Monthly Archives: November 2013

You Are Not Really Capable of Being Tired, but You Are Very Capable of Wearying Yourself

music-in-the-tuileries-gardens-1862 - manet“You are not really capable of being tired, but you are very capable of wearying yourself. (T47)”

Affirmation: “I am not really capable of being tired”

Reflections:

1 – Two Concepts

Prior to studying this passage, we may feel that our concepts of “being tired” and “wearying” ourselves mean the same. They do not. Being tired suggests an outward invasion upon our bodies, something that is “done” to us. We can easily recognize, though, that wearying ourselves is an internal matter; we are doing this unto ourselves.

2 – Example of a Child

Of course, we may feel that we are more prone to wearying ourselves because we have gotten tired from outside factors. And this may be true. When a child, a young child, is sleepy and tired from much activity, he/she is likely to become quite rambunctious, as an outward display of the big push to keep going. Few children want to sleep when that time comes. So the wise mother or father puts the child down to sleep when the child has become cranky–if that crankiness is believed to be the cause of the upset.

3 – We Do This unto Ourselves

We need to do the same for ourselves. Few of us get enough sleep, busy as we are with stressful jobs and demanding families. We also push ourselves beyond our limits. And when we do so, we get tired. Now Jesus says that this “tiredness” is a misnomer, that we are actually wearying ourselves by our behavior.

4 – Preachers and Missionaries

Certainly it is true that there are accounts of great preachers who have preached for days on end without weariness. And there are accounts of missionaries are served for decades with demanding schedules without weariness. E. Stanley Jones is a missionary who fits this mold. He told openly of his great weariness and illness, to the point that he must quit the work; but then he had an experience of grace in which he turned the whole over to God, and from then on he was not flagging in spirit. And he retained vigor for a long, long life of service.

5 – Can We Compare?

Are we like these men and women of God? Can we claim the desire not to weary ourselves? And never to be tired, or what we call “tired”?

6 – Very Different Concepts

The two concepts of tiredness and weariness can be seen as very different. Projection makes perception, and being tired would be a conceivable invasion from beyond ourselves if we could actually be influenced by the world’s actions. The theoretical foundation of
A Course in Miracles makes clear that the world does nothing to us; we only think that it does. We are doing this unto ourselves. With this realization, we are solely in the driver’s seat.

7 – Reflect Quietly

In the workaday world, this philosophical interpretation of the influence of the world may seem far from the truth. Only in our quiet moments of reflection is it likely that a glimmering of the truth of this teaching of ACIM will become apparent. When we stop long enough to be introspective, we can see that we are wearying ourselves as we go about our daily activities. A simple change of mind can make the most onerous tasks seem more palatable. And we will recognize, in our quiet moments, that we can be strong and not tired, however much we actually do. Frequently a change of attitude is all that is needed. But this change is spiritual, and we may need a miracle to see its realization. Pray for that miracle.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I realize the truth that wearying myself is something that I do to myself. It can be undone by a quiet moment of reflection.

Thank you that the world does nothing to me. I only thought that it did. And this includes the thought that I am tired. May we learn that being tired is not actually done by the world to us, but wearying ourselves is done to ourselves by ourselves.

Amen.

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Only Those Who Give Over All Desire to Reject Can Know that Their Own Rejection Is Impossible

manet - fifer“Only those who give over all desire to reject can know that their own rejection is impossible. (T48)”

Affirmation: “give over all desire to reject”

Reflections:

1 – Rejection Is of the Ego

Rejection is of the ego, and once we relinquish the desire to reject our brother, we too know that our Self cannot be rejected by God. This may be hard to incorporate into our self-image. We may have played rejection records–going around and around on an illusory turntable–for years. Some of us never quite get over the first rejection from a romantic interest in high school. But knowing that rejection is of the ego, we can soothe our troubled memories.

2 – God Never Rejects

Knowing this is a great release. We cannot be rejected by God! What a glorious incentive to give up the ego. Knowing that God does not reject may seem cold comfort in our low moods. We may not feel the warmth of His presence as we do at other times. We may wish for a human being to return our love, and that reciprocation just may be lacking from our lives.

3 – What to Do in Romantic Rejection

What do we do then? What if a special someone has rejected us, and we cannot seem to get beyond the hurt? We can know that love does not ever leave us–just sometimes it comes in other forms than the romantic package that our culture has led us to see as the greatest blessing. Actually the romantic love of our culture is defining a special relationship, and A Course in Miracles counsels us that this is of the ego, not read at all. Even when we are in a relationship, we are counseled to turn that specialness into the holy. That is the only way to find lasting peace. That is truly the only way to love authentically.

4 – Worst Experiences

All of us have known rejection. We may remember these incidents as among the worst of our life. But we do not have to be wounded irreparably. There is a way out. Once we have started to turn away from the ego, our perceptions are cleansed, and we at that time know less rejection from others. This is a principal motivator of ACIM. And once motivation has been increased, we are well on our way to the Atonement.

5 – Disappointments

Rejection from others, or our own personal rejection of self or others, can be one of the main disappointments in life. Once we truly realize that it is ourselves who have initiated any rejection, even when it seems to come from others, we are healed. “Projection makes perception,” as ACIM tells us. We had a hand in our own rejection. And we can choose again. Indeed, we must choose again–if we are to be healed.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May we realize that in rejection, we are in the driver’s seat. We have made this situation, however much we may try to blame others. Help us especially not to blame You.

I thank You for the time that healed my own experiences with rejection from others. I thank You that now my significant relationships are in the process of being turned into holy relationships. May I do my part to see this process continue and to be completed, in Your good time.

May we cease to contemplate rejection in any form. When this is accomplished, we will be well on our way to Atonement, a lasting Atonement.

Amen.

Dream of Your Brother’s Kindnesses Instead of Dwelling in Your Dreams on His Mistakes

impressionist paintings“Dream softly of your sinless brother, who unites with you in holy innocence. And from this dream the Lord of Heaven will Himself awaken His beloved Son. Dream of your brother’s kindnesses instead of dwelling in your dreams on his mistakes. Select his thoughtfulness to dream about instead of counting up the hurts he gave. Forgive him his illusions, and give thanks to him for all the helpfulness he gave. And do not brush aside his many gifts because he is not perfect in your dreams. He represents his Father, Whom you see as offering both life and death to you. (T-27.VII.15)”

1 – What We Dwell Upon

We can choose what we dwell upon. We don’t have to replay the bad things in our minds. We can remember the good times, and the good things that our brother has done for us—and said to us.

2 – Safety

If we drop from our studied concentration the things that we resent, we will have walked a long way toward recognizing that we are safe.
“Love holds no grievances. When I let all my grievances go I will know I am perfectly safe. (W-68)”

3 – Viewing Our Brother/Sister

A Course in Miracles asked us to view our brother as he appears to us. We are to see his form, his physical body, and contemplate what about that form so attracts us. This emphasis on the physical is characteristic of A Course of Love, the channeled writing that follows ACIM. We are not to denigrate the physical, something that we have often been led to do in the past in order to advance spiritually. We are here on this earth in form, and it behooves us to turn toward, rather than away, from that which we see all around us. If we let go of our grievances toward these forms, these physical embodiments of our brothers and sisters, then we will feel perfectly safe on earth. We will know that nobody harms us except with the permission of our greater Self, the Christ within.

4 – Our Brother’s Gifts

We are not to brush aside our brother’s gifts because he does not appear perfect to us. We are to dwell on his kindnesses, all of the many things in our relationship that has brought great meaning to us and great joy. The passage, above, ends with a curious rejoinder to reflect on the fact that our brothers represents our Father—God—to us, whom we see as offering both life and death. Of course, we know that such an interpretation lacks something. God does not, after all, offer death but a lifetime in eternity. Death is another of the many illusions in which we are caught in this world and the one beyond. But if our brother represents God to us, then we can see why our special relationships need to transform into holy. We can see why our relationship to our brother is the means that A Course in Miracles uses to bring us to Awakening. We are seeing God in our brother, but not in an idolatrous way. We are seeing God in a form that we can recognize.

5 – Personal Experience

Other people can lead us to God, and not by proselytizing us. (We would not be open to that; it would drive us farther away.) We can see the example that they set, and we can rejoice. I myself was brought to a mystical understanding of what prayer can mean by a college professor of mine. He had changed in the two years since I had seen him, a calmer man, a more self-assured man who did not vacillate in moving toward and away from life.

When I exclaimed, “You’re solid as a rock! How did you get that way?,” he replied with one word, “Prayer.”

Oh, what a difference that one-word sermon has made in my life! I knew that I wanted what I saw he had developed in his personality. I wanted the peace that gives a solidarity to the human personality.

6 – Joy

So dwell in your thinking on that which gives you joy about your brother. If you have had disagreements with him, let those drop from your mind. The disagreements will fuel resentment, surely the least loveable of characteristics. Think instead of the good that has come between you. And in this thinking is even the most dysfunctional relationship moved to healing.

Affirmation: “I will see the good things that my brother does today.”

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Help me to remember today the good things that people have done to me. Let me drop from my mind any resentments or antagonisms or hates that have occurred to me over the years. Help me to know that I find safety in this world, I know that I am safe, when I have dropped entirely any and all grievances.

Be with us today. Help us to be grateful for the many right things that have happened to us over the years.

Help me to reach out to others when they are open to it. Don’t let me to make decisions about them that rightfully are not mine to make. Help me to be tolerant.

Amen.

Devotion to a Brother or Sister Cannot Set You Back

cezanne - bowls of fruit
“The Bible says that you should go with a brother twice as far as he asks. It certainly does not suggest that you set him back on his journey. Devotion to a brother cannot set you back either. (T52)”

Affirmation: “Devotion to a brother cannot set me back”

Reflections:

1 – Masculine and Feminine Gender in ACIM

A “brother” in A Course in Miracles always includes brothers and sisters, and it means a companion, another person in this world who needs our compassion. (A Course in Miracles was scribed in the sixties, and inclusive gender language had not yet become inherent in our writing. This aspect of ACIM has become controversial, especially among younger students/teachers.) A brother or sister is someone in the world who may need us in ways that we can answer, or who may need us in ways that we cannot answer. ACIM recommends tolerance of differences, but in no way does ACIM imply that one is to disregard one’s own better instincts in order to cater to a brother or sister. We may walk farther along a pathway, due to the tolerance that we are encouraged to adopt, but we do not do anything to lengthen the journey that our brother or sister has set upon. After all, all of us are on a “journey without distance” (from ACIM), and we do not actually have to “go” anywhere at all to find our way to the spark of divinity which is within.

“The journey to God is merely the reawakening of the knowledge of where you are always, and what you are forever. It is a journey without distance to a goal that has never changed. (T-8.VI.9)”

2 – Go the Extra Mile

It is important to note here that we are to follow the biblical injunction of going the distance with our brother. We are to go the extra mile. But we are not encouraged to send our brother searching alone for his (or her) pathway; we are to help him in the best way that we know how. This best way may not always be apparent. Sometimes we can help best by stepping back, and only smiling at him (or her); this is stated in the Manual of ACIM We are bade to pay attention to what our brother is ready for. And this may not be readily apparent, and so we need to think carefully before we act. If we ourselves cannot be hurt by a brother (and we cannot be), then we have nothing to fear from him–even when he misunderstands us. We may need to absence ourselves from him in such cases, though. Though A Course in Miracles does not say so, sometimes absence from the picture is a loving thing to do. We are not the right person for every other person, because we differ radically in our personalities (from the Manual of ACIM). Our personalities are quite distinct.

3 – No Lost Ground

Also important to this passage is the fact that our devotion to our brother cannot cause us to lose ground. Our pathway, according to ACIM, is found in our devotion to our brother, rather than through long periods of contemplation. Our way, according to the Course, is forgiveness, which leads to love, of our brother. Forgiveness of our brother will lead us to Awakening. So will contemplation, though Jesus states that this other way can be tedious, and we are encouraged to follow our way, which A Course in Miracles spells out in abundant detail.

4 – We Don’t Lose by Helping

If it seems that we have walked farther along our metaphorical pathway than our brother, know that if he/she has been “given” to us, then our companionship with him/her will not set us on a longer pathway home. Each of us is given certain others to whom we can fulfill a teaching role, and this occurs even if we are new students of A Course in Miracles. As soon as we have answered the call, these others will begin seeking us. We will know internally which new faces surrounding us really need us in some way that we can fulfill. And this may take patience. Not everyone is ready at the point of introduction. But if we stay in close touch with the Answer (the Holy Spirit), we will be led in how to conduct a given relationship. Our own desires for special relationships will fall away as we seek to make each encounter holy. And our ongoing special relationships will turn holy (though this may not be without pain).

5 – We Are Here for Each Other

What better way can we spend an eternity than to “be there” for our brothers and sisters? In A Course in Miracles, this is both our primary purpose and our means of salvation leading even unto Awakening. Forgiveness of our brother and sister is the means that we use. Remember that we do not pardon real offenses; our brother and sister are innocent creatures who are doing the best that they can. They may misinterpret the signals that we give, and, if so, it is for us to pull back. But forgiveness remains the central means that we move from fear to love in ACIM. And forgiveness means that even when we get our signals crossed with a brother or sister, we are encouraged still to be loving to that individual. Knowing what to do, and when, takes great skill, and we can never succeed in this tricky business without the guidance that the Holy Spirit prompts.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I be the best companion to my brother. This will mean that I am there for him when he needs me. I will walk along the pathway with him.

May I recognize that devotion to my brother cannot cause me to lose ground in the quest for salvation. Devotion to my brother is the way spelled out in A Course in Miracles. Thank you for these words of encouragement and advice.

Amen.

When You Are Afraid, Be Still and Know that God Is Real

paris street - rainy day“You are part of reality, which stands unchanged beyond the reach of your ego but within easy reach of spirit. When you are afraid, be still and know that God is real, and you are His beloved Son in whom He is well pleased. (T55)”

Affirmation: “When you are afraid, be still”

Reflections:

1 – Comfort

This is a comforting passage to recall in times of fear, and, especially, if we feel that we have wronged a brother. God loves us still, and all mistakes are correctable. We are His beloved Son (or Daughter) in whom He is well pleased. What a statement that is! In fact, it compares God’s love for us with the familiar passage from the New Testament, in which Jesus received God’s blessing as His beloved son. We do not usually think of ourselves in this light. We do not usually compare ourselves to Jesus, especially when in the grip of the ego–for the egoic interpretation would have us reach toward pride, a characteristic that even the ego knows is to be avoided. The whole attitude encompassed in the passage for today would seem to be arrogant to the ego, but actually our spirit knows that we can still be humble and accept such words as these from Jesus.

2 – The World We Made Is an Illusion

There is a theoretical aspect to this passage as well: the image of “reality,” as opposed to the world that we made, which is actually, as seen by the A Course in Miracles, an illusion. The ego lives in this world of illusion, and so naturally if we are listening to the ego, we will believe that we have wronged a brother, and we will be afraid accordingly. The ego feeds upon such imaginings. We do not really understand the assertion in ACIM that we made (not created) this world in which we live. This is a theological underpinning that is beyond our scope. Yet if Jesus says it, I can recognize that there is something here that speaks to me though I do not understand it. I can recognize that my mind can indeed weave illusions, and, according to Jesus in ACIM, that is exactly what my mind has done. And all our minds. We are caught in a mass hallucination (an interpretation, not stated in ACIM).

3 – Insane World

Actually we cannot truly wrong a brother in his (or her) reality, and when we move beyond the ego to the spirit, we know this. Note that reality is within “easy” reach of spirit. This reminder we may need often, as we go about in an insane world. God never leaves us alone, though; we are always shadowed by His inner essence in ourselves, and we always have the Holy Spirit for guidance. Individuals of faith have long recognized the spark of divinity that is within us all, and that is what is meant here. We can reach to true reality, though we may get only glimpses for a long while. When Awakening dawns, we walk a new earth in the real world.

4 – Fear

It is comforting to know that we can be still and ease the fear. An advanced individual does not normally feel the fear that most of us do. But until we become that advanced individual, we still need the comfort that only God can provide.

4 – Be Still

Stillness will quell fear. This is important to remember. We need to realize that we do not have to let our worried and frantic minds exacerbate conflict. We can cease the turmoil by a turning inward, buttressed by prayer.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

When I am afraid, help me to realize that You are there for me. I do not have to retain the emotion of fear; I only need to realize that You will lead me out of that emotion.

I am within easy reach of spirit. Let me always remember this. And thank you.

Amen.

Wholly Satisfying Nature of Reality

bridgepontoise2pissarro
“Fantasies become totally unnecessary as the wholly satisfying nature of reality becomes apparent to both giver and receiver. (T15)”

Affirmation: “the wholly satisfying nature of reality”

Reflections:

1 – Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now) says a good bit about his own Awakening and his joy in the immediate experience of the reality he knows now. His reality is now wholly satisfying, and, as he once said, no thought has made him unhappy since the shift into Awakening.

2 – At What Point Is Reality Satisfying?

Certainly if one has awakened, in the sense of enlightenment–what we are headed for, being prepared through A Course in Miracles–we will know the wholly satisfying nature of reality. We would under those circumstances feel little need to drop into fantasies, though I can imagine that a reflective, moving panorama of the world would elicit reveries that reflect a happy state of consciousness. Indeed, Eckhart tells of just such a state in The Power of Now. The outside world–as well as the inner–seemed fresh and new, and he was awed by what he saw and otherwise experienced. But is it right to call this reaction “fantasy”? I think not. Fantasies seem, in the teaching of ACIM, to be an example of miscreations of the mind, an idle wandering that is not actually idle at all. ACIM says that form is created on some level all the time. Now we cannot understand this, but we can imagine what is meant. And it behooves us to watch our minds and not drop into idle thoughts, thoughts that are actually not idle at all–as Jesus tells us. ACIM notes that the concept of idle thoughts is mistaken, because of the forms that are created. We are lost in miscreations of a mind ruled by the ego.

3 – Life as Easy and Joyous

We learn through A Course in Miracles that we will leave fantasies behind when we see how satisfying reality really can be. Of course, this is not the reality that most of us find ourselves a part of now. But, as we walk the pathway pointed out by the Course, we will find that life becomes increasingly easy and joyous.

4 – No Need for Escape Thoughts

With life now easy and joyous, we will feel no need to escape into fantasies. We will thank God for the new ease that we have found, now that we follow His dictates instead of trying, in vain, to depend solely upon ourselves.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

Fantasies are seductive, but ultimately unsatisfying. As we follow A Course in Miracles, we see the world turn into a wholly satisfying place. We have no need for fantasies then.

May we turn to the Holy Spirit for guidance as we seek to enter the real world, the one where fantasies are not needed.

Amen.

Fear of the Destruction of Your Thought System

van gogh - autumn tree“Your starting point is truth, and you must return to your Beginning. Much has been seen since then, but nothing has really happened. Your Self is still in peace, even though your mind is in conflict. You have not yet gone back far enough, and that is why you become so fearful. As you approach the Beginning, you feel the fear of the destruction of your thought system upon you as if it were the fear of death. (T51)”

Affirmation: “Your starting point is truth”

Reflections:

1 – Difficult Philosophical Backdrop

This is a difficult passage; it hints at a philosophical backdrop for the Course.

2 – We Are Actually Returning

We are told that we are actually “returning,” even though we have never actually left Heaven. This returning leads us to the Beginning, before the ego, in its madness, was made. This is part of the theology of A Course in Miracles, and we in all likelihood cannot expect fully to comprehend all the ramifications. We are “returning,” but we see ourselves as heading forward in time. Yet time is an illusion, and in the beginning we were with God. That is what I think that “return” really hints. We made the ego, and in the beginning it did not exist; we existed in love. And so, naturally, to the ego, its own destruction is terrifying. And as we move back, as we return, the ego–a part of our belief about ourselves–sees that its ending is sure. This, of course, is very terrifying. Indeed, we can gauge the amount of ego still in us by the fearful nature of our thinking as we study the Course.

3 – Living an Illusion

“Nothing has really happened.” Here is the point made again that we are living an illusion, and should any of us really fear an illusion? This world, until we move into the real world (also part of the Plan), is an illusion, and all of our busy doings in it are based on an illusory belief system. The ego would have us believe that we cannot function in this world without its control. But, indeed, we have found that we function poorly with its control.

4 – Our Willingness

So, at this point, ACIM asks us to take a leap of faith (though it does not call it that). We must recognize that the life we will lead without the ego will be preferable to the life that we lead with it. True to the history of the field of psychology, we need to develop an ego as we grow up, but, according to ACIM and A Course of Love, we need to give up that ego to progress spiritually as an adult. We need to be willing to walk this pathway, knowing that the end is sure, and knowing that we will not come to harm. This is not easy to see, because until we get into ACIM, the only basis of our world view has been the ego’s dictates. We think (in part because psychology has so instructed us) that we need a strong ego in order to be a strong person. Yet if we will loosen our hold on our egos ever so slightly, we will find that the opposite happens. We are stronger growing in God’s grace, giving up judgment to the Holy Spirit, and following His guidance as to what we say and do. The benefits are many, but at the very beginning of our journey, we need to suspend disbelief in the benevolence of the ego. It does not wish us well. It has never wished us well. And the time is now to give it up.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

As I study the Course, I may become fearful. This is because my ego senses its elimination.

Help me to realize that this fear can be abated by Your strength. Help me to realize that the elimination of the ego is what I really want.

Be with my brothers and sisters as they take a leap of faith into the dark, as they trust that they will function better without the ego. The ego wants proof of this assertion, and only a little willingness will supply that proof. I know that very little is actually asked of us. May we give that very little, and the joys of our new living experience will assure us that we have made the right choice.

Amen.