Tag Archives: Richard Carlson

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.

Forgiveness-for-Salvation

“Forgiveness-for-Salvation has one form, and only one. It does not ask for proof of innocence, nor pay of any kind. It does not argue, nor evaluate the errors that it wants to overlook. (S-2.III.1)”

1 – Attack / Anger

The most important thing to remember when faced with the attack and/or anger of another person is to remember just to overlook the error. If we dwell upon the error, we will make it real to us, and thus much harder to forgive. Jesus knows that we tend to retaliate, and he would not have it so.

2 – Innocence

In this passage, Jesus indicates that we are not to spend any time looking for “proof” of innocence. We just know that, in his inner Self, our brother/sister is innocent of wrongdoing. Our brother/sister has merely made mistakes, which cry for correction, but not punishment. As Richard Carlson (Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff) says, nobody (except very disturbed people) get up in the morning with the express purpose of making our life miserable. If an individual knew how to have perfect love for us, that is what we would get. It is only ignorance of how to bring this about that brings on the problem. And the problem doesn’t really exist, being in illusion or dream.

3 – Payback

We do not ask for payback when we love our brother/sister. We do not just return love where we find it, and only there. We return love, in the form of forgiveness and pardon, even when we superficially think that another person does not “deserve” forgiveness. We especially return love at such times. And then we know the bliss that comes from going with the flow in our love. We do not retaliate; it is the worst thing that we could do.

4 – Forgiveness

Jesus indicates elsewhere that forgiveness preserves our rights, that it is the only sane response. We would be sane in an insane world.

5 – Comfort

“He will not leave you comfortless, nor fail to send His angels down to answer you in His Own Name. He stands beside the door to which forgiveness is the only key. Give it to Him to use instead of you, and you will see the door swing silently open upon the shining face of Christ. Behold your brother there beyond the door; the Son of God as He created him. (S-2.III.7)”

The “He” in this passage is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will not leave us comfortless, even when all the world seems against us. There is no conspiracy of attack on us. We are in fact seeing the attack because we do not want to see it. But we have attracted it to ourselves. Our brother is showing us a tableau of our secret wishes—what we would do to him. And we would change our brother only when we ourselves have changed.

6 – Key

Forgiveness is the only key, as given in this passage. We can, in following A Course in Miracles, only reach Awakening by our relationship to our brother, and that relationship must be transformed from the special to the holy, and this transformation happens only when we have forgiven. If only one person forgives totally, all the world is saved—a statement made in the Manual of ACIM that is not easily understood. But it may be understood by the fact that we all are One, and therefore there is actually only one person in this world—all of us in the One.

7 – Christ in Our Brother

When we see Christ in our brother, we will forgive. And Christ is in our brother’s heart. The Christ Self, according to A Course of Love, is deep within us all. It is the real person, not the persona, or little self, or personal self. This real person wants our forgiveness, and this real person does not wish to harm us in any way. Indeed, we cannot be harmed, though we can think that we are. For we live in illusion—a truth to which we return over and over.

Affirmation: “I would seek comfort in my brother today.”

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Please give me patience today. Especially patience with my significant others. I cannot get inside their minds to understand the motives of what they do. I can only forgive them their distress. I can go with the flow, and let their decisions in some measure dictate what our life together will be. This is as it should be. We are walking alongside each other, with neither ahead or behind.

Thank You for the many blessings that I can see, as well as the many that I can’t see. All comes to me from Your hand. I appreciate the love that You send down upon my head. May blessing reign upon my loved ones as well.

Amen.

Effortless Happiness

Reproduction-oil-paintings-Vincent-Van-Gogh005“You do not yet, but will soon realize the happiness that is ours.  Your mind cannot accept that happiness, as well as meaning, is due you through no effort of your own.  (A Course of Love, 25.9)”

Affirmation:  “Happiness is due me through no particular effort.”

Reflections:

1 – Free Gift

We do have happiness, when we have the type of attitudes that invite it.  We don’t have to “effort” to deserve happiness.  Happiness is a free gift of God, just as is His guidance.  He wants us to be joyous.  He wants us to live lives that are filled with all blessings that we will accept.  We must receive from Him, though.  We cannot think negative and depressing thoughts, not received from Him, and expect happiness to follow.  Natural laws still apply.  And common sense would tell us that we need to work with our minds to bring forth the goodness that God has in store for us.

2 – No Effort

Is this, then, “no effort”?  Yes, for it takes no struggle to sit quietly and envelope ourselves in God’s love.  This stillness will assure us that just below the surface of our negative thinking is the natural, uncomplicaated, and healthy habit of mind that ensures the sensing of happiness.  Just let go, and the healthy pattern will surface.

3 – Richard Carlson

The ideas in the preceding paragraph are informed, in part, by Richard Carlson, a psychologist and specialist in happiness who wrote a number of books about not “sweating the small stuff.”  Prior to that successful series, he wrote other books on alleviating depression and inviting happiness (some of which are out of print).  The natural, healthy sensations of happiness will arise easily when we allow the very unnatural habit of depressed thoughts to be eliminated.

4 – Happiness Will Bubble Forth

So let us take the effortless way to improve our attitudes so that happiness will bubble forth.  Just sit in the stillness with a clear mind not focusing on anything in particular.  See, by experiment, if Your sensation of God’s presence, which will come unbidden, does not alleviate depression and welcome a calmer, more peaceful feeling that can only be called the beginnings of happiness.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Help me to understand that happiness is a laudable goal, and that it is my due, through no particular effort of my own.  I do need to fill my mind and heart with peace, though, and this will happen when we read and reflect on Jesus’s words.

May we reach out to others who do not feel happiness.  May we be their guide home to happiness.

Be with us as we seek Your way.  And may our pathway smooth before us.

Amen.

A Guide Who Will Not Fail

“He has a Guide Who will not fail.  He need make no distinctions among the problems he perceives for He to Whom he turns with all of them recognizes no order of difficulty in resolving them.  He is as safe in the present as he was before illusions were accepted into his mind, and as he will be when he has let them go.  (M-16.7)”

Affirmation:  “I follow my Guide.”

Reflections:

1 – A Loving Guide

I am constantly amazed at how loving our Guide actually is.  Our Guide, the Holy Spirit, is the Universal Inspiration, and the Communicator for God.  If God is Love, and most of us believe that He is, then would not His Communicator be a fount of Love as well?  It all makes perfect sense, in my way of viewing life.  But I am still surprised by the attention to detail, and to my own sense of drama (when my Guide responds even though I have brought some of my agony onto myself).

2 – Quiet in the Early AM

These early morning hours, when I am writing today, are helpful in the extreme.  Richard Carlson, a bestselling author, from time to time told in his books of his writing from 3 to 6 a.m.  He found the quiet then to be helpful in his creativity.

3 – Holy Spirit Closer at Night?

Is it not also possible that the Holy Spirit seems closest to us when the rest of the world is quiet?  Even the birds are not yet singing, and their chorus will eventually herald the dawn and make us glad that we have lived to experience yet another day.  Our Guide is here for us to consult at these times.  Let us not waste these moments.

4 – Solace

We are safe in this world, even when tragedy strikes.  The Holy Spirit, as God’s Communication Link with us, is ever with us.  And He provides the solace that we sometimes need when our hopes have been dashed, and also when we have reached in extremis, or the end of our dreams.  Other dreams will be given us; we need not fear.  We will not be left bereft.  Time, ever an illusion, is still our friend at such times.  And we need to turn to God in prayer, knowing that He is here for us.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Last night, once again, I awoke after three hours of sleep.  And prayer did not, this time, seem to calm me.  I turned to Your secular gift, music.  And all was well.

Thank You that You do not distinguish between spiritual and secular remedies.  All is Yours.  And I am Yours.  

I often am amazed at the calm that descends in the middle of the night, when I have offered my prayers to you and then turned to music to soothe.  And the music doesn’t have to be particularly calming, but just music that I like and that speaks to my spirit.

Be with me today as I seek You amid a busy world, with not quite enough sleep.  May You and I together have a good day.

Amen

Perception Follows Judgment

ACIM Workbook Lesson 312 – for Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Affirmation:  “I see all things as I would have them be.”

“Perception follows judgment.  Having judged, we therefore see what we would look upon.  For sight can merely serve to offer us what we would have.  (WB456)”

Reflections:

1 – We Make the World We See

We do make the world that we see.  This is a reiteration of the oft-repeated refrain in ACIM that projection makes perception.  Surely this is an important point, since it is repeated so often.  It may be hard to imagine that we see the world that we have made, because it is our wish.  But A Course in Miracles says many things that at first glance are hard to accept.  This is one more.

2 – We Interpret What We See

We can have solace in a difficult world by recognizing that the lesson for today indicates that our sight includes our interpretation of what we are seeing.  We can choose the emotion that we will experience by being more careful about what thoughts we entertain.  Richard Carlson (author of Shortcut through Therapy and other Psychology of Mind books) says that feelings follow thought, though we do not often recognize this.  So, if we believe this and take it to heart, we need to be more careful about what we think.  The thought will generate the feeling or emotion that we experience.

3 – We Are Much Too Tolerant of Mind Wandering

Jesus himself in ACIM says that we do not watch our thoughts carefully enough.  We are much too prone to mind wandering (from the Text).  And everything that we think makes form at some level (an ACIM tenet).  We do not understand these levels, and ACIM is not specific about whether or not some levels are on other planes of reality (e.g., the Other Side).  We need to follow Jesus’s advice and say “Stop!” to ourselves when we realize that we have engaged in mind wandering.  It may be seen that much that we make is false and bad for us because we have entertained negative thoughts.  Even popular psychology agrees, in that we are made to understand the self-fulfilling prophecy.

4 – Try Not to Judge Today

Let us make a pact with our closest brothers and sisters not to make judgments today.  If there is someone whom you know who studies ACIM, contact them and ask that they join with you in a day judgment-free.  If not a day, try for an hour at a time.  The results will prove the point of today’s Workbook lesson.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would not judge today.  I would realize anew that what I judge against affects my perception, making an interpretation that is not true.  My interpretations are always wrong when informed by the ego.  And judgment is of the ego.  Help me to keep these thoughts in mind today that I may have a good day.

May I not fall into “mind wandering” today.  This is one of my worst habits.  I sometimes pray aloud to keep my mind from wandering.  Help me in any simple techniques today that will keep me on track when I talk to You, when I commune with You.  I would open my heart, my inner heart, and feel Your presence keenly.  May today be a banner day, filled with the sense of Your presence.

Amen.