Monthly Archives: June 2013

To Live the Life Dreamed Of

Manet-Portrait_Berthe_Morisot_with_Violets
“The only difference between the life you are living and the life you want lies in your willingness to express who you are. (Treatises of A Course of Love: Treatise on the Nature of Unity and Its Recognition, 3.1)”

Affirmation: “I would seek to know who I really am today.”

Reflections:

1 – Self-Expressive

We need a certain freedom to be self-expressive in this world. We will live the life that we have dreamed of when we let ourselves go and not try so hard to conform to dictates from others that find no place in our heart.

2 – Our Childhood

Many of us grew up trying to conform to the wishes of our elders, usually our parents. Others rebelled against their intentions, but still this was a reaction of “no,” and doing the exact opposite was still an influence from elders.

3 – Guidance

How exactly do we live the life that we want? We follow guidance from God. The inner Self/Christ will know, just know, what to say and do. Our will and that of our God are identical. He speaks for us (a tenet of A Course in Miracles, speaking of the Holy Spirit). God would have us express who we really are, but we are such confused beings on this issue. We wonder, “Who am I?” And we ask this question in a thousand ways and more. Yet inside we know the answer. Only the ego prevents our emergence into the Self/Christ that will blossom one day.

4 – The Past

We need to stop living the constricted life that is based on the past. We need to start afresh each day, turning to God each morning for the marching orders for the day. He will not be harsh or stern with us; He will love us. And we will benefit greatly from our times of communion with Him. Living the life that expresses who we are is not hard at all. It is going against the truth of who we are that is contrary to God’s will and our own will.

5 – Starting Over?

Now, many of us can get some rather crazy notions in our heads, in an impulsive way, about throwing over the life that we have so carefully built and starting all over. Lest this direction be your bent, think again. Impulsively throwing overboard our loved ones for a life of “freedom” is not what being who we are is really about. We need each other, and God has given each of us significant others for whom we are chosen people. Impulsivity is not living who you are. Insufficient thought before change is made is a detriment to the right change. So think carefully, with the heart, before chucking it all to be “free.” There is not greater freedom than the joy that we get from attending to the needs of our loved ones.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I ask for Your guidance today. It is easy to want to be independent and free, freed of ties. But I would not live thus. My significant others are given to me for a purpose. And I am given to them. The blessings that we enjoy together come from You. I know that independence is best lived when it is actually interdependence.

May we leave behind the chains from our past, our childhood. We need to forgive our families, for they did the best that they could. Even if it was imperfect.
I too am imperfect. And I thank You that Jesus can heal those imperfections of mine if I will give him half a chance.

I would give him a chance today.

Amen.

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Have You Heard a Call?

manet - a day in paris“Why would we begin a Treatise on Unity by talking of treasure? To pave the way for talking of calling. What is it in you that recognizes talents that lie fully realized within? The practical mind is not the source of such imagination. The practical mind makes of imagination a fantasy. It is the heart that sees with true imagination and the heart speaks to you in terms that are consistent with the idea you currently hold of hearing a call or having a calling. (Treatises of A Course of Love: Treatise on the Nature of Unity and Its Recognition, 2.1)”

Affirmation: “May I listen to my heart today.”

Reflections:

1 – Definition

A calling in the religious/spiritual sense is normally thought of as God placing His hand on one’s heart, and asking one to devote a lifetime to spreading the Gospel. Many individuals feel themselves called to the ministry, and they feel that they themselves have no choice in the matter. God has asked, and He is not to be refused.

2 – Refusing the Call

The Old Testament story of Jonah is the story of a man who tried to refuse a calling. And with dire consequences. He gets swallowed up in a sea monster and there spends, strangely, three days before the monster spits him out on dry land. Then and only then does Jonah go preach in Ninevah. Most callings are not so severe, but this story is meant to illustrate that there is no going against God’s will once He has placed a hand upon one.

3 – Personal Experience

I once heard a missionary lecture to young people (myself being one of them) about the call that she had felt to be a missionary. I sat there in wonder, drinking it all in, and I said to myself, “I hope God doesn’t call me!” I think that God’s call is normally something that is akin to the individual’s personal talents and personal bent. He would not ask for the impossible. And later on, at age 22, I did feel a calling that was much more to my liking, though not something that, over the 14 years that I followed that “call,” always well-received by me. Yet I was not asked to go abroad and be a missionary, something that would not, in all likelihood, have been suited for the personality that God had implanted in my being.

4 – Proselytize?

Jesus does not ask us to proselytize with A Course of Love. He does not ask us to try to convert others to our way of thinking. This is an important point to be noted, for it is concept that might easily be misconstrued. Jesus just makes the teaching available, to be shared with those who find a welcome place in their hearts. He says, similarly, in A Course in Miracles, that some may be ready for only a smile. So there is no license to devote one’s life to converting others to our way.

5 – Jesus’s Words

If another is interested in what Jesus says, though, that is another matter, and we would do well to share, letting guidance choose our words for us. Then and only then we do carry our a calling to the very best of our abilities. And we are certain not to run ahead and try to direct the course of our sharing. We speak softly and let God’s holy guidance do the remainder.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Thank You for the concept of a calling, but may we never make the mistake of believing in a call that is actually non-existent. So often the ego turns wily, and we think that we are to passionately “save” another, but Jesus has better ways to work. Often the one sure way to turn a person off is to try to save his/her soul in an aggressive way.

May I listen for guidance in the matter of a call. Always the call is something that would be fitted to the personality that You gave me and that I developed. It is never an appeal to the ego, and I would not have the ego mislead me today.

May I follow any legitimate call that comes into my heart and mind.

Amen.

Without Struggle or Effort

Dejeuner-canotiers - renoir“Ego desires cause one to think of a grand piano. Thoughts joined in unity hear music. Ego desires cause one to think of an elaborately framed painting. Thoughts joined in unity see beauty. You are used to thinking that if you do not have a tangible goal, such as that of music lessons or the purchase of a piano, you will never reach the goals associated with those tangible steps. Thoughts joined in unity create without goals or planning, without effort or struggle. (Treatises of A Course of Love: Treatise on the Nature of Unity and Its Recognition, 1.13)”

Affirmation: “I would hear music today.”

Reflections:

1 – Effortless Thinking

We perk up when someone, especially someone like Jesus, tells us that there is a way to live without struggle or effort. If we join our thoughts in unity, we will know that blessing of effortless thinking. But what does “joining our thoughts in unity” really mean?

2 – Unity

A Course of Love indicates that if we share our thoughts, our deepest thoughts with our Christ/Self, deep within our minds, and we share our thoughts with God, and with our brothers and sisters, then we are living in unity (an interpretation of ACOL). We are also living in relationship. In unity, the One is emphasized; in relationships, the differentiated mass of One is emphasized. The One and the differentiated mass are both of God, and there is truly no difference between them. There is just a difference in the way we are thinking and talking of them.

3 – Christ-Consciousness

May we hear music today. May we not struggle to pay for the piano, or to take music lessons, but let us rest in the assurance that all will come to us when we are ready. And that especially includes Christ-consciousness.

4 – Planning

We are not instructed to form comprehensive goals or to plan rigidly for the future. We do not, according to A Course in Miracles, need to plan at all, unless we are instructed, at the time, by the Holy Spirit. ACOL goes a step farther, for this work tries to tell us that the impetus to know what to do comes from the inner Self/Christ. We just know. And we are the better for it.

5 – Just “Knowing”

Just “knowing” is tricky at first. How do we just know? Largely this comes from feelings, or intuition. We do not judge what to do, because we are incapable of seeing the whole picture (from the Manual of A Course in Miracles). We cannot know all factors that impinge upon past events, circumstances, or goals; we cannot see all facets of the present; and we certainly cannot discern the future without help from God. We need to realize that the way of God is, in fact, easily distinguishable once we become attuned to listening to intuition. Of course, there are other ways that guidance comes to us, and I have an article in this blog entitled, “The Gift of Guidance,” which may shed some light on the question. (Search the blog under gift and guidance and hales.)

6 – Picture Frames

If we choose to give up elaborately weaving picture frames, we will know more. This image, by the way, is a direct correlation with one from A Course in Miracles. We need to realize that a picture, lightly framed and in light, will show the best image (from the Text of ACIM). This we can look at in certain fashion. And for this we do not need elaborate goal-setting and planning.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would see the picture today, not the picture frame. And I would hang all the pictures of my life in slender frames, framed in light. I would turn aside from jewel-encrusted, massive picture frames that obscure the real point–the picture itself. Thank You for this lovely image from A Course in Miracles.

May I walk through life in a relaxed, happy fashion. This is within my power, when You are with me, and I listen to You as You guide me. I would be finished with fear. As soon as fear crops up, let me turn it over to You and be done with it. The day is worth rejoicing. Thank You.

Amen.

Peaceful Resting Place

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“You may well be feeling a sense of relief in having learned that who you are right now is a being of perfection, and you may find in this a somewhat peaceful resting place to dwell in for a time. (Treatises of A Course of Love: Treatise on the Nature of Unity and Its Recognition, 1.4)”

Affirmation: “I would rest in peace today.”

Reflections:

1 – Reassuring

Jesus is very, very reassuring to us who are reading this Treatise today. He says that we, regardless of our mistakes and regardless of how much we still would like to right about ourselves, are in actuality “beings of perfection.” This phrase refers to the Self/Christ who is within, a truth that he makes clear in other places in A Course of Love trilogy. Our personal (or “little”) selves partake of the ego, and know not of perfection, but their time is limited. The personal self will be lifted up into Christ-consciousness, and we will then make choices about which personality traits we want to retain. If, for example, we want to be free of anger, we will simply resolve so to be, and this will come to pass.

2 – Choose How to Be

The last assertion above may sound farfetched, but Jesus makes this point clearly elsewhere in ACOL. We choose how we want to be, and the lesser parts of ourselves just drop away. We are perfect at our deepest, inward state. We drop off the chaff that clings to our outer selves when we move into Christ-consciousness. We may drop off the chaff gradually, or there may be a sudden transformation, with a great sudden lessening of suffering. Either way, we will move into a better world.

3 – Too Long Fear-Ridden

We need this “somewhat peaceful resting place.” We have lived too long in a fear-ridden world, believing ourselves to be inferior beings before God. We have thought too little of ourselves. We are, even as our personal selves, children of God. And He loves us in all of personal imperfections. The inner core is still as He created us, perfect before Himself. And it is this truth that Jesus wishes us to dwell upon, in peace, today.

4 – Beings of Perfection

We have not had a sense of relief about ourselves. We have both thought too highly of ourselves (as the ego thinks), and too little (as the Christ/Self thinks). We have felt ourselves to be lesser beings, and here Jesus is telling us that we are beings of perfection. Quite a difference! And if the ego is still viable in us, the ego will, temporarily, have a field day. But we will be dashed downward, for the ego takes away as soon as it gives.

5 – Respite

Let us enjoy this respite. We have not come as far as we think. Jesus will guide us by the hand to a better and a new life.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I thank You for this peaceful resting place, before we go on farther along the pathway. I am not perfect, and it is reassuring to know that I don’t have to be. I can make up my mind to change the personality traits that I don’t like, and in a miraculous way those traits will be changed.

Thank You for the blessings of this day, and there are many. Thank You for holding my hand when the going has been tough, and I ask that the going be smooth now. I depend on Your presence for my better feelings.

Amen.

Material Treasures Are of the Ego

170px-Girl_with_a_HoopAs this treatise is not concerned with material treasure, we will not explore the dimensions of physical treasure except to say that the feelings that cause one to think that any physical thing is capable of being a treasure or being treasured are of the ego. We will instead assume that you have moved beyond these ego concerns and explore the realm of internal treasures. (Treatises of A Course of Love: Treatise on the Nature of Unity and Its Recognition, 1.3)”

Affirmation: “I choose only internal treasures today.”

Reflections:

1 – Law of Attraction

This passage takes a stand diametrically opposed to the emphasis that is sometimes placed on attracting physical treasures by the Law of Attraction. Certainly we do know, from observation, that physical treasures may be attracted, but does our pleasure in them remain for very long? We drop them, as a child drops a favorite toy, and go on to the next material boon. And we remain dissatisfied at our core, even though momentarily we have received the best of a thing that we thought we wanted.

2 – Internal Treasures

Internal treasures do not fade in their blessing to us. We do not become dissatisfied over time when we hold the internal deeply within ourselves. The internal does not turn to ashes and dust in our hands because we have neglected the intangible treasures of God–the peace, harmony, joy, serenity, ecstasy that is ours when we have sought our treasures in heaven. The New Testament makes this same point in telling us not to lay up for ourselves that which does corrupt, but to lay up treasures in heaven.

3 – Attracting the Material

It is clear to me that the Law of Attraction can attract material things of this world. And God wants our material needs to be satisfied. But He wants more beyond this for us, His beloved children. He wants us to be satisfied in our souls, and material blessings, however good, cannot, ultimately, satisfy the soul. Some individuals in our world who have the least material blessings do indeed have rich intangible treasures that give them a joy that is unknown to most of us. Those who minister to the sick and dying know a serenity that can give great joy in the midst of sorrow, for they know that they are fulfilling a need for their brothers and sisters.

4 – Material Reward

There simply is no correlation between happiness and material reward. Certainly material want can bring much pain, but not all with little material blessings endure the pain that more affluent people do. The dark night of the soul is not limited to the materially bereft.

5 – Our Birthright

The internal treasures that Jesus assures us are our by birthright will give us a life beyond our wildest dreams. We will know joy. We will know peace. We will know even ecstasy. And we will know that we have heaven here on earth and we are at home.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would bless those of my brothers and sisters who still seek for their treasure in the material, but I would be interested in having my loved ones recognize that there are greater joys in the intangible. May all of us satisfy our physical needs, but may we realize that internal and lasting happiness cannot be acquired by accumulating material blessings.

May we use the Law of Attraction wisely. We do have physical needs, and may these be satisfied. But may we also use this Law to attract the intangible. What we think about the most may appear. And may that thought be good.

Amen.

Slight Twinge of Annoyance / Intense Fury

monet - water and boats“You will become increasingly aware that a slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury. (W-21)”

Affirmation: “May I be angry with no one today.”

Reflections:

1 – Nighttime Dreams

This assertion, one of the more well-known from A Course in Miracles, does not seem credible on first reading. But actually our egoic minds delude us. We may dream at night far more hostilely than we think in the daytime. And so nighttime dreams of anger can clue us to the fact that we can be intensely furious when we think that we are mildly upset.

2 – No Gradations in Emotions

Why would this passage be true? Jesus does not give credence to gradations in emotions. In some ways, he thinks in black and white. And we may be used to this from his reactions in the New Testament. So what he says here has a certain ring of authenticity.

3 – Why?

Why would we really be furious when we think that we are only mildly annoyed? The ego wants it all for itself. The ego doesn’t really think in gradations, but it knows that we won’t accept extreme anger for ourselves, and so, in its wily way, the ego softens its attitudes. If this makes the ego sound independent, it does indeed function in this way quite often. But it is merely a part of our belief about ourselves, and we can choose to let it wither away. Indeed, we must choose this.

4 – Fury

How do we “lose it”? Do we lose it often? This shows that Jesus’s statement is indeed true. When we are tired, we are likely to express more fury than at any other time. Or if something else has already upset us (something that is never the “real thing” that is upsetting–an ACIM tenet). We can recognize, when we contemplate, that intense fury is actually veiled when we get upset. And we are the worst for it.

5 – Love

May all of us turn to the love within, the love that will eliminate these bouts of fury.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I learned in my maturity that I never get angry unless I am stressed. Many others are surely like this as well. But isn’t stress with me, still? And don’t I try to veil the anger that sometimes visits at inopportune times? I would be finished with this expression of the ego. No more.

May I invite the serenity that displaces the ego and put Your love in the center of my life. Then and only then will I no longer feel or show extravagant displays of negative emotion. Be with me as I seek to leave all this foolishness behind. I would not do this to myself, as I would not do it to my closest companions.

Amen.

No Idle Thoughts

1873 Dance School - degas
“There is no more self-contradictory concept than that of ‘idle thoughts.’ What gives rise to the perception of a whole world can hardly be called idle. Every thought you have contributes to truth or to illusion; either it extends the truth or it multiplies illusions. You can indeed multiply nothing, but you will not extend it by doing so. (W-16)”

Affirmation: “May I stop my mind wandering today.”

Reflections:

1 – Mind Wandering

I have been guilty of mind wandering, and this mind wandering does form illusions that, on some level, have a form of their own. These are idle thoughts that are actually not “idle” at all. We need to stop such displays whenever they occur. Just saying “Stop!” can do more than might be thought.

2 – Essence of Salvation

Jesus would not have us destroy our good mind with images of illusions. We live in a dream, at least until the real world is seen, but to us this world is quite real already. How can we navigate through this world best? We need to ask for guidance. We cannot do it alone, nor should we. The best advice that Jesus gives is included in the Manual, when he recommends giving up judgment to follow the guidance that comes to us. This alone will save us. It is the essence of salvation.

3 – Misuse of Time

Perhaps we all might recognize that mind wandering and “idle” thoughts are a misuse of our good time. We need to live well in this world, and we usually only succeed in scaring ourselves when we indulge in such fantasies. May we drop this foolishness from our repertoire of emotions today.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Thank You for guiding me to the understanding that following Your guidance is the only way to live a life well. And I do try, though often I fall on my face. Help me to pick myself up and try again. Always to try again.

May I understand and act on the guidance that comes to me as it unfolds. May I never substitute ego-oriented thoughts, emotion-drive thoughts, instead of what is really best for myself as well as everyone I touch. May egoic thought die in me. Thank You for having the patience to show me the way when I am capricious and headstrong. Such attitudes have no place in my communion with You. I know this, and I pray to act upon this knowledge today and every day.

Amen.