There's No Need to Put the Cart (Behavior) Before the Horse (Shift)

If I was Queen of All Things Spiritual I would decree that no one could have access to spiritual teachings that were more advanced than they were ready to understand, practice, or accept. I say this because students (and this once included me) do so much harm to themselves reading things that they are not ready to understand or attempting practices that do not come naturally to them. In their guilt they judge themselves as failing because they do not measure up to what they study. And what they study they can only try to understand through the limitations of what they’ve already experienced and this leads to distortions. I spend a lot of time reassuring readers and clients that they are not failing because they have not yet attained in understanding or practice what someone more advanced has attained. They are in a process and judge against themselves for being in a process. I also spend a lot of time clarifying experiences that they have not yet had but that the ego has distorted or struggles to understand.

It is true that some teachers add to a student’s sense of guilt because they seem to forget that they
went through a process to reach their level of understanding and of practice. (I try not to do this myself, but it is difficult to not teach from where you are). Teachers engage in practices that come naturally to them at their current level of awareness, forgetting that internal shifts led to these practices; the practices did not lead to the shifts. The practices that come naturally to them now are not what came naturally to them two, five, ten years ago.

For example, for years I tried the Buddhist practice of observing the body’s breathing as a way to quiet and center my mind. This went nowhere for me. But now when I rest in the Quiet in my mind observing the body’s breathing occurs naturally because there is nothing else to do. It is the bare minimum awareness of the universe of form. I do not have to work at this. It just happens. It makes me wonder if others attained this practice naturally and then turned around and taught it to others, forgetting that the practice is an effect that occurs naturally at a certain point. The practice did not lead to the awareness.

Another example is simply observing the personal thought system (ego), which you cannot do until you are able to come from the perspective of the Awareness of Truth (Holy Spirit). You have to observe the personal thought system from somewhere and you are not going to do it when you are in the midst of it. First you have to grow your awareness of Truth. Then observing not-Truth will come naturally.

There can be some benefit in attempting these practices to see if you can do them or if you learn something from the attempt. But you have not failed if you cannot do them. You simply are not yet at a stage where they come naturally. For example, I attempted to live in the present with Truth many times before I was able. What I learned was that I was uncomfortable in the present. I had to accept this. So instead I practiced bringing my mind into the present with Truth several times a day and then I let it wander off again as it would. Only after I had undone my belief in inherent guilt in my mind was I able to live in the present with Truth. The discomfort I had felt before was due to the unconscious guilt that was right below the surface of my conscious awareness when I tried to be present. My mind had to scoot off to the future (mostly), the past (occasionally), or just elsewhere (often).  Anywhere but here with the guilt I unconsciously believed was real!

Wherever you are on the path of growing your awareness of Truth useful practices will unfold for you naturally. Any effort that you make should be natural because you are motivated and willing. Any sense of force indicates that you are not yet ready and you are trying to make something happen yourself. I know that it is very difficult in the beginning because you are very undisciplined and you feel that you are going nowhere and that you are not doing enough. You doubt yourself and you fear your commitment is not adequate. But really the only part you have to play is to invite Truth into your awareness. Once you have that experience your part is over. The rest will happen of itself. Being initially undisciplined and unwilling are part of the process. Eventually you will have enough of that and the motivation and willingness for discipline will come naturally.

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


nicci said…
very helpful. thank you. endless L, n
Christine said…
Great article. It makes so much sense. Thank you.
Unknown said…
Great article. Thank you Liz. I am assuming the same thing can be applied to changing things in the world of form to be healthier. Losing weight for example. Many times I have forced myself to adopt behaviors that require lots effort and discipline only to get tired and stop, with the accompanying guilt. Other times I have felt ready and the process seemed rather natural and little effort was required. Now at 60 yrs. old I am at this point again in my life and I have felt quite strongly that when the time is right I will be able to move toward healthier behaviors easily and naturally. Of course, I hear ego telling me that I am just lazy and unwilling to do what is needed to be healthier and I will suffer the consequences. Thanks again for a very helpful article.
Christine said…
That's a different Christine! But I agree!
EC said…
Thank you....very well spoken...just what I needed to be re minded of today. I had this lesson this morning. In Presence~ E.
will said…
Mike, I have the same thing going on with weight loss and self care. For me it is best not to drag the course into dieting or working out. Wapnick wrote a book on losing weight. Basically is was just a question and answer thing. My memory of it was that the course isn't going to be of much help, that it is a common sense thing. Like making sure you drink enough water each day:)
will said…
It has been so long ago since I read Wapnick's book 'Over Eating a Dialogue' that I shouldn't have commented on it's content.
Christine said…
Yes - and I recall Wapnick's saying on a CD a while ago: that, the Course isn't about losing weight, it's about losing the 'concern' about losing weight. And concern - which is actually fear - is what we lose, eventually...Growing our awareness of Truth automatically reduces, then eliminates fear.
will said…
Lesson 155 in "A Translation of the Workbook in Plain Language" is a must read for this weeks blog if you've got it.
Anonymous said…
An Antidote to Loneliness and Other Insights

My mind was recently occupied with one of the most futile endeavors there is: that of thinking that I could relieve someone else of their suffering by pointing out to them how their thoughts and beliefs were at the root of all their problems. For most of those reading this now, this makes perfect sense. But for someone not ready to hear it, it just aint gonna happen – not today, not tomorrow, and probably not ever. I found myself sinking into a cranky, cynical mood not realizing that it was my failure to reach this person that was the cause of my mood, forgetting an important lesson from the Course about how resentment is such a major obstacle to peace. In the meantime I had been revisiting the “Rules for Decision Making” from the Text and without realizing it, I was actually applying Rule # 4: “At least I can decide that I don’t like what I feel.” (It sounds so easy but we all know how difficult it often is to apply even that rule.) I had also been giving a lot of thought to the concepts of willingness and inviting spirit into my consciousness. Anyway, I sat down in my living room in a seat that I never sit in and saw the room from a whole new perspective. Suddenly a wave of peace washed over me. For the first time in my life I felt totally supported. I realized that all the careful effort I had made in furnishing and arranging this room to my personal taste (the details of which had seemed so important in and of themselves) was for a much higher purpose: namely, to create a space to invite spirit. Of course some people prefer a space with a vaulted ceiling, others an empty room, others a beach, and so on. It’s not the physical space that’s spiritual, it is the invitation that counts. I was reminded of some lines from 4 Habits. “…. while you still believe in the world you must use it to experience Truth…” “….[Truth] works lovingly with what has value for you until you learn that Truth and peace are more valuable.”
Anonymous said…
ALL HAIL THE QUEEN! Kudos to you Liz for this blog. I feel fortunate that after studying with you for over 3 years my thinking has come in line with your views regarding more patience with myself wherever I may be on this path. It was also good to see that you are in touch with your students' frustrations. Some of your recent articles make me go WTF, that girl has gone through the looking glass and she aint never coming back! What am I gonna do now? It's good to know you're still with us.

But instead of banning access to books - which can look bad on a resume - why not mandate a warning label on all spiritual books like those on cigarette packs.

********** WARNING *********** This product may be hazardous to your state of mind! Studies have found that prolonged use may actually increase guilt. Additional side effects include depression, and suicidal thoughts. If these symptoms persist, discontinue use and call: 702-878-3274.
ACIM Mentor said…
Actually, if you have suicidal thoughts please don't call me but 1-800-SUICIDE instead...
jerryo said…
Why does the mind like to identify with bodies
almost all of the time ?
Is that how it measures time ?

If im not stressing myself , im preoccupied with
past encounters with others ?

Is it lonely ?

What gives ?
ACIM Mentor said…
The mind will identify with bodies as long as it thinks it is a body. It will be preoccupied with the past or future of the body as long as it believes that guilt is real.
jerryo said…
Yes Indeed , thanks Liz


Level I: the embodiment of the ego; the thought of separation projected by the mind and becoming form;
the witness to the seeming reality of the separation by being a limitation on love, excluding it from our
awareness; includes both our physical bodies as well as our personalities.


the attempt to justify the projection of guilt onto others, demonstrating their sinfulness and guilt so that we may feel free of it; because attack is always a projection of responsibility for the separation, it is never justified; also used to denote the thought of separation from God, for which we believe God will attack and punish us in return.
jerryo said…

So deep down we feel "Responsible for the Separation"
Thats the ongoing meltdown in the reactor core so to speak
Nicoletta said…
Oh, wow! This is only your second post I just read - prompted by the one following this one - and both are so very relevant and perfectly timed for me!

Thank you so much!
I am looking forward to continuing my journey with your mentoring! :-)
~ Nicoletta

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