Tag Archives: art of thought

Respond to Our World—and Live Joyfully

“The second rule of the art of thought is to acknowledge relationship, the call for a response, and the nature of all gifts as being given to all. This is thus a call to realize that you exist in relationship, that your relationship calls for a response, and that you are given to all as all are given to you.

“This is an enormous shift in your habit of thought as you become the center of the universe.” (ACOL, T1:4.6 – 4.7)

A “response” may not seem to us, at first glance, to be putting ourselves in the center of the universe. And we may bristle at this description, thinking that it is an egoic statement. But when we respond to that surrounds, faithfully and truthfully, we are not in the ego. We are in relationship to all others—all others, God, and the Self deep within, where the center is.

Think of the example of the sunset again. This simple, everyday occurrence, will soothe us as we try to come to terms with what the art of thought really means. We appreciate the sunset as a gift of God—that is the first rule of the art of thought. And then we are moved to respond, usually internally, to that sunset, and this is the second rule of the art of thought. We see ourselves in relationship to the natural world, the sunset being an especially beautiful example of the natural world.

The sunset has been given to us. The All has been given to us; there is no difference. This All is God Himself, present in all that exists. This form of pantheism, presented in both A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love, still sees the All as One. This is why, from every point, that point is the center of the universe. That is why we can begin to see ourselves, in a non-egoic response, as the center of the universe. It is like a hologram; the whole is present in each point. And that point is the center, for the center if actually everywhere.

We need to recognize that we are given gifts by God, gifts for our pleasure and enjoyment. And, in return, we are asked to respond to the whole universe, the universe with which we are in relationship. These are the two rules for the art of thought. And when we begin practicing the union of heart and mind, and our own union with our deeper Self, we will know a joy that has eluded us until now.

Ask for the joy to rain down upon us. Just ask.

And we will be met with a happiness unexpected in common hours.

Dear Father/Mother,

Thank You for your guidance. Thank You for ACOL. Its heartwarming passages do indeed teach us a new way to live, a new way to think. And we are made the better for the transformation that we are about.

Be with me today, as I seek to increase intimacy with others. I need them, as they need me. Isolation doesn’t become any of us, for we are meant to be in relationship, to be interdependent.

May the rules of the art of thought inform all of my comings and going today.

Thank You.

Amen.

Miracles = Prayer = New Art of Thought

“A Course of Love began with an injunction to pray. A Course in Miracles began with a definition of miracles. Both are the same. Prayer and the art of thought are the same. This should serve to make it clear that the request I have made of you is once again far more broad and generalizable than your old habit of thought has led you to see.” (ACOL, T1:4.3)

Here we see that prayer = miracles =art of thought, and we see that Jesus’s request to us to choose a miracle is a broad-based request that has applicability in every facet of our lives. We had thought, and he let us think for a while, that his injunction to choose a miracle was for something specific. He then led us through a labyrinth of the reasons that we were not acting on his request (for he knew that we would not act, being too fearful of his request). He wants us to drop those fears, fears that have their roots in the specific nature of our egoic thinking, the only thinking that we have known. Now he has finally, after several pages, explained to us, in this passage, that what he is wanting from us is an entirely new way of life, a life that is miracle-based, prayer-based, and based in a new way of thought.

We can pray without ceasing, though if we have never tried, we will naturally doubt that we would ever succeed. As Jesus said in A Course in Miracles, we are much too tolerant of mind wandering. And wander our ego-mind will do; it is only when the ego has been abandoned that we begin thinking in a new way, the prayerful way that invites miracles moment by moment through the new way of thought that we are using.

It is not easy to understand, even now, what Jesus means by the art of thought. This is because we can’t really practice it until we practice wholeheartedly, with mind and heart united as one—and our Self guiding us along the way. We need to let our Self, united with God, come out to play. We have not known about this Self for eons, caught as we have been in a false viewing of thinking through a false self trapped by ego. But all of this is changing for us now, and we are already the better for it. We will soon know a joy that has been eluding us for as long as the ego has reigned, and this goes backward in time to a point that we can only dimly imagine.

Reach for the joy of miracles, the joy that is found in a prayerful and reverent attitude toward life and our living a life. When we glimpse, ever so slightly what this change will bring about in us, we will be impatient to walk the whole pathway toward Christ-consciousness. Indeed, wholeheartedness demands this of us. And God makes the decision, but our fervent desire to live differently is fully in accord with divine will, and so when we pray for Christ-consciousness sooner rather than later, we are in league with God Himself.

Dear Father/Mother,

I would enjoy this day, a day that can be filled with miracles. I spent time in journaling this morning that gave me a new lease on life. And this was prayer, written out in my own handwriting. This is the way that You would have us live, and I now know first hand what a difference it has made in this one day. Thank You.

Be with my brothers and sisters as they seek to understand the art of thought, a difficult concept. Be with me as I seek to expand my own knowledge of what is meant. Help me to avoid a wandering mind, but keep me on task.

Thank You.

Amen.

Give Up the Insane Ego

“Thoughts that were guarded by the ego-mind were in need of being set free. Appealing to your heart was the means or cause of this freedom being accomplished in you. What was spoken of within A Course of Love as unlearning has begun and continues here. What was spoken of within A Course of Love as new learning has begun and continues here as well. The difference is that you are now ready to learn a new means of response to this unlearning and learning. That response is the art of thought.” (ACOL, T1:2.5)

Here Jesus explains why he appeals to the heart in A Course of Love. Our minds have been too occupied with egoic thoughts; the mind has been well-fortified. And now all of this unfortunate trend can be stopped in its tracks. Jesus appeals to our heart, and in so doing find a way to circumvent the mind, at least temporarily. When the ego has faded away, we will once again entertain the mind, and we will join mind to heart to form what Jesus calls “wholeheartedness.”

We have been unlearning and learning anew. And this will continue for a while, as we page through A Course of Love. Eventually, we will give up learning by traditional means, but we are not there yet. We need to realize that our minds have betrayed us for eons. The egoic mind was and is mad, evidence of simple insanity, and until we realize this and give up our egoic notions, we will not find peace. But peace is out there waiting for us, and it takes very little rational thought to make a determination to turn to the heart over the mind. And when we turn to the heart over the mind, we will indeed find the peace that we have so longed to have.

The art of thought is Jesus’s next means to reach us. The art of thought is described in the Treatises and the Dialogues in various ways. It is, first of all, how we create as does the Creator, God Himself. It is miracle-readiness, and even the miracle itself. It is prayer. We don’t analyze or evaluate, sitting in judgment, when we employ this new means of thought. We respond to what is happening around us, and this response is pivotal to a good understanding of what the art of thought really means. Responding, as God responds to us, is our lodestone.

Our egoic mind will give up when we turn to miracles. And our own focus on our heart, something that we know intuitively, will speed along the ego’s demise.

Dear Father/Mother,

Help me to keep a sane mind today, free of egoic longings and obsessions. I would be free of the ego forever. I would follow the leanings of my heart, and my heart does, in fact, sense Your warm Presence. Thank You.

Help me to respond to my thoughts as they come in a rational way. May my heart be my guide. And may I be sped on my way as I come to understand all that is meant by the “art of thought.”

Amen.

Joy that Knows No Bounds

“The joy that will come to you from the thoughts of a mind joined in union will be unparalleled in your experience here. “Ah,” you will say with a relief and joy that knows no bounds, “this is what it is to experience and know the truth. This is what it is to create, for this is what it is like to think as God thinks.” Where once you recognized only illusion and called it reality, the mind joined in union will now, more and more, recognize only truth and experience only the truly real.” (ACOL, T1:1.10)

Union in A Course of Love means two things, related but not identical. First, union means the joining of heart and mind to form wholeheartedness. This change will transform us. It will make the second thing possible: the emergence of the Self from within, and in this emergence will come union with this Self and union with God.

Of course, all of this change will mean that enlightenment, or Christ-consciousness, is now possible for us, at first to be seen in glimpses, then in lengthening glimpses, and finally to be maintained and then sustained. It is possible for there to be a sudden change that is disorienting, but this form of change occurs less often than the gradual, quiet Awakening.

And we will know joy in union with God and in union with our Self, the part of God Who dwells within each of us. This promise is an enlargement from the dictates in A Course in Miracles, when happiness is seen to be our function (along with salvation and forgiveness). I don’t think that we need to quibble over the difference between the joy that Jesus describes in ACOL, and the happiness that he encourages in ACIM. The point is that our future is much brighter than what we have been living through, suffering because we failed to recognize and to live miracle-readiness.

The art of thought, discussed so obliquely in this first book of the Treatises, is variously described as creating like unto our Creator (God), or miracle-readiness, or prayer, or the miracle itself. The art of thought is also seen a diametrically opposite the thinking of the ego-mind, and so it is imperative that we be certain that we are no longer motivated by egoic ideals.

Let’s welcome this joy today, knowing that union is finally being reached. We live wholeheartedly, and in this new way of handling our world, we merge with the Self, the part of us Who is God Himself.

With such a change, could anything be less than ideal? Aren’t we truly and completely on our way now to a glorious new day, creating the new world that Jesus so longs to see us do?

Dear Father/Mother,

I would be grateful today for the many blessings poured out upon me previously, and the promise of ever greater blessings now and in the future. I would wait patiently for Your action in my life, for the glimpses of Awakening to lengthen, for the Awakening that You want for me to come about. When I am at peace in this world, the future seems bright indeed. And all of us can welcome a little more peace.

Be with my brothers and sisters. May I reach out when I can, and may I draw inward for sustenance when this retreat is necessary. Help me always to be open to guidance, always to cease second guessing the nudges that come to me.

Thank You for another promising day in Your Presence.

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.

Prayer

female impressionistA Course of Love began with an injunction to pray.  A Course in Miracles began with a definition of miracles.  Both are the same.  Prayer and the art of thought are the same.  This should serve to make it clear that the request I have made of you is once again far more broad and generalizable than your old habit of thought has led you to see.  (The Treatises of A Course of Love:  Treatise on the Art of Thought, 4.3)”

Affirmation:  “May I pray often and deeply today.”

Reflections:

1 – Speaking Abstractly

These frequent statements by Jesus in A Course of Love that two phrases mean the same can be confusing.  He is speaking from an abstract basis.  We are still thinking concretely, specifically.  We need to change that, so that the egoic mind does not gain a toehold again.

2 – Choose a Miracle

The request that Jesus refers to is his injunction to choose a miracle.  He is encouraging us to see the broader implications of miracles, the miracles that are present all the time in everyday life.  When we pray, we receive miracles as a matter of course.  When we employ the “art of thought,” then we are praying by definition.  The art of thought is the abstract, generalizable way of thinking and speaking.  It is not something foreign to us any longer.

3 – Drop the Ego

Our old habit of thought was informed by the ego.  And we would not have our new habit of thought unless we drop the ego.  Let us all choose to fail to reinforce anything that smacks of egotism.  We will know disaster unless we drop the ego, and we will know peace when we have done so.  Any pleasure is short-lived when it involved the ego.  And we pay for that pleasure with tears of despair.

4 – Pray without Ceasing

May we remember to pray as we go about our day.  It is the most satisfying way to live.  The Bible enjoins us to “pray without ceasing,” and many of us find this injunction beyond us.  But we don’t have to be foxhold pray-ers either.  We can pray often and deeply, and the blessings that will be ours will surprise even ourselves.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Thank You that prayer has meant so much to me throughout my life.  It is the way that I go to sleep at night.  It is the way that I calm anxieties.  And it the way that my entreaties reach Your ears.

Be with me today so that I do not deep into worries.  Prayer heals that tendency in me.  And I thank You for it.  Fear and worry are of the ego, and, as I have said to You many times, I would quit the ego immediately.

Help me to reach out to others today, to answer whatever needs are mine to answer.  Be with all other whom I touch in any way today.  And may the day go well.  Thank You.

Amen.

A New Way of Thinking

InspiringImpressionism_Morisot

“The experience of truth dispels illusion and thus the ego-mind.  The art of thought replaces the ego-mind with the wholehearted.  The wholehearted is but the heart and mind joined in unity.  (The Treatises of A Course of Love:  Treatise on the Art of Thought, 3.4)”

Affirmation:  “wholeheartedness today”

Reflections:

1 – Wholeheartedness

This passage for today is a summary statement of the importance of wholeheartedness.  We have deemphasized the ego-mind to the extent that we personally can.  It is up to God to do the rest.  And He will not fail us.

2 – New Art of Thinking

When we have truly experienced the truth of our world, we will perhaps not recognize it at first.  We need time to grow accustomed to a new way of thinking, the new art of thought.  But we will recognize that the illusions in which we have believed in the past seem to have fallen away.  We will see more clearly, but with an inner eye, not our physical sight.  This is all it takes:  To see with the inner eye.  This is the way in which the Christ/Self within experiences the world.  And when we identify most clearly with the Christ/Self within, we are well on our way home.

3 – Personal Experience

Christ-consciousness is not yet for everyone, and it particularly behooves us not to claim to have experienced it if we are not living it.  Others will take notice and realize that we have deluded ourselves.  We need to set a good example of absolute truthfulness in this regard.  Those who would claim Christ-consciousness may only be getting glimpses that will fade.  As I have mentioned, I have had two experiences of Awakening that did not last–one for three months, one for six.  These experiences were life-changing for me, and they led me to understand what would be in store for me when the change was permanent.  But a permanent change cannot be rushed.  We do our part by reading and studying, praying and communing with God, and then we wait in patience for Him to act.  He will reach down (metaphorically) and lift us up when the time is right.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May this day go well.  May I appreciate what is before me, never crying after something that I don’t have.  May I be satisfied as long as I am pursuing Your way, to the best of my ability and may the set of my will be strong.  There is no way that I can be of use to others if I am not well-equipped personally and emotionally.  May I find Your peace today in everything that I say and do.  May the joy of the moment replace second-guesses and ruminations.

May I find Your way amid the myriad ways that this world points out to me.  This world is not what I would have until it has been transformed before my eyes by You.  May this happen today, if it be Your will as well as mine.  May I no longer be afraid of Awakening, for if I am afraid of it, it is not the prayer of the heart, and You cannot honor my request.  May all of my requests to You be from deep within me, and may nothing be asked that is superficial.

Thank You for putting the right book in my hands at the right time.  And this is repeated with many books over the course of years.  Thank You for giving to me the significant others who do all that they can to meet the needs that are theirs to meet.  May this day go smoothly for all whom I encounter in any way.

Amen.

Leave Off Fantasies and Obsessions

monet_amsterdam

“. . .[T]hese are the basic rules of the art of thought:  First, to experience what is and to acknowledge what is, both as a fact of your existence as a human being and as a gift of the Creator.  Second, to acknowledge the relationship inherent in the experience, the call for a response, and the nature of all gifts as being given to all.  (The Treatises of A Course of Love:  Treatise on the Art of Thought, 2.19)”

Affirmation:  “May I create rather than ‘make.'”

Reflections:

1 – Abstract Passage

This passage is not easy to understand because it is so abstract.  We, who so recently have been of the ego-mind, are used to concrete terms, and Jesus leaves out concrete terms when he channeled A Course of Love, especially the Treatises and the Dialogues (the latter two volumes of this trilogy).  What can we make of this difficult passage?

2 – House of Truth

We need to recognize solely “what is,” which is another way of saying that we will not be lost in illusions or in dreams any longer, but will dwell in the House of Truth.  We will not fool ourselves about what we are experiencing, lost in fantasies that bring only fleeting pleasure.  We will not be lost in fantasies at all.  Neither obsessions.  We will confront what is before us with wide-open eyes, not in the physical sense, but with the inner eye.  The Self/Christ within will be our lodestone.

3 – All Gifts Are Given to All

All gifts are given to all, not at the same time, but eventually.  We know that all gifts are shared, and that we are not “special” in any sense at all.  Or,  conversely, we are all special, but specialness is an attribute that A Course in Miracles downplays.  We are not actually special in that we possess anything that others do not also possess on some level.  Right now gifts seem to vary among people, but this will not always be the case.  In eternity all is shared; all gifts are shared.

4 – A Call for Response

What we experience calls for a response from us.  And this response practices the art of thought.  We do not feel a responsibility for others, to do for them what they can do for themselves, but we do respond when they are in need.  The need is, after all, only temporary, for all needs are met immediately.  It is only wants that are not always answered, and perhaps that would not be a good thing.  The solution is always with the problem.  We need not fear.  God is within, answering our every need.  And from this point of certainty, we respond to Him and to others.  We give of ourselves in this transaction, and we are not fearful in the giving.  We know that giving and receiving are one.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would try to experience, directly, what is–not what I might wish for in fantasies or obsessions.  What is, is the art of thought in one of its main components.  Thank You for the clarity that today’s passage gives to this new concept.  May I take it unto my heart and walk a clear pathway back to You, a clear path with clear vision to see my way.

I have gifts, and this is not ego.  So does everyone else.  And these gifts right now vary, but ultimately all gifts will be shared with each other.  And there is no ego in this.  I need to be all that I can be for my brothers and sister, and I ask Your help to keep my Christ/Self perking away, with the go ever-withering, disappearing entirely.

Thank You for the benefits that Jesus has pointed out to us in A Course of Love.  May I comprehend with my wholeheartedness, and may my mind no longer try to dominate my heart.

Amen.

No Better Way to Spend a Day

rouen cathedral“The new means of thinking is referred to here as the ‘art’ of thought in order to call your wholehearted attention to the continual act of creation that is the relationship between creator and created.  Creation is but a dialogue to which you have not responded.  The art of thought will free you to respond.  (The Treatises of A Course of Love:  Treatise on the Art of Thought, 2.12)”

Affirmation:  “I will practice the art of thought.”

Reflections:

1 – Unlearning

We need to unlearn the way that we have been “learning.”  We have been using our ego-mind, and now we are encouraged to observe through wholeheartedness.  This is the art of thought, as Jesus describes it.  We arre unlearning the old way, and we are “learning” through observation.  We no longer use our left brain as much.  Our thought is more abstract.  And this is the very reason that reading and “learning” A Course of Love can seem frustrating.  We are still trying to learn in the old manner.

2 – Read like a Story

Let us stop this inefficiency of learning now.  Let us relax in our learning, reading as we would ready a story.  We do not need to concentrate with wrinkled brow.  There is a better way.  And the art of thought shows us what it is.

3 – Christ-Consciousness

We experience more real creation, rather than the things that we made with our ego.  Our Christ-consciousness creates in a way that the ego-mind never could (though it tried mightily).

4 – Create

Let us create today.  Let us ask for help in creating.  There is no better way to spend a day.

5 – Call to Create

We have not responded to this call to create previously.  We have chosen to be afraid instead.  Let us drop fear now, and create with the art of thought–the means of observation that will help us to learn aright.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would observe rather than allow my ego-mind to ruin what could be a good day.  I will observe the world around me, and I will ask for help in understanding what I am seeing.  I will practice the new way of learning through the “art of thought.”

Be with me as I seek to make this transformation real.  There is no better way to proceed on my walk to You.  Be with me, with Your felt Presence, as I try to convert an old way of learning to a new, more effective way.  It is time for all of us to do what we can to effect transformation in ourselves and in our world.  But You must call the shots.  We are lost without Your guiding Presence.

Amen.

Choosing to Leave Pipe Dreams Behind

images“You have already succeeded in learning in this new way once or you would not be here.  This is your proof that you can do so again and again until the new way totally replaces the old and the art of thought leaves behind forever the need for what the ego-mind once but seemed to offer you.  (The Treatises of A Course of Love:  Treatise on the Art of Thought, 2.9)”

Affirmation:  “May I leave the ego-mind behind from now on.”

Reflections:

1 – Pipe Dream?

It surely seem a pipe dream that we can leave the ego-mind behind from now on.  But Jesus would not mislead us.  It is possible, and indeed probable, if we follow his advice.  We do not have to think egoistically.  We can “think” with our heart, which loves all others (and ourselves too, for we must not forget that we love our neighbor as ourselves).  The ego-mind has never given us anything that was a lasting peace.  We had flights of joy, but if these were ego-based, there was a low that followed the high.  We paid for those flights of joy with tears of pain.  And we would no longer have it so.

2 – Leaving the Ego-Mind

The change from ego-mind does not usually happen in one felt swoop.  We venture ahead, led by the heart, then take a step backwards into ego-mind, and then disown the ego-mind once again, choosing the heart instead.  This oscillation is common, and it should not be a cause for downheartedness.  We have listened to the ego-mind for eons, and now that we are leaving it behind, it does not go quietly.  We are constantly confronted with temptations of the ego, temptations to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think.  And these temptations trip us up.  But we do not have to remain tripped up.  We ask for help, and the help is forthcoming.  Always.  When we ask help of God, He responds, gladly and quickly.  The solution is always with the problem.

3 – How to Have Lasting Joy

The ego-mind never gave us joy that was lasting.  But the heart, and the mind and heart together, do just that.  The joy is lasting.  There may seem to be some effort involved, but it is a peaceful effort.  And the peace that it gives soon makes the effort itself effortless.  There is no strain when we follow in God’s way.

4 – Perfect Calm and Quiet

We are just beginning to understand the art of thought.  It is totally alien to the ego-mind, and so there will be some difficulty in understanding.  But the difficulty will soon melt away.  And only perfect calm and quiet will remain.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Jesus has promised me that to think with my heart is a way that the art of thought manifests in my life.  I would have this new way of thinking encompass my living day to day.  Help me to understand enough to at least begin on this new way of living.  I would miss much in life, the full life that you want for me, if I still insist on listening to the ego-mind.

Help me to reach out to others in a way that is understandable.  We need each other in this world.  Let us reach forth our hands and join them in silent communion one to the other.  May we keep in mind that we first commune with You, and then we commune with the others whom we encounter.

Amen.