. It’s all about changing their conscious mind, no writing, no digging around in their personal psyches.

The Course tell us that:

In some cases, it may be helpful for the pupil …

Why Miracles Are Necessary

A universal theology is impossible, but a universal experience is not only possible but necessary. It is this experience toward which the course is directed. (C–in.2)

The ego's opposite in every way–in origin, effect and consequence–we call a miracle. (C-2.5)

Some students try to take what they have learned before and apply it to the Course – or rather, try to make the Course fit what they already believe. This limits the transformative power of the Course. Another experience is required to make you understand that what you already experience in the world is not Truth. This is what the miracle is for.

The miracle lifts your mind out of time, space, form. It unites you with all of Creation and with God. Because it involves perception, it too is illusion, but it is illusion that shifts perception toward Oneness. Without the miracle the theology of the Course – in fact, all theology – is meaningless. This is the universal experience that is necessary to undo a perception of separation f…

Correct Use of Denial

True denial is a powerful protective device. You can and should deny any belief that error can hurt you. This kind of denial is not a concealment but a correction. Your right mind depends on it. (T-2.II.2)

When I started my study group a woman who was unfamiliar with the Course came with some friends. She attended for several weeks. One week as we were discussing the ego she said she did not have an ego. It was clear to everyone there from what she had shared before that she most decidedly did identify with an ego. So we all assumed that she misunderstood what the Course means by ego. Several of us explained this to her in various ways. No, no -- she did not have an ego. It did not matter how it was defined – she didn’t identify with it.

You could argue, of course, that she was right, that she does not have an ego. But she clearly demonstrated that she did believe error could hurt her. (As one example, she took the 9/11 terrorist attacks personally.) She used denial to hide her identifi…

Christ Identity

The name of Jesus is the name of one who was a man but saw the face of Christ in all his brothers and remembered God. So he became identified with Christ, a man no longer, but at one with God. (C-5.2)

In his complete identification with the Christ–the perfect Son of God, His one creation and His happiness, forever like Himself and One with Him–Jesus became what all of you must be. He led the way for you to follow him. (C-5.3)

These quotes are so important because they turn upside down the world’s idea of what Christ is. The world confuses Christ with a man who is thought to be the only Christ. To be Christ-like is supposed to mean to behave in a certain way or to have been granted certain powers. For some, Jesus was God walking in the world. And we are not supposed to be so arrogant as to believe we could be Christ ourselves.

The Course teaches us that Christ is an identification we must all remember and that Jesus led the way for us. To be Christ-like is to see Christ – our Self – in ev…

What Others See in You

If you inspire joy and others react to you with joy, even though you are not experiencing joy yourself there must be something in you that is capable of producing it. If it is in you and can produce joy, and if you see that it does produce joy in others, you must be dissociating it in yourself. (T-9.VI.1)

Years ago I had an older customer in my house cleaning business who was occasionally home when I cleaned her condo. We would talk about general things – the weather, her son’s political career, our families, etc. Nothing in depth. One day she told me she had gone in for a colonoscopy, an uncomfortable and painful procedure. The doctor’s assistant had held her hand and looked in her eyes and talked to her to distract her from her pain. She told me that she felt such peace talking to this young woman because she looked like me!

What the heck? I wondered. This woman and I had only a very casual, passing relationship. I tried to explain it away to her, but she insisted it was because this …

There is no "brother"

The Course tells us to see our brothers as our selves. Ironically, when this happens you realize there is no such thing as “brother”. The perception of “another” falls away in the perception of Oneness.

Much of the language of the Course is confusing because it talks about many being One. If there is only One, how can there be many? But we made perception and we perceive a world of many and the Holy Spirit has to work with that:

The Holy Spirit, as always, takes what you have made and translates it into a learning device. (T-6.V.A.2)

We made perception to see a world of separation so the Holy Spirit uses what we have made to teach us Oneness. You don’t have a “brother”. You have only your Self.

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The Holy Relationship

Beyond the body that you interposed between you and your brother, and shining in the golden light that reaches it from the bright, endless circle that extends forever, is your holy relationship, beloved of God Himself. (T-22.II.12)

I experienced the holy relationship very soon after becoming a student of the Course. The woman I experienced it with was a friend and also a student of the Course at that time. We were very different people. She was seven years older than I, we came from different racial backgrounds, had very different pasts and held different goals for our lives. Despite these differences, I literally experienced her as my Self. What shocked me most was the Self reflected in her was not the self I was used to identifying with. Until this experience, I understood the idea of seeing myself in another to mean looking for some commonality in our egos and focusing on that instead of our differences. This experience taught me that our bodies, our egos, this world can’t even touc…

Don't forget the Manual for Teachers!

This is a manual for a special curriculum, intended for teachers of a special form of the universal course. (M-1.4)

I have met students that mistake the Manual for Teachers for a guide for study group leaders or mentors! They never look at it. Yet the Course is a study course and its goal is to make you a teacher of God. The Manual for Teachers is for you and it is essential. The Text lays out the Course’s theology, the Workbook is the practice that makes the theology make sense and the Manual for Teachers lays out the goal you are trying to achieve.

The Manual is my favorite of the three books because it answers direct questions and it’s easy to read. It should be referred to regularly by students at any level of study.

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True Value

To learn this course requires willingness to question every value that you hold. (T-24.in.2)

What you value is what you think is important. To be a serious student of the Course - to train as a teacher of God – means you have to accept you have not known what is important. Without consciously acknowledging it, you have valued separation from God. All your personal goals have been toward this end. Now you have to shift internally 180 degrees. On the outside your life may not look too different to others. You still have a job, friends, family, etc. But now your goal for all of your relationships is different. Now they are not about making ego feel safe and good but about transcending the personal and physical and remembering Oneness. You have no personal goals because now you have a purpose with true meaning that nothing in this world can approach in value.

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