Ivor Sowton – In Memoriam

Ivor Sowton, a student/teacher of A Course of Love, died very recently, unexpectedly. He had contributed frequently to the “Saturday Features” postings on this blog. He worked with Glenn Hovemann (publisher of the new combined edition) to publicize A Course of Love. And he also contributed substantially to the A Course of Love/USA Facebook site.

I googled him at the beginning of his contributions to this blog, and I found him in California. Then I learned from Glenn that they were friends. But Ivor very much kept himself in the background. He contributed every Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, faithfully for 22 weeks to the Saturday features, never trying to forward himself or his work.

Those of you who have enjoyed his Saturday features will miss his heartfelt commentary. All the contributions can be revisited by going to the top of this blog and clicking on “Saturday Features,” then using the keywords in the search box to bring up his postings. I very much appreciate the contribution that Ivor was making.

Ivor will be sorely missed in the Course of Love community.

On Free Will and Willingness, by Ivor Sowton

On Free Will and Willingness. ..This Chapter 11 is going deep for me. I am getting into a practice of applying the latest chapter Mari reads for us (endless gratitude, Mari!) DIRECTLY TO MY LIFE RIGHT NOW.

I’ve had a lot of issues in my life with “I’ll be good if I can just do this and that and thus, and by the way so many other people already do these things far better than I can, so I’ve got to try much harder and maybe in some far distant future time I will have improved enough to make the grade.”

Can you relate to this? But if I try to drop all that and just be more present with the current Course of Love chapter and apply it to my actual present experience, then that’s really helpful. So, here goes! The theme of the chapter that I’m feeling now is about how I almost desperately hang on to MY will, in spite of the fact that it’s clearly not bringing me the Peace of God. The old ego pattern is to maintain a safe distance from direct experience of others in relationship and sharing. So mistrustful. So used to feeling less than. So not trusting that benign lessons could be being freely offered me by others who are actually trying to help me in a true spirit of friendship rather than put me down.

So in this chapter Jesus is so personally encouraging to me to offer that “temporary willingness” He recommends. So masterful He is here! For if He demanded total willingness I would be pushing myself to come up to too high a bar, trying to grit my teeth and demand that of myself immediately– and I would get discouraged. Instead He is helping me grow in trust, in baby steps if need be, gradually coming to trust God more and more. I feel very very lucky in that I have developed more trust in Jesus over the last few years. That is a wonderful relationship we can all form, I really feel. Or maybe for some it is another great Master; but chances are that if you have taken the trouble to join this Group and are sincerely trying to open up to A Course of Love then your relationship with Jesus is pretty deep also, right?

We are SO blessed in this. For me even in the dark times, which remain frequent for me, I am praying to Jesus, on a spectrum of entreating Him for help right down to complaining to Him or even being mad at Him for not lifting me out of whatever mire I’m sunk in–but in a way I know He doesn’t mind….And now to conclude with the last paragraph in this great Chapter 11: “…Love is the unity you seek. In having chosen separation over unity you but chose fear over love. When you let go of fear and invite unity to return, you but send out an invitation to love and say you are welcome here.” I am right now willing to try that out, in small doses if need be, pacing myself to the trust level I can handle now. Thank-you all!!!

The Prodigal’s Return, by Ivor Sowton

I wanted to let you know of the A Course of Love USA Facebook group if you haven’t already heard of it. The group is centered on the audio recordings of the “first receiver” or channel of A Course of Love, Mari Perron, reading the chapters of ACOL. Currently the group is discussing via Facebook posts their own response to hearing Chapter 9. The group is open to any sincere student of this Course, so look it up and join in for some wonderful support, encouragement, and co-creation in Unity and relationship.

Chapter 9 is The Prodigal’s Return. It is one of the longest chapters in the whole work, probably because of its centrality to the entire thrust of Jesus’ essential message in A Course of Love. “You are the prodigal sons and daughters welcomed constantly to return home to your Father’s safe embrace.” (9.29)

The chapter begins with Jesus helping us differentiate between true feelings of the Heart and our emotions. Our true feelings are like a beacon Home, for they already know of giving and receiving pure love. But our emotions are twisted distortions of these true feelings, because our body-identified egos “speak the language of the separated self rather than the language of your heart.”(9.2)

I can feel what He is talking about here more deeply now. I can see myself constantly trying to grasp or cling to the things I think I’m lacking in my life, trying to use them to fill that gaping Void inside.

There is a deep discussion of use and abuse in this chapter. Abuse is seen as simply a more extreme case of the mercenary use we have all tried to impose on our world. The first thing we try to use is our own bodies, which Jesus clearly states that we made up in order to stay separate from each other! And we follow up on this miscreation by then setting up the body as our master rather than our servant, so we can say “my body made me do it!” I can really feel this in myself now. Better late than never!

In keeping with the title of Jesus’ new dispensation to us in A Course of Love, it is the Heart in us that can see through the separation ruse and start to draw us back Home. We have an internal guidance system in our own hearts—our very center. So in spite of the ego’s attempt to hijack these feelings into fear, trying to get us to “control or protect” the very little we think we deserve, we have a chance now to see this fear for the illusion it always was.

This requires great self-honesty. I actually love the strong language Jesus employs here in calling our separated state a nightmare world, because it does not allow me to use denial or deception as I did before. As a prodigal son I have no joyful present or future if I’m still trying to beat out the competition in that grim scenario of the survival of only the fittest. We’ve settled for that nonsense so very long, and we have to get good and tired of it before we look any deeper, it seems!

It’s like I’m finally willing to stop running and trying to hide from God. And Jesus gives me a very big Shoulder to lean on as I do the inquiry He asks of me in this chapter. He gives so much encouragement! Here’s one example: “Child of God, you need no imaginary (ego) friend when you have beside you he who is your friend always and he who would show you that you have no needs at all.” (9.31)

It seems so important now to stop and honestly appraise my life with the help of that Mighty Friend. Like the image in A Pilgrim’s Progress , all I really have to do is drop my burden of all that ego baggage at the Lord’s feet. I had thought I needed all that stuff—achievements, status, security—but I finally saw that with the ego in charge none of this was fulfilling at all!

The chapter goes on to circumvent some common reactions to our dawning realization of prodigality, like suddenly feeling huge guilt or shame, or by seeking to bargain with God as if He is our banker: “You would prove to God that you can “make a go of it” before you would ask Him for His help.”(9.34) These common reactions prevent us from forgiving ourselves, which is just another ego ploy.

Gradually we realize that we’re all in the same boat here! “All your vast wanderings will be seen for what they are. All that you desired will be revealed as only two desires, the desire to love and the desire to be loved. Why wait to see that these desires are all that call you to the strange behavior that you display?”(9.48)

Indeed, why wait!?
-from Ivor Sowton

The Prodigal’s Return, by Ivor Sowton

A Course of Love (ACOL) is a transmission from Jesus to Mari Perron, the “first receiver” of this new course, scribed in three years around the turn of this century. She published the work in three volumes during the years since. It is now in one combined volume in a beautiful, newly released edition by Take Heart Publications, available on their website and in all the major bookstores, including Amazon/Kindle.

Mari will have a table at the upcoming A Course in Miracles (ACIM) Conference, A Present Love, April 17th-20th in New York City. Also at the table will be her Take Heart publishers, Glenn and Muffy Hovemann. I know some of you will be there; please come to their table!

Mari and Take Heart Publications have also set up a wonderful Facebook Group called “A Course of Love USA,” centered on her new audio recordings of ACOL. Currently the group is listening to and commenting on chapter 9 of ACOL, The Prodigal’s Return.

Here’s a quote from that wonderful chapter that jumped out at me:

“It is the relationship inherent in meeting another’s need that makes the meeting of the need a thing of lasting value. It is your willingness to say, “Brother, you are not alone” that is the benefit of such situations, not only to your brother but also to you. It is in saying, Sister, you are not alone” that spiritual hunger and thirst is met with the fullness of unity. It is in realizing that you are not alone that you realize your unity with me and begin to turn from fear toward love.” (9.27)

To speak honestly now about my own experience of life right now, I do indeed feel like the prodigal son in this chapter. That is, in my deepest feelings I am aware of a tremendous loneliness and isolation, which I no longer want. I feel that Jesus is personally offering me a way out.

That way out is to realize, first in my mind–since I seem so trapped there so much of the time!–that actually all other people ALSO tend to feel deeply alone and isolated, at least in their ego natures.

Then I can be willing to reach out to them; and then my heart starts to open to them, and the artificial barriers between us begin to dissolve at last.

The nitty gritty of this joining with my brothers and sisters seems to involve overlooking outward differences. For instance, my brother might be thinking he needs “X”, and I might be thinking I need “Y,” but if I can risk taking Jesus at his word here, I may be able to realize that what my brother and I both ACTUALLY need is to feel the Love of God–the embrace spoken of so beautifully in chapter 20. In realizing that we are one in that need, my brother and I have joined in Christ.

This, then, is the return of the Prodigal Son/Daughter, who is us.

Eternal Easter, by Ivor Sowton

Here is a quote from the Third Treatise of A Course of Love (ACOL), in which Jesus further defines resurrection, the central theme of Easter:

“Resurrection or rebirth must be total to be at all…We are writing a new first page, a new Genesis. It begins now. It begins with the rebirth of a Self of love. It begins with the birth of Christ in you and in your willingness to live in the world as the Christ-Self.” (14.13, 14.14)

Here we have themes of resurrection as being reborn into a much much greater state of awareness and of agency than we had before. And it’s not an automatic thing–we have to consciously choose it. We don’t just live out our earthly lives and then die and vault into Heaven, according to Jesus in ACOL; though God is spoken of by Jesus as the most loving Force and Source there is, He has given us free will, and will not renege on that gift. So it is we who have to CHOOSE that greater existence ourselves–now or later.

Thus Easter is eternal because it represents a truly timeless potential for all us humans.

And it seems to me that Easter is also eternal because all humans that we have ever known about throughout history have contemplated death and what it means for our lives here on Earth. Anthropology tells us that much of the very earliest evidence of humans working together is around ceremonial burials, replete with artifacts suggestive of continued life for the departed in some other realm.

All parents I know of, including my wife and I, have had to field some amazing questions from our kids (when they were young I mean) about death and dying. “But where did Grandma go?,” asks your little one after Grandma’s death. And as a parent, you most likely didn’t brush your child off with an early dessert or something; instead you probably felt deeply called to handle the question with a lot of compassion and love, for you could see that your child was really serious with her honest and completely relevant question. So many of us responded in a very sincere and age-appropriate way as best we could at the time, saying something like “her body got all worn out and so her Spirit went to another place that’s really beautiful.” One parent I heard of illustrated the whole concept to their child by putting on a glove and saying “this glove is like our body, and when we die we take off the glove. Our hand is like our Spirit: it keeps on going but it looks a lot different (brilliant, huh?).

So in Jungian terms, we are talking about one of the deepest archetypes there is, obviously. It is a universal concern for all of us.

And into that deep archetypal field is born this amazing tradition of the crucified Jesus dying– for sure– and then just as surely (for believers at least) RESURRECTING, that is,actually reappearing many times to many close people after his death in a an identical, solid form, just like he had never died!

That is truly a miracle, at least for me! But Jesus then and Jesus now so clearly taught that we can and really should be reborn into the unity of the love and peace of God, with all of us feeling That and being That. Then, as if sensing that he was losing us, Jesus gave us an Intermediary–the Holy Spirit–as a living Presence that could help us spiritually to grow toward that Oneness at our own rate. Further–and for me most importantly, Jesus then promised each of us personally “And I will never leave you comfortless.”

For me, A Course in Miracles, (ACIM), has Jesus speaking to us collectively much more currently, in our time, giving us the reachability a lot of us needed in Jesus now, in our lives as we were experiencing them.

And then in A Course of Love, an even further and very welcome update, to allow for all the exponential growth of our species, which has reached or surpassed critical mass.

So Jesus is still with us, thank God! Which makes for eternal Easter!

May you be blessed with That in this Holy Season, in whatever way you receive Jesus and his great message into you life.

Receiving vs. Planning, by Ivor Sowton

“The injunction that you resign as your own teacher originated in A Course in Miracles and is furthered here. Your feeling that a specific role is required of you, or that you have a specific thing to do that you need to be aware of, are functions of the planning process that once so ruled your mind. To be willing to receive instead of plan is to break the pattern of planning.” (Jesus in A Course of Love (ACOL), Third Treatise, 22.5)

Jesus here is not talking about, say, time management, like getting up in the morning and doing good self care and getting to work on time. We all have to do lower order planning like that here, and Jesus does indeed encourage self responsibly on this level.

He’s talking about a much deeper level–our motivation level–the level of our intention for our lives. He is basically saying to us that we need to stay willing to be taught, and to receive the plan for our lives from a much deeper level than that of the ego in us:

“You are a beautiful representation of the truth and cannot be otherwise…Wherever you go, whatever you do, the truth will go with you.” (ibid, 22.3)

So our job is to represent or express the deepest truth in us.

This reminds me of the wonderful contemporary British-American poet David Whyte warning us of our tendency to hold “five year plans” for ourselves, like “in five years I’m going to be a famous musician.” Whyte is saying that such plans can actually block our Soul progress, our real growth. He wants us to come to stillness and listen deep within and be guided from there, so that we unfold a much higher potential from within than we could ever have managed by following an outward five year plan!

For me in my own life I often have to push myself to be organized and efficient on the practical level, and I’m learning how such focus actually helps me to come to the kind of receptivity being spoken of here. In fact I’ve found that meeting my obligations well on this level is a prerequisite to allowing for that deeper plan to unfold. I used to have an attitude of entitlement as a young man, which made me dependent on others even as I judged them for not treating me as well as I thought I deserved.

I also used to “feel guided” a lot, and only later saw this “guidance” as a way I had developed of avoiding pulling my own weight by flitting around to this or that undertaking without actually succeeding in any of them. Later I found that to meet my obligations as well as I could and to sincerely follow a spiritual path without flitting around really was a much better approach for me!

My experience here very much jives with American psychologist Abraham Mazlow’s theory of self-actualization, which states that we must meet our basic practical needs first (like good employment, so we can eat good food and live in adequate circumstances), then develop good loving relationships (if we are immature and dependent these are hard to come by!), and THEN self-actualize, which means to flower into our own unique and wonderful expression of full potential.

Mazlow’s model very much reminds me of the Accomplished Self that is such a major theme in ACOL, appearing throughout the text. My current understanding of the Accomplished Self (which I know will deepen over time) is that this is our full potential awaiting within. We can approach that potential by being responsible for ourselves and also respectful of others as much as we can, for they too have their own version of the Accomplished Self within them:

“You must realize that if you were to see into the eyes and hearts of any human from any time with true vision, you would see the Accomplished Self there.” (4th Treatise, 2.8)

As the magnificent Third Treatise of ACOL draws to a close, Jesus brings the quest for the peace, joy and love that we are all on here into focus, saying that our former personal self was a construct of the ego only. As such our old personal self simply could not deliver to us what we were seeking. For me this message has been humbling, because I am aware of so much ego struggle within me still. But I know that Jesus doesn’t want me or anyone else to blame themselves for their past or current struggles. Instead, his message is to keep the eye on the prize, so to speak. He calls us to receive the vision of or true Selves, rather than continue to plan with our egos.

“Observe the personal self with one last act of love and devotion, and in so doing transform the personal self into a representation of the truth…To call forth the sight of your true Self is to call your true Self into observable form.” (3rd Treatise, 22.17)

It’s a wonderful thing to begin to trust Jesus more deeply. He is talking in ACOL of the dawning of the Time of Christ– now, in our lifetimes–where it will be more natural for us to be our True Accomplished Selves.

May you receive this great Bounty more and more in your own life.

When You Need Love, by Ivor Sowton

Here’s Jesus speaking in the Second Treatise of a Course of Love (ACOL):

Giving is not only about choosing what good and helpful parts of yourself to share with the world. It is also about giving the world an opportunity to give back. It is about recognizing the constant and ongoing exchange that allows needs to be met. It is trusting that if you have a need for money, or time, or honesty, or love, it will be provided.

This wonderful message of trust is in the context of giving and receiving as one.

Now, when we are feeling challenged, most of us tend to slip back into ego at least somewhat. Those who do NOT backslide under over-stress are either highly evolved or (and/or?) have been practicing forgiveness sincerely!– and now see it come to their rescue as a strong and reliable part of themselves. This is why it’s so important to have an ongoing forgiveness practice as Jesus recommends–all the time. Even in the small things–maybe especially in the small things!, for this is how we build that capacity to see things in a more positive light when not feeling totally overwhelmed.

A major trust of both ACOL and ACIM (A Course in Miracles) is toward greater trust in God and the goodness of Life. As the great Master He is, Jesus leads us through many hidden layers of resistance to this trust-building.

So when we feel really over-stressed, most of us slip back into ego-based fear positions of control/protect, as outlined in the first sections of ACOL. That is, we tend to blame someone for this great calamity that shouldn’t be happening! We try to control things by attacking the bad guys back, or by withdrawing further into our ego isolation, like the dragon protecting the treasure from EVERYONE! If things get really bad, we can become desperate and fall into the black hole of complete emotional isolation, where we actually feel completely alone in all the universe!

This is when we can entertain the notion that an angry God threw us out of Heaven because we are so bad we deserve only Hell! This is why Jesus has to work so hard at trust-building. ACIM is masterful in helping us grow beyond being locked in victim role to a vengeful Divinity, a vengeful God driving us from the Garden of Eden, complete with angels wielding flaming spears, no less! We gradually learn to take responsibility for being here. We learn that it wasn’t God who threw us out, but that that it was WE who left voluntarily, through the exercise of our God-given free will.

ACOL is part of the new dispensation of Jesus’ work in the world, in my estimation. After having laid the necessary groundwork in ACIM to free us sufficiently from sin-consciousness (which is all about black holes!), Jesus in ACOL goes on to open up a lot of new acceptance for the individual state in which we find ourselves here in this world.

The previous assumption for most of us, once having accepted responsibility for having left unity-consciousness on our own, was that the separation experiment was all a big mistake–a colossal failure on our part. Like Yuddhistira in the Mahabharata of Classical Vedic India, we have gambled away our Kingdom, and now we have to deal with the consequences!

But the ACOL helps us to see that our desire to experience individuality was not a mistake (and certainly not a sin!), but that the problem came when we lost connection with God and with all the other individuals we had become as we left–first as the One Divine Offspring and then collectively, as the sense of separation hardened up. We are led to a vision of individuality as an innocent creative desire, which, if reunited with our connection to the Divine becomes part of Creation itself rather being than inimical to it. It says that the problem is not in the incarnation as an individual, but instead in the loss of connection with God and with all the “other” individuals. When that connection is restored we are freed to assume the elevation of form, or the redemption of individually, now finally freed from all sense of isolation.
But how do we feel that love when we need it? As Jesus says in the opening quote, if we are in a flow of giving and receiving as one, we will be capable of recognizing our need for love (or money, or time, or honesty–how beautiful!) then we will successfully ASK FOR HELP when we need it!

I have a good friend who is an intuitive healer. In his work with clients, he said that the real challenge is to wait while the person airs out their negative story (who did what to whom!). He said that he is convinced that what we all really want and need for our healing and well being (however we each envision that) is to feel LOVED AND LOVING, that is, fully worthy of being loved by God and by everyone else in our lives AND by being aware of a flow of love through us to family and friends and all beings in general. As in the Beatles’ song,”all you need is love!”

It’s a point well taken. How do we get beyond our petty grievances and just get back in the River of Divine Love when we’ve been temporarily caught in a stagnant eddy of ego fear? How do we drop our ego story and remember we’re all One?

As my dear mother often said, “when in doubt, pray!” That is, can we be humble enough, when we suddenly feel all alone, to 1) acknowledge our perceived loss of connection to Source, 2) stop browbeating ourselves or someone else for this, and 3) drop down into our open heart, inviting that Wholeheartedness to run things again, as God intended.

Jesus is alive, as He reminds us gently and repeatedly in ACOL, and His mission is to help us get back into miracle-mindedness, where giving and receiving are One again. Call to Him. He will help us, as we will help others when we are stronger.

It is trusting that if you have a need for money, or time, or honesty, or love, it will be provided. ( ACOL, 2nd Treatise, 7.15)

All Are Chosen, by Ivor Sowton

In a Course in Miracles (ACIM) and A Course of Love (ACOL), Jesus serves as the Teacher of teachers, with the implication that we are to become teachers (this is particularly apparent in the Manual for Teachers in ACIM). We are to teach not in a lecturing type of way, but by demonstrating ego-free responses.

Now obviously we can only demonstrate ego-free responses if we are ego-free at the time! This is another example of our Master Teacher of teachers bringing us to major crossroads and then standing at the far side of the heavenward direction and saying, “Follow me.” If a person is able to follow him through this tremendous crossroad, she will then be a Teacher of God (ACIM) to those who have not yet reached that crossroad as well as those tarrying there.

It is wonderful that in the ACIM Manual for Teachers Jesus acknowledges that actually even Teachers of God are wobbling in and out of the ego-free state often. But they are able to catch themselves at temporarily choosing the ego again and re-open themselves to the miracle through prayer, bringing Atonement. Then the grace of God can be received and flow through to the other people involved.

In our actual experience in our lives here we are most probably not “full-time Teachers of God” yet. But we have grown sufficiently through divine grace and incredible teaching from the Teacher of Teachers that we do actually now know that our ego pole is negative. But we have also been shown clearly that forgiveness is the way beyond ego, and we are increasing able to forgive ourselves (primarily!) and others (secondarily).

One great aid to spending less time in our ego pole is the phrase “all are chosen.” This is the title of Chapter One of “A Treatise on the New” in ACOL.

All are chosen. Jesus leads us in that amazing chapter to the unavoidable conclusion that God is available to all of us all the time, and that, further, as we move into the time of Christ, more and more children born into this time will grow up able to see the ego and not wanting it. In 1.26 it says “Those born into the time of Christ will settle for nothing less than the truth and will soon begin earnestly looking for it. Even the ego-self will be perceived clearly by these, and they will not want it for their identity but only will accept it until another identity is offered.”

So the newest generation will be more open the choosing God which is truth and just waiting to make that choice directly. How wonderful for them and for our world–to have so much more spiritual opportunity for God-realization and for living more in Unity. And what does that mean for us older ones? Jesus in the same chapter does say that in the time of the Holy Spirit, which the older of us grew up in, the approach to God was primarily indirect, through contrast. We learned by choosing love over fear, kindness over attack, good over evil. There was implicit conflict between opposites here. So we moved directionally toward unity consciousness, but the influence of the separate ego-consciousness was so dominant that it was hard for us to live all the time in Revelation, the ongoing ego-free state. We were calibrated more for the indirect approach.

In the Second Treatise Jesus therefore directly addresses the need to forgive God for allowing such a state that we find ourselves in! It’s like we are frightened by how much free will we’ve always had, and maybe wishing that God had given us less of that choice to rush into separation state! Then Jesus tells us that it would also behoove us to forgive the world we made for being a place “that has taught you to want to be other than who you are.” So we grew up thinking that we needed to build ourselves up, make something of ourselves, get ahead, compete with other egos for scarce resources, etc.

But now we are in a time of more spiritual opportunity to be more divinely aware more of the time. And the newly born or those soon to be born will be even more favorably gifted with predisposition toward the truth.

I really don’t think that Jesus is saying here that the world will suddenly vault into Heaven, all of us instantly and permanently enlightened at the same time. But he is saying more will choose God and more will choose God directly, with less need for an ego pole. What a blessing!

If we can remember that all are chosen at all times then it will be easier for us. All are chosen because God never throws anybody out of Heaven, and never barred the door either! We can take huge reassurance that God has and is always choosing us–that we could be in a Heavenly state of awareness anytime and eventually all the time. And that further everyone else is also chosen also, completely resolving for us the sin consciousness the ego pole wants to use to reserve goodness just for us and ours but no one else.

So as we go through life and work through difficult special relationships, we can remember that all are chosen. We are, they are–all chosen! We can never permanently lose God. We can remain indirect through exercising our free choice, in which case we put ourselves in the school of hard knocks–conflict/contrast, only gradually realizing that kindness and forgiveness are the way to Heaven, or we could open up to the direct experience of that love quickly–even much more quickly.

Here’s Jesus in 1.5 of All Are Chosen:

A question has been asked and a response is awaited. Are you willing to be chosen? Are you willing to be chosen of God? All are asked. What is your answer?

Dealing with Our Resistance, by Ivor Sowton

First of all, I want to thank Celia Hales so much for her wonderful post of 11/16/14, entitled “Self-Doubt Is the Only Thing that Will Not Sustain Christ-consciousness.”. If you haven’t seen it yet, please check it out on her blog, Miracles Each Day. She works with a key quote from Jesus in A Course of Love’s Treatise on the New, on trusting the way of the New that Jesus offers us. We deliberately turn our backs on the self-doubt that would have us choose instead the old, the ego thought system we have employed in the past.

I know what she is speaking of is true; I do trust Jesus on this. And you the reader may well want to go to her post and stop reading this one! That’s fine and may be just right for you!

This post is on our resistance to this wonderful spiritual path. It is unlikely to be a popular topic, but I put it forth because I find it is quite relevant for myself and, I think, for many of us.

You know the times when you wake up sad and low and may want to feel the Peace of God for sure, but do not seem to be able to access it at all? What to do at such times? Or when you have been studying these teachings diligently and have really been feeling more peace and joy and then WHAM–something really bad or frightening comes up big time. What do you do then? Or when you, after having really made the spiritual effort for some time, now feel the onset of the doldrums, like an old sailing ship suddenly dead in the water because the wind has totally died down. What do you do then? Or you have been making slow but steady progress, and all of a sudden a big compulsion comes up really strong. What do you do then?

So we’re speaking of resistance to our path, and how to deal with it. Celia’s keynote quote from Jesus is this one, from ACOL, Treatise on the New, 12.19: “But I ask you to try to remember to turn to the new rather than the old each time you think you are experiencing uncertainty or lack.”

A good place to start in dealing with our resistance, then, is to try to interface with our teachings for timely and relevant help in our current perceived distress. Our teachings are literally offering us a new way to deal with past patterns of inertia–our resistance.

Jesus, in both A Course of Love and A Course in Miracles, often recommends an unguarded sharing of our troubles with him, just as they come up. Try to go to an image of Jesus or Mary or whoever in your heart and ask for help right now. Not in a melodramatic way or a demanding way, but instead just assuming that he or she or it does really mean it when they assure us of their eternal love for us. We might start by praying: “Dear____, I know that you are here with me. Guide Thou my thoughts and feelings now as I negotiate this.”

ACIM teacher Jacob Glass is very helpful for me in my times of travail, because he seems to normalize feelings of distress and inadequacy as they come up in our spiritual lives.

Jacob encourages us to just try and be steady, meeting our commitments, rain or shine. Our society demands steadiness, showing up for work however we might be feeling emotionally, parenting the kids evenly, even when we’re under the weather. There’s a real sustaining wisdom in this, I think. Go for the B+ day every day. A+ days will happen, but we’re setting ourselves up for failure if we demand this of ourselves every day. It’s like the Zen Buddhist credo: “Just sit zazen (Zen meditation). Good day, just sit zazen. Bad day, just sit zazen.” Thus we maintain our steady forward momentum, not always romantically rosy, but long-term solid and dependable. It’s choosing the New, just as Jesus is saying here, by not over-reacting to the seemingly negative whatever of the present. Just trying to trust God and keep on keeping on.

The ACIM/ACOL community recently physically lost a real luminary in Ken Wapnik, PhD, who was the close confidant of Helen Schucman, PhD, scribe of A Course in Miracles. Ken has been an amazingly dynamic teacher of this path ever since then until his transition at Christmas time last year. Luckily his tremendous wisdom lives on in a large body of publications and recordings, and the Foundation for A Course in Miracles (FACIM) that he and his wife Gloria set up remains strong and vibrant (check it out online). Ken often said that psychology can really help us by instilling a healthy respect for the devious craftiness of our egos! He asks us to be really honest in asking ourselves– do we REALLY want to be done with separative ego consciousness forever? Or were we actually angling for better “position” as a more sophisticated, spiritual, “superior” ego? Touche!

Ken counseled a lot of self-forgiveness as we come to discover just how into self-sabotaging our egos can be!

It’s like we are cruising along fair to middling and then we suddenly and apparently deliberately “shoot ourselves in the foot”, saying or doing something outlandish that can really upset us and those around us! Why on earth would we do such a thing!? Simply because the ego needs suffering to maintain separateness–that’s why! Eckhart Tolle calls this our “pain body,” and we all have one, or we wouldn’t be here!

Jesus in ACOL states that our misguided choice for suffering is what went wrong with our experiment in physicality. In and of itself, to choose a physical self as an expression of our Divine Self “would be perfectly within the Laws of God, or Love”. But we got scared, it seems, and made up a lot of “laws of man” or “laws of survival” in our attempt to maintain an adolescent kind of individuality, which we thought we wanted. Now, though, as the prodigal sons and daughters returning to our eternal Home, we can start to let all those lesser laws go in favor of God’s, which alone can offer all the peace and joy that we really want.
So we needn’t be surprised when our ego acts up. We might even think of it as a little child, in need of our reassurance that everything will be all right.
Resistance, then, is actually part of our path. Part of our letting go. Part of our deliberately turning to the New.

“This is not such a frightening task. Let fear go and walk with me now.” (Jesus speaking to you and me personally in the Second Treatise of ACOL, 13.6)

What Is My Calling? Part 2, by Ivor Sowton

The powerful theme of following your calling is explored brilliantly by Jesus throughout the Treatise on the Nature of Unity and its Recognition in A Course of Love (ACOL).

In Chapter 5 of this Treatise Jesus outlines three types of calling from our true Self within. The first type of true calling is very broad–all-inclusive even. “This is an all-encompassing call and is not about specifics.” (5.3) “This type of calling comes as a light shone into the darkness and is revelatory in nature.” (5.1)

This first over-arching calling is our mission in life, I think. Many of you may have heard John Astin’s beautiful song “Love Serve and Remember” (Remembrance, Golden Dawn Productions, 1991). The song opens “Why Have We Come? Why Have We Come? –To Love, Serve and Remember.” That is, our main mission–one might even say our only real mission–is to love in a divine way, To serve the Divine in others, and through that service to remember our unity with all in God.

Here’s Jesus himself with one of the many places in both ACIM and ACOL where the mighty inspiration of the message is matched by the beauty of the language he uses:

“You who have been given the Peace of God, go in Peace. Spread peace throughout the land. Go out in peace and love and service to all. For in this going out you come home and bring with you all the brothers and sisters you have brought to peace. Go in peace to love and serve with all your heart. Thus we are one heart, one mind, one unity. Thus we are one in a relationship of love and peace that is our eternal home.” (1st Treatise, 10.15).

Now of course that sounds like a HUGE calling! It can bring up some trepidation!

I imagine a Saint Francis or a Mother Teresa being able to fulfill a mission like that, but for the rest of us this might be a very high bar! So I think the challenge implicit here is to start where we actually are (or believe ourselves to be!), and then try to be generally uplifted by this and the many other beautiful exhortations Jesus gives us in all of his authentic channelings, if I can use that term. This general sense of uplifting would tend to bless and sanctify every area of our lives: our relationships, our work, our hobbies, our health–everything.

As a therapist I was trained to look out for megalomania, delusions of grandeur, etc.–you know, that type of obviously insane self-assessment that has a grossly dysfunctional person believing that they are the actual historical Jesus Christ, for example. As a transpersonal therapist, (that branch that recognizes Divinity as a potential in humanity) I am trained to look for and foster ways in which ordinary humans like all of us are can develop more and more capacity to respond to big spiritual callings in healthy, sustainable ways.

And so Jesus also talks about two other, more specific types of calling that can act as interim steps in the application or manifestation of that big general calling he begins with.

The second type of calling would be like a specific recommendation for a needed change. For example, when we are praying for guidance around career direction and suddenly feel guided from deep within. Kind of a “do this!” announcement from a place within much deeper and much more trustworthy than our “normal” ego state. Jesus also likens this type of calling to a road sign directing us to a specific desired location, like “go this way toward that place!”

This is so important for us, isn’t it? I mean, each of us in our heart of hearts is yearning for divine love–at least that’s my opinion. We need to feel unconditionally loved just as we are, and we also feel so much better when we are extending that same unconditional love to others. But how to actually work with stuck places in our lives that seem so far away from that kind of ideal love at present! So we need specific, guided, directional steps we can take to bring more of that great love into our awareness as we grow.

That willingness to be guided seems so key here. Thus all the great spiritual teachings I am aware of counsel sincere prayer for guidance coupled with a teacher or a teaching tradition that can give us checks and balances on our progress, so to speak. So, for instance, if I pray desperately for guidance on some crisis in my life, I might never get mentally and emotionally quiet enough inside to hear “the still, small Voice within.” Instead I might go off half-cocked, as the saying goes, latching on to some hair-brained scheme straight from my ego, only to find myself worse off than ever! So here is where the true teachings could give us a reality check, buying us time to settle down more, to “offer it up” more, to empty out more of the attachment and aversion of specialness. Then comes that true calling, that signpost from the True Self within, which has finally been given a chance to “get through.”

Which leads us to the third calling that Jesus discusses in chapter five of the Second Treatise: “the demand.” This kind of calling is very specific, like “I really need to change my attitude toward this person!” Jesus says here that this type of calling is associated with the final breaking of old ego patterns so that our Tue Self can finally take charge.

This type of calling is like boot camp spirituality–where the rubber meets the road in our spiritual growth. In St. Theresa of Liseau’s “little way” of approaching God she talks about what we in ACIM lingo would call grievances; how overcoming our affinity for finding fault will bring us closer and closer to God. She writes of being stuck behind an elderly nun in daily chapel at her convent who was constantly shifting her chair, scape, squeak, scape, all service long, day after day, distracting Theresa to no end. Forgiving and ultimately blessing this grievance ended up bringing Theresa such a divine sense of peace and joy! So her initial awareness that she was being judgmental was her calling of demand to work on her attitude–the little way.

Now of course numerous commentators have noted that that “little way”of St. Theresa”s is actually not little at all! Instead it feels more like heavy-lifting–spiritual boot camp.

So as always Jesus is gentle and encouraging to us here in dealing with this type of calling also. He says we might be “called to account” by others for some attitude or behavior of ours, and also that we might also be directed to call others to account for theirs. In both cases the goal is that final unlearning of old ego patterns of special love and special hate so that they can fall away for good, leaving us in that glorious Christ consciousness that is our natural and eternal home. Looked at in that light, how can we call any such demand anything but a blessing–at least in the long run! And in the meantime, as that simultaneous unlearning of the old and holy learning of the New takes place, we are counseled to be as kind and loving toward ourselves and everyone else as possible.

In summary, here is Jesus speaking to us personally in the last chapter of the Second Treatise of ACOL, The Final Call:

Call upon your relationship with me to aid you, as I call upon you to assist me in calling all of our brothers and sisters to their return to Unity.

Listen for my voice as I guide you to your purpose here
and linger with you in this time to end all time.