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"Creation" Revisited

Ego and ACIM Groups

I hear from students who are disappointed to go to A Course in Miracles study groups or other gatherings, live, online, or over the phone and encounter a lot of posturing, conflicting personal selves. Somehow, they expect Course groups to be different from other gatherings; they expect other students to supply the Love and Light that they feel they lack. Of course, it does not matter whether you are with Course students or non-Course students, because, in any situation, you can only get what you put into it, without exception. Your experience always comes from within you; there is no world outside of your mind. The images that you perceive (the sounds that you hear, the material forms that you touch, etc) are neutral in themselves; you decide what they mean to you.

If you want to join a group or organization, Course-related or otherwise, the question to ask yourself is, why? If it’s to supply a lack, you will be coming from your identification with a personal self. You will be looking …

Being Present to the Holy Spirit's Lesson

I’ve found that I can never predict how the Holy Spirit will teach me, and I don’t always know what things are for. For example, I’ve shared many times how I used to be very co-dependent. I thought that it was my role to rescue and fix others, so I used to give more than I felt that I had to give. I found relationships draining, and often I would withdraw from people in general because martyring myself in my relationships with them left me exhausted. For a long time I read into A Course in Miracles that I was supposed to do this and receive some mysterious reward that I never found because I was coming from the personal mind. Eventually, however, I developed a strong enough awareness of the Holy Spirit to begin giving from the Holy Spirit, which was not draining, but, in fact, gave me more than I seemed to give away. I learned ‘what I give, I receive’. When this began, I found the Holy Spirit often leading me to ‘be there for others’. It used my relationships with others to teach me h…

Doing God's Work

There’s a trap that I fell into because I do work pertaining to spirituality: The belief that somehow it is different from other work I could do in the world. I certainly knew that everyone on a spiritual path was not going to end up making their living in a way that would seem directly related to their spirituality, but I also found that I looked at my mentoring and writing as though they were different from the house-cleaning business I had for over 20 years. But I’ve learned that they are not different; they are exactly the same: an illusion.

Sometimes, my wife, Courtney, will say something about me ‘doing God’s work’ and I tell her that there is no such thing (she doesn’t accept this). Yes, God has a ‘plan’ for my salvation, but that is within me, and it extends through my awareness, but it has nothing to do with what I do in the world. I could still be cleaning houses, or do some other work entirely, and my salvation would still function in the same way. I have to forgive whatever…

Praying

Just before Thanksgiving a student asked me whether, in my family, I led the prayer over the day’s feast. I explained that we have never prayed over meals in my family. I was not raised in any religion at all (for which I am so grateful – I had an open mind with which to approach God). It always seemed sort of a pagan thing to me to thank God for the food I was about to eat. I never saw the difference between that and thanking a more earth-centered deity. Then, when I embarked on a spiritual path, I learned from A Course in Miracles that God did not make the world, so it makes no sense to me to thank God for the food I’m about to eat. Later that day I was revisiting this idea and I thought, what would I say in such a prayer? ‘Thank you, the-one-mind-that-dreams-of-separation-from-God, for the illusion of turkey’? Then I thought, no, I’d have to go much deeper: ‘Thank you, the-one-mind-that-dreams-of-separation-from-God, for the illusion that I am a personal self in a world separate fr…

Will I Ever Stop Hearing the Ego?

The title of this article is a question that I hear often from students of A Course in Miracles. Obviously, it implies that they are still tormented by the personal self, so it is still very real to them.

You have two thought systems in your mind: Your Real Thought System, called Christ, or Holy Spirit; and the personal mind, which is an erroneous concept of yourself. You cannot fix or change the personal mind; you can only let it go, so that all that remains in your mind is your Real Thought System. Remember, you do not have to seek for Love; you only need to remove your obstacles to Love, and you will find that Love is here. By degrees, you will learn to not listen to the personal mind, but you will still hear it as long as the personal mind is in your mind. You will stop hearing the personal mind altogether only when you have wholly let it go.

For myself, the process has been like this: I began by listening to the personal mind almost exclusively. This took the form of endless judg…

The Separation and Intention

One of the things that I’ve come to understand is that, despite its efforts to attack God, the personal mind is actually benign. It is only trying to survive; everything that it does is for its own self-preservation, so how can I blame it? It’s like an animal that kills to eat for survival, not to be merely malicious. The personal mind wants to perpetuate itself, and isn’t that just like God extending only God? This realization has come as I’ve been able to detach from the personal mind more and more and merely observe it. It’s also come as I am willing to take responsibility for my perception of separation from God, instead of blaming the personal mind as though it is something separate from me. I made it (not personally, but as the one split mind; the ‘dreamer-of-the-dream’); it does not make me. And, if I listen to and follow it, that’s my choice. Nothing is happening against my will.

Years ago, when I said to the Holy Spirit ‘God is All-powerful, so how could even the idea of separ…

No Sacrifice Required

Occasionally, I hear from students who fear that they will be asked by the Holy Spirit to make some great sacrifice. I, too, used to wait to be crucified. Despite what A Course in Miracles says about no sacrifice being required, I couldn’t shake the expectation that at some point the Holy Spirit was going to ask something greatly torturous of me. I didn’t know what form that would take – physical, mental, emotional, or some combination of these – but the belief that sacrifice is required to spiritually awaken was deeply imbedded in my mind. I finally had to fully confront it when I went through the ‘period of relinquishment’, because this was the stage where I found myself having an incredible willingness to step back and let the Holy Spirit lead the way. My expectation of suffering was an obstacle I had to overcome, then.

This belief took me some time to work out. It was really a matter of trusting the Holy Spirit day-by-day, and finding that, in fact, I was never asked to sacrifice. …

Pseudo-Oneness

A Course in Miracles teaches that the personal mind insists on your complete independence, not just from God, but from others as well. It is threatened by any kind of joining, even with other personal selves, because there’s always the threat that you will break through your perception of separation and become aware that you are not limited to a personal self. But you long for Oneness, or Love, because your True Nature is Oneness in God, not a limited personal self. So the personal mind has had to concoct its own version of ‘love’, which allows you temporary moments of connectedness, but which overall reinforces your sense of separation and guilt. A couple of ways that longing for True Love shows up is in one’s desire to ‘belong’, even if only to one other or a small family; or to be a ‘part of something bigger’, in organizations like churches, the military, corporations, etc. This ‘belonging’, though, is a poor substitute for the Oneness of God, Which is Limitless and Eternal, so it …

What Happens When I'm Gone?

A few years ago, my wife, Courtney, was going through a bad spell. She was speculating about what would happen to her if I awakened. I thought about how to answer this for a moment, then I suddenly understood what would happen, and I told her that I would take her with me. I was really answering the question for myself, and, interestingly, she didn’t ask me what I meant. This was a relief, because what I have come to understand about God and the world from my experiences in the Holy Instant is so far from what she believes that I knew I would have a hard time explaining it to her!

What I meant was that Courtney is an idea in my mind, so of course she will go with me when I put aside the world. I don’t mean that literally ‘Courtney’ – the body/personal self – will go with me, but that the mind behind the idea of ‘Courtney’ will go with me, because it’s my mind. There is only one mind, and ‘Courtney’ and ‘Liz’ are just figures in its dream. This started to undo the ‘two realities’ idea t…

A Somewhat Healthy Ego Required

It’s ironic, but true, that you must have a somewhat healthy personal mind to be able to let it go. Think about it: If all that you know of yourself is a personal self, then your feeling worthy of God’s Love must initially come to you in that identification. The personal mind is inherently unstable and insecure and can never be truly ‘healthy’, but if it is all that you know, then, at first, it is only through the personal self that you can learn about yourself. When your self-esteem in your identification with a personal self rises to a point where you can let the Holy Spirit into your awareness and begin to trust It, then you are ready to begin to let go of the personal self.

Remember, you are Christ, but you have been identifying with a personal self. You cannot be without an identity; if you are one, then you are not the other. Everyone hears the Holy Spirit, but you have to learn to single It out of the personal mind’s cacophony of voices in your mind. You are not going to do this…

Pissed Off at a Cold God

It is essential for the preservation of the personal self that you believe that specialness is Heaven, not hell. – MACIM-16.5.4

When I was first a student of A Course in Miracles, I both loved and hated its message. It made me feel loved by God, but I was pissed off that what God loves is not the personal “me”. I wanted God to love my specialness, my uniqueness. I wanted who I was and what I did in the world to matter to God. How self-centered was God, loving the Part of me that is Part of God, but not the rest of me? Oh, it was so wonderfully liberating that it didn’t matter what I did in the world! And yet, it was so terribly crushing that what I wanted to be in the world didn’t matter one iota to God. God couldn’t even conceive of it.

Liberation has won out. This feeling of freedom is what kept drawing me to God again and again, until finally I accepted that I wanted it more than anything that the world had to offer. But I hear the same pouting upset from students when they realize…

You Don't Have to Make Things to Forgive

Sometimes students will tell me that they really don’t want to do something, but they are going to do it anyway, because they think that they need to forgive it or to use it as an opportunity to extend Love. This is a classic example of how the personal mind distorts what is taught in A Course in Miracles. Life in the world grants you enough obligations to practice forgiveness without you having to force yourself to accept situations just so that you can forgive them. You also don’t have to go out of your way to find situations to forgive or in which to extend Love. If you do either of these, you are actually making these situations special, so you cannot forgive them. You are making them real to you, and you can only forgive illusions. And it is not up to you to decide for yourself what you should forgive and where to extend Love; that’s the Holy Spirit’s job. The Holy Spirit is never going to force you into a situation, because It recognizes that all situations are all equally unrea…

The End of the Story

There’s a story that A Course in Miracles offers to give context to spiritual awakening in the perception that you are in a world: As you awaken, you model awakening for others, and everyone awakening is the Great Awakening. I used to live in this story, and you can find it in many of my articles, and in my biography on my website. But a couple of years ago things began to change for me: The “story” started to leave me disoriented, and, when I tried to clarify it, it would seem to disintegrate before my eyes. It really began to be seriously undone in me when I translated the Text into plain language. If you’ve read the translation, then you will notice that the story isn’t in there. I couldn’t maintain it and be faithful to the message that I was reading in the Text through my experiences of the Holy Instant. Everything that I perceive is in my mind, so I couldn’t turn around and write that there are “others” who I am supposed to lead. Modeling, then, became meaningless for me, but ch…

Don't Blame the World

When you identify with a personal self, you believe that separation from God is real. You believe that you are guilty for attacking God, and snatching some of God for yourself. You expect that God will punish you for this, so you fear God. The only way out of guilt/fear-of-God is to realize that the personal self is not you; you are Eternally One with God. Then you can let go of the personal self, and the guilt and fear-of-God that are inherent in your belief that it is real. Lesson plans like A Course in Miracles teach you how to do this.

Often students blame their feelings of guilt, shame, and fear-of-God on their upbringing. Sometimes it’s a religion they blame, sometimes it’s their parents, sometimes it’s both. But guilt and fear-of-God do not originate in the world; they originate in your mind, just as the world does. In fact, the purpose of the world is to “prove” that you are sinful, guilty, and deserving of punishment. So you don’t need the world to teach you guilt and fear; yo…

Confusing the Dreamer with God

There is a tendency among people who are new to a spiritual path to confuse God with anything that is deemed “supernatural” in the world. A Course in Miracles addresses psychic powers, explaining that, in themselves, psychic powers do not have a spiritual value, except that they reveal to you that your mind is not limited to an isolated personal mind. Other than that, unless they are directed by the Holy Spirit, they have no value in your spiritual awakening. The same can be said for coincidences and synchronicity. Coincidences and synchronicity are occurring when you notice patterns in your life. For example, you’ve been thinking about a certain topic, and all of a sudden every where you look there are books on that topic. There is no special meaning in this. All it shows is that you are in touch with the one mind that is the dreamer-of-the- dream of separation from God. Some people live in this awareness all the time, some people have moments when they notice patterns, and others fi…

For the Love of God

When my brother, who is not a student of A Course in Miracles, heard that I was leaving my house-cleaning business to be a mentor for students of the Course a couple of years ago, he made some comment about my “love for people”. I clarified with him that I do not love people. He laughed because he thought this was odd. Then why am I doing what I am doing? This is a common misunderstanding. I have never, and still do not, “love people”. Certainly, I have loved individual people, but I am not a “lover of humanity” as a whole. This is not only a personal statement, but a spiritual one as well. In my mind, to “love humanity” means “to love the projections of the personal mind”, and only the personal mind does this. When I come from God, I love God, not “people”.

I was horribly co-dependent when I first became a student of the Course. I thought it was my job to “fix” or “rescue” others. This was very draining, and a drag on all of my relationships. I didn’t understand the Course very well,…

God is Blissfully Oblvious

The other day I was watching True Blood and a vampire, who was about to commit suicide, asked the protagonist how she thought God would punish him. She told him that God does not punish; God forgives. And I thought, there again my experience of God has taught me something so very different from what the world teaches. God neither punishes, nor forgives; God cannot conceive of anything to punish or forgive. I’m the one who has to forgive my illusion of separation from God.

This made me so aware again of how all of the story - the drama, the conflict, the guilt, the fear – exists only in my own mind. I cannot really convey the experience of a direct Revelation of God, but in God the world doesn’t exist at all, not even as a concept. So, there’s God going along Eternally and Infinitely Itself, and I’m over here having this little struggle with myself. And this, of course, is very offensive to the personal mind: I made all of this and God hasn’t even noticed?! I’m feeling all of this guilt…

An Update on "Unsettling"

There has been some confusion and a few questions since my last article, “Happily Ever After”. For example, what is the relationship between the experience I wrote about in that article and the Revelation (see Unsettled) that I had at the end of 2007 where I experienced Complete Joy? This is a good time to bring readers up to date with what I have been going through in the “Period of Unsettling” (see the Manual for Teachers, Development of Trust), since many want to know what each stage is like. If you remember, the Holy Spirit told me I had entered that stage just after that Revelation. I cannot convey the experience of a Revelation, Which is a direct experience of God, but whenever I have one, on my way “back” to a perception of the world I always learn something. After that Revelation I swung from standing just outside of Complete Joy to the stark terror of the personal mind. What I wrote about in “Happily Ever After” was a continuation of that lesson. In fact, since I’ve entered t…

Happily-Ever-After

I grew up believing in “happily-ever-after.” I was supposed to find it when I was an adult and fell in love and got married. It was a hard belief to shake, and it took many, many years of consciously working at undoing it, which I had to do or get my heart broken over and over again. In small ways the belief persisted, even when it was no longer attached to love and romance. Always, there was something up ahead of me that was going to bring me lasting peace and happiness – salvation - once I found it. Eventually I accepted, at least intellectually, what A Course in Miracles teaches: I can only find Lasting Peace and Happiness in God. I stopped looking in the world for salvation, and I turned within whenever I felt I needed it.

Then I had a profound experience a few weeks ago: There is such a thing as Happily-ever-after! In fact, It’s the only Thing that’s Real! And It begins right now! These words do not do justice to this world-shattering experience. It has caused a huge shift in me, …

The Fear

Since I’ve written about guilt in the last two articles, it seems only natural now to write about its conjoined twin, fear. There is no guilt without fear and no fear without guilt. You feel guilty for separating from God and you expect to be punished for it. This is the source of all fear. Fear is the symptom, or proof, that you feel guilty. And, of course, it is inherent in your identification with a personal self, which is the “proof” that you have successfully snapped off part of God for yourself.

A long while ago I wrote about students who would say to me that they didn’t fear God. I’d ask them if they were 100% at Peace 100% of the time. They’d say no, and I’d ask them why not? What was their obstacle to Peace if not fear of God? If they didn’t fear God, they’d just accept God right now. Fear of God is ultimately the only obstacle to Peace, and if you look deeply enough into your mind, you will always find it when you are not at Peace. Fear of God is why you are resistant to medi…

The Guilt

Last week I mentioned that I have entered a phase where I am finally dealing with The Guilt of the split mind. I’ve been asked to share how this shows up, but first let me explain what The Guilt is. The one mind that is the part of God’s Mind in which the idea of God’s opposite seems to exist, and that is the source of all personal minds, believes that it has attacked God and stolen part of God for itself. Every personal mind, being a micro-version of this split mind, takes on this belief for itself. This belief is the source of The Guilt, which leads to fear of God, and an expectation that God will punish you. When you identify with a personal self, attack-guilt-fear is the very core of your identity, and is the source of the hellish world that you project. After you have detached enough from the personal self and have begun to identify with the Holy Spirit, you reach a point where the only obstacles to God left are the guilt/fear-of-God beliefs that you have taken from the personal …

Journey to the Center of Ego

If the personal mind was a sphere like Earth, and you bore down to its core, you’d find guilt and fear. Guilt and fear are the foundation of the personal mind, not in the sense that they give rise to the personal mind, but in the sense that without guilt and fear the personal mind would cease to exist. Guilt and fear are the personal mind’s self-perpetuating mechanism because they are what keep you from God.

Many years ago I walked out my front door on my way to get something out of my car and suddenly the world was washed with Innocence. It was the same world it had been a moment before: the same street, the same cars parked in the street, the same winter-bald trees. The physical world did not change, but my mind did. Or, rather, I changed minds. For whatever reason, at that moment I was open to the Vision of my Christ Mind. The moment passed and I realized that, except for that moment and moments like it, I am perceiving guilt and fear. I didn’t think I felt guilty, but now I underst…

Retracing Your Steps

A Course in Miracles teaches that you have to retrace your steps back to God. The descent from God began with the idea of God’s opposite that is perceived as real within itself. The part of God’s Mind where this occurs is called the “Son of God” in the Course; this is the dreamer of the dream of separation from God. This one mind projects the world that you perceive. Part of its projection is billions of seemingly-individual minds (personal selves) that it made in the image of its own split mind. Each of these minds also projects onto the world. Where the one mind provides the “what” of perception (the world), individual minds provide the “how” of perception (interpretation). Retracing your steps, then, means your identity goes in reverse: From a personal self, to the dreamer of the dream, to God. So the first step in returning to God is undoing your personal projections. Though the world was made to be a place of separation from God, it has no meaning in itself. As a personal self, y…

An Apt Allegory

It isn’t often we students of A Course in Miracles find something written over sixty years ago that lines up well with the Course’s fundamental teachings. So I want to share with you an allegory written by C. S. Lewis, who was one of the most influential Christian writers of the last century. The little book that I recommend is “The Great Divorce”, which Lewis wrote in response to William Blake’s “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”. I have not read the latter, but judging from Lewis’s response, I’d say that “The Marriage” must, in the Course’s terms, “confuse levels” by trying to make both God and the world real (duality). The “divorce” referred to in Lewis’s title is the divorce of Heaven and hell. Through his allegory, he sorts out Truth from illusion (non-duality), just as the Course does. He even speaks of God as Reality and everything else as a dream!

The book is written in the first person, and the main character is never named. He has died and finds himself in a gray place that is…

This Has Already Happened

“But this has already happened, right?”

This idea has come up a few times with students lately, always in relation to their life in the world. I think it’s because of this passage from the Manual for Teachers of A Course in Miracles:

“The world of time is the world of illusion. What happened long ago seems to be happening now. Choices made long since appear to be open; yet to be made. What has been learned and understood and long ago passed by is looked upon as a new thought, a fresh idea, a different approach. Because your will is free you can accept what has already happened at any time you choose, and only then will you realize that it was always there.” (M-2.3)

I think what throws off students is the “s” in “Choices” in the third sentence; the idea would be clearer in the singular. There is only ever one choice: Truth or illusion. You can phrase this in different ways: God or personal mind; Oneness or separation; Peace or conflict, etc. Read the passage above in context, and you wi…

Confusion of Levels

You don’t give up what in the world is considered common sense when you become a student of A Course in Miracles. You don’t throw out what a lifetime of living in the world has taught you about it. The laws of the world hold for the world; the laws of God hold for God. (As the Bible puts it, “Render under Caesar what belongs to Caesar; render unto God what belongs to God”). Trying to cross those laws over into each other is what the Course calls “confusion of levels”, meaning you are confusing the mutually exclusive levels of your mind: God and the personal mind. For example, some students think that since your mind is One in God that you are supposed to change the social and political structure of the world-level of your mind to reflect this Oneness. This is not only unnecessary, since the world is an effect of your mind and changing it is meaningless, but also impossible. Diverse form cannot be One; that is why the world and God are mutually exclusive.

In the world, trust in others m…

Further Lessons in Letting Go of Potential

Since I finished the translation of the Text of A Course in Miracles into plain language I have had the sense of being done with the world. The Holy Spirit says to me, “It’s time to come within now.” I wrote recently about how I see the next phase for me as being where I shift from living with the Holy Spirit to identifying with the Holy Spirit. Last week I wrote about realizing that I can let go of the obligation I have felt to fulfill the personal self’s potential. I now see that all of these things are connected. By letting go of that obligation I change the way that I see myself and my relationship to the world. I am learning how much more I can live present to the Holy Spirit without “potential” pulling me back into the world. Letting go of potential really means letting go of defining myself in terms of the world.

That obligation to grow a personal self apparently pervaded my thought system. It takes many forms and I keep bumping into it so that I can remove it. The other day I w…

The Gift of Letting Go of Potential

I have never been interested in fame, fortune, or power but there were certain assumptions people made about me when I became a life-coach back around 2000. One of them was that I was looking to become the next Dr. Phil, or some equivalent world-renowned life-coach. It’s true that some with whom I studied life-coaching were looking for recognition, either on a large or a small scale. Many were actively and openly looking for ways to get on Oprah! But my idea of success has always been inner peace, not a particular life style. Since I’ve written the translation of A Course in Miracles I find these assumptions (projections?) happening again. Some think that I wrote the book to become some sort of great guru, if not in the world at large, at least in the Course community. But in fact I still want only what I already have, which is everything I’ve ever really wanted: A loving life-partner, a sweet little home, and lots and lots of time for contemplation and meditation. I like my little me…

Correcting Thoughts

The way that I learned A Course in Miracles was to take my questions to the Holy Spirit and let them go. I was always answered, if not immediately, then within a day or two. Eventually, I extended this practice to everything else in my life. I also eventually heard the Holy Spirit faster and more clearly to the point that I can have discussions with It. But the one thing that never worked for me was asking the Holy Spirit to change a particular Peace-robbing thought about me, another, or a situation. Eventually I learned to affirm the Truth in place of the negative thought and this invited the Holy Spirit into my awareness. It finally occurred to me that doing these affirmations was the Holy Spirit’s means of correcting my thoughts! I had been too passive, expecting the Holy Spirit to come into my mind like something separate from it.

You are constantly engaged in self-talk. The source of your experience is these thoughts that you are hearing, consciously or unconsciously, and believin…

Why "One With" God?

A couple of weeks ago a student asked an important question: Why do I say “You are One with God” instead of “You are God”? Aren’t they the same thing? Yes, but there is a reason for making a distinction between these statements, just as there is a reason why A Course in Miracles makes a distinction between the “Son of God” and “God”, between "Christ/Holy Spirit" and "God", between “perception” and “Knowledge”, and between “miracle” and “revelation”. It is a distinction between the levels of your mind, which seems to be split between not-God, where you have the choice to experience God or not, and God, Where there is no choice because All is God.

Knowledge cannot change but perception can. God in God’s Totality is the level of Knowledge. This is the level of “You are God”. If you have a direct experience of God you have a “revelation”. In a revelation of God there is only God. The Son of God is the level of perception and here you have a choice between perceiving a r…

Learning to Identify with the Holy Spirit

A few weeks ago I was discussing with a student the stages we go through as students of A Course in Miracles in our relationship with the Holy Spirit. Initially, we simply invite the Holy Spirit into certain situations. We are still in the driver’s seat at this point but we are willing to ask the Holy Spirit for direction when we get lost or in trouble. In time, we realize that we don’t want to wait for a crisis and we call on the Holy Spirit for guidance more and more when decisions have to be made. Then our trust develops to such a point that we realize that we don’t even want to drive anymore and we move over and let the Holy Spirit take the wheel. Our trust is not perfect yet, so at first we sometimes try to take back the wheel but we always give it up before too long because we’ve learned that Peace comes from letting the Holy Spirit lead the way. Finally, we just sit back and enjoy the ride. All of this happens naturally because you cannot force trust. I then mentioned that I’d …