We Are in Charge of Our Destiny

ACIM Workbook Lesson 152 – for Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Affirmation:  “The power of decision is my own.”

“No one can suffer loss unless it be his own decision.  No one suffers pain except his choice elects this state for him.  No one can grieve nor fear nor think him sick unless these are the outcomes that he wants.  And no one dies without his own consent.  Nothing occurs but represents your wish, and nothing is omitted that you choose.  Here is your world, complete in all details.  Here is its whole reality for you.  And it is only here salvation is.  (WB281)”

Reflections:

1 – The Role of the Self

This passage is difficult to understand.  This short quotation does not make clear that it is the Higher Self which makes these decisions of life and death.  The little self, ruled all too often by the ego, does not make these choices.  The ideas given in this quotation have led to many misconceptions among people who read New Age literature.  If we “choose,” then we are to “blame” if something goes wrong.  Not so!  To say such indicates a lack of not only sympathy but also empathy for the victim.  In essence, such thoughts indicate that our next step is to “blame the victim” if something goes wrong in his/her life.  A lack of compassion from others is then the lamentable next step.

2 – In Our Best Interests

The Higher Self never incarnated (though this is not stated in A Course in Miracles).  The Higher Self watches over us, so to speak, seeing that the decisions that this Higher Self make are in our best interests.

3 – We Can Reduce Pain and Suffering

There is some comfort in this passage, though.  If we are in charge of our pain and suffering, we can do something about it.  Most definitely we cannot blame our pain and suffering on God, and this in itself is a great step forward.  Otherwise, we are caught in a bind in which we try to see God as loving, but we wonder if we are right.  We are.  God does not want our pain and suffering, and in the Text, Jesus assures us that we do not have to learn through pain.  He says that learning through rewards is more lasting, because learning through pain can only be temporary.

4 – Salvation Is Here

The passage concludes, “And it is only here salvation is.”  This is a magnificent restatement of the fact that we ourselves (led by our Higher Self) are in charge of our destiny.  ACIM makes this fact clear in other passages as well.  We do not have to remain in suffering.  Our minds and spirits can be free, even if our bodies are not.  We can rise above the pain, if we will it.  (This is a bold statement, but completely in line with ACIM.)  And sometimes, as Eckhart Tolle learned, our pain is the catalyst for Awakening (Enlightenment).

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would be in charge of my destiny today.  By “I,” I mean that I would invite my Higher Self to make life decisions for me.  I would not listen to the ego’s litany of meaningless pain and suffering.  I would not turn any pain into suffering.  Be with me as I attempt to fulfill these aims today.

Thank You, as always.  I know that You have always been there for me, and that You will always be there for me in the future.

Amen.

Echoes of the Voice

ACIM Workbook Lesson 151 – for Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Affirmation:  “All things are echoes of the Voice for God.”

Selected Passage:

“We practice wordlessly today, except at the beginning of the time we spent with God.  We introduce these times with but a single, slow repeating of the thought with which the day begins.  And then we watch our thoughts appealing silently to Him Who sees the elements of truth in them.  Let Him evaluate each thought that comes to mind, remove the elements of dreams, and give them back again as clean ideas that do not contradict the Will of God.  (WB280)”

Reflections:

“Echoes of the Voice for God.”  What a lovely thought!  We need to be free, ultimately, even of the happy dreams the Holy Spirit brings (from the Workbook).  God would have us entertain those “clean ideas” that are the evidence of the real world, the harbinger of Awakening.  We would not choose egoistic thinking, because it so clearly contradicts the Will of God.

Today’s lesson is spent in quietness, except as we speak the affirmation of the day.  More and more time will be spent in quietness as we progress farther in the Workbook.  Now is a good beginning.

We hurry about and rush so.  This is not necessary, even with the busiest life.  Do what is needful, but take time for God.  Even a moment spent in deep communion will bring us back to ourselves again.  Jesus says in the Manual that we can spend an hour in meditation and not reach God, or we can devote only a moment and join with Him completely.  Let us spend a moment today to join completely with God.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

May I rest in quiet today.  So much of my life has been spent in a hurry, working hard all week long, reading in the evening.  Yet much of this time was not quiet time.  I would have quiet time today.

Be with me as I seek to experience Your presence.  Feeling Your presence is the best gift that this day can offer, and I ask for just that.

Amen.

At – One – Ment = Atonement

ACIM Workbook Lesson 150 – for Monday, May 30, 2011

Affirmation:  “My mind holds only what I think with God.”

Selected Passage:

“I will accept Atonement for myself.
“Only salvation can be said to cure.  (WB277)”

Reflections:

What does “Atonement” mean?  This is one of those terms that is never defined in A Course in Miracles.  It is the giving up of separation from God, the joining of our real will with His (and the recognition that our real will and His are identical).  Some students/teachers of ACIM do not teach that “at – One – ment” is what is meant, but I tend to differ on this.  I think that “at – One – ment” encapsulates very well what Atonement means.  Seeing Atonement by this term, separating the parts of the word, gives us a handle with which to cling.

We all need salvation, though ACIM never challenges us to be proselytizers.  We are told instead (in the Manual) that some people may be ready only for a smile.  Certainly this is a long way from trying to convince recruits to ACIMACIM is not a church nor a sect.  Some say that it is self-study, though other students/teachers disagree about this.  Certainly it is possible to use ACIM as a self-study course, and even to come to the edge of Awakening by so doing.

Salvation will lead us Home the fastest and easiest way.  We will be “cured.”  What does this mean?  We will no longer wander aimlessly through this sometimes difficult and sad world.  We will follow the intuitive guidance that we receive, and life will get amazingly better.  The world cannot contain all the joys that will come to us when salvation has become ours.  We will live in a mystical state of joyous anticipation of what will happen next.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

On this Memorial Day, may we remember those brothers and sisters who have given the ultimate sacrifice.  They left this world for the Other Side, and many who loved them did not understand.  Let us be understanding of their plight today.

May we reach for Atonement in as many ways as occur to us.  We are to be attuned to the universe, to You, and this is the best that we can hope to do with our lives.  We will have reached our goal when Atonement turns into Awakening, or Enlightenment.

Amen.

VISUALIZE; a Review of Shakti Gawain’s “Creative Visualization”

by Celia Hales

Gawain, Shakti.  Creative Visualization; Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Life.  ISBN 1-57731-229-5.  Available on the Internet and in bookstores internationally.  Originally published by Whatever Publishing, 1979.

This is a contribution that cannot be underestimated.  An early New Age book, Creative Visualization has remained in print and well-received for decades.  I personally knew most of it by heart at one point in my life, so taken with it I had become.  Its basic message is the same as another New Age author, Jane Roberts, who channeled an entity named Seth, proclaiming, “You create your own reality.”  If I had to sum up what Creative Visualization  says, that would be it.

Shakti tells us exactly how to “create your own reality.”  A thin book (my early copy has 127 pages), there are numerous short chapters, making skimming to find your desired passages an easy task.  She is heavy on affirmations as a way to create one’s own reality, and she gives many examples of positive, life-affirming affirmations that, if said silently, aloud, or written, will presumably have the power to do all of those wonderful things that she promises.  She does not overlook the power of negativity to negate any desired good, and she offer hints of what to do to find one’s own blocks to creating the reality that we desire.  Paper and pencil are not far behind for Shakti.  As much as she champions imagining, she also asks us to do the work of changing our reality by writing about what we want and why, as well as what we don’t want, and why we keep getting it.

There are five parts to this masterpiece:  (1) basics of creative visualization; (2) using creative visualization; (3) meditations and affirmations; (4) special techniques; and (5) living creatively.

In the beginning, Shakti emphasizes the importance of relaxation to effective visualization.  Once relaxed, she invites us to encourage the images to flow; if we have trouble doing so, though, she encourages us by saying that “seeing” is not absolutely necessary to the process.  Just thinking about the desired goal, quality, or object is enough.  She notes that many of us will be ambivalent about consciously creating for ourselves that which is good when so many in our world are suffering.  She affirms that we would not do harm to others by wishing for the good for ourselves; we will reach out to our brothers and sisters as well.  She calls this “outflowing,” and it is essential to effective creative visualization.

She provides a good number of exercises in the middle portion of the book.  These will help tremendously if one does them rather than simply reads about them.  My favorite is the “pink bubble technique,” in which we are encouraged to place our goal in a visualized pink bubble (pink being the color of the heart), and then imagine it floating away into the universe above, waiting to manifest on earth.  Never does Shakti recommend straining, or “efforting,” to reach a goal.  This exertion does actually hinder the manifestation, she affirms.  If we feel too much efforting, we are not ready, or the goal is not right, and we are counseled to hold off and to reconsider.

The paper-and-pencil tasks are found in the fourth part on “special techniques.”  My favorite here is the treasure map, which actually makes of our attempts a game.  We draw what we desire, making it as personal as possible, and placing an image of ourselves on the map itself.  Always, though, we say a mantra that we image this goal for the good of everyone concerned, that this or something better will manifest.

An important chapter is the short conclusion of the book, in which she says that her life is her greatest art.  We are trying to craft a life, not trying to just make a series of achievements to prove anything to anybody.  We are creating our reality.

A Course in Miracles had just been published (1975) when Creative Visualization first appeared..  There is no indication that the former influenced the latter.  But  both are part of the oft-quoted perennial philosophy that Aldous Huxley described so well in his book by the same title.

Shakti has done us a glorious service by bringing us this book, which she attributes to her inner guide.   While she never says that the book was channeled, she does make the “guide” comment.  It seems obvious that Shakti’s attunement with the universe helped to write this book.  Recommended without reservation, as so many others have said as well.

Heaven = My Decision

ACIM Workbook Lesson 149 – for Sunday, May 29, 2011

Affirmation:  “My mind holds only what I think with God.”

Selected Passage:

“When I am healed I am not healed alone.
“Heaven is the decision I must make.  (WB277)’

Reflections:

ACIM makes the astonishing statement that a thousand are healed along with us.  This statement assumes the psychic, the truth that this is an open universe.  If we would not be healed for ourselves alone, perhaps out of masochism, then let us be healed for the sake of those we love, our brothers and sisters in Christ.

We must make the decision for Heaven.  Heaven is possible even in this world.  Edgar Cayce psychically tuned into the Last Supper, and he has Jesus affirming that Heaven is when we are gathered together with those we love (as Jesus was at that point).  Heaven is our birthright, our inheritance.  We do not have to wait until after death to enjoy its boons.  We can enjoy Heaven today, right now.  We need only invite quiet and calm, and turn within to God.  We need also to be “in the flow” (an idea developed by Ruth Montgomery).  This state of flow comes when we follow intuition to the degree that we can.  Sometimes our bodies rebel, and at such times we should not push (an idea developed by Shakti Gawain in Living in the Light).

Our real thoughts are those that we think with God.  They do not include the negative expressions of anger and attack.  Thinking with God is an enormously freeing concept, and it comes easily to the open mind.  Thinking with God is also the easiest way to live.  We must simply express our desire to manage this way of thinking, and it is ours.  We do not need to wait.  Indeed, in this world there is little in the intangible for which we need to wait.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

I would choose today, as every day, to be at home with You in Heaven on this earth.  You have hinted at this possibility throughout A Course in Miracles, and I would claim that promise immediately.  I do not have to wait for the Other Side, after death.

When I am feeling Your presence, surrounded by a sense of love, then all is well in this world.  That is the Heaven on earth that I would find, and I know that this is Your will for me as well.  Thank You for making it so plain to me.

Amen.

Do Not Defend Yourself!

ACIM Workbook Lesson 148 – for Saturday, May 28, 2011

Affirmation:  “My mind holds only what I think with God.”

Selected Passage:

“If I defend myself I am attacked.
“Sickness is a defense against the truth.  (WB276)”

Reflections:

We often think that if we do not defend ourselves, we will be treated even more badly.  But this is not the way of A Course in Miracles.  ACIM would have us to drop defense entirely as a bad idea.   As the passage says, defense does what it attempts to stop.  If we defend ourselves, we are actually attacking ourselves.

What do we do instead?  We realize that all attack and anger is either an expression of love or a call for love.  We rush to our brother or sister’s side with the love for which he/she is calling.  If this individual is not receptive at the moment, then we withdraw, and we wait to give our gifts.  A non-receptive individual will come around sooner if left to his/her own devices.  It never helps to get angry in return or to attack back.

Our sicknesses are self-chosen, though usually not on a conscious level.  We would close our eyes to the truth, and retreat into feverish dreams, afraid to let the Light in.  This will never work.  When we are sick, we need to ask very sincerely, in a quiet moment, for what our body is trying to tell us.  Maybe we are pushing too hard, and we choose sickness to get out of some of the stress.  Or maybe the stress itself is what brought on the sickness.  If stress is the issue, we need to spend time in quiet reflection with God about how we ought to bring our bodies back into peace and quiet.  I cannot say enough about spending some time in quiet with God each day, morning and evening.  This is a basic Manual technique for keeping our lives on track.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

May I honor my commitment not to defend myself when circumstances come about that seem to warrant defense.  I know that the defense is actually ineffectual and makes the situation worse.  May I not respond to blame with defense–ever.

This day I long for Your presence, felt by me throughout the day.  Days that are like this are the jewels in my lifetime.  May today be such a day.

Amen.

God vs. the Holy Spirit

ACIM Workbook Lesson 147 – for Friday, May 27, 2011

Affirmation:  “My mind holds only what I think with God.”

Selected Passage:

“I will not value what is valueless.
“Let me perceive forgiveness as it is.  (WB276)”

Reflections:

Real thoughts are the thoughts that we think with God.  Mistaken thoughts partake of the ego.  In distractions of this world, we may not always discern the difference.  Go within to God, and let Him tell us what to say or do.

There may be some confusion about the difference between God and the Holy Spirit.  Indeed, some students/teachers of ACIM believe that God does not even know about us!  I do not subscribe to this belief, because it is not true to my experience.  God is within, and nothing is without (a Text tenet).  We project the world that we see from within.  If we are at the moment overtaken by the ego, we will project a world that is filled with attack and anger.  If we are in touch with God within, we will project love to the surrounding world, and this love will return to us, multiplied.  The Holy Spirit is the communication link between God and ourselves (a Text tenet).  The Holy Spirit acts as our guidance (an oft-repeated refrain in this blog).  The Holy Spirit was given as the Answer as soon as the idea of separation entered the mind.  The solution is always with the problem (an ACIM tenet).  And God gave His Answer immediately.

We can realize that our own little problems have immediate solutions as well.  Only a distracted mind fails to find the way out of any given maze in which we find ourselves.  We do not wish to value that which has no value, and that includes the egoistic world.  We do need to realize that we are all innocent of sin, and that our mistakes can be easily rectified.  Then we will know the joy that is ours for the asking (and taking).

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

May I turn to You, within me, often today.  May I also turn to You that I perceive as being “without,” meaning my brothers and sisters, as well as this world in which we live–whether we are living in illusion or in the real world at the moment of noticing.  Be with me constantly.  I need You.

Thank You for the guidance that comes to me throughout the day.  Forgive me for my confusion about what that guidance really is.  I confuse myself.  And I would not confuse myself today.

Amen.

No One Can Fail Who Seeks to Reach the Truth

ACIM Workbook Lesson 146 – for Thursday, May 26, 2011

Affirmation:  “My mind holds only what I think with God.”

Selected Passage:

“No one can fail who seeks to reach the truth.
“I loose the world from all I thought it was.  (WB276)”

Reflections:

This passage is a promise that we will go Home, and while still on earth (if we so desire).  The “truth” is our desire for Awakening, and Awakening will not be long in coming for those who have truly sought.  We may, paradoxically, have to stop seeking and rest in quiet, though.  Constant seeking is a distraction.  A Course of Love makes clear that there is a time when we “know enough.”  Habits of seeking are not always easily loosed, though.

“No one can fail who seeks to reach the truth.”  A glorious promise, not to be overlooked in ACIM.  When we let go of our misperceptions about the world, we will be in a better position to have the truth revealed to us.  We do not have to rush and hurry, hither and yon, for the truth.  We need only quiet ourselves and seek within.

We thought the world was best mastered by our judgments about it.  But ACIM says that our learning has been awry; we need to leave judgment to the Holy Spirit, Who knows all the variables.  This idea is contrary to all that we have previously been taught about “good judgment,” but there is a lengthy chapter in the Manual that would set us straight.  We cannot judge accurately, because we do not see the whole situation.  Is it not better, then, to leave decisions up to guidance of the Holy Spirit, Who makes no mistakes?  (Of course, we can misread the Holy Spirit, especially if we are caught in egotistical turmoil.  So let us be careful that we are following the path that God would lay out for us.)

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

I would follow guidance today.  Let me be still and listen for that guidance.  May I have a still and peaceful day, but with energy to do Your will.  You will be there for me, as always.  I do not doubt Your presence, even when I am embroiled in an ego-oriented dream, and too distracted to feel that You are there.

Be with me as I seek inward toward You.  You are the All, and may I take my part in the drama that is unfolding on this earth.

Amen.

The Real World

ACIM Workbook Lesson 145 – for Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Affirmation:  “My mind holds only what I think with God.”

Selected Passage:

“Beyond this world there is a world I want.
“It is impossible to see two worlds.  (WB275)”

Reflections:

The world “beyond” is the real world, as termed by A Course in Miracles.  We cannot live in this world of the ego at the same time that we live in the real world.  They are mutually exclusive.  It is good for us to invite the real world by the actions that we take on a daily, and even hourly, basis.  If we live on an adrenaline rush (as Marianne Williamson has described), then we will be far from living in the real world.  As Marianne says, we are addicted to this adrenaline rush.  Our fast-paced world has seemed to require that we so live.

But do we really have to live in a rush?  Years ago, when I was in graduate school. I sensed the words, “There is time for all that is needful.”  And there was.  Previous to “hearing” these words with an inner ear, I was quite apprehensive about being able to get all my work done creditably.  But as I repeated this sentence to myself over and over, I knew its truth.  And my work went well.

In a work life also, there is time for all that is needful.  And living more slowly will invite the real world.  Then experiences of the real world will, in turn, invite moments of Awakening.  Eckhart Tolle says quite a bit about the truth that experiences of Awakening first come in snatches, to be made permanent later on.  We will not necessarily have to wait long.  Shakti Gawain also says this in her writing.  There are multiple writings now available to lead us Home, but we need never to lose sight of “our” way, A Course in Miracles.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

I would live in the real world today, as much of today as I can forgive fully and experience joy and peace and love.  I know something of living in the real world, but I am not consistent in my experiencing of true Reality.  I would become more consistent today.

Thank You for leading me by the hand into the real world.  You have done so repeatedly.  Now it is up to me to give myself over to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and to make this new state of being a constant state.

Amen.

What Does “Awakening” Mean?

ACIM Workbook Lesson 144 – for Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Affirmation:  “My mind holds only what I think with God.”

Selected Passage:

“There is no love but God’s.
“The world I see holds nothing that I want.  (WB275)”

Reflections:

1 – The World Controlled by the Ego

We are told in ACIM that this world does not hold anything of value.  The real world does, and by “this world” I mean the world that is controlled and dominated by the ego.  We are not asked to give up the valuable; there is nothing valuable in a world controlled by egoistic thinking.  We are asked to turn to God for the love that we so desperately want.

2 – What Does the “Real World” Mean?

What does the “real world” really mean?  It means glimpses of sanity–love, joy, peace, safety, quietness.  We are told that when the real world has become habitual to us, God Himself will reach down and lift us up to Awakening.

3 – What Does “Awakening” Mean?

What does “Awakening” mean?  It is that ineffable state in which no thought makes us unhappy (a statement made by an enlightened current spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, in a CD entitled, “Even the Sun Will Die”).  Eckhart asserts that more and more people are experiencing Awakening, that frequently he hears from them.  He feels that he is in a kind of epicenter of this new experience, which, because of his books and his teaching, has encouraged people to turn to him when they experience what he did when he was 30 years old.  Awakening is being sane, finally.  Before it comes fully, we will catch glimpses from time to time.  But the timing is ultimately up to God.  We cannot awaken ourselves.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

Sometimes I feel very far from Awakening, and we are told by some inspirational writers for ACIM that the closer that we come, the more the ego rears its ugly head.  Then it is easy to become discouraged.  With Your help, I would not become discouraged today.

Be with me as I seek to walk through this day in peace.  Please help me to forgive myself for my misdeeds, and may my significant others also forgive me.  I will often make mistakes, until I am home in You.  I would be at home in You sooner rather than later.

Amen.

All that I Give Is Given to Myself

ACIM Workbook Lesson 143 – for Monday, May 23, 2011

Affirmation:  “My mind holds only what I think with God.”

Selected Passage:

“In quiet I receive God’s Word today.
“All that I give is given to myself.  (WB275)”

Reflections:

Jerry Jampolsky, one of the early writers/students of A Course in Miracles, wrote a classic book called Love Is Letting Go of Fear.  In this book, he stressed repeatedly the second part of the refrain in the passage above, “All that I give is given to myself.”  When this giving is an intangible, then we also see that giving multiplied over and over.  But an implicit warning here is that if we foster attack, we will see attack returned to us.  Foster love, on the other hand, and abundant love is returned.

We need to be quiet to receive these blessed words.  We need to be still in our hearts and minds.  There is no other way to receive intuition.  In this sense, we are speaking of intuition as the guidance that we receive from the Holy Spirit.  We walk as channels (a precept put forth by Shakti Gawain in Living in the Light).  Walking as a channel (or living by intuition) puts us “in the flow,” a concept described in some detail by Ruth Montgomery, an early psychic writer of the last century.  Living in the flow is actually the best way to live.  It is also the easiest.  We will find ourselves happier also, much happier.  We take the light touch in regard to our decisions, because we have given over our judgment to the Holy Spirit, Who makes no mistakes.

God’s Word can come to us through abundant ways.  We may learn His Word through intuition or an inner knowing, through conversations with family and friends, through A Course in Miracles, through other Scripture, through inspirational writing based on the great religious treatises.  All of these, and more, are available to us when we turn, in quiet to the peace of God that is within.  When we are in an emotional storm, though, these channels are frequently conflicted, and we don’t know what to say or do next.  This is an example of the ego taking over our life.  A few moments in communing with God can let the storm pass.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

May I be quiet today.  I realize that from time to time I need a day of quiet, so that I can hear Your Voice more often and with more clarity.  May my circumstances this day help to being me a day of peace.

Be with me as I seek You.  You are always there for me, and I hope today to be aware of it a good deal of the time.

Amen.

One with God

ACIM Workbook Lesson 142 – for Sunday, May 22, 2011

Affirmation:  “My mind holds only what I think with God.”

Selected Passage:

“I thank my Father for His gifts to me.
“Let me remember I am one with God.  (WB275)”

Reflections:

What does it mean to be “one with God”?  God is both within and without, the All.  We reach Him best by turning inward to pray, and then reaching outward to help our brothers and sisters.  We cannot just turn inward.  God would have us meet the needs of other people as well.

God does speak with us, in a myriad of ways.  And He gives His gifts to us in a similar myriad of ways.  If we are grateful, we open the floodgates wider still.  The easiest way to think of God’s speaking is probably to equate the Holy Spirit’s Word with intuition.  This is not the whole truth, but it is not too far off base.  All of us have had experiences of intuition, and when we acted upon it, we found out that life went smoother.  When we resisted, life got tougher.  We have an inner knowing that we sometimes sabotage.  This is the ego in us, still trying to cling to life.

Of course, there are times when we seem to get intuitions, one after the other, that conflict with one another.  At such times, it is likely that one’s own emotions have intruded.  At such times, it is best to clear the mind, to pray for strength and help, and to go about our daily affairs.  When we are in a cooler frame of mind, we will know what to say or do.  Our emotions will then not be in a position to confuse us.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

I want to make decisions that are correct today.  I know that the only way that I can do is to clear my mind, to cool my emotions, and to listen to prompting from what I perceive as the Holy Spirit, or perhaps what I perceive as my intuition.  I know that these two ways of perceiving are the same.  Help me to give credit to You always, not to my own powers, which are very limited.

You and I are One.  May I always remember this when times are a struggle for me.  May these times lessen as I am able to keep a clear mind and to hear Your guidance.

Amen.

AN UNSEEN KISS

by Celia Hales

I don’t know if this experience is a miracle.  Sometimes it seems like one.  But maybe it is a departed one reaching back to the world she left behind.  That, in itself, would be a kind of miracle–one that science doesn’t understand as yet.

For many years,  I have felt, from time to time, the sensation of someone kissing the crown of my head.  This sensation always gives me a warm feeling, a feeling of being protected from all harm.  As I  look out on my day, my environment–especially when I am outside–suddenly seem clearer than before.  The sun seems brighter, or, if it is raining, I feel sudden gratitude for the moisture hitting the earth.  I feel touched by an angel.

I have a now-departed family friend named Mattie.  She helped raise me.  She had what she called my “sweet spot”–the crown of my head–where she always kissed me.  She said that this spot belonged to her.

“Come here, Child,” she would say, as I was running out the back door to go play with my little friends.

She would plant a firm kiss on the top of my head.

“That sweet spot belongs to me,” she would say, and then she would laugh happily.

I think, to my credit, that I nearly always, as a child, made her happy.  We shared lots of love between us.

Mattie has been beyond the veil of death for more than 20 years.  I wish I could say with certainty that these sensations on the crown of my head began after she died.  But I don’t know for sure.  Certainly the brushes against my hair began a very long time ago.

Has Mattie found a way to bless me from heaven?  Perhaps so.  Certainly we loved each other deeply, and love, I believe, always survives death.

Thank you, Mattie.  I’m going to believe that it is you.

Forgiveness = Key to Happiness

ACIM Workbook Lesson 141 – for Saturday, May 21, 2011

Affirmation:  “My mind holds only what I think with God.”

Selected Passage:

“Forgiveness is the key to happiness.
“Forgiveness offers everything I want.  (WB275)”

Reflections:

The major drawback which ACIM students and teachers may still face is the troubling idea (a falsehood) that there are some “sins” that are beyond forgiveness.  We may have been so hurt by the words or actions of another that we feel that these brothers and sisters do not deserve forgiveness.  But take a moment to reflect on what this thinking really means.  We are actually saying that we have said or done things that were so bad that we do not deserve forgiveness, because what we say of another is always what we have first said about ourselves.  When we point a finger at another, three fingers are pointed back at us.

But maya, or illusion, assures us that these “sins” (actually mistakes) never happened in reality.  We ourselves are innocent of sin; we have just made mistakes, which we may ask forgiveness for, and then we are healed.  We can make amends if we feel prompted to do so (and if it is still feasible).  We can commune with God, Who always listens.  He will forgive us, regardless of the depth of the mistakes we have made.  Let us do the same for our brothers and sisters, lost in insanity.

It may help to realize that this is a mad world.  We are all lost in insanity to one degree or another.  Even the Awakened are said not to be “perfect,” at least not until Jesus corrects the mistakes that we ourselves did not have the power to correct.  If we believe that the difficult actions of our brothers and sisters, the ones that have impacted us negatively, are the result of insanity, we will be much more willing to forgive.  We ourselves need this forgiveness as well, and if we withhold it from them, we withhold it from ourselves.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

May I forgive everyone in my world today for anything that may ever have hurt me.  May I keep on forgiving as any new hurts emerge.  This is my way to happiness, my key to salvation and to Awakening.  Thank You for leading me to know this.

Be with my brothers and sisters, as well as myself, as we walk together through this day.  We walk together, hand-in-hand, and when we realize this fully we are well on the way to home.

Amen.

The Happy Dreams the Holy Spirit Brings

ACIM Workbook Lesson 140 – for Friday, May 20. 2011

Affirmation:  “Only salvation can be said to cure.”

Selected Passage:

“The happy dreams the Holy Spirit brings are different from the dreaming of the world, where one can merely dream he is awake.  The dreams forgiveness lets the mind perceive do not induce another form of sleep, so that the dreamer dreams another dream.  His happy dreams are heralds of the dawn of truth upon the mind.  They lead from sleep to gentle waking, so that dreams are gone.  And thus they cure for all eternity.  (WB270)”

Reflections:

1 – This Favorite Passage

This is a favorite passage of long-time students/teachers of A Course in Miracles.  An oft-repeated refrain, the phrase “happy dreams the Holy Spirit brings” is a herald of what is meant for us in this sometimes difficult and troubling world.  It is possible to live this happy dream, and for years, before the happy dreams lead gently into the Awakening (or Enlightenment).  It would be best, though, to commune with God about the Awakening, and not to remain satisfied with simply happy dreams.  We do not wish to prolong dreams of any kind, because dreams are illusion, and ACIM would have us move into reality.  What this actually means may remain obscure to us until we reach Awakening.  We know (not perceive) in a flash of time the meaning of those things that have eluded us.  Earlier, though, we may have flashes of insight that do not last.  Jesus speaks in the Text of revelation that reveals the end to us, but to get there the means are needed.  In this same passage, he says that the means are being carefully explained to us (i.e., in ACIM).

2 – From A Course of Love

A Course of Love, viewed by some as a sequel to ACIM, asks us to stop seeking endlessly.  We have sought for so long that this may be hard for us.  We think that there is always something else that we need to learn.  But once we have studied ACIM, and perhaps read A Course of Love, we know what we need to know.  We are ready for God to reach now and lift us up.  We can ask that He do so soon.  We can rest in patience until that glorious moment arrives.

3 – The Mind Is Quiet

Do not underestimate the importance of the happy dreams that the Holy Spirit brings.  They quiet out mind so that we will welcome Awakening.  We are told in the Manual that without this preparation, we would be too frightened and maybe even depressed to welcome Awakening.  If we have lived for illness, for example, to have a sudden healing would perhaps not be in our best interests.  So healing has to wait, to protect our very existence.  (Jesus says that some, faced with a sudden healing, might even try to destroy themselves.)  But having lived through the happy dreams, we will be ready when God is.  May that day come soon for all of us.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

Thank You for the happy dreams that the Holy Spirit has brought to me.  They have indeed made my dream of this life a far grander version of dreaming than anything that I knew when I was much younger and did not have the gift of ACIM.  I would not stay stuck in dreams, though, because there is a time to move even beyond “happy dreams,” on into reality.  And I know that only You make this determination, this time when the time is right.  

I do pray that this time of the real world come quickly.  The Awakening is needed by all of us, before pain and suffering make our living in a difficult world even worst, especially for those who have not seen the light that You have brought to all who will listen.  May I reach out to my brothers and sisters, those who are ready, with Your message of the real world today.

Amen.

Our Mission

ACIM Workbook Lesson 139 – for Thursday, May 19, 2011

Affirmation:  “I will accept Atonement for myself.”

Selected Passage:

“We have a mission here.  We did not come to reinforce the madness that we once believed in.  Let us not forget the goal that we accepted.  It is more than just our happiness alone we came to gain.  What we accept as what we are proclaims what everyone must be, along with us.  Fail not your brothers, or you fail yourself  Look lovingly on them, that they may know that they are part of you, and you of them.  (WB268)”

Reflections:

We are meant to bring our brothers and sisters home, as well as ourselves.  We have a mission, to bring salvation to this world.  The world winds on wearily, and the people in it are very discouraged.  It is up to us who have learned at least part of the truth to stand ready and willing to share our understanding whenever there is a hint that others are ready for what we can share.

Not everyone will be ready.  Some need only a smile (a Manual statement).  We have various kinds of relationships, from very brief, to intermediate in length, and to life-lasting.  There are no coincidence in whom we will serve.  As soon as we have answered the call, those who have been waiting for us will start to find us.  There are no accidents in salvation.  (These are all paraphrases from the Manual.)

Ask today to be led to those for whom you are meant to reach in sharing ACIM‘s message.  ACIM never suggests aggressive pursuit of others to our way of life.  This would be counterproductive.  As just stated, some are just ready for a smile.  May our happiness show through our smiles today.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

May I be happy enough today to smile at my brothers and sisters.  May I do my part in this little inch of time to bring salvation to them.  May I accept the salvation that I know has been held out to me.  May I not let any discouragement mar this day.

I do accept the mission that You have given me.  Help me not to do so with ego, because I know enough to know that that would never work.  Let me leave behind the ego as I walk into the sunlight with You.

Amen.

Heaven = A Decision

ACIM Workbook Lesson 138 – for Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Affirmation:  “Heaven is the decision I must make.”

Selected Passage:

“Choosing depends on learning.  And the truth cannot be learned, but only recognized.  In recognition its acceptance lies, and as it is accepted it is known.  But knowledge is beyond the goals we seek to teach within the framework of this course.  Ours are teaching goals, to be attained through learning how to reach them, what they are, and what they offer you.  Decisions are the outcome of your learning, for they rest on what you have accepted as the truth of what you are, and what your needs must be.  (WB264)”

Reflections:

This passage makes a distinction between learning, which is within the framework of ACIM; and knowledge, which is God’s gift to us, and beyond what ACIM aims to teach.  God gives knowledge through revelation, and revelation is always one-way (from God to us).  Miracles, however, can facilitate learning of ACIM, being perceptual.  Since miracles are perceptual, they do not last–but they can be great blessings in their time.  Revelation is intensely personal, and not meaningfully conveyed to another (a Text tenet).

Jesus says, in the early pages of the Text, that revelation may occasionally reveal the end to us, but to get there the means are needed.  And the means are being carefully explained in A Course in Miracles.  We need only study easily and peacefully, never frantically.  Salvation can be ours.  Learning ACIM will make it so, but salvation cannot be coerced from the Holy Spirit.  Demands made of God are never the right focus (an interpretation, not stated in ACIM).

When our decisions have been cleansed of egoistic leanings, we will be well on our way home.  We will know salvation, and eventually we will know Awakening.  Let us pray for both today.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

I would know Heaven on earth today.  I would not seek to make demands of You; I do know that Heaven, experience in the Now, is Your will for me.  As much as this world throws at me, I do not have to suffer without relief.  You are always waiting with Your counsel.

Be with me today as I go about my little part of this world.  May I enjoy the pleasures that are there, but may I realize that I am actually enjoying illusions.  May I enter into Your reality, Your real world.  Thank You for hearing my prayer.

Amen.

The Gentle Lessons

ACIM Workbook Lesson 137 – for Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Affirmation:  “When I am healed I am not healed alone.”

Selected Passage:

“Healing, forgiveness, and the glad exchange of all the world of sorrow for a world where sadness cannot enter, are the means by which the Holy Spirit urges you to follow Him.  His gentle lessons teach how easily salvation can be yours; how little practice you need undertake to let His laws replace the ones you made to hold yourself a prisoner to death.  His life becomes your own, as you extend the little help He asks in freeing you from everything that ever caused you pain.  (WB262)”

Reflections:

Here we see that we need do only a little.  We need only a little willingness to follow the Holy Spirit’s bidding.  He does the great majority of the work involved.  Jesus says that this disproportion may trouble us, not because it is hard to understand, but because it may be personally insulting (a Text tenet).  We think that we need to do more, because in the ego’s hands, we have thought that we ourselves were in control of our lives.  If we look at the mess that we have frequently made of our lives, we would reconsider.  There is another way, and ACIM points out that other way.

Salvation can be ours easily.  Pain can dissipate entirely.  But evolution is not a straight line (see Neale Donald Walsch in his Conversations with God series), and we may sometimes revisit pain.  But we do not have to stay with pain.  We can ask for help, and the suffering will be gone.  The pain does not have to escalate into suffering, because one’s attitude is so important to the perception of what is wrong with our bodies (an interpretation, not stated in ACIM).  Our minds are in control of our bodies.  Let us not forget this truth.

We have taken a look at this aspect of reality in recent blog postings, but it is perhaps wise to make it our own understanding today.  It is a particularly hard concept to grasp, because the detour into fear has been long and hard, and we are still as though we were prisoners just set free into the sunlight (a paraphrase from the Text).

Talk to the Holy Spirit, as the Friend Whom He is.  He will respond with healing and with joy, because joy always accompanies healing.  If continued symptoms are present, do not make the mistake of doubting the healing (a Manual tenet).  The healing has always come, and when it is accepted, it will be as though it were always there.  Healing is not just a word for the body.  The healing may be of the mind.  (The latter is an interpretation, not stated in the Manual.)

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

Let the gentle lessons of the Holy Spirit enthrall me today.  May I be healed of all pain, and in that healing is it assured that pain will not escalate into suffering.  You do not wish Your children to be in either pain or suffering.  May I take Your wish as my command today.  It is within my power to ask Your help to rise above the pain that is so often inherent in living in this world.

Thank You for Your constant presence.  May I feel it today.  I ask You not to withdraw from me in an effort to hone my faith.  May my faith be strong in the midst of whatever struggles daily life brings.

Amen.

Don’t = Attack, Judge, Make “Plans”

ACIM Workbook Lesson 136 – for Monday, May 16, 2011

Affirmation:  “Sickness is a defense against the truth.”

Selected Passage:

“Yet this protection [i.e., healing] needs to be preserved by careful watching.  If you let your mind harbor attack thoughts, yield to judgment or make plans against uncertainties to come, you have again misplaced yourself, and made a bodily identity which will attack the body, for the mind is sick.  (WB260)”

Reflections:

A very important passage that is easy to overlook in the large picture of ACIM.  This passage tells us what has gone wrong if we lose the happy dreams that the Holy Spirit brings (an ACIM tenet).  We have attacked, yielded to judgment, or made plans to defend ourselves against uncertainties to come.  It is always one of these three that is causing the trouble–or it maybe two or all three of them.  But be reassured that if these warnings are heeded, and we stop attacking, judging, planning, we will be healed in our minds.  We will know happiness again.

We do not want a sick mind.  A sick mind has always looked outside itself in external searching (a Text tenet).  A sick mind can make a sick body (though it is never the other way around).  A body cannot make a mind sick, though the ego would have us to believe that this is the way that our bodies are autonomous and in control.  It is always the mind that is in control, regardless of what the ego tries to tell us.

We want to remain healed.  And we need to memorize these three warnings–attack, judgment, planning–and take steps to refrain from any that we are taking unto ourselves again.  They will always bring us down.  May we today make a commitment to refrain from all three, and then the Holy Spirit can work His will for healthy mind and body in us.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

When I fall into attack thoughts, judgment, or planning against uncertainties to come, I quickly lose the “happy dreams the Holy Spirit brings.”  I would have those happy dreams today.  Help me to know that refraining from these three warnings is the way to stay in the happy dreams.

I would not forever hold to happy dreams.  I would awaken, and I ask that You will reach to me and guide me into Awakening.  Always Your time, though, not mine.

Amen.

A Healed Mind Does Not Plan

ACIM Workbook Lesson 135 – for Sunday, May 15, 2011

Affirmation:  “If I defend myself I am attacked.”

Selected Passage:

“The body is in need of no defense.  This cannot be too often emphasized.  It will be strong and healthy if the mind does not abuse it by assigning it to roles it cannot fill, to purposes beyond its scope, and to exalted aims which it cannot accomplish.  Such attempts, ridiculous yet deeply cherished, are the sources for the many mad attacks you make upon it.  For it seems to fail your hopes, your needs, your values and your dreams. . . .

“A healed mind does not plan.  It carries out the plans that it receives through listening to Wisdom that is not its own.  (WB253)”

Reflections:

1 – Avoid “Driving” the Body

A favorite passage of students/teachers of A Course in Miracles.  We all too often ask too much of our bodies, driving them to produce when Jesus says that when Awakening comes, it comes with just one realization, “I need do nothing” (a quotation from the Text).  When we drive our bodies to the point of exhaustion, we set ourselves up for sickness, and sickness (according to the Text) is always some form of external searching.  We do not need this external searching.  We need only to be calm and quiet, and to turn to the Holy Spirit when we are distressed.  He will see that the distress passes, and the desired tranquility of mind and heart and spirit will return.

2 – Avoid Folly

Even after studying ACIM for years, we still may drive our bodies.  We may drive our bodies in the very act of studying ACIM.  What folly!  Be still.  Be serene.  There is no better way to be when we wish to commune with God.  (The early pages of the Text equate “communing” with prayer.)

3 – The All-Important Present

The second part of this passage is very, very important:  “A healed mind does not plan.”  If we are always looking to the future, we will miss the all-important present.  And it is in the present that salvation is found.  We complete ourselves in the present, a point made by Eckhart Tolle, an awakened individual who has published several books (including The Power of Now).

4 – There Is Always Time for What Is Needful

We want a healed mind.  And while the main work is done by the Holy Spirit, and our contribution is much more limited than His (a Text tenet), we can help by being receptive to His calls that we slow down.  There is always time for what is needful.  And our true needs are always met (see Neale Donale Walsch in Communion with God).  A healed mind is our greatest blessing, and it is the purpose behind the forgiveness that is our function, as stated in ACIM.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

May I not make plans today.  All too often most of us plan, and then we get upset when circumstances cause our plans to change.  This need not be.  I would have it otherwise today, with Your help.

May today move me ever closer to a healed mind.  I would leave defenses behind.  I would look to you when my immediate response would ordinarily be to defend myself.  Give me the forbearance to refrain from defending myself reflexively.

Amen.

Pardon = Recognizes Illusions

ACIM Workbook Lesson 134 – for Saturday, May 14, 2011

Affirmation:  “Let me perceive forgiveness as it is.”

Selected Passage:

“The strength of pardon is its honesty, which is so uncorrupted that it sees illusions as illusions, not as truth.  It is because of this that it becomes the undeceiver in the face of lies; the great restorer of the simple truth.  By its ability to overlook what is not there, it opens up the way to truth, which has been blocked by dreams of guilt.  Now are you free to follow in the way your true forgiveness opens up to you.  For if one brother has received this gift of you, the door is open to yourself.   (WB249)”

Reflections:

Often in this blog I have discussed the ease with which forgiveness or pardon can be offered if we realize that what we are seeing that is painful is actually illusion.  We have in our Self not been hurt at all.  We are invulnerable in our real essence.  And if we recognize that the attack or anger that is coming toward us is the result of insanity on the part of others (and ourselves), we will go still farther toward understanding the absolute necessity of forgiveness.  It keeps our rights protected.  It is the only sane response to distress based on error (a Text tenet).

Forgiveness, it is not often noted, will help us to feel better, even euphoric–once we see the advantages that accrue.  Others will see that we are not retaliating, and it is quite possible that those others will actually apologize for their words or deeds.  The fact that forgiveness, offered freely, will help us to feel better in not mentioned in A Course in Miracles, but a little experimentation will show us that it is a very practical consequence of the right word or deed.  We feel worse when we retaliate with words or deeds.  While there may be a momentary high (as Kenneth Wapnick, scholar of ACIM, notes) due to the false belief that we have gotten rid of the anger, we have not actually gotten rid of anything.  We are only venting, and venting is pain that will not be allow relief from bad feelings.  Learning through pain, Jesus says, is only temporary.  Learning through rewards is lasting.  (These are Text tenets.)

It is important that we not stare too long at the perceived harm.  If we make it real to ourselves, how can we overlook it (a Text tenet)?  Overlook from the beginning, if possible, and if it is already too late to do that, then ask for a new beginning for the day (a Text tenet).  Then our perception of illusions will fade away, and we will know that, while we have felt bad, this sort of feeling does not have to last.  Indeed, this bad feeling will subside momentarily–and for the rest of the day, if we do not recall to mind the harm that we thought we perceived and that we fought, internally, against.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

Help me today to recognize that this world is all illusion, and that regardless of what to me or others in my circle, actually the real Self has not been damaged in any way.  Help me to realize and not make real any attack or anger that is directed at me.  Help me to overlook.

I would live a pleasant day in Your eyes today.  I would give You, within me, a good day.  Help me to do this as I follow the guiding hand of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Heaven Is Reached with Empty Hands and Open Minds

ACIM Workbook Lesson 133 – for Friday, May 13. 2011

Affirmation:  “I will not value what is valueless.”

Selected Passage:

“All things are valuable or valueless, worthy or not of being sought at all, entirely desirable or not worth the slightest effort to obtain.  Choosing is easy just because of this.  Complexity is nothing but a screen of smoke, which hides the very simple fact that no decision can be difficult.  What is the gain to you in learning this?  It is far more than merely letting you make choices easily and without pain.

“Heaven itself is reached with empty hands and open minds, which come with nothing to find everything and claim it as their own.  (WB246-247)”

Reflections:

We must become aware that we do not want the complex.  The complex is of the ego.  The simple is the way that we find God, the way we find our way home.

Many of us doubt this idea, because A Course in Miracles, to our deluded minds, seems complex in the extreme.  The extent to which we let the ego wither away, though, will show us the ultimate simplicity of its messages.  We want the valuable, and a faithful study of ACIM will lead us to separate the valuable from the valueless.  We need not fear that this is too difficult.  In the Text, Jesus assures us that, caught by the ego, we learned very difficult things indeed, because we were motivated to do so.  We built up a world that we wanted.  And now this world has turned against us.  Now we are confronted by ACIM, which ultimately has a message of simplicity.  The more we study, we more we will become convinced of the fact that its way toward salvation, and then Awakening, is simple and easy.  Our struggles, if we will it, are over.

We choose the pathway that we will take.  If we are not through struggling, then struggle we will.  But we can choose a better way.  And Helen Schucman, the scribe of ACIM, promised Bill Thetford, her faculty partner, that she would help him find “another way.”  This new way was ACIM, a way without conflict and with great hope and peace for a world that was ready for its message.  If we hold our hands empty and we open our minds, we will make great progress today toward the Awakening that ACIM is showing us the means to find.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

I would choose Heaven today.  I would leave behind the complexity in which I think I think, and let the way be shown to me that is easy and simple.  May I know that guidance shows me the way, and the decisions with which I am faced are made easy with the guidance that the Holy Spirit offers freely to all who ask.

Let me have a good day today.  Let me give You a good day today, because if You are experiencing Yourself through me, I would not give You a bad experience.  

Amen.

Our Ultimate Release

ACIM Workbook Lesson 132 – for Thursday, May 12, 2011

Affirmation:  “I loose the world from all I thought it was.”

Selected Passage:

“There is no world apart from what you wish, and herein lies your ultimate release.  Change but your mind on what you want to see, and all the world must change accordingly.  Ideas leave not their source.  This central theme is often stated in the text, and must be borne in mind if you would understand the lesson for today.  It is not pride which tells you that you made the world you see, and that it changes as you change your mind.  (WB242)”

Reflections:

If we change our minds about what we wish to see, the bad things of this world will affect us much less frequently.  It would not be wise to say that we will never confront bad things, but it is in line with A Course in Miracles to say that their effect upon us is diminished to the extent that we do not accord value to the illusion.

What does it mean to say, “Ideas leave not their source”?  We are an idea in the mind of God (an interpretation, not stated in ACIM).  We are surrounded by minds that hold ideas, and if we are surrounded by minds that hold bad ideas, we may join in the mass hallucination and see bad things as well.  But this need not be so.  We can rise above the fray.  Let us do so today.

When we wish for a world of peace and joy,  we will find it.  That, as the passage above says, is our ultimate release.  When we focus on a higher plane of thought, our whole world changes accordingly.  Think about pain and sickness, and we are more likely to draw it to us.  Neale Donale Walsch in Communion with God asserts that fear is a very creative force, and to fear something is to draw it to us.  Pay fear no mind, and one is far more likely to become fearless.  Such is the strength of our minds; such is the strength of our God.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

I pray for my ultimate release today.  I know that this is what I wish above all else, and I know that You want this for me also.  Only my own delusions have kept me in bondage with an imprisoned will.  I would follow the Holy Spirit, Who really speaks for me, and then I would know what it is I really desire–and I will have it.

Be with me today as always.  Do not let me wander into meandering pathways that would take a detour from the straight way toward a heart that is sheltered by You.  You are within me, as well as without, and I would not join any mass hallucination that would place pain above faith in You.

Amen.

Why Wait for Heaven?

ACIM Workbook Lesson 131 – for Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Affirmation:  “No one can fail who seeks to reach the truth.”

Selected Passage:

“{S]earching is inevitable here.  For this you came, and you will surely do the thing you came for.  But the world can not dictate the goal for which you search, unless you give it power to do so.  Otherwise, you still are free to choose a goal that lies beyond the world and every worldly thought, and one that comes to you from an idea relinquished yet remembered, old yet new, an echo of a heritage forgot, yet holding everything you really want. . . .

“Why wait for Heaven?  It is here today.  Time is the great illusion it is past or in the future.  (WB239, 240)”

Reflections:

1 – Heaven is Here and Now

Heaven is here and now.  We do not always believe this, and to the extent that we doubt it, then we do not see Heaven.  We will resume our search for Heaven, sometimes finding it and sometimes not.  It does not matter.  The will to find Heaven is all that is needed.  And God will guide every step.

2 – Why Do We Struggle?

Why do we search so long and hard?  Why do we struggle so?  A Course in Miracles outlines an easy approach to Heaven.  Its learning is not difficult, and, in fact, in one place in the Text the approach of ACIM is characterized as “simple.”  It is simple to the mind that has given itself over to the Holy Spirit for guidance.  Nobody who depends on this guidance needs to remain in conflict and confusion.  There is a better way, a different way, and ACIM guides us to find that new way.

3 – A Word from Edgar Cayce

Heaven is here and now.  A reading by Edgar Cayce retold the scene of the Last Supper in which Jesus is said to have made the assertion that Heaven is here and now, among our friends and dining in peace–even though turmoil awaited him and his followers.  If we believe Jesus’s words, we can be at peace.  We do not have to struggle.  This struggle has been our own confusion, and we can leave confusion behind at any time by consistently following guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

I would enter Heaven on earth today.  I would not entertain thoughts of anger or attack, insecurity or disillusionment, negativism or overconfidence.  I would choose the Heaven on earth that You have prepared for me now.  Let me be satisfied with nothing less today.

If I stumble and fall today, please pick me up.  Your will for me is that I succeed in the things that are important to eternity–the love, the peace, the joy.  I would leave behind the worldly trappings of success as not important enough to clutter my mind.  I would not choose to ignore You by a fruitless searching after “success.”  There is no success that will make me happy if I try to live without You and Your guidance.

Amen.

Projection Makes Perception

ACIM Workbook Lesson 130 – for Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Affirmation:  “It is impossible to see two worlds.”

Selected Passage:

“Perception is consistent.  What you see reflects your thinking.  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.  No one can see a world his mind has not accorded value.  And no one can fail to look upon what he believes he wants.  (WB237)”

Reflections:

1 – We “Make”–Not “Create”

We must watch our minds carefully, because we “make” (not “create”) those things that we dwell upon.  God creates, we make.  And our projections will create the perceptions that we see in this world (a Text tenet).  We are making the world that we see every moment.

2 – Illusions vs. the Real

Does this mean that if we have positive thoughts we will never see anything bad?  This is not practical, and, as the Text says, it is with the practical that A Course in Miracles is most concerned.  But the bad things will be recognized as the illusions of this world.  It is with the real that we are to be most concerned, and the real includes the emotions of love, kindness, consideration, peace, joy, and happiness.  The real is what God wants us to dwell upon.

3 – Dwell upon the Real

How do we dwell upon the real?  Mostly we commune with God.  Some believe that God does not even know about us, but my personal interpretation of ACIM differs from this dismal prospect.  God is within and without, though in the final analysis all is One.  When we value the love, the peace, the quiet, and the serene, we draw these values to ourselves.  We do not then have to live in a world that is dangerous in the extreme.  Even if bad things happen to us (and they may), we can live above the fray by recognizing that the bad is not sent by God and may be risen above by our own communion with Him.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

I would rise above the fray of this world today.  I would value only the beautiful, and what I make with my thinking does become reflected in the world that I perceive.  This does mean that I am placed in the center of what I wish to have in my world.

Help me to understand these concepts that I have prayed about.   When bad things happen to good people, let me realize that You are there, ready to bail us out.  Help me to recognize that I can choose the life that I will lead, and that I am not buffeted about by alien forces.

Amen.

Beyond This World Is a World We Want

ACIM Workbook Lesson 129 – for Monday, May 9, 2011

Affirmation:  “Beyond this world there is a world I want.”

Selected Passage:

“This is the thought that follows from the one we practiced yesterday.  You cannot stop with the idea the world is worthless, for unless you see that there is something else to hope for, you will only be depressed.  Our emphasis is not on giving up the world, but on exchanging it for what is far more satisfying, filled with joy, and capable of offering you peace.  Think you this world can offer that to you?  (WB235)”

Reflections:

Here we see that this world has never really satisfied us.  Elsewhere we read in ACIM that no joy has not been bought with tears.  The only real happiness that we have ever known here has been the “happy dreams the Holy Spirit brings” (a Text quotation).  These happy dreams may have come also before we discovered  A Course in Miracles.  It does not matter.  The Holy Spirit has shadowed us all our lives.

But the happy dreams of the Holy Spirit are only a transition, a transition made necessary because otherwise we would be too fearful to welcome Awakening (a Text tenet).  We might even become depressed unto suicide if our illnesses were cured prematurely; we have come to depend on the unhappiness that we say we want to rid ourselves.  We are calmed by the happy dreams from the Holy Spirit.  We learn what I have stated so often, that the goal is “perfect calm and quiet” all the time.  We learn that drama is not what we want after all.  We are being prepared for Awakening.

Then, at the perfect time, God leans down and draws us to Himself in Awakening.  We would do well to surrender and resurrender to Him, but not to try to rush Awakening.  We cannot anyway.  It is all God’s doing.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

Help me today to find the world beyond this one that I really want.  This is the “real world,” in which all the dreams are happy, and as our reality turns happy, we are made ready for You to take the next step and to awaken us.  I would move closer to that great blessing today.

Help me to be kind to my brothers and sisters today.  Give me patience with their foibles, and give me patience with my own as well.  We need Your guidance, and whether this guidance is purely internal, or an intuition prompted by what seems to be external to me, I do not choose.  I leave it all up to You.

Amen.

Escape the Chains You Place upon Your Mind

ACIM Workbook Lesson 128 – for Sunday, May 8, 2011

Affirmation:  “The world I see holds nothing that I want.”

Selected Passage:

“Escape today the chains you place upon your mind when you perceive salvation here.  For what you value you make part of you as you perceive yourself  All things you seek to make your value greater in your sight limit you further, hide your worth from you, and add another bar across the door that leads to true awareness of your Self.  (WB233)”

Reflections:

This passage tells us what the ego will do for us, and it is not good.  The ego, as we have discussed, is a part of our belief about ourselves.  It is partly what is meant by “egotistical,” but that is not the whole of it.  We can make choices that are of the ego which are not particularly egotistical.  In turning to the ego, we are turning to a persona of ourselves.  We are not turning to our real Self, the part that listens to guidance of the Holy Spirit.

In this passage, we learn that when we seek to aggrandize ourselves, we are seeking the worst for ourselves.  ACIM says in the Text that we are at our best when we say to God that we do not know who we are.  We do not understand.  And then our mind and spirit is open to the Holy Spirit to show us the Way.  Seeking to make our value greater is clearly of the ego, and it is also usually the egotistical at its worst.  This idea does not mean that we will not accomplish things in this world; it just means that we will not attach value to what we say or do.  We will still have a healthy self-esteem, but we will walk humbly with our God (as biblical teaching recommends).

We need true awareness of our Self.  We will find this through surrender to God, to what and to whom He sends us.  We will then fulfill our purpose on earth, our real purpose, which always has something to do with salvation for ourselves and others.  A Course in Miracles affirms that it is through forgiveness (or pardon) of the illusions in which we find ourselves that we come to know the way home.  Ultimately we will realize that not even forgiveness is needed, because, being illusion, there is nothing to forgive.  But most of us have not walked that far along the pathway.  Until we do, forgiveness of ourselves and our brothers and sisters is the closest to godliness that we will come.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

Help me to place no value on the valueless.  Not only would I leave behind the egotistical, but I would leave also the special value that I place in those non-eternal things that tie me to this world.  I would keep in place my love for my brothers and sisters, and my appreciation for the beauty and wonder of the earth.

Help me to go about my day with an ever-constant awareness of Your presence in my heart and spirit.  You are the All, and I am part of You.  I would do justice to the potentials that You have placed in me.

Amen.

Open Your Mind and Rest

ACIM Workbook Lesson 127 – for Saturday, May 7, 2011

Affirmation:  “There is no love but God’s.”

Selected Passage:

“For fifteen minutes twice today escape from every law in which you now believe.  Open your mind and rest.  The world that seems to hold you prisoner can be escaped by anyone who does not hold it dear.  Withdraw all value you have placed upon its meager offerings and senseless gifts, and let the gift of God replace them all.  (WB231)”

Reflections:

Part if the world’s meager offerings is the part that believes that money is our salvation; the Text calls them “strips of paper.”  And coins are equally devalued in ACIM.  But we can escape from this emphasis which most of us have placed on the security that money provides.  Indeed, we learn from scientific studies that rich people are certainly not necessarily the happiest people on earth.  Money can be an impediment to happiness.

This passage also hints at the brief accounting in the Text of the reaction of long-held prisoners to the sunlight of the world outside.  They do not immediately welcome freedom.  They have been captives too long, and they must grow accustomed to a life of new freedom.  We are much like that, in that we do not understand, and sometimes do not even welcome, the quiet and calm that true salvation will bring to our personal world.  As mentioned previously in this blog, we are addicted to the adrenaline rush, and we like the drama that it brings.  But we are made for something better.

Certainly the work that we do is frequently stressful.  We do not feel ourselves in total control of our work lives, and indeed of our personal lives–which work impacts in often negative ways.  But there is a way to spend time with God each day, and for many the choice is for the Workbook as a starting point.  This quiet time will lead us to the blessings that God has for us, even in the midst of a difficult life.  And life will quickly seem to become less difficult, though perhaps nothing external has to change.  The change can all be internal to ourselves, and, oh, for a difference this makes!

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

Be with me especially today when I do my devotionals.  I ask to feel Your presence.  Please do not withdraw from me today.  I know that I am a part of You, and that we are therefore always One.  But I ask to know this in a more meaningful way today.

May I walk into the sunlight of my salvation today.  May I move ever closer to the time when You will reach to me and lift me up to Awakening.  I pray to do my part in being ready.

Amen.

All that I Give Is Given to Myself

ACIM Workbook Lesson 126 – for Friday, May 6, 2011

Affirmation:  “All that I give is given to myself.”

Selected Passage:

“Today’s idea, completely alien to the ego and the thinking of the world, is crucial to the thought reversal that this course will bring about.  If you believed this statement, there would be no problem in complete forgiveness, certainty of goal, and sure direction.  You would understand the means by which salvation comes to you, and would not hesitate to use it now.  (WB227)”

Reflections:

This affirmation (lesson for today) was emphasized by Jerry Jampolsky in early writings on ACIM.  Jerry emphasized the heavenly virtues (though he did not call them that):  the peace, the joy, the contentment, the happiness–even in this world.  But there is a darker side.  If we give attack or feel anger toward our brother or sister in this world, these negative emotions will revert back to ourselves.  It is akin to pointing an index finger, only to have the other fingers pointing back at one’s self.

This lesson is repeated a number of times in ACIM.  The passage selected notes that if we believe this passage, we will never have a problem with salvation again.  We will know “complete forgiveness, certainty of goal, and sure direction.”  Who would not want this?  And this is Jesus’s promise.

This lesson capsules the means by which salvation comes to us.  ACIM focuses on our holy relationship to our brother as the means that salvation will come to us–salvation even unto Awakening.  ACIM does not counsel long periods spent in contemplation, for Jesus says that these means are tedious, and they are for others.  Why choose something that is intended for someone else, when we have put our credence in A Course in Miracles?  Jesus goes on to say that contemplation will ultimately get one to Awakening, but that it is simply not our way.  May we find our way today in the special-turned-holy relationships of which we are a part.  Our love for our brother or sister will take us home.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

May I love deeply today.  May the one that is most significant to me help to lead me home.  That is the way of A Course in Miracles, and I would have this be my way.

Thank You for guiding me through another day, and may my new day be as good.  You have sheltered me today, and I ask the same for tomorrow.  Be with me now and always, and may I feel Your presence.

Amen.

Only Be Quiet

ACIM Workbook Lesson 125 – for Thursday, May 5, 2011

Affirmation:  “In quiet I receive God’s Word today.”

Selected Passage:

“Only be quiet.  You will need no rule but this, to let your practicing today lift you above the thinking of the world, and free your vision from the body’s eyes.  Only be still and listen.  You will hear the Word in which the Will of God the Son joins in his Father’s Will, at one with it, with no illusions interposed between the wholly indivisible and true.  As every hour passes by today, be still a moment and remind yourself you have a special purpose for this day; in quiet to receive the Word of God.  (WB226)”

Reflections:

We resist being quiet.  As I have noted previously, Marianne Williamson says that we are addicted to the adrenaline rush.  May we start taking steps to reduce this addiction today.  The more quiet we observe, the more it will become our familiar state.  ACIM notes that we are meant to be perfectly “calm and quiet” all the time.  Not all of us are ready for this state of peace.  We still like drama.  But as we move toward Awakening, the interest in drama will subside.  Eckhart Tolle says that in his primary relationship, he and his girlfriend do not have drama.  What a goal to strive for!  (Eckhart is the individual who has written extensively about his Awakening and is now an international teacher.)

We do not always see illusions.  Intangibles such as peace and joy are real, and so projection does not always make perception in the false sense (discussed by Hugh Prather in The Little Book of Letting Go).  We can request today to be free of illusions, to see only the intangibles that are real.  And eventually the real world will arise briefly before our eyes, just before God Himself “reaches down” to lift us up in Awakening.

Reread the passage, and note the progression away from illusions.  The Word of God assures us that we will have a special day of quiet in which to receive that Word.  May we welcome it with our whole hearts.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

I pledge to be quiet today.  I pledge to let any internal or external dramas that occur on the horizon be silenced.  Help me to do this.  I will need Your help.

Be with me today, as always.  I ask to feel Your presence, and You hear this from me a great deal.  I need You to lift my head above the clouds that hide Your presence.  I need You.

Amen.

No Meaningless Anxieties

ACIM Workbook Lesson 124 – for Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Affirmation:  “Let me remember I am one with God.”

Selected Passage:

“Today we will not doubt His Love for us, nor question His protection and His care.  No meaningless anxieties can come between our faith and our awareness of His Presence.  We are one with Him today in recognition and remembrance.  We feel Him in our hearts.  Our minds contain His Thoughts; our eyes behold His loveliness in all we look upon.  Today we see only the loving and the lovable.  (WB222)”

Reflections:

This is a meditative passage (as are many in the Workbook).  May we leave aside anxiety; we have this as a promise.  But how many of us truly believe that we can leave aside anxiety?  If we knew who walks beside us, then doubt and fear would be no longer.  They would be impossible.  May we speculate today about who walks beside us.  May we imagine that Jesus is taking us by the hand and guiding us.  Our imagination is not an “idle fantasy” (an ACIM quotation).

When we contemplate, commune with God in prayer, we soon feel Him in our hearts.  We aer not alone any longer.  We do see only the loving and the lovable.  This is what isw meant by projection makes perceptions.  And our projection has been cleansed, now that we are farther along in the Workbook.

We are not blind.  We see bad things happened in our world, and in the world surrounding us, the larger world.  But we will categorize all of these as illusion, illusion unable to touch our core.  Of course, sometimes we will forget and get upset.  This is natural.  God does not ask that we leave our humanness outside the door of A Course in Miracles.  But if we reflect on the words of ACIM, our moments of upset will diminish.  We will have surety that the Holy Spirit is in control.

Not that we will always have this surety.  But we will have glimpses of this surety as we go along our pathway.  May today be a special day of thanksgiving.  May we see only the loveliness surrounding us.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

May I leave my anxieties behind today.  If I find reason to be upset, let me look closely at that reason and ask if it is just an excuse to worry.  I would not worry today.  Be with me to ensure that I don’t.  Your presence makes all the difference.

I would pray today that I can feel Your presence as I go through the day.  You are often with me when I am distracted and don’t feel that You are there.  I would feel You today.

Amen.

We Have Come to Gentler Pathways

ACIM Workbook Lesson 123 – for Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Affirmation:  “I thank my Father for His gifts to me.”

Selected Passage:

“Today let us be thankful.  We have come to gentler pathways and to smoother roads.  There is no thought of turning back, and no implacable resistance to the truth.  A bit of wavering remains, some small objections and a little hesitance, but you can well be grateful for your gains, which are far greater than you realize.  (WB220”

Reflections:

We pause a moment today to be thankful.  Gratitude is one way that God’s blessings come to us.  God does not need gratitude, but we do, and we have it when we choose.  Our lives, if we have been studying the Workbook, are much smoother now than even four months ago, when we started going through the Workbook (some for the first time, others for a repeat of many times).

We do not need to resist the truth.  We need to be flexible in our relationship to the truth.  The Holy Spirit will guide us, but He will not force Himself upon us.  We must turn to Him in joyful anticipation of the blessings which He will restore on our personal worlds.

We may still have doubts, but these are receding.  It is a great blessing that the doubts are receding.  We have wallowed in misery long enough.  We are, the Text says, like prisoners set free after long years of imprisonment.  We do not at first know how to welcome freedom.  But we will learn, and we will learn rapidly.  There is no slowness about salvation.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

I thank You that my way will be easier now.  Thank You for the knowledge that You have imparted to me in the Workbook thus far this year.  I feel reassured, once again, of Your great love.

May my gratitude for what You have offered to me through Jesus overflow my day and make me even more happy than I would be ordinarily.  I love You.

Amen.

Forgiveness Sparkles in Our Eyes

ACIM Workbook Lesson 122 – for Monday, May 2, 2011

Affirmation:  “Forgiveness offers everything I want.”

Selected Passage:

“[Forgiveness] sparkles in your eyes as you awake, and gives you joy with which to meet the day.  It soothes your forehead while you sleep, and rests upon your eyelids so you see no dreams of fear and evil, malice and attack.  And when you wake again, it offers you another day of happiness and peace.  All this forgiveness offers you, and more.  (WB217)”

Reflections:

This is one of my favorite passages, a passage of great joy and peace.  If we could believe for even a minute that forgiveness offers all of these blessings, we would have no problem with forgiveness again.  We would be Home.

This passage reflects the “happy dreams the Holy Spirit brings” (an ACIM quotation).  We are told that, before the real world arises before our eyes, we will dream happy dreams.  These happy dreams are meant to prepare us for Awakening.  Without them, we might be too fearful of what will transpire to seek it meaningfully.  We have slept long and hard, and we need gentler dreams to precede our Awakening.  These gentler dreams the Holy Spirit provides.

May we have days composed of the joy that this passage promises.  We can have, and they can commence immediately.  We do no have to wait any longer.  Simply determine that the attack actions of ourselves, and our brothers and sisters, are insanity, and therefore unreal, and that we are caught in an illusion.  Then we will welcome the holy dreams of the Holy Spirit.  And our days will be like pearls of purity, one after the other.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

All of us deserve forgiveness for the mistakes we have made, and probably continue to make.  And we will continue to make mistakes as long as we are in this world.  But we are innocent!  Many people have trouble with this concept, but I would, with Your help, understand it today.  I have not really ever changed from the being that You created.

May forgiveness sparkle in my eyes today.  If anger or attack come my way, may I overlook both.  And may I sleep well tonight, after a full and complete day of safety preserved by You.

Amen.