Are You Afraid of God?

“You are afraid of Him [God], and do not see you hate and fear your Self as enemy.  (M-19.4)”

Affirmation:  “May I think calmly.”

Reflections:

1 – Afraid of God?

This passage is true because we project our God from within, seeing Him in our own image.  And that image believes that the true Self is Someone to be feared.  The true Self is elsewhere identified as the Christ within, or Christ-consciousness.  (These ideas are developed in A Course of Love.)

2 – Holy Spirit = Our Guide

We have no reason to be fearful of our true Self.  It is the ego that has led us to this impasse.  And we must be careful of nothing.  Let the Holy Spirit make the decisions that we are afraid to make.  Let Him guide.

3 – Internal Self

To hate and fear our own internal Self is a great deterrent to improved living.

4 – Forgiveness

How might we cease to hate and fear our Self?  We must entertain forgiveness of ourselves and our brothers and sisters.  The fact that we still hold something against ourselves and others is the point around which our problem revolves.  But we can, through greater insight, bring an end to this foolishness.  We can still see that we did not create ourselves, and it is only a detour into fear that we have made.  (Interpretations of ACIM, most not stated precisely therein.)

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I can remember when I feared You, and not in the sense of “awe,” which is what is meant in the Bible.  I really was afraid of You, fearing that I would be sent to hell for any of the childhood misdeeds that I did.  I know now that not is childhood a time of innocence, but so is adulthood.  Thank You for leading me to A Course in Miracles, which proves this point.

Be with me as I seek to enlarge not my ego, but my real Self, the inner Self that is a part of You.  As a part of You, I have never really been separated from You.  All of that thinking was a detour into fear, a fantasy that we forgot to laugh about.  So this tiny, mad idea took hold, and the ego of us all was born.  May the ego in all of us just cease to exist.  May we cense to depend on such a shallow basis for self-worth, for the ego can give no genuine self-worth.  You are the Source of my self-worth, as well as my self-esteem, and I would turn to and our Guide, the Holy Spirit, for the flow of my days.  Help this day to be good, and may I answer any need that is legitimately mine to answer.  I pray that You have guided me today.

Amen

A Miracle Worker? How Possible?

“Atonement means correction, or the undoing of errors.  When this has been accomplished, the teacher of God becomes a miracle worker by definition.  (M-18.4)”

Affirmation:  “Correct me today.”

Reflections:

1 – Atonement

This is what we need, all of us:  Atonement.  We need to have our errors undone, all corrected.  If this seems a long way off, then let us be patient.  Jesus says that for everyone to return to God, to undo the separation (believed in but an illusion), it may take millions of years (from the Text).  But we do not have to be disheartened by this analysis.

2 – Do Not Be Disheartened

Why not disheartened?  We are not alone.  God and His Communicator, the Holy Spirit, are with us constantly.  Indeed, we are a part of God.  We do not normally realize this, because we focus too much on the errors that our own “creation,” the ego, leads us to ake.  And Jesus will be with us when we have made one “unequivocal call” to him (a quotation from ACIM).

3 – Intuition Brings Our Help

Do we believe all this?  Perhaps not yet.  But give yourself time.  The truth will become manifest as we see our help come to us, intuitively, just as we need it.  Don’t second guess this truth.  Don’t be so quick to put up roadblocks.  If the intuition is honed by love, then it is likely to be genuine.

4 – Ego Makes Power Plays

“Intuitions” of the ego are usually power plays, and we do not want or need that.  Is the ego puffed up by this indication of what to do next?  Walk slowly, and think again about the best course of action.

5 – We Will Find Out Way Home

We will all learn eventually.  We will all find our way home.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would, in my own small circle of friends and acquaintances, become a miracle worker.  But I would listen for Jesus’s nod of what to do or say.  Only his guidance is necessary or desirable.  Anything else is misguided, because the ego gets involved, very involved.

Be with me today to find the Atonement anew.  Thank You for the times in my life when You have felt especially close to me, giving me Your advice.  Let me reach deep within me today to find You.  And let my manmade ego not intrude with unwelcome advice.

Help us to follow You today.  Help us to know how to help, how to heal.  If we need healing, may we find healing today.  And the same for all of our brothers and sisters.  May we attract that which You desire for us, knowing inwardly that health is Your choice for us.  Let us not intrude with ideas of illness.

Amen

A Mistake Is Not a Sin

“You but mistake interpretation for the truth.  And you are wrong.  But a mistake is not a sin, nor has reality been taken from its throne by your mistakes.  God reigns forever, and His laws alone prevail upon you and upon the world.  His Love remains the only thing there is.  Fear is illusion, for you are like Him.  (M-18.3)”

Affirmation:  “Love is the only thing there is.”

Reflections:

1 – Do Not Condemn Yourself

This is a reassuring passage, one that leads us to understand that God truly is Love, and that we have only made mistakes–nothing to condemn ourselves.

2 – When Afraid

When we are afraid, when fear has moved into our conscious minds, we need a remedy, and we need it now, not later.  The best remedy is to fill our minds with these reassurances that Jesus gives to us in A Course in Miracles.  The fear may make our heart beat rapidly, pounding in our chest, but we can still say to ourselves, “This is illusion.  I have no reason to fear.”

3 – Moving Away from the Abyss of Fear

And then we can distract ourselves from the abyss of fear in which we have fallen.  A Course in Miracles does not give specific practices, beyond affirmations in the Workbook, that can be called upon.  But most of us know that prayer, communion with God, helps tremendously.  And communion with God is emphasized in the opening pages of the Text.  We can also do something as mundane as listen to quiet, soothing music–praying as we listen.  We can talk to a significant other, if we have not called upon him or her so often that we have worn out our welcome.  And, of course, when fear comes, it is frequently in the middle of the night, when we do not want to awaken anyone.  Writing in a journal can help.  Some have found meditative yoga to be helpful.  I have found it useful to pray aloud, away from others in a quiet room.  Praying aloud seems to keep me on track.  If one is agitated, the best thing that we can do is simply to rest in that agitation, watching it subside gradually.  We will actually all get the amount of sleep that we need.  We need not fear insomnia, thereby making it worse.

4 – Is It Guilt?

If guilt is a major reason for our fear, then we can pray for forgiveness.  Remember that God does not forgive, because He has never condemned (an ACIM tenet).  But we need to forgive ourselves, and this we can do.  The ego may object, but then the ego does not wish us well.  We need to be gentle with ourselves; we need to wish ourselves well.

5 – Sin vs. Mistakes

Remember that the concept of “sin” and the concept of “mistakes” are very different.  Sin has an attracting nature, one that would have us repeat the same thought or action.  Mistakes, on the other hand, simply call for correction, something that we can do when our motivation is strong.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would not be fearful today.  There is no reason that the daily activities need to make us afraid.  We can get excited, but better not to get fearful.  

You know that our emotions are often vacillating.  We feel one way one moment, and something entirely different just a moment away.  I would stop this merry-go-round of fear in its tracks by denying the ego its field day with my mind.

May You help me to turn to You repeatedly, anytime that the ego threatens to engulf me with fear.  Thank You.

Amen.

Forsake Anger / Guilt Forgiven = Overlooked Completely

“And now is guilt forgiven, overlooked completely in His sight and in God’s Word.

“Anger but screeches, ‘Guilt is real!’ Reality is blotted out as this insane belief is taken as replacement for God’s Word.  (M-18.2 – M-18.3)”

Affirmation:  “guilt forgiven”

Reflections:

1 – Varying Definitions of the Ego

Anger is empowered by the ego when it screeches at us, “Guilt is real!”  This is a tenet of A Course in Miracles which differs from traditional Christianity.  But then the ego was not known about, in the sense that we know about it now.  Freud changed all that, though Freud’s definition of the ego is not the same as that of Jesus.  Freud thought that we all needed a strong ego to mediate between the superego and the id.  Jesus’s definition of the ego as a part of our belief about ourselves, but not a necessary thing to secure a central place in our psyche.  Jesus would have the ego wither away (though he does not use the term “wither”).

2 – The Ego Becomes Strong in Strife

We cannot let the ego wither by trying to overcome it with drastic measures.  We cannot launch a frontal assault.  The ego becomes strong in strife (a Text tenet).  That is why anger is so real when the ego is in the ascendancy.

3 – Jesus Corrects Errors that Are Beyond Us

But we have only made correctable mistakes.  And Jesus stands at the end to correct all errors that we ourselves cannot correct (an ACIM tenet).  This suggests that he is our friend, as traditional Christianity tells us.  He is always there for us, taking our hand, if we wish to so imagine.  He says that this is no “idle fantasy” (a quotation from ACIM).

4 – Mistakes / Not Sins

Because our mistakes are correctable, they are not “sins,” which would seem to be forever uncorrectable without a sacrifice made by Jesus on the cross.  And Jesus in A Course in Miracles asks us to look beyond the cross to the resurrection.  He says that we make a mistake when we “cling to the old rugged cross.”

5 – Theology May Delay Us

These ideas are definitely a step beyond the New Testament, and Christianity as taught in most of our churches.  If we are not yet ready to entertain these concepts, do cling to the practical nature of A Course in Miracles.  Theology will only delay us, and we do not need to be controversial.

6 – Guilt Recedes when Anger Recedes

See if the idea of guilt does not recede when anger recedes.  That is really all that we need to test.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would let the ego wither; I would not accentuate the ego through anger, for the ego is strong in strife.  I would feel no strike today.  And that becomes easy when I am having a good day.  Thank You for this good day today.  And may the same occur tomorrow.  We need Your help to be happy, for many of us have not always thought that happiness is a laudable goal.  But it is one of our functions, along with salvation and forgiveness, and I believe that when we reach for salvation and forgiveness, we find ourselves, unaccountably, happy.  We grow from the days spent in pain, but we do not have to learn through pain, as Jesus says in A Course in Miracles.  We can learn through rewards, which give us a lasting learning experience.

Be with me as the day closes.  And help me to remember to express gratitude to You tomorrow morning, first thing, for another day in which to enjoy this world.  We are not meant to yearn only for a hereafter.  We are meant to be happy with this world as well, and the Holy Spirit will see that we have happy dreams in this illusory world.  Healing may occur for us, emotional and/or physical, and we would do well to remember that we are making the illusion that we live in.

Amen.

React Wholly without Anger

“God’s teachers’ major lesson is to learn how to react to magic thoughts wholly without anger.  Only in this way can they proclaim the truth about themselves.  (M-18.2)”

Affirmation:  “no anger today”

Reflections:

1 – An Interpretation that Is Not True

When one of our significant others says something that angers us, we can be sure that we have made an interpretation that is not true (based on ACIM).  If we feel that the statement is patently false, we may feel anger surging upward.  And we may react badly.  Is this how we would represent God’s Way to the individuals in our lives?

2 – Egoic Tantrums

If the thought stated by another is magical in thinking, then we especially need to be conscious to not responding with anger.  We will make the statement true for both of us.  We will lose ourselves in an egoic tantrum.  And it is not this that we would do.

3 – Major Lesson

The passage for today indicates that we have these ideas as a “major lesson”:  God’s teachers’ major lesson is to learn how to react to magic thoughts wholly without anger.”  This is a strong statement from Jesus.  How much better can we witness for God if we do not fly off the handle so often and so easily?  Yes, there is a major lesson here for us.

4 – How to Handle Anger

I have found that leaving the room, if our significant others react angrily to us, is an effective way not to verbally attack in response.  I have not found that “counting to ten” works very well.  There are always things that are on the tip of the tongue, ready to be said.  But a moment of quiet in another room is effective.  I welcome your comments to this posting, giving your ideas for avoiding verbal (or physical) attack when anger appears in our environment.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would choose to react in a lovely fashion when something seems to set me off.  You would have it thus.  Of this I am sure.  Help me to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, the encouragement not to lose my cool.

We need to think carefully about ways to react when we are struck by anger.  Attacking verbally, and certainly physically, are not good ideas.  We will alienate those closest to us, the ones with whom we have the holiest of relationships.

Be with us today as we walk through the day.  Help me to consider how to respond if I am provoked, and may that response be as gentle as You would wish, and that would be very gentle indeed.

Amen

Book Announcement

I’ve been asked to post an announcement about “The Fifth Disciple,” a new book by Cynthia Bove that’s a comparison of the Gospel of Thomas and A Course in Miracles. The two spiritual manuscripts, according to Christ Lenois of One Books,  parallel each other in surprising and insightful ways.
An excerpt from “The Fifth Disciple” is available at the following link:
The excerpt is called “The One Answer,” and it provides a solution to what the author calls our “one problem: the belief that we are separate from the Divine.”
We’d love to hear your comments about “The Fifth Disciple.”
–Celia Hales

Anger Recognizes an Illusory Reality

“Can nothing give rise to anger?  Hardly so.  Remember, then, teacher of God, that anger recognizes a reality that is not there; yet is the anger certain witness that you do believe in it as fact.  Now is escape impossible, until you see you have responded to your own interpretation, which you have projected on an outside world.  (M-17.9)”

Affirmation:  “I would not believe in the things that anger shows me.”

Reflections:

1 – “Nothing”

The “nothing” is the illusion.  And this passage for today also indicates that projection leads to perception.  We project outward what we are seeing and feeling internally.  We project an illusion, a dream.

2 – Anger at Interpretations

Remember that nobody can be angry at a fact.  It is always an interpretation that gives rise to anger.  (Paraphrases from ACIM.)  And the interpretation is always false, if it brings forth any emotion akin to anger or any action akin to attack.

3 – Projection Makes Perception

“Projection makes perception” is part of the theology of A Course in Miracles, and Jesus would not have us delayed by theology.  He is concerned with only what everyone can accept.  Theology may only delay us.  And we do so like to engage in debate!  Yet, for those who are ready to accept the theology, it is there for us in ACIM.  There is nothing without (from the Text).  There is nothing outside of ourselves (also from the Text).  When we come to see this, it will be a revelation that has shown the truth of it to us.  And we cannot convey revelation from God to another, because it is intensely personal to ourselves.  God knows how to speak to each of us in a manner that we can understand.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would not be angry today.  I would not be agitated today, for stress leads, for me, inexorably toward anger.  Anger is not justified, because we are always interpreting, and we are interpreting illusions.  Why would we get mad at an illusion?

Thank You for these statements from Jesus in A Course in Miracles.  I am grateful everyday for the magnificence of ACIM, for what a blessing it is!  Be with me as I seek, everyday, to understand this channeled work of Jesus all the more.

Amen.

The Light of Hope

“Into this hopeless situation God sends His teachers.  They bring the light of hope from God Himself.  There is a way in which escape is possible.  It can be learned and taught, but it requires patience and abundant willingness.  (M-17.8)”

Affirmation:  “I will be patient today.”

Reflections:

1 – The Way

We would be doomed if there had not been others, including Jesus, who showed us the Way.  And now it is up to all of us to make a difference for our brothers and sisters who are caught in fear and insanity.

2 – Teachers/Students

We are all teachers and students at different times.  It is not arrogance to assume that one is a teacher of God.  We all teach what we would learn (a Manual tenet), and we do so all the time, even during sleeping hours (also a Manual tenet).

3 – Sharing

We would be in a hopeless situation in this world were it not that some have seen more, and therefore are willing and able to share.  These individuals are not above making mistakes, and also being ruled by the ego.  We have seen the shadow emerge in some of our religious evangelists in our lifetime.  So we need to ask for help from the Holy Spirit constantly, and we need to pray that our own shadow does not overtake us.  The shadow is a Jungian term, and it is not, perhaps, precisely equated with the term “ego” as used by Jesus in A Course in Miracles.  But to my mind the two terms, ego and shadow, seem close in meaning.

4 – Live What One Teaches

If we are seeking to be a teacher at any given time, we need to be very patient with our brothers and sisters.  If we do not live what we preach, we will not make very much headway with them.

5 – A Smile

And nowhere does Jesus counsel proselytizing.  He says, famously, that some are ready only for a smile.  We need to be ready and willing to share, if our brothers and sisters are interested.  But we need to desist if they are not.  We need to find a way for all of us to emerge from this “hopeless” situation.  And I believe that we all will (an ACIM tenet).

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would offer smiles today to those who are ready for smiles.  But I would offer more, by way of sharing, if the individual wants more.  Only the other person can say what he or she is ready to hear.

May I have patience today.  Failing to have enough patience is one of my weaker points, and I would instead make patience an asset.  Be with me as I seek to find You in the many ways that You show Yourself in this world.  You are within me, of this I am sure–as You are within all of my brothers and sisters.  We project from within, making a world that is good or poor, depending upon our point of view.  Many people suffer much, and we are tired.  Be with us today as we seek to overcome inertia, and seek Your will in all that we do.  Help us to help others, even as we also are helped by You to do so.

Thank You.

Amen.

Anger Leads to Fear

“Anger in response to perceived magic thoughts is a basic cause of fear. . . . A magic thought, by its mere presence acknowledges a separation from God.  (M-17.5)”

Affirmation:  “I choose harmony over anger.”

Reflections:

1 – Anger and Fear

Anger and fear are closely related.  Somewhere in our deepest mind we know that we are seeing amiss, that we are not recognizing that the anger that we feel toward ourselves or others is a misperception.  We feel guilty, and fear is not far beyond.  We are caught in the ego.

2 – Magic Thoughts

The “magic thoughts” are never defined in A Course in Miracles.  But we know that magical thoughts, as defined by secular psychology, is a thought brought on by some form (major or minor) of mental illness.  It seems plausible that Jesus is using the term “magic” in the same sense.  We do not want to encourage our own insanity.  We are all insane, to one degree or another, in this world.  And it is when the insanity is particularly predominant that the magic thoughts appear in our psyche.

3 – Love

May we come to see that love is the answer to fear brought on my magic thoughts.  Love is always the answer, although we are not always in a mind slant that can see this.

4 – Superstition

I would surmise that magical thoughts are particularly prevalent when superstition reigns in our mind.  And it does, for some of us, a good bit.  It is particularly prevalent in sports, when we believe that wearing a particular shirt, for example, will enhance our team’s chance of winning.  There are similar ideas out there.  If we look further within, we know that this is, in fact, superstition.  If one is close to an athlete, perhaps knowing that we are pulling for him/her is sufficient to make the superstition seem warranted.  And the superstition may make a difference in the play on any given day.  But not always.  And that is the downfall of superstition.

5 – Harmony

May we choose to live in harmony today, not in anger of any kind.  And may we drop any and all magical thoughts, which we recognize, from our minds.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Although anxiety has dogged my steps all of my life, I would sooner rather than later let this trait drop from my psyche.  Anxiety and fear are closely aligned.  And any tendency still in me in regard to anger will accentuate the anxiety and fear.  Let me drop these negative emotions immediately.

Thank You for leading me ever closer to You on this day.  Thank You for the glorious day that is occurring.  May I not forget this blessing on days that are less good.  But You want my happiness, and so You would lead me to follow Your pathway all the time.  And that is my desire as well.

If anger intrudes today, help me to calm down.  I have found, over the years, that I never get angry unless I am stressed.  And so I would look to the removal of stress by You as a blessing to be sought.  Be with me as I seek to reduce the negative stress in my life.  The positive stress is actually good, and sometimes I forget this.  Positive stress does not lead to anger in my experience.  Thank You for being there as I seek to improve my reactions to my brothers and sisters, and also to myself.

Amen

Answer to Call for Help Comes Unfailingly

“The single aim of the teacher turns the divided goal of the pupil into one direction, with the call for help becoming his one appeal.  This then is easily responded to with just one answer, and this answer will enter the teacher’s mind unfailingly.  From there it shines into his pupil’s mind, making it one with his.  (M-17.3)”

Affirmation:  “May the Holy Spirit tell me what to say today.”

Reflections:

1 – The Holy Spirit’s Part

This brief passage for today does not mention the Holy Spirit, but that is the context in which the passage occurs.  And the Holy Spirit will specifically tell us what to say:  “. . .this answer will enter the teacher’s mind unfailingly.”  What a blessing this is!  If only we can believe, and indeed many of us can.

2 – Shabby Self-Image

Sometimes we get an indication of what to say that is embarrassing to us (from the Manual).  We need to be willing to let go of this “shabby self-image” (quotation from the Manual), and go ahead and say the words.  Jesus says that these “embarrassing” words will be far wiser than our own.

3 – Ego

May we have the strength to offer the words that come to us, if we are sure that they are not hurtful.  The Holy Spirit would never offer words to us that are hurtful, but the ego might.  And we sometimes do make mistakes in believing that the Holy Spirit is speaking when the speaking is actually coming from the ego.  (Interpretations, not stated in ACIM.)  We are not above making mistakes, though we may be tempted to think otherwise.  The ego is very wily.

4 – Be Quiet and Listen

But Jesus would not have us in conflict this way.  We will be shown the right words, the right way, if we quiet ourselves and then move in the direction of the leaning from the Holy Spirit.  If we are quiet and peaceful about the decision of what to say, we are more likely to be right, to have heard the Holy Spirit accurately.

5 – Follow Guidance as Soon as Possible

If at first we don’t do the bidding of the Holy Spirit, let us do that bidding as soon as we can get ourselves to act.  Sometimes we are walking a given pathway with a certainty that is misguided, and it is hard to turn on a dime.  But turn on a dime we must, and as soon as we can get our stubborn wills to cooperate.

6 – The Outcome is Joy and Peace

We will say to our brothers and sisters what the Holy Spirit wants said.  Then we will know both joy and peace.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Give me Your guidance, through the Holy Spirit, as I seek to help my brothers and sisters, and myself, today.  You would never lead me astray, but the ego’s wily ways might confuse me.  May I not know confusion today.  May the words that I say to others, and to myself, be right on target with Your will.  Make this happen, almost beyond myself, please.  

I ask You to stay with me if the words seem embarrassing.  I have felt this aspect of guidance, but carried out saying the words, and even then I was still embarrassed.  My self-image was not the best at the time, and so I know that this was the “shabby self-image” of which Jesus speaks.  I would leave that image behind, as I move into the Christ-consciousness that You would provide for me, when the time is right.

Help me to reach others today who may need to hear words of comfort.  May I remain calm and peaceful, even in the midst of any brewing storm.  And thank You for the blessings of this day already received.

Amen

Joy = Avoid Attack

“Attack can enter only if perception of separate goals has entered.  And this must indeed have been the case if the result is anything but joy.  (M-17.3)”

Affirmation:  “I would know joy today.”

Reflections:

1 – We All Want Love

Our brothers and sisters, and you and I, truly have no separate goals.  We may want different things, but we really, at the base, want only love in all its manifestations.  If we think that we want something else, we are deluding ourselves.  And this is always a form of insanity.

2 – Insanity in ACIM

A Course in Miracles says that virtually all of us are insane to one degree or another.  Only when we have experienced Awakening can we feel surely that we are at least partially sane.  And the experience of Awakening can come and go, not being sustained because our ego has not yet withered away.  We are very human in this world, and we make many mistakes.  The Holy Spirit can eliminate these repeated mistakes, if we will only give him a “little willingness” (quotations from ACIM).

3 – No Attack / Only Joy

I would not entertain attack in any form today, because I would know joy.  This is ample motivation!  If I am tempted to want to attack, then I will take a timeout, exit the room, and quiet myself down.  Sometimes the only thing that works in anger is a sudden removal from the temptation to attack.  Counting to ten in the same room as the one with whom we are angry will not always work.  Walking to another room, and stilling the emotions, is far more effective.  Many of us only get angry when we are stressed.  We need to get quiet, and the stress will dissipate.  (These ideas are not discussed in ACIM.)

4 – Joy = Our Inheritance

Joy is our inheritance.  We would do well to accommodate ourselves to this lofty blessing, and to do so we must relinquish anger and attack in all its forms.  Anger and attack have no foundation in truth (a paraphrase from the Text).  We are always angry at nothing, at an illusion.  If we recognize that our brother or sister is actually part of our illusion, we will not get angry regardless of what happens in the dream (i.e., the illusion).  We would not get angry at someone who was certifiably insane.  We might regret their behavior, but we would know that these individuals have reduced accountability.  And when they are once again in a sane mind, they will act more responsibly.  It is the same for all of us, because we all have insanity (an ACIM tenet).

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May all of us leave insanity behind today.  When our egos are in charge, we insane to one degree or another.  We would not let our egos drive us around today.

May we know the joy of find You in all our dealings.  May we stay calm and serene, at peace with whatever happens.  May we just let the ego disappear, wither away faster rather than slower, embrace the love that is our inheritance.

If we fall on our faces today in any way, may this anger/attack leave us as suddenly as it arrived.  We do want to stay peaceful, in the extreme.  No other way is Your way, and we would follow Your way always.  Help us to stay true to this determination.

Thank You.

Amen.

Depression, Pain, Fear, Disaster Avoided

“If a magic thought arouses anger in any form, God’s teacher can be sure that he is strengthening his own belief in sin and has condemned himself.  He can be sure as well that he has asked for depression, pain, fear and disaster to come to him.  Let him remember, then, it is not this that he would teach, because it is not this that he would learn.  (M-17-1)”

Affirmation:  “no magic thoughts”

Reflections:

1 – Avoid Depression by Avoiding Anger

I would not know depression today.  If I am to avoid depression, I must avoid anger, because the two are linked in my mind.  Also pain, fear, and disaster come as a result of anger aroused by magic thoughts.  I would not place my faith in superstition, a form of magic thought.  I know that much that A Course in Miracles says would be seen by someone else, a non-student, as superstition.  But help me to know the difference.  My curriculum is A Course in Miracles.

2 – Peace and Harmony

May we gather together today in peace and harmony.  May we know that our true cure for all the ills of this world is found in relationships, holy relationships, with our brothers and sisters.  There is no other way, if we are to find our home in ACIM.  These holy relationships, salvaged from special relationships, will give us the peace and harmony that we seek.

3 – Special vs. Holy Relationships

How we do turn a special relationship into a holy one?  Intention has a lot to do with it (an interpretation, not stated in ACIM).  We must realize that our seeking for superficial qualities in a relationship is very, very likely to be our ego speaking to us.  God does not dwell in superficial qualities.  Beauty is fine, if the beauty is also internal.  The world itself, with its green and blue predominant, is beautiful in the extreme.  So God, we must believe, loves beauty.  But we must know that we will not even notice this beauty is our eyes are set on superficial qualities.  The material plane has much to tempt us.

4 – Magic in ACIM

I would set aside magic thoughts today, and by this I mean the magical thoughts that secular psychology also sets aside as being part of mental illness.  I do not mean the airy, attractive qualities of the definition of “magic” that is sometimes used.  There are these two different definitions, and the more benign one, the one that children believe in, is not to be deprecated.

5 – Keep God Central

Help me to have a good day.  I know that depression and pain will not be a part of this day if I keep God central to this day.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Today I have written my blog in a personal way, more personal than usual.  But I am actually also speaking to You.  I ask for You to assist me today to live a good day in Your sunshine.  I know that this kind of joyous living is strictly in line with Your will.

I would avoid depression and anger, and all the other negative adjectives that I have used in this blog posting.  Help me to choose again how I will react, knowing that the choice is within my power, with You helping me.  Help me to know that I can always choose the benign response and the loving response.  I don’t have to fly off the handle with rage.  I don’t often react that way, but my rage sometimes comes upon me suddenly and loudly, and I would cease this reaction entirely.  Help me to do so.

Be with all of my brothers and sisters today.  We are One, and it is to our good that You call us.

Amen

How to Avoid Pain

“No risk is possible throughout the day except to put your trust in magic, for it is only this that leads to pain.  ‘There is no will but God’s.’  His teachers know that this is so, and have learned that everything but this is magic.  (M-16.11)”

Affirmation:  “I would avoid pain today.”

Reflections:

1 – Definitions of “Magic”

Magic is sometimes used in quite a different way, with quite a different definition.  Jesus means “magical thinking,” which is an attempt to turn error to truth, and this is always a doomed prospect.  Magic, for us, sometimes means good things.  These are simply two different dictionary definitions.

2 – Error

We would not try to turn error, falsehood, into truth.  We would not turn from our dependence on God, the Holy Spirit, Jesus (and his helpers) to a dubious solution to our problems that is doomed form the start.  We will be free of risk if we depend upon the true and that which has value.  And our way is A Course in Miracles, which will prove its value to us if tested.  (And we are not discouraged from testing, though this is an interpretation not stated in ACIM.)

3 – Give Our Way over to God’s Way

We would avoid pain today.  And to do so we must not attempt to get our way to be God’s.  He may think very differently from what our sometimes ego-oriented mind may direct.  We are not beyond the temptations of the ego.  The ego will not be destroyed; it will just cease to matter to us.  And we must not make the mistake of “resisting” the ego, for in resistance the ego is made strong.  In conflict the ego is made strong as well (an ACIM tenet).  We just quietly turn inward, and all will be well.

4 – Attraction

I worry sometimes that relatively new ideas circulating in our world, the manner of “attraction” as a way to get what one wants.  Is this really wise?  Perhaps we ought to be certain, through much inward consultation, if what we are trying to attract is actually in our best interests.  And only God and the Holy Spirit (His Communicator) can tell us that..

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I avoid pain today, by seeking Your way exclusively.   I will try to be patient as You lead me to attract those things that are in my best interests.  Thank You for Jesus’s wise words, his healing of disease and illness, and his calm presence.  We may have Jesus with us when we don’t even realize this.  He has said that he would come in response to one “unequivocal call.”  I make that call now.

Be with us as we seek to attract only what is in our best interests.  We need the guidance of the Holy Spirit or the Christ within.  Otherwise, what we attract will turn to ashes and dust in our hands.  

Be with us.  I can think of no more needful prayer for today than this.

Thank You for answering me.

Amen.

Heaven Restored

“Yet each temptation to accept magic as true must be abandoned through his recognition, not that it is fearful, not that it is sinful, not that it is dangerous, but merely that it is meaningless.  Rooted in sacrifice and separation, two aspects of one error and no more, he merely chooses to give up all that he never had.  And for this ‘sacrifice’ is Heaven restored to his awareness.  (M-16.10)”

Affirmation:  “Heaven is restored.”

Reflections:

1 – Errors

We need to avoid making errors in our daily life.  We are so used to sacrificing for ourselves and others, and so used to believing that we are somehow separated from God, that we do not recognize that this is magical thinking.  When we cease to follow magical, erroneous, thinking, Heaven is restored to us.  We are aware of the presence of Heaven once again, and perhaps for the first time indeed, since our fall from grace.

2 – Awareness of Heaven

We may not sustain this awareness of Heaven.  Before Awakening is sustained, I know from personal experience that there are times of experienced Awakening that do not last.  Many of us know this.  Perhaps the moments were fleeting, and perhaps they extended over months.  It does not matter.  These are forerunners of the happiness that lies ahead.  We have the promise of a sustained Awakening, though A Course of Love indicates that nobody has sustained Christ-consciousness (it is unclear if this includes Jesus’s experience).  But the closer we live to God, the more likely that our gratitude for what we are experiencing will follow us “all the days of our lives” (quotation from the Lord’s Prayer).

3 – Magical Thinking

Magical thinking does extend even to “religious” practices.  We must earnestly seek to know if we are following God’s Will for us at any given time.  If we have any doubts, any straining to effect a specific outcome, we need to stop a moment, and ask ourselves if what we are wanting is really in our best interests.  It may not be.  God will protect us from ourselves, but we are given free will, and we can sometimes bring about outcomes that turn to ashes and dust in our hands, because those outcomes were not dedicated to God.

4 – Heaven

May Heaven be restored to us many times in our lives, including today.  May we avoid the temptations that so beset us from time to time.  May we turn to whatever practices help the most to avoid the temptation, with perhaps our communing with God at the top of the list.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Thank You for a glorious beginning to what I hope will be a good day.  There is so much that You hold out to us, to experience in this world–so much that is good.  We mislead ourselves when we think that You want sacrifice from us.  You want us to care for ourselves, and our brothers and sisters, but these are loving gestures, and if done with the right attitude, will not entail sacrifice of anything that our Self values.

This Self is the Christ who is in all of us, waiting for recognition.  I would so recognize today.  I would not delay any longer.  I know that I am asking in Your Will, for You want us to be happy.  And happiness is a lofty goal, not inferior as I once thought years ago.

Be with us today.  Help us to walk Your way.  And may I find joy in the daily activities of this day.  Most days are generous in their joy, when we have turned out hearts, minds, and spirits over to You.  May I do so today, all day long.

Amen

How to Avoid Temptation

“The avoidance of magic is the avoidance of temptation.  For all temptation is nothing more than the attempt to substitute another will for God’s  (M-16.9)”

Affirmation:  “avoid temptation”

Reflections:

1 – How to Avoid Temptation?

How might one avoid temptation?  There will be temptations along the pathway that we walk, and there is no getting around this.  We are not perfect, even, perhaps, when we have awakened.  (A Course in Miracles is not definitive about this, but A Course of Love
indicates that we will still not be perfect.)  The best way to avoid temptation, or, more precisely, not to accept the tempting thing that is offered, is to ask for help at the “point of contact.”  When we are tempted, we are seeking something of the ego, the part of ourselves that thinks that it has separated from God.  We think that another will (our imperfect will) will get us something that we want, something more than the everything that we are promised.  (Yes, we are promised “everything” in ACIM.)  Jesus says that it is as though we would say that we want this one (little) thing, and it will be as everything to us.  But this one little thing would not satisfy for long, and in so doing we are making a pact with our ego–and the ego always fails us.

2 – ACIM‘s Definition of “Magic”

What does “magic” mean in this context?  It is akin to mental illness, the “magical thinking” that secular psychology describes so precisely.  We are thinking things that are not true, and never can we make the true out of the false.  The false will remain false, and it will take us down with it.  We do not want this.

3 – Following the Will of God

If we have love for God (and all of us do, or we would not have read this far), then we will want to follow the Will that grants us everything that we really want.  We really want the intangibles, the promises that God gives; but we also want the material, and we should not think, wrongly, that God Himself cares little for the material.  Jesus recalls to our minds the lilies of the field, and their beauty, and the lilies do not toil.  Yet they cannot compare even to Solomon’s glory.

4 – May We Avoid Temptation

May we not fall prey to temptation today.  May we know that the idea that there is something out there that is better than what God would give is an anomaly.  We will always get the best when we attract it through our gratitude and love for God and our brothers/sisters.  And we must always love ourselves as well, even when we have disappointed ourselves.  We cannot measure up, ever, because we are trying to be perfect, and that is essentially a disheartening message.  The Bible does quote Jesus as saying that we should be perfect, even as the Father in Heaven is perfect.  But I think that there are mysteries here that we cannot understand until we have walked the whole pathway back to God.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would stop, consider, and not go forward when I sense that I am trying to somehow get around Your will for me.  Please help me in this endeavor, today.  I would not seek to walk a different pathway, an egoic pathway that will take me far from You.  You want Awakening for me; I know that this is Your will.  But I need help.  And You are there for me.  This I know.

May I say the right things to reach my brothers and sisters, especially those in my immediate circle and those who read this blog.  I would help and not hinder in any way.  

Be with me through this glorious day, this harbinger of better days ahead.

Amen

Placing Reliance on Self Alone = Always Faulty

“He must be sure success is not of him, but will be given him at any time, in any place and circumstance he calls for it.  There are times his certainty will waver, and the instant this occurs he will return to earlier attempts to place reliance on himself alone.  Forget not this is magic, and magic is a sorry substitute for true assistance.  It is not good enough for God’s teacher, because it is not enough for God’s Son.  (M-16.8)”

Affirmation:  “reliance on self alone is magic”

Reflections:

1 – Relying on the Ego

Reliance on self alone is reliance on the ego that is a part of the personal self.  The teacher/student of God does not make this mistake if he wishes to have a good life, the kind of good life that God wishes for him/her.  We are used to placing reliance on ourselves alone.  The world teaches toward this, believing that good judgment is an asset to be favored and developed.

2 – Judgment Faulty

Yet we cannot have good judgment, because we cannot know all the facts surrounding any issue.  Our judgment, our personal judgment, of the same issue may seem right at one point, wrong at another.  We do not know.  Only the Holy Spirit knows all facts surrounding every issue, along with how our thoughts and actions will affect others beyond ourselves (in addition to ourselves).  So we give up judgment, and in so doing, we are blessed.  The burden is gone.  And it was all a fantasy, a false idea that we ought to develop our judgment to its heights.  (These ideas are paraphrases from the Manual.)

3 – This Definition of “Magic”

The word “magic” in this context is not a good thing.  It is akin to the secular psychological idea of “magical thoughts,” which suggest mental illness.  We do not always use the term “magic” as a negative, but Jesus here uses it in this way.  There are many different definitions of the same word in the English language, and this is one of them.

4 – Students/Teachers of God

Remember that only time (which does not really exist) separates the teacher of God from the student of God.  We are actually all both teacher and student (paraphrase from the Manual).  We do not always realize when we are teaching, but when we are teaching (which goes on all the time), we are drilling in to our own psyche the very things that we are trying to convey to our brothers and sisters.  We have often recognized that the teacher in a secular classroom learns best the lesson that he/she is teaching, and learns it better than the students who sit in the classroom.  This is akin to the passage selected for today.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would recognize guidance and follow it as much as I can possibly bring myself to do.  If I hesitate, I will stop a moment and ask, “Why?”  I will not barrel ahead to a dubious conclusion.  My ego’s judgment is always faulty, and the personal self frequently is trapped in egoic thinking.

May I know that relying on the personal self is not the best that I can do.  I need Your help, and I know that there is no shame in acknowledging this need for You.  You are always there for me, and I would thank You for this commitment from You.  I am a part of You, but I do not see the whole picture that You see.  Help me to see more and more of the picture, though, as I turn to You ever more frequently.

Be with all of us as we seek You today.  And may today be a glorious day, even as the rainy weather cures the parched soil that I see outside my window.

Amen.

Awakening / Christ-Consciousness

“Yet there will be temptations along the way the teacher of God has yet to travel, and he has need of reminding himself throughout the day of his protection.  (M-16.8)”

Affirmation:  “I have God’s protection.”

Reflections:

1 – Awakening / Christ-Consciousness

We must remember that temptations are simply attempts to place another will above God’s–choosing this other will as our lodestone or our (inaccurate) guidance.  We are not perfect.  In fact, A Course of Love questions whether perfection is necessary for Awakening.  I have experienced a few spans of time that seemed to be Awakening, but these were not sustained.  And I can certainly attest to the truth that I am far from perfect.  So perhaps we can hope for a sustainable Awakening without “perfection” (whatever that might be).  Jesus, in A Course of Love, asserts that nobody has sustained Christ-consciousness–nobody at all.  And Christ-consciousness is very close to Awakening, though the two are not compared in either A Course in Miracles or A Course of Love.

2 – Temptations

A temptation may be as simple as an inclination not to follow the intuitive guidance that one is getting.  We may be heading in a given direction, get a “stop,” and just not feel very much like stopping–so we forge ahead, and often, later on and sometimes immediately, find out why we should have stopped.  A temptation can be just this benign.

3 – Struggle = of the Ego

And we are human.  We are used, over the years of the ego’s rule, of struggling, but still of following what we perceived to be our own will, whether or not that will seems in accord with the divine.  But now is the time that we ought to listen more carefully to guidance, and to see every instinct not to follow that guidance as a likely intrusion of the ego.  The ego does not wish us well.  This ego is defined as a part of ourselves that we have made, a part that does not follow divine guidance.  And so we suffer as a result.

4 – No Fretting / No Worry

We are protected by God, and His Communicator, the Holy Spirit.  The passage for today says this.  And surely this affirmation warms our hearts.  We need not fret; we need not worry.  We are under God’s protection, but He does need our cooperation to carry out the best and right things that we deserve to have.  He will not violate our “free” will, which is actually the part that the ego controls (an interpretation, not stated in ACIM).  Our real will and God’s Will are actually identical.  So, when we get that nudge, it is best to follow it, unless we have reason to suspect that emotion has carried away our reason, and, with it, our accurate assessment of intuition.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

When I sense an intuition that seems to come beyond my personal self, help me to realize that this intuition may be genuine guidance of my higher Self–the Christ in me.  I do not, in saying this, make any egoistic claim, because all of us are the same:  the Christ, the higher Self, is in all of us.  Help me to make this point clear in what I write today.

May we ask for and receive Awakening/Christ-consciousness.  Jesus has used both words in different channeled writings, and to my limited mind, the two words appear to be synonymous.  May today be an especially good day, with glimpses of Awakening/Christ-consciousness.  May I do my part to be ready, though my part is very limited indeed.  This visitation, this glimpse of a higher Reality, is Your decision alone.  And may I not seem to pressure You before I am ready.  I do not want my ego to appropriate good things, good experiences to itself, and thus make of me a more limited being that I am already.

Be with all of us as we walk the pathway to Awakening/Christ-consciousness.  May we know that the time will be as right as the Answer.  And that You are observing us, knowing when we are ready for this blessing.  You will not act precipitously, and I ask that You keep me from acting precipitously in my desire for this blessing.  May I remain humble, yet assured in Your love.  I do not want arrogance, but arrogance is often of the ego (Jesus says), and so obviously I need Your help in sorting all of these concepts out.

Thank You for being there for me.  Thank You for granting me glimpses of what will one day be my norm.

Amen

Yes, We Are Safe

“There is no difference in his state at different times and different places, because they are all one to God.  This is his safety.  And he has no need for more than this.  (M-16.7)”

Affirmation:  “I am safe.”

Reflections:

1 – Inaccurate Definitions of the Ego

God is with us, closer than our breath, because we are part of God.  We have made a separate part that believes (inaccurately) that this tiny part has actually separated from God, but this would be an impossibility, because God is the All.  This part that we only “think” separated is the ego, and we do not need this particular definition of the ego to maneuver our way about our world.  This definition of the ego comes close to Freud’s, but is not equal to it.  This ego is a part of our belief about ourselves (a Text tenet), and believing in its viability makes a lot of turmoil for us.  We are better to live egoism out of the picture.  This definition is also not exactly “egotistical.”  Certainly the egotistical come into play, but this ACIM definition of the ego is more basic.  We do not have to afraid of it, but this seemingly separated part of ourselves is  mightily afraid of our real Self, knowing that we will withdraw all allegiance to it when we have experienced the joy of God as a sustainable state of mind and heart.

2 – No Egoistic Attractions

We are safe when we do not attract egoistic things into our lives.  We can even enjoy the material without feeling guilty, as long as we knowingly give God His place in our lives.  We do not even have to be religious in the usual sense.  Teachers of God (a Manual tenet) come from all religions, and from no religion.

3 – God with Us

God is here for us when we need Him.  He is also here for us when we don’t recognize that need.  But what joy when we do recognize and acknowledge His place in our lives.  There is no better way to live.

4 – Foxhole Religion

Safety is a big concern to many of us, particularly if we have been physically or emotionally vulnerable at some point in our lives.  If we have hit bottom, so to speak, we may have become quite open to religion.  But this religion of the desperate is not the best that we can hope to have.  The foxhole religion falls away when out of the foxhole.  It is far better to live a quiet life, even one as busy as we desire, but one that acknowledges that we can’t do everything on our own.  We actually know this, whether or not we have acknowledged God’s place in our lives or not.  There is no way for has not seen that life could be lived a better way.

5 – ACIM and ACOL

A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love come to us to show us a better way.  There are thousands of other courses (a Manual tenet), but ACIM (and, perhaps, ACOL) are our way.  So why should we seek further?  There will always be apparent reason for more seeking, because we are so used to doing it.  But A Course of Love says that there comes an end of seeking and an end of learning.  Let us be glad that we know enough to welcome God into our lives.  And may we know His joy in everyday life.  This is a quite attainable goal.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I thank You that I do know, in the depths of my being, that I am safe today.  I know it for I feel Your Presence, in my better moments.

Help me to intuit the real meaning of the ego, as described in A Course in Miracles.  I know that it is part of myself, but I do not have a handle on how to describe this, except in terms of what it is not.  Help us all today to reflect a bit on the ego and to have the certainty that, even though we can’t pin it down, we do know what Jesus is talking about.  And we would let that part of our belief about ourselves just wither away.  We would not struggle to end the ego, for resistance makes the ego strong.  We would just turn aside from the ego and all that it means.  And, in so doing, we are turning our hell into Heaven.

May I study and derive a great deal from my reading.  And may I commune with You on an almost constant basis.  That is truly the way home.

Amen

A Guide Who Will Not Fail

“He has a Guide Who will not fail.  He need make no distinctions among the problems he perceives for He to Whom he turns with all of them recognizes no order of difficulty in resolving them.  He is as safe in the present as he was before illusions were accepted into his mind, and as he will be when he has let them go.  (M-16.7)”

Affirmation:  “I follow my Guide.”

Reflections:

1 – A Loving Guide

I am constantly amazed at how loving our Guide actually is.  Our Guide, the Holy Spirit, is the Universal Inspiration, and the Communicator for God.  If God is Love, and most of us believe that He is, then would not His Communicator be a fount of Love as well?  It all makes perfect sense, in my way of viewing life.  But I am still surprised by the attention to detail, and to my own sense of drama (when my Guide responds even though I have brought some of my agony onto myself).

2 – Quiet in the Early AM

These early morning hours, when I am writing today, are helpful in the extreme.  Richard Carlson, a bestselling author, from time to time told in his books of his writing from 3 to 6 a.m.  He found the quiet then to be helpful in his creativity.

3 – Holy Spirit Closer at Night?

Is it not also possible that the Holy Spirit seems closest to us when the rest of the world is quiet?  Even the birds are not yet singing, and their chorus will eventually herald the dawn and make us glad that we have lived to experience yet another day.  Our Guide is here for us to consult at these times.  Let us not waste these moments.

4 – Solace

We are safe in this world, even when tragedy strikes.  The Holy Spirit, as God’s Communication Link with us, is ever with us.  And He provides the solace that we sometimes need when our hopes have been dashed, and also when we have reached in extremis, or the end of our dreams.  Other dreams will be given us; we need not fear.  We will not be left bereft.  Time, ever an illusion, is still our friend at such times.  And we need to turn to God in prayer, knowing that He is here for us.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Last night, once again, I awoke after three hours of sleep.  And prayer did not, this time, seem to calm me.  I turned to Your secular gift, music.  And all was well.

Thank You that You do not distinguish between spiritual and secular remedies.  All is Yours.  And I am Yours.  

I often am amazed at the calm that descends in the middle of the night, when I have offered my prayers to you and then turned to music to soothe.  And the music doesn’t have to be particularly calming, but just music that I like and that speaks to my spirit.

Be with me today as I seek You amid a busy world, with not quite enough sleep.  May You and I together have a good day.

Amen

Pure Joy / Limitless Release

“There is one thought in particular that should be remembered throughout the day.  It is a thought of pure joy; a thought of peace, a thought of limitless release, limitless because all things are freed within it.  (M-16.6)”

Affirmation:  “pure joy. . .limitless release”

Reflections:

1 – All Things Freed

This passage is one of my favorites, for it tells us exactly what attitude to bring to this world–even in the midst of this world’s sorrows.  The very words are uplifting–pure joy, limitless release.  And we learn that all things are freed within this attitude.  All things.

2 – Personal Experience

Is this a viable option for us in our daily lives?  I sometimes wonder, but mostly  I remember taking this passage to heart years ago, and returning to these glorious words–pure joy, limitless release–over and over.

3 – Imprisoned Will

We have lived with an imprisoned will (ACIM tenets), because we have given the ego the right to lord over us.  As soon as we get our priorities in order, and we turn our lives, mind and heart, over to the Holy Spirit, His guidance takes the place of the very dubious places that the ego has led us.  And the ego has led us to unhappiness, for that is what an egoistic attitude does.  We have flights of “joy,” but we are then plunged into despair.  We think, in an egotistical way, that we have done better than our brothers and sisters, and then along comes something that lets us realize that we are pretty lowly, miserable, and a failure.  This is the way of the world.  And sometimes, until we are brought very low, we do not question the validity of any of this.

4 – Helen and Bill

When we are brought very low, whether physically or emotionally, we are in most cases led to the same place that Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford (co-scribes of A Course in Miracles) were in the early sixties.  Bill said that there must be another way, rather than to be embroiled in political fights in an academic world.  And Helen spontaneously offered to help Bill find another way.  Shortly thereafter, she began having mystical experiences that frightened her very badly.  Then she heard, “This is a course in miracles.  Please take notes.”  And she did.

5 – Vahle

The story has been told and retold, but it bears repeating, for to my mind it is a place to which we are all drawn before we begin to live differently.  We do not have to take A Course in Miracles as our Way, for there are countless ways.  But to those of us who are drawn to ACIM, it is “our” way, and we would do well to listen to its tenets.  Students/teachers of ACIM have had their lives transformed, but not everybody does have this experience.  Bill did, Helen did not.  (See Vahle’s book review in this blog; look under “Articles and Book Reviews” at the top of the blog.)

5 – Affirm

So, just for today, experiment with saying the affirmation for the day over and over.  If we are lucky, and if we are faithful to the intent of the words, we will have a very good day indeed.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I do believe that today’s title for my posting is my favorite quotation from A Course in Miracles.  Certainly I have returned to these words countless times:  “pure joy. . .limitless release.”  They promise a freer life than sometimes I lead.  Give me that freer life today, please, I ask of You.

Be with all of my brothers and sisters as I go about my little world today.  May I spread some sunshine in my rounds.  And may I know that it is You Who is guiding me.

Thank You for the guidance of Your Universal Inspiration, the Holy Spirit.

Amen

In an Instant of Time Join with God

“One can as easily give God only an instant, and in that instant join with Him completely.  (M-16.4)”

Affirmation:  “I join with God in my quiet time.”

Reflections:

1 – Eyes Closed

This is an excerpt from a passage in which we are told that one can also sit with eyes closed for an hour and yet accomplish nothing.  So time, being an illusion anyway, is of insignificance when we are trying to “reach” God.  We are trying to sink downward, into ourselves, enough to be able to “touch God” (an interpretation, not stated in ACIM).

2 – God Is Within

If God is within, and our projections make perception (whether of the ego or the Self), then what we see outside ourselves is actually part of the ego or the Self.  We are all One, and God is One with us.  This understanding tears holes in the idea of a Fatherly presence above the clouds, wearing a long, white beard.  We need to get over making God into an image that we can comprehend (or think we can).  He can “appear” anyway that would be valuable to us in our understanding, but my interpretation is that He is the All.  (Much New Age thinking has asserted this.)  But the All is One, not polytheism (or that everything is a god).

3 – Personal Experience

If we give God that moment of immediate joining, I have found that quietness is essential.  Often I pray aloud while alone in the kitchen, preparing breakfast.  This is not the first moment of the day, but it is close.  And I find that I calm down, am free of anxiety about an upcoming stressful day, when I have given these moments to God.  Jesus says that it is with the practical that A Course in Miracles is most concerned.  And so this practical turning to God, while my hands are busy but doing something that I know how to do very well, is illustrative.  God needs our attention to bring our minds and hearts back into His fold, and we need to remember that length of time is not the most important aspect.  Sincerity in reaching deep within is.

4 – Reaching God

Experiment a bit today with reaching God.  He is not hard to find.  We have often heard that He is as close as our hands and feet, or our breath.  Indeed!  For we are part of Him, though that is not the whole of it.  He has individualized, or differentiated, Himself into the many brothers and sisters that we see–indeed, of all that we can see and much that we cannot (for there are other levels of existence which our physical eyes cannot see).  Be with God often today.  It is the very best way to live.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Help me today to be good to others in my life.  Life sometimes throws us curves, and I would not send back any attack that seems to be aimed in my direction.  Help me to remember to take a timeout when life throws me a curve.

I need my quiet time today, and be with me during that time, please.  Our busy lives should not mean that we edge You out.  We always need to feel Your presence.

Thank You for so often letting me feel Your presence.

Amen.

It Is Well to Start the Day Right

“Broadly speaking. . .it can be said that it is well to start the day right.  It is always possible to begin again, should the day begin with error.  Yet there are obvious advantages in terms of saving time.  (M-16.2)”

Affirmation:  “I start the day aright today.”

Reflections:

1 – Before Arising

While our heads are still on the pillow, we ought to have a word with God.  We need to dedicate the upcoming day to His purposes.  And we need the strength and gentleness that turning to Him will bring without fail.  Then as we get up, may we say a word of two of gratefulness for the lives that we have.  (This is a recommendation from Rhonda Byrne’s books).  The fact that we start the day aright does, as Jesus says, save time; and ACIM notes that, at least in the beginning of our study, we ought to think about saving time.  This world has worn on wearily for eons, and if we believe nothing else from ACIM, perhaps we ought to realize that we too think that there has been enough suffering.  Let us do nothing that will bring on more suffering.  May we choose to offer joy to ourselves (we do have this as an option), and our brothers and sisters.

2 – Start the Day Again

If we do not begin the day aright, or if we try and fail, then Jesus offers us a way out:  We can choose to start the day again.  And this can happen as often as we fail in our thoughts, words, and actions throughout the day.  He will be there to help us.  And the Holy Spirit will offer the guidance that we so desperately need in living our lives.  He knows all circumstances–past, present, and future–that impinge on any decision, and He will never lead us wrong.  Perhaps we mistake His Words, but that is a different issue.  If discerned correctly, His Words are always on the beam.

3 – Begin Again

So:  Let us resolve today to begin again whenever necessary, but, optimally, let’s get the day started right from the very beginning.  And we will then know the blessing of a good day, optimally lived.  We will surely save some time in that thousand years that we are promised in ACIM we will save for ourselves, and our brothers and sisters.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Thank You for the reassurance that even when things get started badly on any day, there is a solution.  Jesus offers it:  Just start over.  Thank You for this insight from my elder brother.

Be with me throughout the day today.  Even as I write, I sometimes need to reread what I have written, for You speak to me and correct what I have said.  I may be misinterpreting about this, but I do believe that You guide me.  I do not always know when, and I can make mistakes about guidance.

Help me to have a good day.  Help me to be good to those who are struggling through the day.  They won’t tell me that they are having a bad time of it, but I will recognize in the ways that I am spoken to.  Be with me to offer compassion.

Amen.

Routines Dangerous

“Routines as such are dangerous, because they easily become gods in their own right, threatening the very goals for which they were set up.  (M-16.2)”

 

Affirmation:  “Let me not be temped to fall into a comfortable rut.”

Reflections:

1 – Routine or “Rut”?

The word “routine,” in this passage, seems to me to be akin to a “rut.”  All of us know that ruts, while comforting because we try to eliminate or, at the least, reduce variety in life, are also confining.  We find that trying to avoid change is stressful in and of itself.  Of course, it is possible to reduce the pace of change, which may, in the short term, be a good thing.  If we are addicted to drama  (something A Course in Miracles counsels against), then we might well benefit from some slowing down of change.  But to seek out routine and ruts as a way of life is counterproductive to a full life, the kind of glorious living that Jesus would have us to find in this world.

2 – This World

This world is not necessarily bad in and of itself, but what we have made of this world is often bad.  We struggle more than is necessary.  We come to see our struggle as the “way of the world,” not subject to our own whims.  But if projection makes perception (as ACIM says), then we do have some choice in the manner of how we perceive the less enjoyable parts of this world.  We do not have to focus on the bad.  We can do what we can to help (and we should do that much), but we can remind ourselves that our brothers and sisters, on some level–the level of the Self–have chosen these experiences for reasons that we can only guess.  We ourselves, in the meantime, need to be certain that we do not attract into our personal space the things that hurt.  Attitude is everything.

3 – Lilies Do Not Work to Be Beautiful

It is important to note that ACIM wants our material needs met as well as our emotional.  We are reminded that lilies do not “work” to be beautiful.  We too can see that our way would be smoother if we were not our own worst enemy.  Let us pray today that we cease bringing trouble onto ourselves by default.  We can and must attract better living, and A Course in Miracles (and A Course of Love) are two of the many books that are here to help us.

4 – Our Help

Our help, of course, does not have to come solely through books.  Our brothers and sisters may offer words of encouragement, or even just a quick word said as an aside–and with these words we can see our way clear to living a better way.  God’s Way is always the best way, but (in a personal interpretation) I do not think that God requires that we accept more than we are ready to see.  If we have intellectual problems with a Deity, God will be patient with us.  And Jesus will help, a concept that we may find even more unlikely than the fact of God’s existence.  We need to realize that our way in this world can be a beautiful experience, especially when we live and walk in love and forgiveness.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Give me a soft voice today.  I sometimes think that I speak too authoritatively when I am right about something, something that somebody else is “wrong” about.  These can even be objective facts, not opinion.  But nobody appreciates being corrected.  I need to soften a bit, not to raise ire by being so “right.”  Would I rather be right or happy?  ACIM recommends being happy.

Help me not to fall too quickly into routines/ruts.  I think that I need a schedule to my day, so that I feel at the end that I have accomplished something.  But is this what the Holy Spirit would counsel me to do?  I think not.  I think that the flow of the day is more line with spiritual teaching.  And stopping often to help another, a brother or sister.

Be with me today as I seek to avoid routines/ruts.  Thank You for the morning that took me out of myself.  Ease my relationships in this new place for me.  

Thank You.

Amen

How Should the Teacher of God Spend His Day?

“How Should the Teacher of God Spend His Day?  To the advanced teacher of God this question is meaningless.  There is no program, for the lessons change each day.  Yet the teacher of God is sure of but one thing; they do not change at random.  Seeing this and understanding that it is true, he rests content.  He will be told all that his role should be, this day and every day.  And those who share that role with him will find him, so they can learn the lessons for the day together.  (M-16)”

Affirmation:  “My lessons do not change at random.”

Reflections:

1 – Assurance of Guidance

This passage once more assures us of guidance.  And that guidance is described as being from the Holy Spirit, or Universal Inspiration.  We need to consider very carefully the ways in which guidance can come to us.  In reality the ways are numberless, but it is also possible to categorize some of the more obvious ways in which guidance comes to us.

2 – Intuition

The primary quality for many of us is an internal feeling, which may be described as intuition.  We just have an inner knowing of the right next step to take.  We do not often see a whole pathway stretch out before us; normally we are given the route in a step-by-step fashion.  And we are given that route at the moment that we need to take it.  By what way could it happen otherwise, without confusion?  If the Holy Spirit showed us an end far in the future, would we not fret that we are unable to fulfill the often grand ideas that He has for us?

3 – Reading

Sometimes the guidance comes through reading, especially inspirational reading.  A Course in Miracles is an obvious choice, but I do not counsel opening the book at random and seeking for magical answers.  Jesus warns us about magical thinking, and we can be led very much astray by techniques that partake of randomness.  I believe that it is far better to read bits of ACIM meditatively, and to wait for the guidance to emerge full in one’s thoughts.  Of course, we are human and we do make mistakes.  So we must ask ourselves if anyone would be hurt by the thought or action that we contemplate.  Love is the central theme, along with forgiveness, and nothing borne of love or forgiveness is likely to lead us astray.  This is not romantic love, though, but a settled good feeling toward our brothers and sisters.  Romantic love often speaks to the emotions, and emotional reactions can easily be of the ego.

4 – Period of Quiet

A period of quiet at the beginning and end of the day is almost mandatory.  If we do not subscribe to this idea, there are other ways that the Holy Spirit can reach us.  But sometimes we can avert suffering by listening to Him ahead of time.  When we have been quiet, taking in His counsel, we are less masochistic.  And masochism is at the heart of many of the things that go wrong in our lives.  Not for all of us, but for some.

5 – Devote the Day to God

So, let us devote this day to God.  Let us follow His way with a dedication that we ask Him to give us.  And, at the close of the day, be sure to thank Him for guiding throughout the day.  If the day was not optimal, ask for a better tomorrow.  And seek to spend a few minutes in contemplation over what went wrong and why.  Over time, more days will go right than wrong.  This is my experience, though not stated directly in ACIM.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Guidance has been much on my mind today, and perhaps that is not a coincidence.  Indeed, Jesus says in A Course in Miracles that there are no accidents in salvation.  That is reassuring, even as it prompts me to be careful what I think and pray about.

Help me to follow my intuition today.  I am posting this blog late in the day, because I got an inkling of feeling that I ought to wait, to post later in the day today.  Why?  I do not know.  But I do think that maybe I will come to know.

Help my brothers and sisters who need help with their little as well as their large problems.  Give them (and me) the assurance of what to do to live a sane and joyous life.  I know that joy is the hallmark of my contact with You.  And I thank You for that.

Amen.

Safety = God’s Promise

“There is no deceit in God.  His promises are sure.  Only remember that. His promises have guaranteed His Judgment, and His alone, will be accepted in the end.  It is your function to make that end be soon.  It is your function to hold it to your heart, and offer it to all the world to keep it safe.  (M-15.3)”

 

Affirmation:  “I would ultimately find everyone at home in God.”

Reflections:

1 – Plan of the Teachers

This passage is about the plan of the teachers of God (from ACIM), to bring everyone back to Him, though that may take millions of years.  I have often mentioned this length of time in this blog, but always with a reassurance that our own way and God’s way in time are not the same.  Jesus says that each of us saves a thousand years, as the world measures time.  But time, also an ACIM tenet, is an illusion; there is no time.  Modern physics is coming to see this truth as well.

2 – God’s Judgment Is Benign

God’s Judgment is benign.  It dwells not at all on “sin.”  And it certainly does not dwell on hell.  God’s Judgment will come to all of us, when we are ready to welcome it (from the Manual).  The Judgment will be carried out by Jesus in conjunction with his brothers (and sisters).  Can we understand this?  Of course not.  We are very human, and this is part of the theology of ACIM that is in all likelihood something that is beyond us.  But having led us this far, is it likely that Jesus would be wrong herein?  Most students/teachers of A Course in Miracles do not believe Jesus is leading us astray.  He himself says that we might sometimes get that idea, but he has tried to choose words that are impossible to misconstrue (a paraphrase from the Text).  But he also says that we can twist symbols (which words are) around if we wish.

3 – The World Is Weary Now

We need to make the end come sooner.  This world is very weary now, and there is an astounding amount of suffering and pain.  Surely we ourselves weep when we hear some news accounts.  But this illusion will not stand before the compassion of God.  And our way home has been pointed out to us (in my opinion, in both A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love).  Let us seek today to be quiet a bit, and listen for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Let us ask today what we can do to be sure that the illusory separation from God does not continue for eons.  Let us ask what we can do today to save the thousand years that Jesus has promised to each of us.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

It is hard for me, as a limited human being, to comprehend the millions of years that Jesus says may be ahead before everyone is home again.  It seems such a sad dilemma.  But I know that Jesus is not a morose figure.  He always means well, and there are few of us who would ever doubt this.  So even a million years will be short when we have Awakened.  And it is our function in salvation to make that glorious day sooner for those with whom we come in contact.  Help me to remember this, and be with me, I ask.

I know that Jesus does not ask us to force our will on anyone.  Many, perhaps most, of us are not yet ready to accept all that salvation holds out for us.   It is my belief that each day, lived well and happily, provides a means to reach others with the glorious message of Awakening.  And, before Awakening, we are made gentler–not to be scared–by the happy dreams that the Holy Spirit brings to us.

Be with me today, as I seek to share Your message.  Help me to reduce mistakes in conveying Your message.  May all who are ready to receive help from You and Your Communicator, the Holy Spirit, open their hearts today to receive.  And may we be consistently happy as we receive, for that happiness is also a function for us in this world, according to Jesus in A Course in Miracles.

Amen.

Quiet Listening

“Learn to be quiet, for His Voice is heard in stillness.  And His Judgment comes to all who stand aside in quiet listening, and wait for Him.  (M-15.2)”

Affirmation:  “Let me be quiet awhile today.”

Reflections:

1 – Benign Judgment

“His Judgment” is not bad; we only make mistakes, and these can be corrected.  If we cannot make amends with the person whom we have wronged, we can still ask forgiveness in quietness, and on some level we will be heard.  The Judgment of which this passage speaks is coming from the Holy Spirit, God’s Communicator with us.  It is always a benign judgment.

2 – Quiet

We cannot live well unless we live, at least from time to time, in quiet.  My quiet time used to be three times a day, which I spent in meditation.  This went on for ten years, and then six years ago I began to pray more, and I was quiet in that way.  Prayer works for me when I pray aloud, and frequently I do so when driving the car.  I do concentrate on the road, of course, but I am carrying on, also, a conversation with God.  Despite the noise of the car and the road,  I know this time as a particularly effective quiet time.

3 – Listening

We must try to follow God’s Way for us.  And we learn this Way in quiet listening.  Sometimes the Answer will come in a quiet “knowing,” and sometimes in just the next quiet words that come into our minds.  Sometimes we experience a feeling that we attribute to intuition.  There is no limit to the ways that the Holy Spirit can and does speak with us.

4 – Personal Experience

My favorite quiet time is early in the morning, before my husband awakes.  I slip out of the bedroom, and find an easy chair in our study.  There I sit quietly, thinking, sometimes, of the day ahead.  This time alone, before the day begins, is a very effective way to get close to God in my thinking.  If I miss this time, I know it.  So I try not to miss being alone first thing in the morning.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would be still and quiet a bit today, to hear Your Voice.  I would relax, so that my body accommodates to my wish to hear You.  I would listen with a warm and soft heart.  Help me to do all of these things, for without Your help I am lost.

Be with me today.  I have already done a good bit of work this morning, and I am already tired.  If I could relax during my work, I could get along better and for longer periods of time.  Help me to do this tomorrow morning.  And today:  Help me to relax today even as I continue to work.

Be with all my loved ones.  I cannot control their destinies, but I do turn them over to You.  And I turn myself over to You also.  As always.

Amen

Overcoming Depression

“You who are sometimes sad and sometimes angry; who sometimes feel your just due is not given you, and your best efforts meet with lack of appreciation and even contempt, give up these foolish thoughts!  They are too small and meaningless to occupy your holy mind an instant longer.  (M-15.3)”

Affirmation:  “I would know that my best efforts are appreciated–by Someone.”

Reflections:

1 – Discouragement

This passage gives comfort in times of discouragement.  It would be good to return to it from time to time for its clear-eyed assessment of what we sometimes view as taking place in our world.  We are Sons and Daughters of the Most High!  Ought we to remember that when the world intrudes too much on our peace of mind?  God is with us through his Communicator, the Universal Inspiration, the Holy Spirit.  And the Holy Spirit will calm us when our feelings are ruffled.  But words like this, from Jesus in A Course in Miracles, can be a tangible reminder when we are temporarily more insane than usual.

2 – Struggle

And we are insane when we think of ourselves as broken down by the world’s burdens.  We will know struggle so long as we listen to the dictates of the ego, and so long as we seek for egoistic attractions in this world.  Jesus would not have us to live this way.  And here, in one place in ACIM, is a measure of just how he would advise us when things do not seems to be going our way.

3 – Our Holy Mind

Jesus calls our mind “holy.”  Can we believe him?  I think that those of us who have read through A Course in Miracles are eager to give him the credit for our greater peace of mind.  Jesus, in my interpretation, is saying here that we are as God created us (a quotation from ACIM), that we have not changed from that ideal.  But we have believed ourselves to be separated from God, and we have believed that this was what we wanted.  Most of us who study ACIM passionately know with great intent that we do not want to perpetuate the idea of separation (wrong though it always was).  We have not separated from God, an illusion that would be impossible because we are part of Him, but we have believed, also in illusion, that we have fallen from grace.  God would not have us to live a small life, devoid of good things.  And it is up to ourselves to make the tiny movement toward the Holy Spirit that will turn our world around.  We can and will live better, when we let God have His Way with us.  The world will stop being such a fearsome place, and we will stop attracting its misery to ourselves.  Our minds will be so filled with the good things of God that we will no longer find ourselves in extremis any longer.  Our attracting power (not stated in ACIM, but an interpretation) will shift to the intangibles of God, which I have often discussed in this blog–the peace, joy, harmony, kindness, and, of course, love, that we all desire.  And we will live much better as a result.

4 – Attracting Negativity

What of our brothers and sisters who have not reached this understanding, and who still find themselves attracting negativity?  Many will not be ready for A Course in Miracles, but there is a course of some nature out there waiting for them.  We are not bidden to overtly proselytize, but we can treat our unhappy friends with more compassion.  And we can be there for them when they reach out for our help.  In the meantime, our prayers for our brothers and sisters will make a difference.  It cannot be otherwise, though this is not specifically stated in ACIM.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would not let any depressed mood waylay me today.  I would follow Your Way, and I ask You to point this Way out to me.  May I always seek to walk the pathway back to You.  I know that I am a part of You, though I seem to forget this when I get upset or agitated about something.  You will always rescue me, and Jesus will help, when I make one unequivocal call to You.

I would not get discouraged today.  I know that life is not always smooth.  Just this morning, I was confronted with three minor problems and one major.  Just this morning.  And there was no warning that any of this was coming down the pike.  But You knew.  And You have calmed me and relaxed me, and helped me to see that life is not an emergency.  There is time for all that is needful.

I have dealt in some way with each of the four new problems.  As the Bible says, “Having done all, stand.”  And I will stand in Your Sight today.  Thank You.

Amen.

GETTING ALONG ON THE JOB: AN INTERPRETATION FOR ACIM STUDENTS AND TEACHERS

by Celia Hales

Note:  These reflections are designed for individuals in the work force who have an affinity for A Course in Miracles.  The examples are from the profession of library science, because that is my profession, but the conclusions should work for any position.  The ideas are applicable to current students who are preparing for the work force, those who are changing jobs and want to get off on the “right foot,” and others who may be currently having political problems at work.

I should note at the outset that every work setting is different in regard to social climate, and each type of work environment has its own challenges.  These comments are written from the vantage point of 22 years as a reference librarian and bibliographer in libraries at  two different universities, and to some extent draw upon previous, disparate settings of my work history inside and outside libraries.  The most important point that I want to make is that most basically social interaction is necessary in any work setting, social interaction matters, and one cannot look to the job professionally as a solo player.

The nature of work demands cooperation and teamwork, and if one does not find a congenial “home” with her colleagues, she will be at a distinct disadvantage professionally, regardless of objectively how good her work is.  In fact, her work will normally not be considered objectively at all; this is the strength of the social.  We will take a look at communication among colleagues, the pitfalls to avoid if one is “new,” human nature factors that impinge upon the daily work, the role of competition in the workplace, and, finally, the all-important merit review and its role in improving performance in one’s work.

Communication among Colleagues

One of the primary problems which individuals in my library have noted is the breakdown of communication top to bottom as well as horizontally.  And this despite a flood of electronic mail that come our way every day.  I have come to believe that people do not want communication so much as simply being listened to and being made to feel that their opinions are valued by their colleagues at every level and that these opinions are duly considered in decisions.  This is the largest definition of “communication,” and it is far beneath the surface issue of whether or not one actually knows “what” is going on in a given library.

In my library, I have learned that a certain amount of self-disclosure makes others more trusting of my opinions; they know “where I am coming from,” and they are not therefore so much trying to read meanings into what I am saying–because I have given the context.  I do not mean inappropriate or unprofessional self-disclosure, of the type that might take place in counseling sessions–just a willingness to talk openly and to show that one is human with human faults (and assets) and carries the basic idea of the long-ago bestseller, I’m OK, You’re OK.  Saying what one wants to say with genuine goodwill and a smile mean a lot; there is an old folk saying that is applicable:  “One can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

There will be time, if one is high-spirited or has a temper, that one will speak in anger or provoke discord, and then regret it later.  It is never too late to apologize, and ti is not a sign of weakness to do so.  Smooth interactions keep people happier on the job, and a happy worker is much more likely to be a productive one.  It is self-evident that fuming and fretting and agonizing take time away from the actual content of a job well done.  If one needs to do so, reconsider your actions, express regret for the action or word, and then quietly put the matter to rest.  Forget it as quickly as possible, for with a clear conscience you have done all that you can.  In fact, practice forgetting the irritations of the daily work as you leave the office at night.  If you do take work home, tackle it after having as relaxing a meal as possible, and approach the task as the start of a fresh project, no longer looking back to any animosity that might have developed from the earlier part of the day.

Noticing the Possible Pitfalls

The emotional tone, the tenor, of various work settings is profoundly different, and this difference varies from individual to individual because people react differently to the same or similar stimuli.  What works fine for one doesn’t for another, as we all know.  But perhaps we are too eager to get a given job to take the emotional tenor into account during the interview.  We do need a job, of course, but we need one that we can stay with for a reasonable period, and we can intuitively grasp some of the intangibles during the interview if we are open to seeing them.  Most of us refer to this emotional tenor as the “vibes” of the place, and I believe that this is more important to success, for a given individual, than almost anything else–including ability.  If one does not fit into a given environment, the work will not be longstanding, or, if longstanding, will not be pleasant.

It is not easy to sort through the feelings that one has on an interview, especially if this job, on the surface, seems like your dream job.  But do try to be open to the pace of the interview, interact with as many people as you can, and stop to react to their responses to you.  Do they seem competitive?  Are they a bit withdrawn with you?  Do they seem to take themselves (and their work) too seriously (and that is possible)?  Do they genuinely seem to “like” you?  First impressions can be and often are misleading, but a false impression will nevertheless be the starting point for future interaction until you know the people very, very well.  This is the time to listen to your sixth sense.

Let us say that the interview went well, you felt at ho me with these people, and now you are on the job.  How do you proceed in those all-important first days?  I would counsel that you take your cue from the reactions of others to your initial responses to their questions.  Do they seem eager to hear your opinions, or do they seem to believe that they know the situation better than you as the “new authority”?  If the latter, they, of course, may be right.  But even if they aren’t, and you do know much better ways of handling a given procedure, it might be wiser to delay introducing your concept.  On the other hand, if your new colleagues actively ask for your advice and suggestions, do not feel shy about giving them a kind, but honest, opinion.  I have been in both situations in different workplaces.  One setting didn’t welcome input, but as a reference librarian, I did not see this until too late, and it colored my whole tenor on the job.  The other setting was looking for change, bringing in new people for their new ideas, and wanted to hear from us.  I even heard another colleague mildly criticized for not saying very much at all/  So the climate of these two places was not compatible with each other, and the reaction expected from me was totally different.  Such differences exist across the board, and it is a wise worker who reads the signs and adjusts communication behavior accordingly.

Human Nature–Lubricant or Irritant?

Much has been made of “Monday mornings” on the job.  We are all supposed to be typically irritable and down in spirits.  But this negativity can strike at any time, and is more a function of personalities rubbing against each other than of the change from free time to ordered time.  There will always be people with whom we work smoothly, and those with whom we find it difficult to accept and to appreciate.  This should not deter us from working for a humane environment in every case.

The differences in personality types, whether we take the Myers-Briggs or the “Type A” vs. “Type B” categories, or something else entirely, are a fact of working life.   We are thrown in together with an assortment of ;people who stem from varying backgrounds and have hidden agendas, and only over time do we learn where we stand with any of them.  We need to be sensitive to the personality quirks that we observe.  Does Melanie seem upset when approached first thing in the morning?  Maybe she needs a moment or two to collect her thoughts as she moves from family duties and fixing breakfast for her young child to thinking about librarianship.  This particular example is an easy one to remedy:  Simply wait 15 minutes to approach her next time.  Try to get your hidden agendas out of the way as much as you can.  You have certain needs to get work accomplished, but work is an inanimate object, and human beings vary, and, moreover, they get the work done in a more efficient way if we work around their problems and not add to them by being insensitive to their work habits.

There will always be people who are more neurotic than others part of the time, and even all of the time.  People have another life outside work, and most frequently they are not going to tell you of a nagging worry that they should visit a physician for a “small” symptom, and, as another frequent example, they are not going to tell you when they fear that their marriage is failing.  If work seems to be suffering, that is a matter for the library administration to handle, while we as peers are reluctant to criticize and more helpful if we, insofar as possible, work around the problems.  If you feel that you are the only one hampered by a given person’s strange actions, please know that you are not–you very likely have plenty of company, but in the interests of good working relationships, most people don’t comment on each other.  (I do acknowledge that some working environments are more gossip-prone than others, but a professional setting is normally very accommodating.)

Finally, let us consider the real personality problems, the colleagues who make life miserable for themselves and others at the same time.  Consider this a chance to shine your halo, because such fantasies may be all that get you through a day without ruining it for yourself.  Do remember that the real neurotic is making herself far more unhappy than she is making you–though this may be hard to believe in the heat of the moment.  A sense of humor is a saving grace in many life situations, and neurotic behavior certainly qualifies.  And try to forgive the unfairness of it all; life does not handle well the keeping of a grudge, one against the other.  bitterness is one way to spoil one’s own emotional and physical health.

The Bugaboo Competition

Work settings differ dramatically in how competitive they are, but virtually all settings will turn negative against you personally if your drive to succeed is perceived as an attempt to outdo everybody else.  In academic libraries, especially, the vast majority of librarians (and library assistants) are extremely hardworking, and they do not take kindly to the implication that other people may outshine them.  Academic settings, in fact, are especially bad in this regard, because the people who work here are intellectually oriented, usually they were good students in years past, and they carry off part of that achievement motivation into the present environment.  Reference settings are wonderful training grounds for cooperative work, for rarely does anything in a reference setting get done unless a group of people agree on how the task will proceed.  In the instance of competition or lack thereof, therefore, reference work is a particularly good place to evaluate one’s own propensity to compete.

The best settings are those in which everybody tries hard to work together in a cooperative fashion to provide a reference service that succeeds for library users.  Being congenial with one’s colleagues is a particularly prized quality, because the negativism that can engulf a reference unit frequently spreads from one person to another.  The best type of competition, therefore is competition with one’s self, trying to improve with each passing month and year.  Backbiting, it goes without saying, is a negative that helps no one, and is extremely detrimental to the functioning of an optimal reference unit.  If it did not matter so much how one interacted with another, then reference social interaction would not be of major concern at all.  Faculty in individual classrooms can function very autonomously, but reference staff have to swap desk times, work together on committees that help the library to do its daily work, and frequently as well work together to team-teach library skills.

Pride is a factor that normally goes hand in hand with competition.  Even the best librarians can be guilty of intellectual pride in their work, and it is not always easy to separate healthy pride and unhealthy.  Certainly we all want to do a good job, but how we talk about our work can present problems if we appear to call attention to our great deeds in a braggadocio way.  Modesty is a value more respected in the workplace than is pride, and one much more conducive to the better side of competition.  Do your best, but take care that you aren’t always talking about it.  To do so is to invite the unhealthy envy that disrupts reference units and causes animosity that will undermine the greater good.

If you find yourself in an especially competitive situation, and particularly if you now recognize that you have made wrong decisions that brought  out an unhealthy competition in yourself, it is, nevertheless, not appropriate in a reference unit to withdraw and try to do one’s work, as best one can, alone.  Even if the other staff members turn negative or even hostile, it is still part of one’s job responsibility to work cooperatively.  If everybody worked in a solitary fashion, the best service could not emerge; this is contrary to the classroom, where faculty can disregard hostile politics and be alone with their students, to produce the best teaching that they can.  In a reference service, the staff members need each other; working together gets the job done, and working alone does not.  So try to use one’s best manners and act well even if met sometimes with hostility.

There is one place to take exception to these suggested rules–in the annual merit review and in performance appraisals that lead to tenure or to continuous appointment.  And in that situation one is compelled to put her best foot forward, and not to be shy about touting accomplishments.  We discuss this aspect just below.

Merit Review–Bane or Opportunity?

The most important advice that I would like to give any newcomer to the field, or even any veteran who still worries about an annual review, is my own truth that the only important rating is the one that you give yourself.  Anything else, even if that “anything” involves the very retention of the position itself, is secondary.  If one goes through life quaking at authority (when administrators assume the role of stand-in parental figures) or peer evaluation (a concept that will bring back the awful need to belong that characterized our teen years), then the life on the job does not fully belong to you, and if one is to achieve one’s best, that life should be personally owned.  Before you write your part of the merit review, ask yourself a few very basic questions:  Have I grown in my knowledge of library science, and thus in my career, this year?  Have I endeavored to keep current, though computerization is a moving target?  Have I tried to assist my colleagues in their work whenever possible, being cooperative and helpful and occasionally walking the extra mile?  If you can truthfully answer “yes” to these questions, I would suggest that you have succeeded in the last year, whether or not you receive the highest rating that you might wish.

It is good to recognize that even under the best of circumstances, ratings are subjective and often very political.  One needs to achieve, but not too much, or envy will mean that peer evaluations are not the best.  One needs to accomplish a great deal of work, or the quantity will not impress higher-ups (quality in this ear of lean and mean work setting is not perhaps given its fair due).  In my own case, I received my best ratings from an administrator who clearly liked me personally, and I have received my lowest ratings when politically I was not fitting into the climate of the workplace.  And there are all kinds of variation in between.  As the years go by, an attitude is developed about you as an employee, and if this attitude should become negative, then the perception will color the rating to the degree that superhuman efforts might not amend.  So it is always wise to keep a level head, and not to bend to the negative whims of either administrators or peers.  Conversely, there is a halo effect that will follow you everywhere if you are well-liked, and also happen to develop into the career worker that is well-respected in  your given environment.  This halo effect is certainly not a bad thing, because then you receive kudos in good years and bad, and certainly as your career develops, you will have some of both.

So back to my first point–keep your own rating as the most important.  Aside from this, there are pointers available for making the best impression as a worker.  Keep good documentation, and see that your accomplishments are showcased each year.  It is best to keep a running tally of what you accomplish each day or week, because otherwise it is virtually impossible to retain in memory the myriad of details that makes a report outstanding.  Often the administrators reading your report will not have first-hand knowledge of your work, but only impressions, and these impressions will be influenced by the presentation of your work record in a readable and cogent fashion.  Don’t make your report too lengthy, or it will be simply scanned–to your detriment.  Try very diligently to fulfill all of the goals and objectives set the previous year; after all, you and your supervisor agreed upon these goals, and it does behoove you to take them seriously.  Carefully point out if the failure to achieve a given goal was taken out of your hands by a change of programmatic policy by a higher-up.  Otherwise, the failure to achieve a goal will look like a personal failing.  It is very likely that the evaluation written by your superior(s) will be written rapidly and under duress.  She has many other reviews to write at the same time.  If yours is clear, well-written, and appears to fulfill your goals without too many excuses, you will fare better in her review, as well as in he rating.

An important point to keep in mind is that ratings are linked to the merit money, and higher administrators are actually rewarded for keeping salary savings high.  So it is wise to look at one’s final rating with a jaundiced eye; if a higher-up lowers your supervisor’s rating of you, it may have absolutely nothing to do with your merit in her eyes, and everything to do with statistics.  Administrators try to give out very few top ratings, and in the library science profession, these normally go to other administrators, who are perceived to be carrying forth the greatest weight of the library’s well-being.

Summing Up

Thus we have reflected on the communal nature of the reference position, and I hope that you have come to see that getting a long with others on the job–the social interaction itself–is vitally important to your success.  Other reflections have emphasized the communicative aspects of the workplace, but I hope that you have seen that social interaction has advantages that go far beyond simple communication.  A humane work environment can make all the difference in the success or the failure of an enterprise, a non-profit library being no exception.  It is helpful to let your colleagues and administrators know what you feel about various issues that arise, to make statements that contribute to the common goal of excellent library service.  If one tries too hard to stand out from her peers, competition can be a two-edged sword; it may win great superiority in performance, but in reference that is not the only factor controlling success–being a team player counts for much as well.  There is simply no way, as we have seen, to do your job well in a vacuum; the skills that we gain from interacting with others in a productive way can be tremendously life-enhancing for us as well as for our common mission in the library.  Sometimes one must move slowly when new in the position, lest we be accused of being “new authority,” and therefore being perceived as someone who as yet does not know the scoop; not listening to the thoughts of others can easily lead one to recommend courses of action that have been tried and have been seen to fail.  Ultimately, though, in the reference position as in life, the grade (or rating) that one gives one’s self is the most important.  Don’t give your power away by trying to please in order to get the highest merit rating; you may lose yourself in the process, not being true to one’s self, and even lose the high rating as well.  Self-respect requires that we do what we consider our best; other opinions should always remain secondary in our own minds.  “To thine own self be true,” has been the Shakespearian wisdom of the ages.

Consequently, if one wishes to excel in reference librarianship, don’t lose sight of the big picture, and the way that one interacts with other people in that picture.  In a classroom, one can operate in a solo fashion, but this simply cannot happen with reference work, and in the end this is one of its greatest advantages, personally as well as professionally.  You will find in your daily work that two heads really are better than one in a problem-solving work environment.

We Are Holy

“Holy are you, eternal, free and whole, at peace forever in the Heart of God.  Where is the world, and where is sorrow now?  (M-15.1)”

Affirmation:  “We are all holy.”

Reflections:

1 – Comfort

This passage is comforting, even when we do not find it (at first reading) to be believable.  We do want to be whole people, able to give and receive love.  And we do want to be free and at peace.

2 – Being Free

Before we follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we have an “imprisoned will” (from the Text).  Once we begin, ever so tentatively, to follow Him as our Guide, we learn, slowly at first (usually) what being free actually entails.   The Holy Spirit guides us to our real will, which is totally at One with God’s Will.  The Holy Spirit choose for us (from ACIM); he leads us to our heart’s desire.  But this is our real desire, not the frivolous and useless “pleasures” of the world that soon turn to ashes and dust in our hands.

3 – Heart of God

When we live in the Heart of God, we do not fret or worry.  Of course, and certainly in the beginning, we do not consistently feel God’s mercy.  The transition normally takes some time (though it can happen instantaneously).  We have glimpses of the real world, the world we see just before Awakening.  But we have to realize that these perceptual differences, while miracles, will not last, because miracles are perceptual and nothing perceptual is lasting.  (These are paraphrases from ACIM.)  So let us take one tiny step after another in the direction of God today.  Let us ask for His “felt presence” (a quotation from Eckhart Tolle).

4 – God’s Felt Presence

Sorrow is no more when we are experiencing God’s felt presence.  We know that we are beloved, and we do not agonize about the future (or even the present, and certainly not the past).  We are living in the present, as God would have us do.

5 – Peace

And we are at peace.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Most of us do not really believe that we are holy, and when we are consumed by the ego, being called “holy” seems to be not credible.  But we have not changed from our creation; we are as You created us, and we only made a detour into fear–an egoic mistake because of a “tiny, mad idea.”

Help me to leave all such foolishness behind today.  You know that we all try the best that we can at even given moment.  We make mistakes, but You and we together can correct those mistakes.  I would correct my mistakes today.

Help me to feel the gratitude for You that keeps me safe from all harm.

Amen

Final Judgment

“But the Final Judgment will not come until it is no longer associated with fear.  One day each one will welcome it, and on that very day it will be given him.  (M-15.1)”

Affirmation:  “Let me not think of the Final Judgment with fear.”

Reflections:

1 – Personal Experience

I once had a “waking dream,” not unlike what John Keats, the poem (“Ode to a Nightingale”) describes so well.  In that semi-hypnotic state, I imagined the Final Judgment was coming to me.  I was asked a number of questions, which I tried to answer, but not always truthfully.  And my unseen questioner knew that I was dissembling.  I responded, “How do you expect me to pass this test?”  As one who always tries to tell the truth, this memory is painful.  But the experience itself was very uplifting.  My unseen questioner in this waking dream then gave me a series of directives for my life.  I have forgotten most of them, but I do recall that one was to buy an “older” house when I was in a position to purchase a house.  Through no machinations of my own, that is exactly what my husband and I did:  a house built in 1922, with well-preserved, with numerous refurbishing.

2 – Many Years Later

I do not now, more than 30 years later, know how accurate this waking dream was, or whether or not I could even call it a “Final Judgment” carried out by one of my brothers in his lifetime.  Jesus says elsewhere that the Final Judgment of all will be carried out in conjunction with his brothers (and sisters) in this world.  So I sometimes ponder this strange experience.  The waking dream has never recurred, and only once or twice had something akin to it ever happened to me previously.

3 – “Tall Order”

But I was not afraid.  I remember commenting in my dream, with all the assertions of what I ought to do with my life, “That is a tall order.”  But the parts that I have remembered have come true,, almost fated (or so it seems).  There were, of course, parts that I do not recall, for this was an altered state of consciousness.

4 – Altered Consciousness

One probably ought not to plan for altered states of consciousness.  We are not usually of much help to other people when we are living in such a way.  But Jesus says in ACIM that the channels of communication in our universe are not limited to the few channels that this world recognizes.  He goes on to say that salvation would be impossible without these additional channels that this world does not recognize.

5 – Turn Aside from the Ego

Do not let the ego get a toehold in your own psychic imaginings.  When we have withdrawn support from the ego, it will, absolutely will, try to rise in ascendancy by guile.  And we certainly do not want that.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Thank You for the unusual experience of more than 30 years ago.  But I do not wish for altered states of consciousness.  I want my feet on the ground, even as my head is sometimes in the clouds.  Be with me to be certain that my imaginings do not mislead others or myself.

Thank You for a busy but good day.  Help me to have a flowing expereince in my thoughts.  No obsessions.  And I pray for a stress-free day tomorrow.  Be with all of us who are trying so hard.  May we realize, anew, that Your Way is effortless.

Amen.

All God Would Have You Do You Can Do

“To turn hell into Heaven is the function of God’s teachers, for what they teach are lessons in which Heaven is reflected.  And now sit down in true humility, and realize that all God would have you do you can do (M-14.5)”

Affirmation:  “I would turn hell into Heaven.”

Reflections:

1 – Students/Teachers

All of us are students/teachers of God.  Time is an illusion, and only time separates students from teachers.  We will all be teachers, and many sooner rather than later.  We are actually already teaching and learning at the same time.  As soon as we have answered the Call, the individuals whom we can serve best will begin looking for us, and finding us.  There are no accidents in salvation.  Who we are to meet, we will meet.  The lives we are to touch, we will touch.  And in this plan of the teachers is found much joy.

2 – Plan of the Teachers

Jesus says elsewhere that without the plan of the teachers, there would be no way for all of our brothers and sisters to find their way home again.  The detour into fear has been long and burdensome, troubling in the extreme.  Let us ask today to be free of the fear in whatever form the fear manifests.  Often it is simply a low-grade anxiety, from which our jobs and our relationships seem to offer no respite.

3 – Bill and Helen

But there is a better way, and Helen and Bill (co-scribes of ACIM) found it, perhaps Bill more than Helen.  As Vahle points out in his biography (see review in this blog), and as Ken Wapnick has made so clear, the peace that Helen gave to others eluded her.  Ken’s biography of Helen Schucman is entitled, Absence from Felicity.  And it was only in death, when Jesus came to claim his own, that her face was at peace.  Bill, on the other hands, moved to California and there, amid friends of ACIM, lived a much more peaceful conclusion to his life.

4 – Let’s Do Our Part Today

May we do our part today to turn this hell on earth into Heaven on earth.  Ask the Holy Spirit what small thing you might do today to effect this reversal.  And He will respond.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Helen’s experience has led me to understand that there are no guarantees in this life.  I know from my reading that she understood A Course in Miracles very well, but still she was without the peace that ACIM had brought so many others.  May all of us realize that we must depend on the Holy Spirit in this world, and that, even then, we may not always have happy dreams.

Be with me today as I seek, once again, to understand Your guidance.  My nighttime dreams seem to give me indications, as well as my intuitive, inner sense.  I have not put it all together yet.  Be with me, and be with other whom I touch today, in whatever way.  We are not to be without limits in this world, but we are to seek to overcome the limitations, with the guidance that we receive.  May that guidance come in Your own Way, in Your own time.

Amen.

World Ends in Joy, Peace, Laughter

“The world will end  in joy, because it is a place of sorrow.  When joy has come, the purpose of the world has gone.  The world will end in peace, because it is a place of war.  When peace has come, what is the purpose of the world?  The world will end in laughter, because it is a place of tears.  where there is laughter, who can longer weep?  And only complete forgiveness brings all this to bless the world.  In blessing it departs, for it will not end as it began.  (M-14.5)”

Affirmation:  “The world will end in joy.”

Reflections:

1 – Belief in a Fiery End

A very reassuring passage, this assertion by Jesus will be well-received by those who are ready to relinquish the ego, and no longer believe in a fiery hell.  So much of our preoccupation has been with a world that would end in fiery destruction.  And we can now realize that all of this was projection of the ego.  We made a world of opposites, and we thought that the worst thing that we could comprehend, hell, was there waiting for us if we did not measure up.  What a joy to know that this dualism has never been accurate!  We live in a non-dualistic world, where when we have dropped illusions, we can be happy in a Heaven on earth.

2 – Ask for a Happy Dream

Of course, we still see much misery before us.  And we are not encouraged to deny our eyesight.  But we are encouraged to realize that what we are seeing is maya (an Eastern term), illusion, a dream.  And much that we see is not a happy dream.  But we can ask for a happy dream, and the more we focus on following the guidance that we receive, the happier our daily life will become.  We will not longer sit down in the dust and bemoan our fate of a joyless life, full of struggle and woe.

3 – Be with God

Be with God today, as much of the time as possible.  The world will ultimately end in joy, but this ending may be a long time off.  Jesus says elsewhere that it may take millions of years for the separation to be healed, as it took millions of years to happen.  Of course, the separation from God is not real, could never be real, for we live as though in a hologram, and what is within (God) is projected without.  Not all that is within is God, though, and so sometimes we project hideous images.  But God would not have it so.  He asks only for a “little willingness” (quotation from ACIM) to follow His Way.  And his medium of communication is our Guide, the Holy Spirit.  Ask for His help today.

4 – Presence

He will not be long in making His presence felt.  The day will brighten.  And with this comes hope for a better tomorrow.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Thank You for the reassurance in A Course in Miracles that the world will end in peace.  Our ego has said so much about ending in a fiery destruction, and we have been (most of us) very influenced by this.  Help us all to realize that there is nothing to fear.

Be with me as I seek to know Your Presence today.  Give me free-flowing thought, that I don’t dam up my thoughts and have thought attacks.  Obsessions are fearful things, and I would acknowledge Your rule in this world, even though we all have free will and can walk astray.

Amen