Still Heart

Note: The last post ended the first part of Out of the Maze, a book I wrote some years ago (and is available as an e-book link from this blog). Now this blog will consider The Way of Mastery for a while, beginning with Chapter 4 of that book.

“For in truth, there is not a time that I am not with you.” (“The Way of the Heart,” WOM, Chapter 4, Page 41)

Jesus is here echoing something that he said in A Course in Miracles, that he is as close as a “single, unequivocal call.” Do we believe it? I think often the answer is “no.” Yet he says that he holds our hand as we walk along the carpet back to God. He says that this is no “idle fantasy.”

I, for one, believe him. I have had enough miracles of overwrought turning to peace that I know whereof Jesus speaks. Jesus knows what we need before we ask, but it is good practice to put into words what we want. Articulate our need; don’t just cry, “Lord, Lord.” Articulate what you would have him do for us. This paves the way for him to act.

Jesus is spirit, on the Other Side, and we don’t know how spirit can be anywhere and everywhere all at once. I used to say that Jesus was cloning himself, but being spirit, that is probably not necessary. He does need to establish a focal point of attention for his consciousness, though, and it is likely that his ability to do so enables him to assure us that he is with each of us whenever we make a “single, unequivocal call” to him. I doubt that many of us, entities here or on the Other Side, have the ability to direct numerous foci of consciousness just all the time. Jesus is very advanced, a very advanced entity.

Take him at his word. Ask for help the next time an upset looms on the horizon. When calmness comes, know that he has stilled our heart.

Resolving Conflict

Are we ever really in conflict? The Course would say not. The true Self is above such pettiness. When conflict rules, we have let our egoistic images of ourselves collide with simply a different egoistic image, also of ourselves.

This conflict happens all the time to those of us still on this side of the bridge, and this includes most of us—we who are still not consistently living in the “real world.” We do not, however, have to continue in conflict. We can refer all questions to our Counselor, the Holy Spirit.

I have found that the gesture of turning the conflict over to the Holy Spirit may be answered immediately, or we may be so involved with turmoil that a quieter mind, one that could hear guidance, has not yet come to us. If the latter is our situation, we need to suspend our thoughts, refusing to mull over the unresolved issue, and quiet our minds.

Whatever method one uses can be right—meditation (the Course makes use of some of this quietness, though the word “meditation” is never used in the FIP edition); prayer; or simple distraction from the conflict to thoughts of something else. One must be aware, however, that distraction can allow the conflict to light upon something else later on. Whatever method one uses, we must trust not in one’s self, but in the Holy Spirit, the Bearer of better thought, to give a way out of the impasse. One helpful thought when battling conflict is to remember that one always battles illusions, for Reality does not battle at all. This recognition may in itself may be enough to calm the heat of passion.

In my own case, I used to have a neurotic tendency to find something, anything, about which to worry. It is as if the “worry” part of me were comfortable only if I had something to fret over. So it is that the ego thrives on conflict, justifying its continuance by conflict. There is a well-worn groove that most of us reserve for worry. When all is said and done, we may find that we were simply in the grip of a bad habit. But by so retaining this bad habit, the Course would say that we make the conditions that we dread, because we choose our own reality. There is a solemn warning in realizing our power to choose our futures that should not be minimized.

Picture instead a resolution, as yet unknown, to be worked out by the Holy Spirit. Abide with this thought awhile, and see if a calmer mind will not welcome, in a moment of revelry perhaps, the answer previously sought so frantically. Once we set aside the conflict-ridden emotional state, the Holy Spirit is free to act.

Find God in Quietness

There is a stark contrast between fear and love that we need to understand. Seen in its simplicity, the dynamic between fear and love encourages us to find God in quietness when turmoil threatens to overcome us. The most likely reason for the turmoil is something held against our brother, some patch of unforgiveness that would threaten our equanimity and then, because we fear retribution, causes us to feel fear. All this need not be. That is the joyous answer that Jesus gives us in the Course. To lead us gently down the intellectual way that tells us “why” all this senselessness need not be, Jesus bids us look at the “laws of chaos.” When we look at these five “laws” dispassionately, we see that they cannot make sense. Let us turn now to these laws of chaos and see if we can recognize ourselves and our world in their tenets. (T-23.II)

Is the truth different for everyone? The first law of chaos would say that it is. Our illusory values are then always seen in contrast to the values of others, which are deemed inferior. This attitude is, at base, a separating tactic. One ought never to find “good” reasons to separate one’s self from another. Yet in this law, what one values is seen as superior to what another values, and this illusion is “proved” by attacking the values of another. We believe under this law that there is a hierarchy of illusions, making some easier to forgive than others; but this is not so. Jesus points out that a hierarchy of illusions is similar to believing that some miracles are easier to perform than others—and the principles of miracles affirms that this is not so. This idea may yet be a sticking point as we walk on the road to salvation; as before, let us go as far along this road that we can, knowing that farther down the road, we will know and understand more than we do now.

Jesus’ second law of chaos is that each one must sin, and therefore deserves attack and death. This illusion overlooks the possibility of correction, seeing only punishment at the hands of an angry God. It pits God and His creatures at war, and this war includes not only self and God, but also self and everyone else. This law would affirm that there are some errors that are beyond simple correction without punishment, and the Course affirms that all errors (or “sin”) are correctable without any punishment at all. We are always free to choose punishment, but this is not God’s will for us.

Chaos is the opposite the quietness in which we find God. Turn aside from chaos in whatever form it appears, and all will appear miraculously changed.

A World of Joy

“Remember now one lovely day, for each of you has had at least one that was a shining light in a world of darkness. A day in which the sun shone on your world and you felt part of everything. Every tree and every flower welcomed you. Every drop of water seemed to refresh your soul, every breeze to carry you to heaven. Every smile seemed meant for you, and your feet hardly seemed to touch the soft ground on which you walked. This is what awaits you as you join with what you see. This awaits you as you place no judgment on the world, and in so doing join with everything and extend your holiness across a world of grief, causing it to become a world of joy.” (C:5:32)

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to wish such a day often, even everyday? Is such a blessing possible? Probable?

I think that it is, but I do think that it is rare in our world. I have read of people who never met a person they didn’t like, people who feel happy every day. But I would be the first to tell you that this is not I. Oh, I hope for better days, and I do have many good days—but constant and unremitting joy has not been my lot in life.

I doubt that it has been yours either. But we can move ever close to such a blessed state by doing certain things daily.

It is well to start the day right, as A Course in Miracles points out. And, of course, Jesus also tells us in ACIM that the day can be begun again if it starts out less than the best. How to start the day right?

We need a time of quietness. And not all of us can squeeze this in first thing in the morning. It means getting up earlier, before our family rouses It means that we give a part of each day to God, right off the bat. And we are the better for it.

I do not always do this, but when I have, the rewards have been great. I go out on our sun/screen porch, where the early sounds of the morning, and my reading and prayer, grant me peace. Having this peace first thing in the morning is the best way to ensure that the day will unfold well. If the day turns frantic, we can then go within, in memory, for that moment when everything seemed right with the world—when God was in His heaven, and we were visiting Him, so to speak.

If you can’t carve out the first part of the day to spend with God, spend time with Him as soon as possible as the day unfolds. We will never regret these moments of quiet. We will flourish in a world that seems at time to have gone mad. As it has.

Return in memory to happy times. Recall a pristine day, as the passage for today encourages us. And remember that prayer is God’s way to talk to us. Prayer is sometimes silence, for God is heard in silence.

The world today does not live by these rules. And they are my rules, my interpretation, based on A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love. When you have time, develop your own rules.

You will live far happier days. And you will the God Whom you may have forgotten somewhere along the way.

Starve the Ego-Mind Out of Existence

pissarro - landscape“What is food for the ego-mind is fear and the removal of these final fears will quite literally starve the ego-mind out of existence. (Treatises of A Course of Love: Treatise on the Nature of Unity and Its Recognition, 9.15)”

Affirmation: “I would remove fear from my mind today.”

Reflections:

1 – Identical Questions

How do we rid ourselves of fear? How do we put the ego-mind out of existence? These two questions are actually identical, for with the one comes the other.

2 – Quiet Inner State

I have found that a quiet inner state steals the thunder from fear. I get fearful, angry, and anxious, only when I am stressed. And when this overwrought state is removed by contemplation, quietness, and sometimes meditation, then I see that the conflict-ridden ego just drops away.

3 – Timeout

But when I am overwrought, God cannot get through to me immediately, when I ask for His presence. My ego-mind has risen, and I must turn aside from this ego-mind if I am to have peace. Mostly I need to stop and take a timeout. While this is not always possible, it is possible to turn inwardly, through affirmations, to still the mind. Stilling the mind reduces the anger and the desire for attack, and soon all is well.

4 – Marianne Williamson

We tend to want to keep an aroused state going. We run on adrenaline. And this is not way to run a life. Marianne Williamson says that we are addicted to adrenaline. And she is right. We think that we would lose our edge in this sometimes competitive world if we became too laid back. But a Type B personality would do just that–take it easy and stop the frantic chase after success. For what is success anyway but a question of the ego?

5 – Keep a List

We need to starve the ego out of existence. And to do so we need to keep lists of things to do when we are fearful. Turning to our personal list will calm the mind. Sometimes we need to write out this list, for when we are too overwrought to think clearly. Other times we don’t have to resort to paper and pencil, but will call to mind what we need when we need it. And all will be well.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would be calm and peaceful today, easy to live with, easy to live with for others as well as myself. I would thereby quite literally starve the ego-mind out of existence. I would feel fear no more, and it is fear that feeds the ego. I would cease any and all competition, choosing cooperation as the better means to get things done. And my goals should be met just as well from cooperation as from competition–in fact, the meeting of goals from cooperation with others actualy works far better.

Help me to have a good day. Help my brothers and sisters to have a good day. We need You, and when Your are present, so that we sense You, then the day smooths out and all is well. Thank You.

Amen

Let Your Words Be Chosen for You

“There are many who must be reached through words, being as yet unable to hear in silence. . . .The teacher of God. . .learns how to let his words be chosen for him by ceasing to decide for himself what he will say.  (M-21.4)”

Affirmation:  “May I hear in silence today.”

Reflections:

1 – Silence

It is quite possible to learn through silence.  Silence is often cited as the way that God speaks to us.  And when there has been no interior “voice,” we are not as likely to be misled, perhaps, by the ego.

2 – Words

But many of us still need words.  And those of us who are teaching do need to speak to make ourselves understood.  We ourselves may have learned through silence, but those we are trying to reach may, as yet, only be able to learn through the words that the Holy Spirit leads us to say.

3 – Mistakes

We can always be mistaken, and this includes the longstanding student or teacher of A Course in Miracles.  So often we want to get it right, and as the ego has not totally disappeared from our minds, we get it so wrong.  But there is a remedy.  We can always ask for help, feeling internally that the help will come, and we will always be answered.  It may take awhile for us to become aware of what help we have received, but the Holy Spirit does not leave anyone bereft.

4 – Our Words Matter

Be aware today that the words that we say may have a profound effect on another.  We do not realize how much our words really mean to another, especially our significant others.  And we need to realize, anew, that attack and anger give us nothing that we want.

5 – Make Time for Silence

So, let us hope for the silence today.  Make time for the silence.  And from that silence go out into the world to say the words that, after prayerful consideration, come to us.  The words will be far wiser than what we might, without divine help, consider saying.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Be with us today.  We need You always, sometimes especially so when things seem to be going so well.  We get cocky then, and think that we are farther along the pathway home than we really are.  Help us to realize the help that we need to walk gracefully is right inside us.  Your Communicator is within us, as You are.  Help us to be grateful that Your plan for the universe was so perfectly created.

Be with us as we seek our way home to You.  And may we always remember that help is only a request away.

Amen.

Tranquil Mind

“A tranquil mind is not a little gift.  Would you not rather live than choose to die?  (M-20.4)”

Affirmation:  “I would choose to live.”

Reflections:

1 – To Live in This World

To be in this world without a tranquil mind is existing rather than living (an interpretation, not stated in ACIM).  Would we not rather choose to live?  And a tranquil mind can allow us to live in all the fullness that this world affords.  This world, as such, may not afford much, as Jesus says in A Course in Miracles that this world has nothing to offer (a truth that takes much consideration).  But even in this world we can be happy if we have a tranquil mind.

2 – Conditions of a Tranquil Mind

How do we seek out the conditions of a tranquil mind?  Surely we already know this answer.  We turn inward to God or His Communicator, the Holy Spirit.  (The Holy Spirit is also called the Universal Inspiration–from the opening pages of the Text.)  We slow down our frenetic pace, and we seek the quiet that only God can give.  We come to know peace, even in the midst of a busy life.  And we commune with God every chance that we get (and there are many chances, most of which, unfortunately, we ignore).

3 – Tranquility in a Quiet Mind

We would all know the tranquility that comes from a quiet mind.  Jesus says in ACIM that our goal is to become “perfectly calm and quiet” all the time.  Not everybody is ready to hear this, as some of us still long for drama in our lives.  But the more often we experience calm and quiet, the more desirous it becomes for us.  And calm and quiet can become very desirous indeed.

4 – Plea to God

We would choose a tranquil mind today.  Lead us along that pathway, dear God.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I will never be truly happy, on a consistent basis, until I have settled down to serenity, to a tranquil mind.  I would do so today.  Be with me as I seek You in an ever more loving way.  You are found through love, and I pray that I always remember this.  You do not countenance drama in our daily life, and drama is a distraction supported by the ego and meant to keep us tied to the ego’s apron sttrings.

You want better for me.  You want better for all of us.

Help me to find that better today.  And tomorrow.

Amen