Tag Archives: depression

Misery with the Ego / Joy with the Spirit

“I am conditioning you to associate misery with the ego and joy with your spirit. You have conditioned yourself the other way around. But a far greater reward will break through any conditioning if that reward is repeatedly offered when the old habit is broken. You are still free to choose. But can you really want the rewards of the ego in the presence of the rewards of God?” (ACIM, COA ed., T-4.VIII.23:1-5)

The ego has never brought real joy; at best, we have had flights of fancy that were high enough in tone that we felt an exhilaration. Then, invariably, we were dashed downward to a sense of depression—mild or severe. These dramas were endless, and so unnecessary now that our knowing has expanded.

Jesus speaks of conditioning in this complete edition of A Course in Miracles, from the Circle of Atonement. The use of the word “conditioning” would make eminent sense to Helen and Bill. And we have enough general knowledge of psychology from everyday life to comprehend as well. What does Jesus mean by this conditioning?

We thought that the dramatic highs that the ego gave us were all that we could expect on earth. We were mistaken. A joyous spirit offers far more. This joy does not become inverted, to dash us downward into depression. This joy extends, more and more, as we are receptive to it.

This joy is often calm, and in the mild manner of it, we may not recognize what we have. Calm is sometimes a factor in depression, and we may even think that, when we are calm, we are depressed. We have much to discover. We are meant, according to A Course in Miracles, to remain “perfectly calm and quiet.” This new demeanor may not even seem desirable. We will see its value as we do quieten ourselves down and invite the Holy Spirit to inform our minds. We will see value when we let ourselves see value.

“Joy with the spirit”! Yes! Our new lives will mean much to us when we have given joy a welcome in our hearts. The ego will fall away, and, if we are careful and do nothing to reinforce it, the ego will never rear its ugly head again. It is not the same ego that Freud championed, a persona that we needed to live adult life. In Jesus’ use of the term ego, he means a false persona.

Let us ask for joy with the spirit today—and every day!

Deprived of Nothing Except by Our Own Decisions

“When you are sad, know that this need not be. Depression is of the ego, and you are hiding little spots of hatred that are hurting you. Depression always arises ultimately from a sense of being deprived of something you want and do not have. Know you are deprived of nothing except by your own decisions, and then decide otherwise.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-4.VI.5:1-4)

We have been given everything, by God, to make our way through life easily and peacefully. On the surface, this sounds like an outrageous claim, but Jesus does say that we are “deprived of nothing except by your own decisions.” This sounds very akin to Jesus’ way of speaking of the law of attraction, in which what we focus upon, actually comes to be.

The law of attraction has been hot news since Rhonda Byrne and her team made a film entitled The Secret, and this was followed, by her, by books (The Secret, The Power, The Magic, The Hero). It is a very controversial idea, but the law of attraction says that we have to watch our minds for the scraps of fear that abide there, for we will make very bad things for ourselves if we focus on the negative. In The Power, Rhonda made clear the central place of love, and this book has spiritual aspects that would lead all of us to see that Love in religion, and love in the law of attraction, is a universal concept with universal ramifications.

Depression does wrap our mind up in knots. We can do much to dismiss depressed thoughts when they arise in us, as the psychologist Richard Carlson has made clear, especially in the books, Shortcut through Therapy, You Can Feel Good Again, and Slowing Down to the Speed of Life. He doesn’t think that we are doomed by brain chemicals to lead a depressed life; we have some say in how we thrive.

Jesus, in the passage for today, seems to say much the same. We all need compassion, and those who are depressed perhaps need more compassion than most. If we are trapped by depression, let us reach out to our brothers and sisters, including the medical establishment and the community of psychologists and psychiatrists.

Let us ask what we would want to think that we can’t seem to think now.

And that will hold the key.

Depression & Anxiety

“Generally, three types of emotional disturbance result:

“a) The tendency to maintain the illusion that only the physical is real. This produces depression.

“b) The tendency to invest the physical with nonphysical properties. This is essentially magic and tends more toward anxiety-proneness.

“c) The tendency to vacillate from one to the other, which produces a corresponding vacillation between depression and anxiety.

“All three result in self-imposed starvation.” (ACIM, COA ed.,T-2.I.7:1-7)

Here Jesus gives us a metaphysical approach to depression and anxiety. If we think the physical is all that there is, of course we will be depressed: Who wants to end in the grave? And if we try magical solutions in materialism, we will become anxious, because we know, deep inside (where God is), that this is a falsehood. Lastly, we can vacillate between these two extremes, and then vacillate between depression and anxiety.

All of this is essentially disheartening. If we live from our heart, as A Course of Love (the continuation of A Course in Miracles), we will bypass all of this nonsense. Bypassing such false ideas is just good thinking, and in so doing we won’t feel depressed/anxious that we are on the wrong track.

Bypassing depression and anxiety is just good common sense. Why, when these falsehoods have been pointed out to us, would we continue allowing mood swings to affect our good living?

Live the Day as a Thing of Joy

“This is the truth of your existence, an existence in which your eyes deceive you but your heart believes not in the deception. Your days are but evidence of this truth. What your eyes behold will one day deceive you while what your heart beholds will the next day see through the deception. And so one day lived in your world is misery incarnate and the next a thing of joy.

“Rejoice that your heart is not deceived, for herein lies your path to true remembering.” (ACOL, C:8.29-30)

We have highs and lows in this world. A good day, a bad day, a day full of drama so that there are both highs and lows in the same day. This is what Jesus understands so well. When we look with our physical eyes, we often see something bad. But, he says, looking with the heart gives a different and much better view to our living. When we are deceived into thinking that all is lost, we wake up the following day with a better viewpoint. And this following day we are listening to our heart. The heart holds the key. A Course of Love emphasizes the heart repeatedly.

What can we do to ensure a good day? The day that begins right has an advantage over one in which we struggle to get out of bed. It is always possible to start the day over if things go badly, but time is saved if we get off to a good start from the beginning. Getting out of bed right away is a tip of mine for a better day. To lounge around is to invite speculation about one’s life, and when one is in a fog from heavy sleep, the speculation often turns negative.

Mornings are frequently the worst time for anyone who battles depression, and a mild depressed spirit follows many of us around who are trying to make a way through this world. As the day proceeds, our mood may lift, and what we can do to cause that lift to happen sooner and sooner is to focus on what we feel in our heart. What would our heart have to say about this situation in which we find ourselves? What solutions present themselves that are filled with love? These two questions are identical. When we follow the way that love prompts, we are setting ourselves up for success. Nothing the physical eyes can show us will ever succeed by nearly as much.

Jesus understands our predicament. The passage for today bears repeated readings, for the compassion that emanates from it is palpable. We need also to treat ourselves with the compassion that comes of authentic self-love, for not only do we need to love God and other people. Without a genuine self-love, our days will seem lackluster, and any depression to which we are prone will deepen.

See today if we can’t look to the things of the heart, particularly the love that the Christ Self embodies. This Self will heal us, being an extension of God Himself. Then the highs and lows of our lives will smooth out, and the heart will have directed us to a new high in spirit-filled living.

When Feeling Guilty, Anxious, Sad, Depressed, Not Joyous

“When you feel guilty, remember that the ego has indeed violated the laws of God, but you have not. Leave the ‘sins’ of the ego to me. That is what Atonement is for. (T63)”

Affirmation: “When you feel guilty, leave the ‘sins’ of the ego to Jesus.”

Reflections:

1 – Guilty

A reassuring passage, we are here reminded that our true reality is innocence. The ego is not our true reality. It is only a part of our belief about ourselves, a part that Atonement can and does heal.

2 – Anger and Attack

Guilt is frequently a component of anger and attack, two ideas that the Course says have no justification. It is true that immediately after an outburst, we are likely to feel better, but this does not last. Feeling better happens immediately because, as Kenneth Wapnick says in a recorded presentation, we think that we have gotten rid of the guilt. Have we? No. We have only vented. Soon the guilt at the outburst will overtake us again. Then the time has come for an apology to the one we have wronged.

3 – Atonement

So we do not have to feel guilty. There is a way out. Remember that the ego is a false sense of self. The real Self has been untouched by our guilt, and when we accept Atonement, we will know peace.

4 – Anxious

“When you are anxious, realize that anxiety comes from the capriciousness of the ego, and know this need not be. You can be as vigilant against the ego’s dictates as for them. (T63)”

Anxiety is a form of fear, of course. And fear and love are the primary emotions. The phrase, “capriciousness of the ego,” can be a bit difficult, but essentially it is saying that our egos are wily, and we cannot trust where they lead.

5 – Pills

Just as with sadness, anxiety is an emotion that most of us experience–some of us for long periods of time. Pills are not recommended long-term by physicians. So in this sense our medical establishment is in line with Jesus’s explanation that pills are a form of magic that work because we believe in them. Jesus implies that we would be better off without pills, if doing without would not raise our level of fear.

6 – Vigilance

Vigilance against the ego’s dictates is a call to action, mental action. We do not have to fall for the nefarious dictates of the ego, and we would do well to consider what some of those really are. Certainly the ego is in control when we are anxious. We need to consider whether or not this is really what we want. We need to realize that other people and their attitudes toward us are not the essential point. Our relationship to God is primary, and when we allow Him the upper hand, our anxiety about the opinions of others declines.

7 – Sad

“When you are sad, know this need not be. Depression comes from a sense of being deprived of something you want and do not have. Remember that you are deprived of nothing except by your own decisions, and then decide otherwise. (T63)”

This passage is part of a group in which Jesus negates negative emotions. He makes clear at this point that we make our own decisions, and we can change conditions that hurt. In particular, in this passage he indicates that sadness can be overcome, even when it is depression.

8 – Form of Magical Solution

Elsewhere Jesus notes that pills are a form of magic, but that they may be necessary if we are already fearful. They are an intermediate step that will assist us, still caught in illusions, to overcome what is wrong simply because we believe that it will work for us. Certainly medication for depression would seem to fall in this category.

9 – Depression

Note the explanation of why depression happens: a sense of being deprived of something you want and do not have. The vast majority of us can relate to this, sometimes on a daily basis–and certainly over our lifetime. It is a great relief to know that we have actually chosen these instances of deprivation. We are trying to learn something. The fact that we are learning through pain is not good, because elsewhere Jesus says that it is not necessary to learn through pain. Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now) indicates much that supports A Course in Miracles, but his pathway toward Awakening was in fact through tremendous anxiety and depression. A later book by Tolle, A New Earth, makes this point even clearer by his explanation of the “pain body.” Jesus, though, would not have us take this route if we can follow him to the uttermost that he promises.

10 – Not Joyous

“When your mood tells you that you have chosen wrongly, and this is so whenever you are not joyous, then know this need not be. (T63)”

Our mood falls when we try to make decisions without first asking for guidance. Then we get that sinking feeling that we have made the wrong decision. That sinking feeling is frequently correct.

11 – Guidance

Of course, we cannot practically ask for guidance at every turn, but Jesus says elsewhere that if we set the proper tone for the day, asking for guidance at its beginning, and then again at the best opportunities, we will be well on our way to good days always. He says that the Course is always practical, and asking for guidance in every moment would not be practical.

12 – Holy Spirit

All of us want to be joyous. Staying close to the Holy Spirit is the secret to just that.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I am not joyous when I try to live by my own lights, leaving out the Holy Spirit. Let me turn to Him for guidance.

I can be joyous. Let me accept this as a lodestone. And I thank you for letting me know that joy is my right as a child of God.

May I turn around all these negative states of thinking and feeling today, right now. May I focus on positivity, not negativity, knowing that when I focus on positivity, I bring all things to myself that are good. May Jesus’s warnings be taken to heart. And may this day go well.

Thank You.

Amen.

Overcome Depression

“Impossible learning goals lead to depression.  This is why we must learn anew with a mind Green-font-b-Wheat-b-font-font-b-Field-b-font-with-Cypress-II-By-Van Goghand heart joined in wholeheartedness.  (A Course of Love, 31.13)”

Affirmation:  “May I avoid depression today by not seeking impossible learning goals.”

Reflections:

1 – Egoic Goals

We have all too often sought to learn things that are impossible for us to learn.  These were goals of the ego.

2 – A Better Way

But Jesus assures us that there is a better way.  We do not have to get depressed, trying to learn something strange that is not “for us” at all, for we do want to leave the ego behind.  The ego always leads to depression, for it is an idle thought that is not really idle.  There are no idle thoughts, for all lead to form at some level (a tenet of A Course in Miracles).

3 – Wholeheartedness

May we seek the wholeheartedness that gives heart and mind in conjunction with each other.  May our minds be so cleansed of egoic attitudes that we can listen to our hearts, and then we can invite the mind back into the equation with a major welcome.

4 – Heart Knows

The passage for today gives a major theme of A Course of Love.  It is not a hard theme to learn.  We know that the heart “knows” in a way that the mind does not.  And we would be wise to listen to our hearts in lieu of convoluted thoughts of our minds.  When the mind is cleansed, then is time enough to welcome it back, with great joy.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would not court depression by seeking to learn things that are impossible to learn.  I would forsake egoic goals forever, and I would take a stance today to do so.  Depression is major life problem for many people, and it just may be that many of us thrive–or fail to thrive–because we are ego-oriented.  The ego is always being undone.  It is always that way.  For every up moment, there is a down one, and the down ones ultimately predominate.  I would be free of this foolishness forever.

Thank You for leading me to understand that the egoic goals that I courted in my youth and early adulthood were false thinking.  I did not know any better.  But now I do.  And I pray to You that I will not let myself be misled by a part of myself–the ego–that refuses to wither away.  I do not need the ego to live a fully satisfactory life, and, indeed, I cannot kowtow to the ego and still lead a satisfactory life.  The ego as defined here is a false way of viewing life, not the organizing principle that another definition would have it be.

May I just turn aside from ego ideals.  May I not actively resist them, for the ego become strong in strife.  Be with me as I seek to take my place as an equal among peers.  There is no need to seek for superiority, for superiority is a false value.  All talents will one day be shared equally among Your children.

Amen.

Gifts of God

KarenV-Monet-Step-6“All gifts of God are given equally and distributed equally.  It is your belief that this is not so that causes judgment.  All who believe they have ‘more’ fall prey to righteousness.  All who believe they have ‘less’ fall victim to envy.  Both ‘fall’ from grace and limit their ability to receive.  (A Course of Love, 20.40)”

Affirmation:  “God grants gifts equally to all.”

Reflections:

1 – Depression

We often think, in our egoic mind, that another is superior to us in some way, and this activates the depression of the ego in its deflation.  All egoic thoughts work this way.  There is a great deal to be said for depression as the result of the ego being undermined at every turn.  And what other way could work to turn us from the ego?  If it made us happy all the time, our salvation would be impossible to reach.

2 – Gifts Are Given Equally

God gives all gifts equally and distributes all gifts equally.  When we feel “less than” another, we judge; the same, when we feel “more than” another.  It is true that in this world gifts appear to differ, but one day all will know that everything belongs to all, and in equal measure (from A Course in Miracles).

3 – Righteousness / Envy

We would not fall prey to either righteousness or envy.  We would give up these deplorable attitudes.  Instead, we would welcome our brothers and sisters as the students/teachers of the Way that they are.  We are all equal in God’s sight.  And when we humbly accept our lot in life, to be improved as God’s grace shows us, we will be living a more desirable life.  We can strive to achieve, but not for egoic reasons.  The ego always loses in the end, and if we seek to prop up our weakened ego, we will lose all the blessings that A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love are seeking to give us.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I do believe that the rain falls on the saved as well as the sinner (so to speak).  I do believe that the gifts of God are a free gift, that He wants to help us walk through life.  And I have had the mystical experience that proved this, at least to me, and this happened many years ago.  I have not doubted that God’s gifts are a free offer of help in all the years since.

Thank You.

Amen.

Overcoming Depression

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

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

Reflections:

1 – Discouragement

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

2 – Struggle

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

3 – Our Holy Mind

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

4 – Attracting Negativity

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

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

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

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

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

Amen.

Dreary, Hopeless Thoughts = Hell

ACIM Workbook Lesson 196 – for Sunday, July 15, 2012

Affirmation:  “It can be but myself I crucify.”

“The dreary, hopeless thought that you can make attacks on others and escape yourself has nailed you to the cross.  Perhaps it seemed to be salvation.  Yet it merely stood for the belief the fear seemed to be salvation.  Yet it merely stood for the belief the fear of God is real.  And what is that but hell?  Who could believe his Father is his deadly enemy, separate from him, and waiting to destroy his life and blot him from the universe, without the fear of hell upon his heart?  (WB374)”

Reflections:

1 – Fear of God = Hell

So the fear of God is hell!  Elsewhere Jesus says also that “guilt” is hell.  And so it seems that our own guilt at our presumed misdeeds and bad thoughts has made us fear God’s retribution, and therefore we have experienced hell on earth.  (And, if the truth be told, we have spent part of our lives, at least, fearing hell after death.)

2 – God Never Condemns

God never condemns, and so He does not need to forgive us for our thoughts and actions.  This is a sticking point for many students/teachers of A Course in Miracles, because we cannot seem to get out of our minds a God Who may have created part of the pain and suffering in our world, or at least ought to do something about it!  These thoughts misdirect our minds.  God neither created pain and suffering, but we, in a “tiny, mad idea” thought that we separated from Him, and we entered a world, built up by us, that is insanity.  And in an insane world there is pain and suffering.

3 – A Way Out

Is there a way out that we can take beginning today?

4 – Get the Madness Out

Yes, there is a way out.  And we need only learn as a student the precepts of ACIM, and, with our minds losing some of its insanity, the “dreams the Holy Spirit brings” (from the Workbook) can attract to ourselves a much better living experience.  These are benign dreams that some would say we have used through the “law of attraction” (a tenet of a bestseller entitled The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne).  But we too want more than the materialistic if we are to be happy.  The altruistic ideas of God will inform a world in much stronger terms than simply an improvement in our material conditions.  And, for the intangibles of God, we turn to our Guide, the Holy Spirit–or the Christ-consciousness within (if we have traveled this far on the pathway back home).  (The concept of Christ-consciousness is described in A Course of Love, believed by some to be a sequel to ACIM and also channeled by Jesus.)

5 – We Are Out Own Worst Enemy

So let us cease aiding and abetting our own hell on earth. We have taught ourselves the unnatural habit of not communicating with our Creator (an ACIM tenet), and we have reaped the lamentable result in our world.  Let us turn today to a different way of living, and find our way home in God with all of its attendant joys.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I think that most of us have found ways to be happy, and some of our unhappy moments are when we forget to put into practice what we already know.  Certainly our depressed thoughts do constitute a hell outside of You.  We can get medical help, and we can turn to A Course in Miracles, to prayer, to friends and family, to writing in a journal; there clearly are limitless ways that may have helped in the past.  

Thank You for the good day that I am having.  But the day did not start in a promising way, because I felt sleepy and wanted just to nod off again.  Jesus would not have us to withdraw, as he says in ACIM.  And when I began writing (one of my solutions), everything turned around.  Then I visited my mother at her retirement community, and that gesture took me out of myself.  Thank You for the good day that this has turned out to be.

May my brothers and sisters be cheered by something today, if anyone is feeling down.  May we help each other, if by no other way that good thought vibes.

Amen.

No Place for Sacrifice nor Suffering

ACIM Workbook Lesson 187 – for Friday, July 6. 2012

Affirmation:  “I bless the world because I bless myself.”

“Never believe that you can sacrifice.  There is no place for sacrifice in what has any value.  If the thought occurs, its very presence proves that error has arisen and correction must be made.  Your blessing will correct it.  Given first to you, it now is yours to give as well.  No form of sacrifice and suffering can long endure before the face of one who has forgiven and has blessed himself.  (WB355)”

Reflections:

1 – Doing for Others

We have long believed that when we sacrifice for our loved ones, we are doing the right thing.  This passage for today assures us that, even when we are doing for our loved ones, God does not demand sacrifice.  We may do the same things, but when we are in God’s flow, we will not see our actions as sacrifice.  A change of attitude is all that is needed.

2 – Change of Attitude

“If the thought occurs” is the pivotal point, the indication that we need to change our attitude.  We need to entertain the thought of correction.  Correction is the definition of Atonement (an ACIM tenet).  When we have accepted Atonement for ourselves, we will know correction in our daily lives.  And our daily lives will take a substantial and lasting turn for the better.

3 – Blessings and Thankfulness

Blessings and thankfulness are often linked in my own mind.  If we wish to bless someone, we are being thankful for their place in our lives.  And then we have opened the door to more blessings for ourselves as well.  We will not sacrifice and suffer in our holy relationships, because we will know love

4 – Forgiveness

If we have not forgiven ourselves for our past misdeeds, we will carry a heavy load of guilt, and guilt is hell (an ACIM tenet).  Let us reject such foolishness by simple forgiveness.  We need only ask, and the blessing of forgiveness is ours.  There can be no better way to have a good day.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I thank You for this glorious day.  I had a moment of an anxiety attack this morning, and, with distraction and prayer out loud to You, the moment left me–and quickly.  Help me to remember always that You are nearer to me than my breath, that I am a part of You.

No sacrifice seems too good to be true!  We will be caregivers for our significant others, but if I view this as a sacrifice, I need to change my attitude.  There is much to be gained from taking care of our loved ones–for them as well as ourselves.  May I never forget that this caregiving is a two-way street.

Be with me as I seek to leave all suffering behind.  The last three days have been glorious ones for me, and a tiny change in my routine created some of that difference.  Be with me as I seek to attract Your blessings, and many of these are the intangibles of love, peace, joy, tranquility, and serenity.  No need for drama in a life that is calm and quiet.

Amen.

Inspire the Dis-Spirited / Stabilize the Unstable

“I raised the dead by knowing that life is an eternal attribute of everything that the living God created.  Why do you believe it is harder for me to inspire the dis-spirited or to stabilize the unstable?  I do not believe that there is an order of difficulty in miracles; you do.  I have called and you will answer.  I understand that miracles are natural, because they are expressions of love.  My calling you is as natural as your answer, and as inevitable.  (T65)”

Affirmation:  “miracles are natural”

 

Reflections:

1 – Miracles = Natural

Jesus is again speaking here.  He is emphasizing that all miracles are natural and any is as easy for him to effect as any other.

2 – Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson has written a bit about the power of Jesus to heal neurotics.  This passage uses the term “unstable,” but I think the meaning is similar and the content essentially identical.  Surely we recognize when life is not running smoothly for us, and if we are astute, we will realize that the problems we are encountering are at least partially our own fault (some would say that we drew those problems to ourselves, but A Course in Miracles does not go that far).  If we can change our reality only by changing ourselves (which is akin to ACIM tenets), then it is probably abundantly evident that we need some help in changing ourselves.  And the Holy Spirit stands ever ready.  When we follow the intuitive indications that we get, we will find ourselves growing into ever-better relationships with our brothers and sisters in this world.  When we are patently neurotic, we will always have problems with relationships.

3 – Miracles = Our Natural Inheritance

We obviously find it hard to believe that miracles are completely natural, as well as easily prompted, for others if not for Jesus.  Yet we are told elsewhere in the Course that miracles are our natural inheritance.  It is fascinating that here Jesus reaffirms that he raised the dead in his life on earth.  This, perhaps, has been an element of the New Testament that some have found hard to understand–even long-time Christians.  The Course, scribed 2,000 years later, may make this claim more plausible.

4 – Certain to Respond

Jesus is certain that we will respond to him.  This certainty is comforting to us, because perhaps we see the way to Life as long and arduous.  The pathway need not be such.  We can turn to Jesus as our Friend, as he has always promised that he would be.  (In the Course, he identifies himself as an elder brother.)

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I recognize Jesus as my elder brother.  May I know that he is always there to help me to adjust to this sometimes hard life.

May I know that life need not be hard, because there are always natural means–miracles–to smooth the way.  May I take this knowledge to heart, and truly believe it.  Then I will feel safe, regardless of what is going on around me.

Amen.

Gladden Yourself!

“Have you really considered how many opportunities you have had to gladden yourself, and how many of them you have refused?  (T64)”

Affirmation:  “I will gladden myself today.”

Reflections:

1 – We Can Be Happier!

This is a message of extreme optimism.  We can be happier!  Jesus says that we have actually turned aside moments of joy, turning again to depressed thoughts.  How wrong of us!

2 – Personal Experience

My most vulnerable time is first thing in the morning.  I have a tendency to look quickly ahead to my day and not be too excited about what I see.  But this is insanity.  I have a good life, and it is only bio-chemicals in my brain that are leading me to see something different.  So what do I do?  Most importantly, I put one foot in front of the other, and keep going.  I fix breakfast, I enjoy a good breakfast with my husband, I give thanks for the many blessings that are mine.  Also, I get outside in the sunshine, because light helps the mood.  At the first opportunity, I make a list of all for which I am grateful.  And I mull over this list.  It is indeed a blessed life that I live!  And when the day wears on a bit, I will recognize that.  The mind, with God’s help, does rise above any sense of depression.

3 – When to Seek Help

If I were clinically depressed, having short-term memory loss and the like, I would seek medical help.  I would not suffer alone.  If this is not the case, though, there are simple things that we can do in any given day not to be disheartened.

4 – Make a List

Gladdening is a personal experience.  What would please you, might not please me.  It is up to each of us to make a mental list of those things that gladden our day.  And then refer to that mental list often, until the bad mood lifts.

5 – Pure Joy and Limitless Release

It would be a useful practice for all of us to look upon the day as full of opportunities to gladden ourselves.  Elsewhere Jesus asks us to think of pure joy and limitless release in our daily lives.  This passage is a reiteration of this request.

6 – Remember Today’s Passage

It is a serious mistake to refuse to entertain joy.  We make our lives much harder than they need to be as a result.  Would that we might remember this passage often when faced with a day that seems filled with woe!

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I be happy today, in all the moments of my day.  May I not succumb to depressed thoughts, but choose instead to find moments in which to gladden myself.

I have sometimes withdrawn into depression rather than to seek the way out to better thinking.  Optimism can be cultivated.  May I do so today.

Amen.

Voluntary Dis-Spiriting / Depressed Spirits

“Watch your mind for the temptations of the ego, and do not be deceived by it.  It offers you nothing.  When you have given up this voluntary dis-spiriting, you will see how your mind can focus and rise above fatigue and heal.  Yet you are not sufficiently vigilant against the demands of the ego to disengage yourself.  This need not be.  (T63)”

Affirmation:  “My mind can rise above fatigue and heal.”

Reflections:

1 – Voluntary!

“Voluntary dis-spiriting.”  Of course!  This is what Jesus has been trying to tell us in these several passages with a similar theme.  Elsewhere he indicates that the disspirited are not helpful to him, and we need to give up this emotion.  Now we learn that it is voluntary.  We can choose to leave this depressed spirit behind.

2 – Blame the Ego

Jesus places the blame for our depression solely on the temptations of the ego.  Elsewhere he believes that we are strong enough to leave these temptations behind.  Of course, we do not do it alone ever, and we do not have to feel that we are alone in this trial.  The Holy Spirit will guide us if we let Him into our lives, if we turn to him often.

3 – Don’t Withdraw

Elsewhere Jesus also counsels in the Course that we not withdraw from the world in our low moments.  We will make more progress if we stay engaged.  The only exception might be the need to take control of ourselves in a weak moment, but even this is a momentary withdrawal.  And even the thought of taking control of ourselves is a little misleading.  We are never alone.  This cannot be said often enough.  We need only ask for help, and it is there for us.  Life then gets a whole lot better.

4 – Remedies

If going through the trial of depressed spirits, there are helpful changes that can be made, small helpful changes that make a big difference.  (These are personal suggestions, not from ACIM.)  Getting out and about among people, early in the day, is a great way to start the morning.  We do know, from experiencing low spirits, that the morning hours are the most problematic.  Just putting one’s self in a position of having to talk to people will turn aside the dark inner thoughts that lower one’s affect.  A journal is a helpful concept, and some people have found writing early in the morning to be helpful.  I personally don’t follow this advice, as writing early tends to raise my anxiety level, something that I don’t welcome when facing a long day.  So some experimentation with any advice is always a welcome choice.

5 – We Are Never Alone

We can overcome depression, whether with the help of pills or without.  There are ways that we can drop the offending thoughts from our minds.  Ask for guidance in this matter, knowing that we are never alone.  This fact of knowing that we are never alone is one of the greatest unsung blessings of A Course in Miracles.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I just give up feeling low, feeling disspirited.  There is no need to feel this emotion when the Course tells us that we can feel pure joy and limitless release.

Be with me as I resolve to drop disspirited feeling from my range of emotions.  I know that You will help me, because you have promised this to me.

Amen.

Depression / Sadness

“When you are sad, know this need not be.   Depression comes from a sense of being deprived of something you want and do not have.  Remember that you are deprived of nothing except by your own decisions, and then decide otherwise.  (T63)”

Affirmation:  “I am deprived of nothing except by my own decisions”

Reflections:

1 – Change What Hurts

This passage is part of a group in which Jesus negates negative emotions.  He makes clear at this point that we make our own decisions, and we can change conditions that hurt.  In particular, in this passage he indicates that sadness can be overcome, even when it is depression.

2 – Pills

Elsewhere Jesus notes that pills are a form of magic, but that they may be necessary if we are already fearful.  They are an intermediate step that will assist us, still caught in illusions, to overcome what is wrong simply because we believe that it will work for us.  Certainly medication for depression would seem to fall in this category.

3 – Change the Circumstances

Pills are not magic potions, though some people may disagree.  We need to change the life circumstances that are causing our discomfort, but this does not necessarily mean an outward change.  It may be enough to change our inner reflections, turning to prayer and meditation, contemplation and reflection.  God will always be there for us when we seek Him.  The Holy Spirit guides us inwardly, and He will prompt us to make change in our outer circumstances if these seem warranted.  I have found, though, that most change is best made internally, by a readjustment in thinking and feeling.  And it is the thought that leads to the feeling (an interpretation, not stated in ACIM).

4 – An Explanation of Why Depression Happens

Note the explanation of why depression happens:  a sense of being deprived of something you want and do not have.   The vast majority of us can relate to this, sometimes on a daily basis–and certainly over our lifetime.  It is a great relief to know that we have actually chosen these instances of deprivation.  We are trying to learn something.  The fact that we are learning through pain is not good, because elsewhere Jesus says that it is not necessary to learn through pain.  Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now) indicates much that supports A Course in Miracles, but his pathway toward Awakening was in fact through tremendous anxiety and depression.  A later book by Tolle, A New Earth, makes this point even clearer by his explanation of the “pain body.”  Jesus, though, would not have us take this route if we can follow him to the uttermost that he promises.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I leave sadness behind, by my own decision.  May I choose the gladness that can come, also by my own decision.

If I need to use pills to combat depression, may I do so knowing that they are an aid, but not a cure.  The real cure comes through changing our minds about what we want.  And what we want is joy.

Amen.

When Not Joyous

“When your mood tells you that you have chosen wrongly, and this is so whenever you are not joyous, then know this need not be.  (T63)”

Affirmation:  “if not joyous, know this need not be”

Reflections:

1 – Mood Falls

Our mood falls when we try to make decisions without first asking for guidance.  Then we get that sinking feeling that we have made the wrong decision.  That sinking feeling is frequently correct.

2 – Personal Experience

I was once led away from a prospective job because I had a tremendous sinking feeling every time I entered that section of a library.  A friend told me that I ought to listen to that feeling.  And I did.  A later time I chose to accept a private office in my workplace, but one in a back corner, away from my friends.  I had that same sinking feeling as I was moving my office supplies into the space.  This time I did not listen to the sinking feeling, and I remained in that private office for about six months, increasingly unhappy.  The mood and my job improved considerably when I accepted another open space near my friends.  A private office was not the prize that I wanted or needed.

3 -Holy Spirit

So we do get indications when we have started on a false pathway.  The Holy Spirit does guide.  A Course in Miracles promises this, and our lives bear it out.

4 – Not at Every Turn

Of course, we cannot practically ask for guidance at every turn, but Jesus says elsewhere that if we set the proper tone for the day, asking for guidance at its beginning, and then again at the best opportunities, we will be well on our way to good days always.   He says that the Course is always practical, and asking for guidance in every moment would not be practical.

5 – How to Stay Joyous

All of us want to be joyous.  Staying close to the Holy Spirit is the secret to just that.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

I am not joyous when I try to live by my own lights, leaving out the Holy Spirit.  Let me turn to Him for guidance.

I can be joyous.  Let me accept this as a lodestone.  And I thank you for letting me know that joy is my right as a child of God.

Amen.

An Unsheltering Home

“The ego has built a shabby and unsheltering home for you, because it cannot build otherwise.  Do not try to make this impoverished house stand.  Its weakness is your strength.  (T55)”

Affirmation:  “Do not try to make the ego’s impoverished house stand.”

Reflections:

1 – This World’s Image of the Ego

We are taught in our world that it is wise to build a strong ego.  This is a principle that we learn not only in studying psychology, but also in living our lives.  The ego is seen as the good guy.

2 – The Ego in ACIM

Not so in the Course.  The ego is a type of demon in the Course.  We learn that the ego is always being undone, and that this is what is happening as we go through our lives.  We know humiliation, and this is one of the prime ways that we know that we have been seeing through the ego.

3 – Have You Been Hurt?

When we have been hurt by anything in our world, we can know that we have allowed the ego to come into ascendancy.  This will not do.  We can, instead, recognize that in this hurting feeling, we are really needing the comfort of God.  And we can turn inward in communing with Him, sure that our mood will lighten.  Our thoughts, when we are feeling hurt, is building a “shabby and unsheltering home” for us.  And we would not have this.  We need to leave the shabbiness behind, and that always entails forgiveness of our world, ourselves, and everyone in it.  We have been mistaken in feeling the urge to retaliate, because this is only a means to reestablish the ascendancy of the ego.

4 – Once Again, Guidance

In place of the ego, with its many judgments (which always lead us astray), we are bade to turn to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  And we are bade to keep our egos humble.  Jesus says that this is what the “meek” are all about.  Meekness is not weakness, though the ego would tell us that it is.  It is the greatest strength, because we are not trying to be something that we are not.  We are Sons (and Daughters) of God, ever loved by Him.  With this assurance, we will not hesitate to let the ego wither away.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I have your help to let the ego’s impoverished house fall.  May I know in my deepest building that this is what You want.  This falling of the ego’s house will bring me peace.

The ego is not the good guy in my life, despite what this world has taught me.  May I let go of egoistic thinking, and walk into the light at last.

Amen.

May the Holy Spirit Speak through Me Today

ACIM Workbook Lesson 296 – for Sunday, October 23, 2011

Affirmation:  “The Holy Spirit speaks through me today.”

“I would be savior to the world I made.  For having damned it I would be set free, that I may find escape, and hear the Word Your holy Voice will speak to me today.  (WB446)”

Reflections:

1 – We “Made” the World that We See

Here we find once again that we “made” the world that we see.  We project from within, outward, and there we find the illusions that we perceive.  There is nothing outside of us, part of the worldview of A Course in Miracles.

2 – May We Help Save the World

We must be savior to this world.  We have often thought of Jesus as the savior, but only time separates what he is to what we will be.  And he needs our cooperation in saving this world.  We grew up hearing such things as this in our churches, and we still hear the same thing, even in mainstream churches that have nothing to do with ACIM.

3 – Lead the World Away from Disaster

We have “damned” this world.  We have helped to make the chaos in which we find ourselves.  And we would rectify these mistakes now.  Let us wait not one second longer.  Reach out to the person closest to you (whether by touch, phone, e-mail, or texting), and begin the process of leading this world away from disaster and on to a Heaven on earth for all who live here.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

It is a daunting idea that all of us are meant to save the world.  Many have thought this, and instead have made more chaos.  May we follow only what guidance, true guidance, gives to us to do, and may we not make mistakes that will hurt our brothers and sisters.  May we listen to the Holy Spirit as we seek to be saviors, along with Jesus, of the world that we “made.”  As projection makes perception, may we see the world change from a place of chaos to a place of peace.

Be with me as I make decisions today.  I still get irritated when my best intentions are rebuffed.  May I always remember that this world is an illusion, a dream, and that I am creating the dream in which I find myself.  I can forgive this dream, and not feel pain, when I am rebuffed.  There is madness afoot.  It is not for me to judge this madness, but to ask the Holy Spirit to offer His peace to everyone whom I encounter.  Help me to be an instrument of His peace.  Thank You for being there for me when times seem depressed.  I know that times do not have to remain depressed.  My prayer, my communing, with You can change my demeanor to one of joy.  Help me to receive joy of You now.

Amen.