Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Definition of Prayer

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“Thus prayer must be redefined as the act of consciously choosing union.  With this definition, you can see how your life can become a prayer.  This does not negate the fact that a prayer is also a constant dialogue of asking, being answered, and responding.  This is the aspect of prayer that makes of it an act of creation.  (Treatises of A Course of Love:  Treatise on the Art of Thought, 6.3)”

Affirmation:  “I will choose union through prayer today.”

Reflections:

1 – Union

This passage for today emphasizes once again how important prayer is to our well-being in this life.  We are said to make of our whole life a prayer, when we follow what Jesus is saying in A Course of Love.  We consciously choose union with our Self/Christ and God within, with our brothers and sisters in this world and all worlds (even unseen), and we choose to embrace the universe(s).  Union is all-inclusive, and it is a big part of our way home.

2 – Prayer

The second sentence in this passage is important:  “This does not negate the fact that a prayer is also a constant dialogue of asking, being answered, and responding.”  Certainly!  This is the way that we have traditionally seen prayer at its most simple:  asking and being answered.  But here we also see that we are to respond.  And this is the new art of thought.  We learn through receiving and then responding, not only to God, Who has answered our prayer, but also to others who can benefit as well.

3 – Personal Experience

I have personally found that my answers to prayers have increased in very recent days.  What we believe does make a difference, and I have been expecting answers to come at the point of asking.  I have not had to wait long.  Recently I asked for a solution to a minor health problem, and immediately–yes, immediately–the answer to my problem came into my mind, not as a voice, but as an internal word that was my own thought, but yet a bit beyond me.  At first I thought that I had misheard, that another one-word answer was meant.  But as the afternoon wore on, I realized that the initial word had been accurate.  I acted on this precise directive, and my minor health problem cleared up.

4 –  Mind

The word that come into our minds are not always God speaking to us.  There is much left in our minds that alter His messages.  But as we walk further along the pathway to Awakening, the chaff tends to fall away, and our internal hearing does seem more on the beam with God.  We can ask silently, and receive an answer.  We can also journal our questions, and wait for an internal prompting of what to write by way of an answer.  This latter suggestion is championed by a writing expert, Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way).  And it works.  The fact that we capture on paper what is impressed upon our minds encourages us to reread and to respond in the future to what has been answered in our prayer.

5 – Listening in Prayer

So, pay attention to the internal, silent monologue of thoughts when asking in prayer.  I have been very, very pleasantly surprised that this type of listening increases as it is used.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Thank You for the immediate answers to my prayers that I have been receiving.  I realize that this is the way that prayer is supposed to work, for our communion with You answers all problems.

May all of us have a good day.  May anxieties fall away, and may we walk into the sunlight with You.

Amen.

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The Value of Prayer

pissarro-montmartre-night“Prayer is but reproducing and recollecting a divine memory and divine memory cannot help but produce a divine outcome.  Said in another way, prayer reproduces the truth and allows the truth to exist as it is.  Prayer does this because it is the act of consciously choosing union.  (Treatises of A Course of Love:  Treatise on the Art of Thought, 6.2)”

Affirmation:  “I will pray often and sincerely today.”

Reflections:

1 – Personal Experience

One of the most important points of the spiritual life, to me, is the matter of prayer.  A favorite professor of mine once, in effect, witnessed to me about prayer.  In answering a question as to how he had come to a given answer, he replied, quietly, “Prayer.”  In truth he was a changed man from what he had been like just a couple of years previously.  The witness of his truth about prayer was a defining moment in my own life.  The exchange constituted a peak experience.

2 – Practice Prayer

So, in my own way, in many years since, I have practiced prayer–deep prayers when I was upset about something, deep prayers in which I felt God’s touch of healing.  A Course in Miracles refers to this action as “communing” with God, and that is, in effect, what I have tried to do in times of crisis.  Prayer rights things.  There is absolutely no emotional charge that can remain, of an upsetting nature, that in my experience is not made better by deep prayer.  And by “deep” prayer, I mean the heartfelt reaching toward God that I imagine the author of The Cloud of Unknowing (an anonymous medieval treatise) had in mind.

3 – Tenderness

Now we find in A Course of Love that prayer is counseled.  Of course, this simply reinforces in my own mind something that I have believed since I was 24, when the encounter with my professor occurred.  The joy of communing with God is exceedingly tender, for He is a gentle God.  His way is not perceived, in prayer, to be a hard or difficult pathway to follow.  His is the way of supreme good sense.  His is the way that I know, in such moments, that I want to walk.

4 – Healing

We cannot all be healed of physical ailments, and there are emotional ones as well that are not healed.  But certainly the physical and emotional ones stand a much better chance of healing if prayer has taken place.  And, in my experience, the emotional difficulties are especially prone to healing by prayer.  There is a calm that settles over one who is in deep prayer.  Sleep comes gently in such a case, if one is saying nightly prayers.  We end the day aright, and we are preparing, in our own way, for a subsequent day that will be started aright.  There is no substitute for the comfort that prayer can and does give.  This I know from personal experience.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Thank You for the myriad answers to pray that You have given me over the years.  Prayer works in a very practical sense, and I am not upset by “using” prayer in this way.  Of course, I do not want to use You, but to love You.  And to know that You love me.  Communing with You in deep prayer shows me that love flows in both directions.

Thank You for the experience that I lived through when I was 24, the experience of first learning how valuable prayer could really be.  Thank You that this occurrence happened so early in my life.  I am very grateful for the role that You have played in my life through the deep prayers that I have been led to have over the years.

Be with all of us today.  If hard times come, let us know that we always have You to whom to turn.  And the hard times melt away in the blessing of communing with You.  Thank You especially that healing of emotional issues comes with prayer.  I do not rule out healing of physical issues as well, but it is with the emotional that I am especially grateful today.  When our mind and heart are calm, we can live through any struggle, and we, with Your help, can turn that struggle into ease.

Amen.

Practicing Mindfulness

pissaro - beside river

“The art of thought invites the experience of the new thought system by being willing to replace the old with the new.  While this will at first be a learned activity, and as such have its moments of seeming difficulty, it is learned only in the sense of your practicing the mindfulness that will allow the memory of it to return to you.  (Treatises of A Course of Love:  Treatise on the Art of Thought, 5.13)”

Affirmation:  “May I understand the art of thought today.”

Reflections:

1 – No Longer Struggle

When we practice the art of thought, we do not furrow our brow and study hard.  We read almost as though we were reading a story, for the pleasure.  We learn, therefore, effortlessly.  We no longer struggle to gain concepts.  We let the meaning be shown to us by gentle means.  We do not negate the idea that maybe revelation is showing us the way.  Revelation is not always recognized for what it is.  And A Course of Love indicates that it is with us more and more as we walk further along the pathway to Christ-consciousness.

2 – Gestures of Love

We respond to our outer environment when we practice the art of thought.  We do not take responsibility for others, but we do try to alleviate their needs.  Again, this is not a struggle, but simply gestures of love.

3 – Observation

And we learn by observation of ourselves and others.  Observation is the new way of learning in this new world we are on the verge of entering.  We observe, we reflect, and we come to understand.  Again, this is all effortless.

4 – Gain a Whole New World

Can so much be had for so little?  Can we gain a whole new world in such effortless ways?  Indeed, we can, for the pathway is not one of struggle any longer.  We walk into the sunlight, prompted by intuition, feelings, insight–any means of guidance that comes to us.  We are not alone.  That is a primary message.  We never have to do all of this work of salvation unaided.  Indeed, salvation is not work at all, but the most glorious child’s play possible (paraphrased from A Course in Miracles, which says that salvation is a game that happy children play).

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would spend today in a relaxed mind and heart, listening for Your guidance and knowing that it will come when I have stilled myself so that I can hear.  Thank You for being here for me.  May I observe this world in a new way of thinking, by observation rather than intense study.  May I no longer be tempted to struggle through my days.  You do not mean this for me.

Help all of my brothers and sisters to have a good day.  You mean for all of our days to be good, even the ones that have some pain in them.  Pain in the present moment simply doesn’t occur; we are always seeing the past in our pain.  May pain never been turned by our minds into suffering.  You would choose for all of Your children to rest in Your blessings, to receive Your ease, and to solve any and all problems, with Your help, that have presented themselves and may be causing pain.  Guide us to know what to do when faced with less-than-desirable life circumstances.  May our stress remain low and our spirits high.

Thank You for Your presence, always, in our lives.

Amen.

Choice to End Suffering

4_Boating_Realism_Impressionism_Edouard_Manet“While I can tell you suffering is illusion, you cannot still your fear of it nor tear your eyes away from it or remove from it the feelings of your heart.  While I came to reveal the choice of Love to you, the choice that you each must make to end such suffering, the illusion of suffering has continued and in its continuation made the choice of Love seem all but impossible.  (Treatises of A Course of Love:  Treatise on the Art of Thought, 5.3)”

Affirmation:  “I would end any personal suffering today.”

Reflections:

1 – Maya

It is not enough to say that we live in a world of maya, illusion, or dreams.  As long as we suffer, we will find it impossible to be satisfied that we do not blame God because all except the real world is illusion.  This attitude, expressed by Jesus in this passage, is electrifying and very practical.  He knows our limitations.  And he knows that we will continue to see God as less than loving when we have not yet given up suffering.

2 – Eckhart Tolle

Pain does not have to turn into suffering!  That is the secret.  Eckhart Tolle says much about this in The Power of Now and A New Earth.  His understanding of the “pain body” is described in great detail in both books, but especially in A New Earth.

3 – Pain into Suffering

How do we accomplish feeling pain that does not lead to suffering?  Ah, that is the rub.  And the truth may be that we cannot overcome the tendency to turn pain into suffering without divine help.  But we do need to end suffering in order to experience all the blessings that the elevated Self of form has been promised (from the Dialogues of A Course of Love).  We do need to pray for help, to commune with God, when challenged by pain.  He will find a way to get through to us when we are at our lowest point.  Indeed, individuals often turn to God at their lowest when they do not do so at any other time.  When human resources are exhausted, we relinquish our own attempts to solve our problems, and we turn them over for divine solutions.

4 – Prayer of Relinquishment

Catherine Marshall, an inspirational writer of the last century, said much about the “prayer of relinquishment.”  We would do well to pray that prayer often.  We do not give up, but we do surrender the problem to a higher solution, that of God’s solution.  We wait to be told what to do to make things better, and we do not have to wait long, because A Course in Miracles promises that the solution is with the problem.

5 – Jesus

Let us turn today to consideration of how to end suffering in our lives.  This may seem a pipe dream, but I trust that if Jesus channeled A Course of Love (and I think he did), and he says that giving up suffering, seeing an end to suffering, is possible for us, I believe that it is.  Let us seek within for the guidance that will tell us what and how to proceed.  Everyone’s answer will be different, but the end is sure, and the end is the same for all of us.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would release suffering today.  Any little aspect of suffering needs to be gone.  And with Your help it will be.  Pain does not have to turn to suffering.  There are remedies.  May my brothers and sisters know freedom from suffering today.

Guide me to any and all remedies that I need to feel totally well in all respects.  I sense that You will do this today for me.  Thank You for that intuition.

Help others whom I encounter in any way.  We need to be there for each other in this sometimes difficult world.  Help us to have good days in Your care.

Amen.

Time of Miracles Is Here

cezanne - basket of apples

“While I [Jesus] succeeded in revealing a God of love, this revelation has not been reconciled with your experience here.  This is what we will seek to do by putting an end to fear and ushering in, with this ending, the beginning of a time of miracles.  (The Treatises of A Course of Love:  Treatise on the Art of Thought, 4.27)”

Affirmation:  “I will consider anew today that God is a God of love.”  

Reflections:

1 – God of Love

There is a great promise in this passage for today.  Jesus refers back to his time on earth and notes that he did succeed in revealing God as a God of love.  But humankind, from our limited perspective, did not take the lesson unto themselves.  We continued to fear God, and by that I do not mean a respect that is healthy and good.  We feared God in that we were afraid of His wrath, afraid that we would be punished for our wrongdoing.  Of course, with cause and effect a law of the universe, sometimes what we do brings dire consequences.  But God is not doing this unto us.  We are doing this unto ourselves.  And there are tangible ways that we can bring good things to ourselves, and certainly there is no reason–ever–to blame God for our misfortunes.

2 – Attract the Good

These tangible ways of bringing good to ourselves include positive outlooks.  We are never guaranteed to be forever without pain, but our own attitudes can do much to attract the good to ourselves.  Our experiences in this world can and will improve when we get our minds, hearts, and spirits right.  We will know the good again when we attract the good.

3 – Glorious Promise

The promise that is so pronounced in this passage occurs at the end, when Jesus promises that when we succeed in seeing God as a God of love and not of fear, we will receive miracles, “ushering in. . .the beginning of the time of miracles.”  What a glorious promise indeed this is!

4 – Attitude toward God

This passage indicates that only one change is needed, a change in our attitude toward God:  the acceptance of Him as a God of love.  And then with the ending of fear we are led into a much better world of miracles.  And miracles are always good.  We will see miracles, I think, where we have not recognized them previously.  And there is an indication that the number and magnitude of miracles will increase.

5 – Don’t Blame God

Can we see God as a God solely of love?  Can we sincerely stop blaming God, sincerely and intellectually knowing that He is not the cause of anything going wrong in our world?  We do not need to accept such a view of God on blind faith.  There is much in A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love that explains this view of how to see God as loving.  And what a glorious promise we receive–that we are ready for miracles when we can see God as loving.  Can we make this transformation in our thinking now?

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I thank You for this promise of a time of miracles.  We all need this so much, we in our little self-centered worlds, still often encased in our ego.  

May we cease all this nonsense forthwith.  I pray to do my part rightly to ease the coming of better times.  May we know that we can attract a better world when our attitudes are right.  And our attitudes need to be attune with Yours in order to ask rightly for what we need and what we want.  I do not ask material goods, though You know that I have these needs also.  I ask more for the love, joy, peace, harmony that You will gladly bestow to all of Your children, regardless of their financial circumstances.

Be me with today.  I thank You for the gentleness of Your presence, the peace of Your Being.  May today end on a positive note, clearing the way for another positive day tomorrow.

Amen.

Afraid of God?

monet - garden at Giverny“While God is nothing but the Source of Love, you have, in your doubt, made of God the source of fear.  Pause a moment here and let the enormity of this confusion sink in, for this is the reversal in thinking that will pave the way for all the rest.  Because of this confusion you have responded to Creation with fear.  Is it no wonder a new response is asked of you?  (The Treatises of A Course of Love:  Treatise on the Art of Thought, 4.26)”

Affirmation:  “I now choose to let fear of God melt away.”

Reflections:

1 – Fear of God

“Fear” of God, in the Bible, is, to my own of interpreting, actually a form of respect that is asked of us.  But along the way, we have also feared God in a more concrete way, in that we have been made anxious when we thought of Him.  This fear was of the ego, for the ego knew only fear, having been made out of a separated state (an illusory separated state) of being.  We became so used to fear that we did not even realize the extent to which we were dominated by it.

2 – Blaming God

We blamed God for this fear, because our ego could not accept that we ourselves had made the fear (through the ego).  So we were in a quandary.  We did not know how to escape the ego, and we may, as students of Freud, believed that the ego was necessary for our successful living in this world.

3 – Freud’s Definition of the Ego

Freud’s definition of the ego is not quite what A Course in Miracles means.  For Freud, the ego mediated between the superego and the id, and gave the personality stability.  In A Course in Miracles, the ego is seen as a false self, a part of ourselves that has gone awry, a belief about ourselves that does not mean us well.  And so, with this understanding, we want to rid ourselves as quickly as possible from a false sense of self that the ego perpetuates.  We do not need this self-image to form our personality in such a way that it can function in the world.  It is a persona, a self-image, that is best let fall away.

4 – Personal Self

When the ego has withered away, the personal self will change greatly.  I have earlier called this personal self, the “little” self.  And indeed it is little, for it partakes of illusion.  We still live in this dream, this maya, this illusion, but the real world will dawn on our inner sight as a little more time goes by.  Then the inner Self/Christ, the elevated Self of form, will take predominance.

5 – At Home

And we will be home in God.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would be at home with You today.  Thank You for the good beginning to this glorious day.  May my day go well.  May I say and do for my significant others what they need.  May I be there for them.

Help us to respect You, but not to be afraid of You.  Surely it would be disappointing to You to see Your children cringe in fear before You.  May I love You unreservedly.  And may I love with respect but not fear.  I sometimes feel awe, and I understand from A Course in Miracles that this is alright.

Be with me throughout this day.  May I feel Your Presence in a tangible way.  Thank You for the times in my life when I am conscious of Your Presence.  And may this feeling overwhelm me today in a cocoon of love.

Amen.

Revelation

impressionism - flowers and water

“Revelation is a proper description of the mode by which the art of thought teaches and helps you learn.  It is not through study, effort, or re-interpretation but through revelation.  (The Treatises of A Course of Love:  Treatise on the Art of Thought, 4.23)”

Affirmation:  “Revelation is now how I will learn.”

Reflections:

1 – Now Ready

This passage for today is a sea change from previous passages cited from A Course of Love, because the passage indicates that we are now ready for revelation.  And the implication is that this revelation will be constant and ongoing.  What a blessing!

2 – Do We Recognize Revelation?

Perhaps we will not be aware of all the times that revelation comes to us.  Perhaps revelation has already come many times and often in recent weeks and months, as we study A Course of Love, and we did not recognize revelation for what it was.  This is my interpretation, that we just didn’t recognize the times that God has spoken to us, has revealed to us that which we needed to learn.

3 – Observation

We do know that no longer do we learn through intense study, but through observation–an observation that is more of the abstract mind than the concrete (an interpretation, not stated in ACOL).  Now we find that it is not just our personal self that observes, but the Self/Christ within that senses revelation and therefore is guided about what to say or do next.  Our minds and hearts are guided.  We know beyond doubt that we are not alone.  And it is our Self/Christ that has risen to the forefront in our very being.

4 – Do Not Analyze

This passage also says a great deal about what Jesus means by the “art” of thought, the title of this treatise.  We are no longer to analyze, but to receive, and then, in turn, to give.  We receive from the Self/Christ within, a Self that is in intimate contact with our God within, and then we know how to respond.  And our response is very, very important.  We don’t take responsibility for our brothers and sisters, for that is their role for themselves, but we do respond to their needs whenever appropriate.

5 – ACIM

In A Course in Miracles, we learned that revelation would occasionally show us the end, but to get there the means were needed.  And the means were being explaining in ACIM.  (Paraphrases from ACIM, the Text.)  Now we are encouraged to accept that revelation will be much more of a constant in our lives.  The passage does not say, and does not even imply, that we need to be enlightened before we can receive from revelation.  The books in the trilogy of A Course in Love are to be read in sequence, and it is not until the last half of the third book that we go to the mountaintop (metaphorically) with Jesus, and there become the elevated Self of form (assumingly reaching Christ-consciousness).  The Treatise of the Art of Thought is the first of four treatises in the second book in the sequence.  So we are not at Christ-consciousness when revelation begins to speak to us in an ever-more constant way.

6 – Revelation Now More Constant

We learn that revelation is more constant today, from this passage.  May we learn in this new way, and may we thank God for the new means of learning.  We will make great strides, if our heart is right, from  now on.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I learn how to distinguish revelation from something else.  It seems akin to intuition, but perhaps You need to teach me further.

May I be open to revelation today.  May I learn this new way of knowing, in the depths of my being, in my Self.

Amen.