Tag Archives: Suffering

Mysteries

“Pain is a mystery, as is life.  The path to peace requires it.  It is not helpful to try to understand what cannot be understood.”  COL bk.2, 20:II

This assertion, attributed to Mary in Choose Only Love, is an appeal to relax in God’s care.  We know that He is always with us, and that He wants us peaceful.  We also know that pain is something that many of us experience, at times, and for some, always, in our lives.  Mary says that the path to peace requires pain, but this is not something that can be understood.

Jesus differed from Mary in A Course in Miracles.  He said there that it is not necessary to learn through pain, that learning through rewards is more lasting.

This is the first instance that I have run across in which Mary and Jesus have different concepts.

I do agree with Mary, that pain cannot be understood, at least not in this world.  There are some things that we just have to accept, that this is the way that life shows up for us at times.

We don’t need to get ourselves hung up over this difference in advice.  Regardless of what Jesus told us in ACIM, many of us still endure pain—even when we think that we are following the new revelations.  So Mary’s advice may just be an acknowledgment that pain does dog our footsteps, and we can best live well when we don’t struggle for answers to the problem of suffering.

I do know that love heals suffering, this from A Course of Love.  So when we love enough, we are healed.  Not all of us can reach this pinnacle in every day.  It is quite possible that Jesus in ACIM was speaking on an ideal level.  Ken Wapnick talks a great deal in his works about the two levels of speaking that Jesus uses in A Course in Miracles.

There very well may be something that we don’t understand in this conflicting interpretation of pain.  Ask to understand; see if God moves to bring us to a better sense of what Mary and Jesus meant.

There Is NO Need to Crucify One’s Self

“You already know what crucifixion is all about. You have done it to yourself a million times in ways far worse than a mere nail driven through the hand that creates a little twinge of pain. Hell is nothing more than the state of being rutted, or stuck, in the process of crucifying one’s Self, which is the attempt to murder and destroy what God has created out of Love.” (“The Way of the Heart,” WOM, Lesson 7, Page 89)

We truly are our own worst enemy. What we have done to ourselves, when we feel besieged with problems, in angst over minor matters, obsessing about trivialities.

Of course, some problems are acute and more severe than others.

But there is an Answer to that as well. We need not crucify ourselves, as Jesus is saying we do. We can turn to the Holy Spirit or the inner Christ-Self to rectify our difficulties. Any difficulty will lighten when we know that there is a Higher Power—God Himself—who is right there with us, helping us always. And God is always with us, helping us. We need never to forget this. We don’t externalize God anymore, for He is in our depths. We are a part of Him. This certainty is enough to take us through the worst turmoil.

Just remember: We are doing this to ourselves. We can have joy instead of suffering and pain. We don’t have to endure, in agony, all alone.

Let the difficulty rest lightly on one’s mind and heart. Rise above it. Know that we are doing this unto ourselves, when we wallow in pain, turning it into suffering.

What a waste!

There is an Answer. Turn to God, always and forever.

Let God Act in Gentleness in Our Very Souls

I and I alone am the source of what I experience and perceive. I am not a victim of the world I see. Everything I experience, I have called to myself, plain and simple—no excuses, no ifs, ands, or buts. That is the way it is.” (“The Way of the Heart,” WOM, Lesson 5, Page 64)

We are one with Jesus, as we are one with all other beings in our world. We are responsible for this “pebble” (Jesus’ word) called “earth.” There is one Self only, and this Self is a manifestation of God, insane though we have been in manifesting Him. He is not insane, and so we could not fully experience God in our illusory separation from Him. But we have never been victims. We did just what we wanted. We thought it smart to develop a worldview that left God out, and in the doing of it, we suffered mightily. Our suffering was chosen by our souls to lead us back to knowledge that what we were about would never work.

God was not punitive. He just had to have universes that were based in Love in order to keep that Creation from self-destructing. We didn’t know this, for our finite minds could not contain the ramifications of this in our delusions. We projected the ego as the Devil, and we imagined a cosmic war going on. This has never been, but we didn’t have, in separation, a certain way of knowing the truth.

Now we do. We live in the time of Christ, and certain things that have been hidden until are now, now are out in the open. Our way back is seen as the smooth path that it is. We need fret, worry, suffer, be in pain, no more. Our Self, seen as individuated entities apart from each other, will gradually return to the fold, knowing that suffering is unnecessary. We will let God have His way with us, learning through rewards, a way that is vastly superior to pain.

Jesus says in A Course in Miracles that it is not necessary to learn through pain. Believe him, and watch the agonies of this world recede.

Let God act in gentleness in our very souls, and our way will be smoothed for all time.

God’s Goodness

The idea of suffering has long been a stumbling block for individuals who wished, in fact who always intuited that God is good. But it has especially been a stumbling block for people who have blamed God for suffering. They look around at a world torn by war and famine, the slaughter of innocents, and say, “How can God be good if this is what I see?”

The Course offers a way out of this dilemma, a dilemma that is indeed highlighted in particular passages of the books. Jesus acknowledges that all of us, at some point, have believed that God is cruel, because life so frequently seems to mock our good intentions. The way out is the assertion that this is illusion that we are seeing, illusion without any real effects. In our very Spirit, we are not affected by the suffering of ourselves nor others. There is still a part of us in Heaven and unchanged by these appearances. That part recognizes that the harm done by our fellow men and women is actually done out of insanity, that nothing that they do to us is done out of malice; it would not be done at all if our brothers and sisters were in his right mind.

Ah! But that is the crux of the matter. None of us here on earth are in our right minds. We live the insanity in order to work our way out of the maze. We struggle through years of not understanding before we finally find the right tools to lead us back to sanity and release in God’s care. We are never left alone, however much we may think that we are.

Be Willing to Have It So

“You have a saying in your world, ‘It is what it is.’ That is the beginning of wisdom. You will discover that what is, is what you have chosen to make of it. Be, therefore, where you are now, and deliberately decide—deliberately decide—to accept wholly that what you are experiencing in this very moment has no cause whatsoever, except your choice to experience it. Rest assured, whatever the mind may try to say, if you did not wholly want to be right where you are, you would not be there. If you are in a body in the field of space and time, rest assured, you desired it, you chose it, and it is here.” (“The Way of the Heart,” WOM, Chapter 2, Page 18)

We become what we have desired, and right now everyone reading this has a body in a physical world. This is the “create your own reality” maxim of the New Age thought. Now, we might not like what we have desired, but that is another question entirely. Our souls wanted this experience for us, not necessarily the personality or persona, the “I” of daily experience.

If we are suffering, we can open our minds and hearts to something better, but the caveat is that first we have to move into acceptance of what “is.” This just may be enough to move us through and beyond bad feelings, even bad experiences. It helps to look for the nugget of gold in the midst of the pain. This pain, after all, is part of our learning experience in the classroom that is this world, and this pain holds a blessing for us. Nobody, we must believe, escapes all pain in this world. Nobody.

The most well-adapted people on earth are the ones that let things be as they are. Another way to say this is “be willing to have it so.” This is abject acceptance, and the adoption of this attitude will take us far.

It is the first step on our way home.

Pain

“The misuse of will engenders a situation which, in the extreme, becomes altogether intolerable. Pain thresholds can be high, but they are not limitless. Eventually, everybody begins to recognize, however dimly, that there must be a better way. As this recognition is more firmly established, it becomes a perceptual turning point. This ultimately reawakens the spiritual eye simultaneously weakening the investment in physical sight. The alternating investment in the two types or levels of perception is usually experienced as conflict for a long time, and can become very acute. But the outcome is as certain as God.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-2.VI.8:1-7)

When we misuse our will, it becomes imprisoned. This seems to me to a check on our miscreation. God knew that His universes needed to survive, and His children needed to thrive in them, and so He sets limits. When we make poor, bad decisions, we experience pain. And this pain, when it becomes acute enough, signals to us that we have to change our ways.

It is not necessary to learn through pain; Jesus tells us this in A Course in Miracles, in another section of the book. It is much more lasting to learn through rewards, but sometimes we become extremely stubborn, and the only thing—the only thing—that will get our attention is an understanding that there must be a better way, a way without all this pain (and suffering). When we reach this point (and everybody will reach it eventually), we are primed to choose again, and this new choice is what will save us.

Miracles can shorten this period of discomfort immensely. So it is miracles that we ought to pray for, miracles as expressions of love. The only thing stronger than fear (and fear brings pain) is love. And love sets us on the flower-strewn pathway back to God, the pathway of healing the illusory separation in which we have all believed.

Suffering

“It is all right to remember the past, provided you also remember that anything you suffer is because of your own errors. As an analogy, imagine a very young child who falls down the stairs when an adult has her arms open in welcome at the bottom of the stairs, and who then develops a totally unwarranted fear of that adult. The misstep which causes the child’s fall has nothing at all to do with the adult, just as your own missteps have nothing at all to do with me.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-2.III.9:1-3)

There is a very pertinent point in this quotation from Jesus. He says that we suffer because of our own errors! Nothing more. There is nobody to blame, including him. And, of course, no truth in blaming God either.
Elsewhere he has said that we do not need to learn through pain. Yet the fact remains that many of us do choose to learn through pain, and sometimes this pain escalates into emotional and physical suffering. Jesus says (elsewhere) that it is better to learn through rewards. Would that we could all take to heart what he is saying!

Our suffering has no basis. Trials are but lessons presented again, so that we make a better choice where before we made a faulty one. This idea from A Course in Miracles is also pertinent, for what are “trials” but suffering?

Jesus does not ever give a full explanation for the meaning of suffering, though in A Course of Love he indicates that Love is the answer. If we love enough, he says, we are free of pain and suffering. But it is, nevertheless, wrong to “blame the victim.” No human personality is to “blame” for the ills that he/she experiences. These errors are on another level entirely.

In The Way of Mastery, Jesus indicates that believing in karma as a way to explain the negative is a faulty world view. So it seems that we can’t place the blame on past lives.

Another channeled writing, from Pat Rodegast, has her source, Emmanuel, saying that there is no way, here on earth, for us ever to understand suffering. That is something that will be resolved for us only in the afterlife.

That makes sense to me, for even Jesus does not answer the riddle of suffering so that we cease having questions.

Suffering

“One of the more horrible examples of inverted or upside-down thinking (and history is full of horrible examples of this) was the Nazis’ ‘Final Solution.’ I shed many tears over this, but it is by no means the only time I said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-1.43.8:1-2)

In this passage from the complete edition of A Course in Miracles, Jesus tells us personally what type of reaction he has had and continues to have over the terrible deeds of humankind and the suffering these deeds have wrought for ordinary people. He specifically refers to unspeakable crimes against Jewish people during World War II. Jesus responds with an appeal to the Father, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

His reaction is to be our own when we consider awful occurrences of human against human in this world. Jesus says that he has repeated his prayer with many incidents. We must do the same.

In this world, we cannot ever understand the “why” of suffering that innocent human beings undergo. Pat Rodegast’s Emmanuel says this. Perhaps an incomplete answer would be that it is enough for us to recognize in our own suffering that, when it is passed, we comprehend more; we may never understand, but we can realize that through it all, God was with us, and we have grown. I do not mean to say that the end justifies the means. We simply can’t with our little minds wrap around the awful things that people go through. It is a mystery.

But God does not “cause” our suffering. And it is never right, Jesus tells us in A Course of Love, to blame the victim. Jesus indicates that we are to have compassion, not heartlessness. Love is the healer of suffering, the end in sight. Jesus indicates this also elsewhere in A Course of Love. In “The Way of the Heart” (from The Way of Mastery), Jesus even affirms, “There is no suffering.” Of course we can’t know fully what he means.

If we believe that God is living through us, then He is experiencing right along with us. His Presence makes all the difference when we are confronted with eternal questions that seem to have no answer. Especially when that eternal question is the “why” of suffering.

End Difficulties

“You are in relationship now only with love, and so nothing will be hard for you. Desire an old pattern to be gone and it will be gone. This little note added to the end of our mountain top time together is only here to help you realize and accept that this will be so. Do not expect difficulties and they will not arise.” (ACOL, E.3)

This quotation is worth its weight in gold. Reread it now, before I say more. Take the words to heart. Be reassured that all is well.

We have in our power the ability to end suffering, if not pain. We don’t have to add emotional distress to any physical pain that we are experiencing. And emotional pain can be banished entirely, though this is not always easy. Trust and see where it gets us. Trust and see if we don’t get glimpses of what to do next to stop the distress.

We are in relationship with love, and love does indeed serve us well. Our desires materialize. Pray for a peaceful mind and heart. Be assured that it is on the way. God does not will suffering for anyone, and when we get our minds to cooperate, and our emotions, we start to build a better present and future. Our expectations count for a lot, and so it behooves us to get to a place where we don’t expect bad things to happen. We can be healed, even in the midst of the worst that this world can throw at us. We can know that God continues to be good, and that He needs only our cooperation in trusting that the good will come to us.

Dear God,

I ask for a lot. I ask for my brothers and sisters to be healed this day. I ask for Your blessing on us as we go about another Christmas season. So much of our trouble is self-created. Help us to discover how to end the component of suffering that we add to the mix.

Thank You for guiding my fingers to write what may seem to be pie in the sky. I sense that what I am saying is the right prayer to pray today. Someone needs to hear it.

Amen.

Wondrous Outcome / Joy and Pain / No Suffering

““I” did not suffer, for I knew who I was and chose no suffering. This is what is meant by the idea that has been repeated as “I died for your sins.” My death was meant to demonstrate that the end of suffering had come, and with it, eternal life.

“Here, then, is where you need to make the choice that those in my time could not make, the choice to end suffering. This is the choice I made “for all.” This is a choice you make for all as well.

“Willingness is now upon humankind. What my life demonstrated but needs to be demonstrated anew. But this will not happen if you cling to suffering. If you do not accept your Self, all of yourself, you cling to suffering.” (ACOL, D:Day2.24 – Day 2.26)

If we accept our Self, all of ourselves, Jesus is bluntly telling us that we will see an end to suffering. This means that any pain that we encounter will not escalate into suffering, because suffering nearly always is the emotional component of pain—the “why me,” “Why I this happening to me?” And we lapse into great rejection of what we are going through, the opposite of the acceptance that Jesus is calling us to have.

When we accept our Self, we accept the joy as well as the pain, and we don’t allow the pain to escalate into suffering. Surely Jesus felt pain on the cross, but he didn’t focus on a query to God of why—most of the time. Some of the words spoken from the cross do indicate a wavering of his intent upon knowing who he was (“My God, my God, why hath Thou forsaken me?”). So acceptance of all they we come upon is necessary, and the most necessary of all is that we accept our Self, the Self of union, the larger Self, the God within. Our little selves will fall in line, then, with not escalating pain into suffering.

Willingness was not upon humankind 2,000 years ago. But things are different now. We can accept in this time of Christ, in this time of the second coming of Christ (though in A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love, Jesus never tells us that this will be a physical embodiment of himself). The times are different now, though, and we will be able, with God, to effect change that has eluded this world until now. We will change the world; we will create a new world. Everything is in place for this. If we see parts of the world that make us say, “I doubt that,” then we need but turn to Jesus’s channeled words to get back on track. Remember that eternity is not the same as time, and what seems long to us may be only a fraction of a second in eternity. So we don’t know how long it will take to actually create a new world.

Jesus is very keen on this new world, and so I don’t think that the outcome will be long. If we accept ourselves, accept him, follow intuitive guidance, and ask to be shown what to say and do, the result will be wondrous—far beyond anything we can now comprehend.

Give ourselves over to God. He knows how to reform the world; we don’t. Let us listen to the whispers that come from our Oversoul, our Self, and fall in line with our part in this great endeavor.

Dear God,

Thank You for turning this day to joy for me. I awoke and spent most of the morning in a lower state of mind and heart, but You would not have this recur. I would not have pain escalate into suffering, however small that suffering might be. I would fall in line with Your expressed words to me, whispers that tell that everything will turn out alright, that I need have no fear.

Thank You for guiding me so precisely. This day, may it be a joyous hymn to You. A joyous hymn that ensures that I will listen to the words.

Amen.

NEW AGE TEXTS TACKLE THE PROBLEM OF SUFFERING

Published in New Age Journal (online), March 4, 2017.

by Celia Hales

New Age enthusiasts have long read and considered what is now a spiritual classic, A Course in Miracles (copyright 1975). Now another classic is in the making by the same presumed author, Jesus. This one is called A Course of Love, published in a combined volume—three works in one–in 2014. The author uses different words for sickness/illness in the material scribed by Helen Schucman, A Course in Miracles, and Mari Perron, A Course of Love, but many of the words mean the same thing. The thread of meaning is virtually identical. The author has a dim view of sickness, stressing that although it is meaningless in the long run, sickness offers an opportunity for forgiveness, full acceptance, and—the ultimate answer—love.

Let’s see what our presumed author, Jesus, says in both of these courses.

A Course in Miracles talks about sickness as a defense against the truth. It is negative and so unnecessary. The cure for sickness in ACIM is forgiveness granted by one brother to another.

When we are sick, we are not asking for peace, for sickness is an illusion like all the rest of the illusions with which we surround ourselves, and we do not realize that we have failed to ask for peace. Ask for peace, and see what change may come, and come sooner rather than later. Jesus even says that all forms of sickness are the illusory but visible evidence of the fear of Awakening.

A Son of God cannot be sick in reality, true reality. And so we are asked not to view an individual as sick, not to give credence to the illusion. By so doing, we reinforce the illness, and this we would never knowingly want to do.

Sickness is but another call for love, and we are bidden to respond accordingly. One brother whose mind is whole can reach out to a split mind and heal it. Thus, one brother heals another, in love, always in love. Healing is accomplished the instant that a sufferer no longer sees any value in pain.

In Psychoanalysis: Purpose, Process, Practice, the supplement to ACIM scribed by Helen a little later than ACIM, he says that illness can be only an expression of sorrow and of guilt. And we weep when we are separate from God, even though we know that this is an illusory separation. We weep for the innocence that we think we have lost. We have a view of the self as weak, vulnerable, evil and endangered, and thus in need of constant defense (as said in ACIM). Illness then is a mistake like all the other mistakes that we have made in our “separation.” Sickness is insanity, like the other mistakes.

Defenselessness is strength. And the sooner we come to know this, the better, and the healthier we will become. When two brothers join in healing, healing is assured. But to continue to believe in sickness because of the appearance of symptoms is to believe amiss. This is a particularly difficult idea to believe.

Forgiveness extended from one brother to another will heal. God has entered their relationship, and with Him, all is possible. Only an unforgiveness can possibly give rise to sickness of any kind. (P-2.VI.5) The passing of guilt comes about when we know that forgiveness has been received. And guilt is all mixed up with our ideas of being unforgiven.

The Song of Prayer, another supplement to ACIM, emphasizes that certain negative traits, such as hatred in our heart, and attack, are banished from the mind, prayer will heal—but not until these traits are completely gone and we have reunited with our Source. The theme of all of Jesus’s channelings is present in Song of Prayer. The body, he says, can be healed as an effect of true forgiveness. The cause of sickness is the unacknowledged wish to die and to overcome the Christ.

A Course of Love dwells on sickness as either rejected or ejected feelings, feelings about which consciousness was not chosen, and so the feeling made the physical manifestation. Only love, in the embrace, and fostered by the Self, will heal for all time. And this is paradise re-found. (ACOL, D:Day16)
We have often suffered through our lives at the hands of rejected love. And Jesus indicates that this common experience can easily bring on illness. Because the pain is great, we reject the feelings rather than process them, and thus set ourselves up for sickness.

Bitterness, which is of the heart, keeps the cycle of suffering in place. And love’s disappointment is a particularly fertile place to foment bitterness.

Jesus makes clear to us in ACOL that no person is to blame for the sickness that overcomes them. It is a victimless phenomenon. Jesus indicates that we are to remove blame from our repertoire of emotions. It serves no useful purpose, and we replace it with nothing specific, we just remove it. Acceptance, though, is the next logical step.

Being in harmony with poor health, and accepting it for what it is, will return us to good health. Studying the lesson that sickness teaches is most important. What does our illness say to us? What is the lesson that it has come to bring?

I think Jesus is developing two trains of thought, one in ACIM and its supplements, and one in ACOL. Yet the ideas are similar. Rejected or ejected feelings (ACOL) are almost by definition the feelings that we are defending against (ACIM). ACIM describes feelings that cause us to lose our way as attack feelings, judging, or planning against contingencies to come (except when prompted to plan by guidance). ACOL describes feelings that cause to lose our way as loneliness or despair, anger or grief.

All of these feelings that we reject (and thereby cause illness) or eject (and thereby blame on other people), or we defend against, are negative. So I think that the New Agers who believe that we make our sickness by our negative thoughts are onto something. But to blame the victim is just more of the same. We’ve simply made a mistake. All who are sick are due compassion (ACOL).

We are healed through acceptance of the truth of what is. Our minds are healed, and then the bodily identification with physical ailments dissolves. (Both ACIM and ACOL say this.) We don’t get anywhere in resisting illness, because this is rejecting or ejecting (ACOL), and therefore defending ourselves against (ACIM).

I have some sense that these meanings are part of the “ideal” level of reading the works. On a practical level, not all illnesses are healed, regardless of how we twist our minds around the concepts that Jesus gives us. And our minds may be healed when our bodies are not. The healing of the mind and emotions, moreover, may be the greatest blessing.

Everyone has to exit this world somehow, and usually we go through illness of the physical body. This is when we discard the body out of choice, as one “lays by a garment now outworn.” (S-3.II.1) This experience does not carry the negative connotations that sickness in the midst of life does.

So, to heal sickness, we look to the reason for our negative feelings: What feelings are we rejecting or ejecting, or what are we defending against? We feel weak in this illusion of sickness, an illusion that is in no way reality, but nevertheless something that accompanies most people, at times, through our journey through life. We do not blame ourselves or other people for this evidence of illusory separation from God; we know that we are caught up in a dream of our making, and the sooner we return to our Source, the quicker our recovery can begin.
And it may not be a lasting recovery. If we slip again into illness, we look to heal our feelings yet again. Our Source can and does heal. But not always, and we don’t choose to blame ourselves if, like St. Paul, we have a “thorn in our side.”

Yet love is the ultimate answer, explained in ACOL in the following words:

“Could suffering really have gone on for countless ages simply due to your inability to birth the idea of an end to suffering?

“Has not a part of you always known that suffering does not have to be even while you have accepted that it is? Let us now put an end to this acceptance through the birth of a new idea.

“This idea is an idea of love. . . .

“It is an idea that says that if you live from love and within love’s laws you will create only love. It is an idea that accepts that this can be done and can be done by you in the here and now.” (ACOL, T3:8.12 – 9.1)

So, here we have it, in Jesus’s own words as received by Mari. He also says that previously we have said that we loved too little and we loved too much, but never “enough.”

Now Jesus is challenging us to love enough.

Love Is the Answer to Pain & Suffering

“You will see it as quite difficult at first to respond to such situations in a new way, but all situations within the house of illusion call for the same response, the response of love to love. Why think you it is loving to believe in suffering? Do you not begin to see that in so doing you but reinforce it? What you might even call the “fact” of it? Can you not instead ask yourself what harm could be done by offering a new kind of observance?” (ACOL, T3:20.8)

If we don’t focus on suffering, it lessens—and this is true for our own suffering as well as the suffering of others. What we emphasize does grow in breadth and depth. What we focus on, expands. While we don’t want to close our eyes to the suffering of others, we are encouraged to believe that we will look on pain differently as time passes and our Christ-consciousness is in place. We will see with new eyes. We won’t commiserate in quite the same way, a way that heretofore has only reinforced suffering. What we will feel, as these blog posts recently have emphasized, is a compassion for those who seem to suffering. The suffering is not real, but it is real for those so involved. Illusion is very real to those caught in the house of illusion.

Our way is to provide an alternative from the House of Truth, or God’s Kingdom. We are not to try to reenter illusion in an attempt to save those caught within. Those there have their saviors. Our way is to provide the difference by living differently ourselves. If we don’t ever let our pain escalate into suffering, we will provide a very real example of a new way of being, a new truth. We will love with all the will that we are capable of mustering, but we won’t reinforce illusions by seeming to believe in it.

Suffering and pain are evidence of illusion. Heaven on earth, true reality, doesn’t contain these negatives. This does not mean that we cannot see suffering and pain from true reality. We often don’t see, though, and that in itself is a blessing. When we have moved beyond, we have moved beyond. And our vision sees a glorious new world that is pain-free. We will never know the “why” of suffering while still on this plane, in this world. But we can learn to view life differently, and in the new viewing, pain and suffering are eclipsed by the love that the Christ-Self has for all human beings. Love truly is the answer.

Prayer

May I live differently today, leaving aside, through my vision, any evidence of pain or suffering. There is a way in which these lamentables disappear. And I would like to find it, and find it today.

Your way suggests that if I focus on love, a new way of being will emerge, and I will leave pain and suffering in the dust behind me. Help me to do just this today.

Thank You for the glorious day that I see when I look outside. Nature seems to speak from You, and that is abundant comfort indeed.

Amen.

Compassion for the Sick

“These lessons could not be taught while blame remained within your thought system. No victim is to blame for the violence done to them. No sick person is to blame for the illness within them. But you must be able to look at and see reality for what it is. Just as we are telling you that new beliefs and ideas will lead to a new reality, old beliefs and ideas led to the old reality, a reality that will still exist for some even after it changes completely for you.” (ACOL, T3.19.12)

This is the well-known section of A Course of Love that tells us not to blame the victim. Victims of suffering and pain deserve our compassion and our love, not our condemnation. Sincere followers of New Age thought have misunderstood this dictum, because they have believed that, because we create our own reality, we have brought emotional and physical problems on ourselves. This is why we have been prone, even within our own minds, to blame ourselves when we get sick, and to blame others when they do.

There is much here that is too deep to comprehend with our limited understanding. But it takes very little understanding to know that compassion is called for, and that blaming does no good. When confronted with pain and suffering, we only need to find a way out—for us or for other people. And there are hints in ACOL that suffering and pain will lessen, even to disappear, when we have walked farther along the pathway home to God.

Let us be accepting of our pain, but not of our suffering—for suffering is and will always remain a choice. Pain does not have to escalate into a “poor me” stance.

And pain will never escalate into a “poor me” when we realize that God is for health all the way. We just need to get out of our way to allow health to return. The pain may be teaching us something, and when we have learned that lesson, the path may very well leave of its own accord.

These reflections do not in any way diminish the real problems of real people. There is much that we do not know, but avoiding turning pain into suffering IS within our power, and we would do well to try to heed that.

Prayer

I long for good health all the time. I don’t want the mildest headache. Of course, when I think this, I am thinking along with people everywhere. And many of those people have something that causes them pain. May Your goodness reach each of us in our Self so that we don’t create illness as a learning tool. I think that many of us are not at that point yet—but, with your help, we will become that.

I would learn through painless and benign ways, lessons that come my way through good times rather than bad. May I have compassion for those with a Self Who feels differently. After all, they may get to You before I do. The Self makes this decision of how to learn. I would hope for the Self that we all are would choose a happy way of learning.

Amen.

Overcoming Dark Nights of the Soul

“In order to experience the truth, you must move into a state that is real. Nothing is as real as everything, and is what some of you will or have experi¬enced as a “dark night of the soul.” To realize that you reside in nothingness is but the counterpart of realizing that there is an all to which you belong.” (ACOL, T1:5.8)

Probably none of us has escaped a dark night of the soul. Sometimes we are cracked open, and in the cracking, we are made more willing to listen to God. Indeed, the broken places then often become stronger because we have opened to God. Ernest Hemingway says, “And afterwards, many are strong at the broken places.” Hemingway was onto something.

Most of us have a secret hope that now that we are on the right pathway, we won’t have hard times anymore. No more dark nights of the soul. But we are bargaining with God when we think this, and usually we do keep these thoughts to ourselves. There are no guarantees. Pain comes to those who follow God’s Way, as well as to those who don’t. And bargaining, we know, is not the way we ought to commune with our God.

It is true that our pathway will have given us clues as to how to handle a dark night of the soul. We know that prayer works, and in this Treatise, we have learned that prayer and miracles and the art of thought are the same. We may not fully understand this yet, but we are getting there.

Our dark nights are also known as the “void.” And they may signal a period of growth for ourselves. None of us are beyond the human condition, though to encourage suffering would be foolishness, and this Treatise makes that clear. We have many false ideas about suffering, but when we are just ourselves, being who we are as the Self, we are eliminating the false egoic ideals that are a precondition to suffering.

If we encounter a dark night (which may happen, given this quotation for today), we are not to lament our fate or to rail against a God outside of ourselves. Our God is within, and He does not plan nor encourage suffering. Rest easy, know that this too shall pass, and then the bad time will dissipate into the mists from which it came.

Only when we are consistently in our right minds and hearts will we be beyond a dark night. And most of us have not reach such a condition yet. But we have made progress, and as we proceed, the times of darkness will diminish, and eventually pass away. Just be ourselves, just be who we are—no false personas here. And the blessings of God will shine away, with His Light, the bad times.

Dear Father/Mother,

Thank You for the lessons that dark nights have taught me. But I would get beyond all of this now. And with You, helping me, this is possible. I do not bargain with You, though. This is foolishness.

Help me just to be myself, a whole rather than in parts, projecting different aspects of a self. When I am just myself, the precondition to suffering is gone, and with it, the dark night.

Amen.

Choose Love and Leave Suffering Behind

“While I came to reveal the choice of Love to you, the choice that you each must make to end such suffering, the illusion of suffering has continued and in its continuation made the choice of Love seem all but impossible. If not for the suffering that you see all around you, the choice for Love would have been made. If the choice for Love had been made, the suffering you see around you would be no more. This is the paradox.” (ACOL, T1:5.3)

Jesus is here saying that it is not simple to choose Love, though choosing Love would eradicate suffering. Why are we so stubborn about this? Why don’t we just—choose Love?

We don’t know how. The words are so familiar to us that they have all too often lost their meaning. Perhaps if we focus on the reality of what we need to experience, we will be able to leave suffering behind.

Our reality is the God-Self Who is deep within, eager to emerge. When this Self emerges, we will have beaten down suffering, once and for all. Pain may still occur in a physical environment where pinpricks hurt, but the emotional investment in pain will be gone. And with it, the suffering.

If we can just believe this, we will be home free. The paradox needs to be held in mind. Without the suffering, the Love is there; when the Love is there, the suffering is long gone.

Our fears make for a lot of the emotional investment in suffering. And fears are doubts about ourselves. When we have confidence in ourselves, we will be above the fray. We will have found a way to be happy in this world. Self-confidence is the great protector of emotions. And others are drawn to our self-confidence, especially and only if it is not egoic in nature.

Jesus says that the basis of fear is self-doubt. And surely we can pray that this self-doubt be removed from us. When the Self emerges, self-doubt is gone. And we are now in the process of letting the Self emerge in all its non-egoic majesty. Self-confidence will blossom, fears will leave us because our doubts have left us. The way seems bright indeed.

Dear Father/Mother,

I would invite self-confidence today. I know that the opposite of self-doubt is self-confidence, and self-doubt brings on fear—a fear that I would leave behind. Be with me today as I rest in Your peace. You are here for me, always and forever. You know my needs before I become aware of them. And I ask that these needs be answered immediately. The solution is always with the problem. And problems are a form of need.

Be with me as I walk through this day. Be with me as I seek to experience You in all your glory. May my self-doubt end, and with that ending may fears vanish into the mists from which they came. I would leave any and all suffering behind in the dust. I would choose Love today.

Amen.

Comfort in a World of Sorrow

“Have you never felt as if you would wrap your arms around the world and bring it comfort if you could? This you can do. Not with physical arms, but with the arms of love. Have you never cried for the state of the world as you would for one small child in need of love?” (ACOL, C:20.19)

Indeed, we do not blame victims for their plight; this is said elsewhere in A Course of Love. And our hearts go out to the world and all people in it, for we too have lived through some difficult times. Because we too have known some suffering, we know where the problems are coming from. We don’t understand all things, all reasons for suffering, but we understand enough to draw the world around us and comfort it and its people.

Love IS the answer. Elsewhere we are told that if love were described as some new discovery that science had made, we might be more likely to sit up and take notice. But because we have heard that Love is the answer from all of our religious traditions, we tend to downplay its efficacy.

This we need not to do. Of course, we say to ourselves. But do we really understand that reaching out, in imagination, will cure all ills? We cannot solve all problems, but we can solve some of them. And the suffering that these problems lead us into can be risen above by a simple expediency: Love changes our attitude. We no longer feel sorry for ourselves. And with this change in attitude, our suffering ceases to be suffering and becomes simply pain.

This may not sound like much of a change, but it is gigantic in implication. Yes, we must transmute our pain, also, but, first things first. If we love God and one another, we will walk in the path illumined by light. And this light will make all the difference.

Prayer

Dear Father/Mother,

Sometimes when we are feeling low, “just do it,” when it comes to a given action, is best. You taught me this just this morning, when my attitude needed to be changed. And you changed it! Thank You so much.

May all of our problems that lead to suffering be lightened by the power of a changed attitude. May we not only transmute suffering, but pain itself. And may we hug the world to us as we would one small child in need of comfort.

Be with us today as we walk in a difficult world. The way will become easy with You at the helm.

Amen.

We Live in a Safe Universe

“Only reality is free of pain. Only reality is free of loss. Only reality is wholly safe. And it is only this we seek today.” (ACIM, W-268)

Reality is benign, “free of pain,” “free of loss,” “wholly safe.” This reassurance is very welcome today. We need to know that true reality is different from the sometimes hazardous world that we inhabit before reality dawns.
The sometimes hazardous world is illusion, but when we cut ourselves, we bleed, and this does not seem illusory.

It is that we experience illusion as reality that we are able to experience this world at all. We are caught in physicality, and this “caught” feeling is very real to us.

True reality is different. We experience good things. We don’t cut ourselves, and so we don’t bleed. We don’t experience pain or suffering, and we don’t experience loss of our loved ones. We are safe in this true reality.
How is this possible? We don’t know, or certainly I don’t know to be able to tell you. But if Jesus says in A Course in Miracles that it is so, I believe him. He is trying to tell us something very real; he is trying to lead us home to God. We can’t get there if we dwell on pain or suffering, and loss. We can get there only if we feel perfectly safe.

Even when bad things happen, still we can know that true reality is there to guide us. The bad things will not seem so bad when we are lost in God’s love. God does not lead us through a world of mystery, only to tell us in the end why these things have happened to us. We can know the “why” when we listen deeply. Everyone’s answer is different, and different for each circumstance, but we will be given an answer when we ask.

Ask today for your answer to eternal safety. See if God doesn’t reach out to you with His Answer. The Holy Spirit (if reading A Course in Miracles) or the inner Christ Self (if reading A Course of Love) will guide us rightly. We won’t have to wonder. But we do have to ask with the full assurance that we will be told.

And we will be told.

Choose the Joy of Heaven Every Day

“You can label joy heaven and pain hell and seek the middle ground for your reality thinking there are more than these two choices. A life of little joy and little pain is seen as a successful life, for a life of joy is seen as nothing more than a daydream, a life of pain a nightmare.” (ACOL, 2.7)

This quotation is only a partial quotation, but the entire passage indicates that Jesus here is not advocating a middle ground. We don’t want to be halfway between heaven and hell. We want to be entirely in heaven, and this is not something that has to wait for the afterlife, the Other Side.

We can know joy here, joy to a substantial extent that blesses us with each and every day. We may not always have positive things happen to us, but although we may know some pain, we don’t have to see this escalate into suffering. Our attitude is everything. We can see the joy in the midst of any adverse life circumstances that come our way. We don’t have to choose the middle way of little joy and little pain.

There is some magical thinking going on in our minds when we select the middle way. We think that if we don’t reach too high, the gods won’t strike us down. But we don’t believe in plural gods. And God Himself doesn’t punish, though we probably were brought up to believe that He punished us if we did “bad” things.

Get this egoic thinking out of the way. Choose joy today. Pray for a more positive outlook for whatever circumstances surround you in your life.

The way to see life as heaven is mapped out for us in A Course of Love. We need look no farther for the newest revelations in our spiritual lives.

The Choice to End Suffering

1 – Day Two

“Acceptance of your Self is acceptance of me. Acceptance of your Self is acceptance of your inheritance. Now is the time to come into full acceptance of the human self as well as the Self of unity. It is time for the final merging of the two into one Self, the elevated Self of form. (Dialogues, Day Two)”

2 – Elevated Self of Form

This new Self, the elevated Self of form, is a concept stressed throughout A Course of Love. Jesus’s statement herein also mitigates our difficulty with his first day’s insistence that we accept him as our companion on the mountaintop (though not our teacher). If our acceptance of our full Self, the little self or personal self as well as the Christ Self, means that we have accepted Jesus’s primary role in guiding us, then we are able to by-step the controversy of needing to accept Jesus as primary to our life’s progress.

3 – Our Inheritance

Acceptance of our inheritance is a view toward seeing the personal self (the one that we know most intimately as a persona, but minus the ego as central to that persona) and the Self as the unity that it ought to be. When we merge the personal self with the Christ Self, we have achieved the elevated Self of form. This does not mean that we have experienced Christ-consciousness, only that we have removed the blocks to receiving such a blessing. Christ-consciousness is seen to arrive during our time in these 40 days and 40 nights on the mountaintop with Jesus.

4 – Journey

He does not mean that we will make this journey repeatedly. Later on, soon, he makes that point in A Course of Love, the Dialogues. He is preparing us to make the journey once with him, and then to be done with that aspect of our growth. We will never finish growing, because there are always new plateaus, but apparently Jesus had felt that students/teachers of A Course in Miracles were caught by relinquishment of the ego with nothing spelled out as the way to go after the ego was history. This, to my mind, is his reason for channeling A Course of Love at all. He wanted to share more of what follows when the ego has been relinquished. And A Course of Love does just that.

5 – Inventor

“You are like an inventor who wasted many years, much money, and endured many hardships over many projects that did not come to fruition, and now has succeeded in inventing just what was always envisioned. This is the moment of fulfillment and desire coming together, the time in which to realize ‘it was all worth it.’ (Dialogues, Day Two)”

6 – Ego

This analogy dovetails a good bit of the rationale for A Course of Love. We have tried many things, struggled much, in finally letting go of the ego. What now? Now we find out. We are on the brink of a new day. And that new day is ushered in by A Course of Love.

7 – Moment of Fulfillment

This is the moment of fulfillment. What a glorious promise! We have waited long for this, and perhaps when we are finished with our 40 days and 40 nights, we will know how great a promise Jesus has made to us. If we have struggled with our study of A Course in Miracles for a very long time, we will read Jesus’s words with relief. We don’t have to struggle any longer to know the full fruition of our many deeds, words, thoughts. We are home free.

8 – Decisions

“I could give thousands of examples here, but the point is that we are not looking for degrees of wrong-actions, or wrong-doing. You all have moments you wish you could re-enact, decisions you wish you could change. These ‘actions’ are unchangeable. This is why simple acceptance is needed. (Dialogues, Day Two)”

9 – End of the Journey

Many students/teachers of A Course in Miracles site the passage in which Jesus says that he stands at the end of the journey, ready to remedy all mistakes that we ourselves could not remedy. This implies to my mind that there is some perfection being sought. Is this true? I think that it is not the whole truth, for the very idea of being perfect is an egoic construct. Our egos will have a field day with the idea that we need to be better than we are in every respect. This will hold off the acceptance even further.

10 – Chastisement

Jesus is saying here that there needs to be an end to the chastisement that we all give ourselves for not being perfect. He says elsewhere that if we recognize any personality trait, and don’t like it, we just turn aside from it and it will disappear. If we are satisfied to keep the anger, or the guilt, then we do just recognize their presence and accept them—but we don’t try to “change” constantly into a better version of what we are now. The ego loves the concept of trying to perfect ourselves. It keeps the game going. And there is no end in sight.

11 – Accept

But we who are relinquishing the ego will recognize that Jesus’s dictum that we just “accept” is welcome news indeed. In our acceptance, we stop the resistance that keeps the negative traits in place. This resistance has also kept the ego alive. This is to my mind why acceptance is so crucial to Jesus’s words here; not to accept would retain the ego. To accept will mean that the ego withers away.

12 – End Suffering

“Here, then, is where you need to make the choice that those in my time could not make, the choice to end suffering. This is the choice I made ‘for all.’ This is a choice you make for all as well. (A Course of Love: Dialogues, p. 95)”

13 – Worthy?

This passage makes the point well that many of us who are on the mountain top (the setting of these 40 days and nights) feel that we are not worthy of this experience to which Jesus calls us. We think of the many things that we have done wrong, or that were done wrong to us, and we do not accept these things and put them in the past. Acceptance is the great call that Jesus makes to us on this day.

14 – Jesus

Jesus says that his example life was meant to bring the end of suffering, that he did not suffer, because he knew who he was. We will find this assertion hard to believe, but we need to trust that Jesus is leading us aright.

15 – Self

We are worthy, we have experienced Atonement, and we are ready to elevate the Self of form. The self and the Self are meant to be combined. We will not recognize that we are worthy of this great blessing until we reach acceptance of all that has gone before. Our mistakes have been forgiven; that is all that we really need to know. Then we will be ready to take our place as Awakened beings. In this 40 days and nights, this call is made by Jesus to all of us who are his readers of the Dialogues and who accept his word, as expressed therein.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I accept myself as I am. May I know that the Atonement that You have offered me is freely given to all, including myself. If there are things about myself that I want to change for the better, help me to make these changes in the midst of my acceptance.

Be with me today as I seek to commune with You throughout the day. That communion is really the best way to live. Staying close to You keeps my attitude straightened out, my calm undisturbed, and gives me a peace that is not of the world. May my day go well with You at the helm. May I remember to thank You for the blessings of this day, which are many, more than I might usually have. I wish to remain steady and calm, relaxed and serene. Knowing Your Presence goes with me can ensure that this demeanor will be mine until the end of the day. Thank You.

May I assist in ending suffering in this world, for others and myself. Until I have taken my place in this great endeavor, I will feel that something is missing. May nothing be missing today.

Amen.

Illness Is Some Form of External Searching. Health Is Inner Peace.

“Illness is some form of external searching. Health is inner peace. It enables you to remain unshaken by lack of love from without and capable, through your acceptance of miracles, of correcting the conditions proceeding from lack of love in others. (T18)”

Affirmation: “Illness is external searching. Health is inner peace.”

Reflections:

1 – Unclear?

Perhaps this passage will remain unclear for some time as we study A Course in Miracles. We may not fully understand for what we are searching when we become ill. But surely we have recognized, over our lifetimes, that we are peaceful when we are in good health. Good health can be either emotional or physical; it makes no difference. This passage holds the implication that it is ourselves that make us sick or ill. And that when we are at peace, we enjoy health. How rational does this appear to us? Perhaps not rational at all, because we know that we do not want to blame the victim. We do not want to feel that an ill person drew to himself/herself the sickness. How can we fail to blame the victim if we think that we are in control of our bodies, through our minds?

2 – Role of the Self

The answer is completely that it is the inner Self that makes these decisions, and the inner Self is not controlled by the “little” or personal self, the one that we carry with us as we walk through our days. Nobody, however holy, is immune to illness. Enlightened beings have died of cancer. Most people die in some suffering. This does not mean that if they were more holy, they would suffer less. It is true that the more we walk the pathway, the less mental suffering we will sustain. The emotional suffering is more in our control, at least sometimes, than the physical.

3 – Something in You

So don’t be afraid to recognize that something in you did make the illness. It is some form of external searching. Ultimately, when we identify what that external searching is seeking to tell us, the illness itself may be cured. God does not look with favor on sickness; He is “for health” all the way. Certainly Jesus’s miracles of healing in the New Testament are evidence that a holy one can see the need for healing, once the mind of the believer believes strongly enough in the power of God’s grace.

4 – Emotional Health

The emotional health can be seen in that many of us have no problem with the ACIM concept of refraining from attack when we are at peace. When stress happens, though, we may find it all too easy to succumb to attack and also the accompanying anger. This is not good emotional health. And we know that we have it under our power to change. We can release our angers, overcome our tendency to attack, and we will be emotionally well again–at least from those tendencies. Emotional health itself is much more complicated than this, though. There are illnesses that do not cure themselves without medication, at least for most people.

5 – Medication

Jesus in A Course in Miracles recognizes that pills are a form of magic, but that the medications can reduce fear, and this is good. So Jesus develops in ACIM a compromise approach in that he recommends pills, a magic potion, when the fear has sufficiently strong power over our minds that we cannot rise above the fear and heal.

6 – Physical Health

Physical health is frequently a challenge that either brings us closer to God or seems to drive Him away. We can respond either way, but the obviously better way is to seek God in our suffering. He will be there. And we will not have to wait long. Many miracles revolve around physical ailments. There is no damaging illness that has not been cured in somebody, and so there is always grounds for hope. Yet the disease may be present for a reason that only the Self recognizes, and we do not have access to the unconscious at every point. One aspect of prayer that may help is a dialogue with a Higher Power that asks what we might do to heal ourselves. Use pen and pencil, or type on a computer. Write nothing down that does not impress itself on your mind. Many cures have come about through just this method. And if living with one’s ailment is the only answer, we will also be given the grace to do so.

7 – Summary

So we see that we are seeking something external to ourselves when we become ill. But there is, according to ACIM, nothing outside ourselves. There is no world! So the secret to good health is an inner communion that transforms one’s mind to peace. Inner peace is healing. Any doctor will attest to this.

8 – Healing?

May the illnesses of my readers be assuaged today. The answer to healing may be, from God, a “no,” but if this is the case, we will be given the means to live well in spite of limitations. We are not without limitations in this world (an ACIM tenet).

Prayer:

Dear Father,

Surely you are with us in good health and bad. When we are in good health, may we experience gratefulness. When we are ill, may we experience the grace to be accepting of that which we do not understand.

May we move closer to You in health and in illness. May our emotional and physical condition make no difference in the zeal with which we seek You.

Amen.


True Denial. . .You Can and Should Deny Any Belief that Error Can Hurt You

cezanne - bowls of fruit
“True denial is a powerful protective device. You can and should deny any belief that error can hurt you. (T199)”

Affirmation: “True denial is protective.”

Reflections:

1 – The Self

True denial refers only to our real self–the Self that cannot be hurt. We aren’t usually very aware of this Self, but this Self influences us constantly. Whether or not we listen is our own decision, but this Self can and does influence what happens to us.

2 – A Course of Love

This Self is the inner Christ that A Course of Love discusses, and some view A Course of Love as a sequel to A Course in Miracles. We become much more aware of this Christ Self, who guides our actions, the farther along on the pathway to Awakening (Christ-consciousness) we have walked.

3 – We Live a Dream

We have been told that we live a dream, our dream. And that as long as we recognize that it is our dream, that dream figures can be as hateful and vicious as they may, but it can have no effect upon us unless we fail to recognize that it is our dream. Can we always do that, can we always recognize the dream and therefore feel no hurt? This way of perceiving is an ideal, and most of us cannot live an ideal all the time. But we can make progress. We can remind ourselves that we live a dream, and that what other dream figures do need have no effect upon us.

4 – Error

Error can actually accomplish nothing that is ultimately hurtful, because the Self is beyond being hurt. The Course does not use the word “soul,” but in common language this is what is meant. (ACIM usually uses the word “spirit.”)

5 – Pain

When we are caught in the midst of suffering, of feeling our pain, in our own lives, or when we see suffering in others (whether our significant others or the world at large), we can affirm that the pain is illusory. Certainly it is felt; this is not what is meant by “illusory.” The pain actually accomplishes nothing permanent except, upon occasion, bringing us closer to God and thus to ultimate release. This understanding will eliminate any tendency to project the blame for our pain onto God, thus removing one of the main reasons that we reject faith as being beyond our comprehension.

6 – Unhurt

We aren’t hurt in our essence. But pain can soften our hearts and bring us closer to God. It is better, though, to learn through rewards, because the effect of pain is only temporary (ACIM tenets). We do not have to learn through pain! (ACIM tenet.)

7 – Hearts Full and Heads High

Let us go forward today with hearts full and heads high. We don’t have to cringe when another treats us badly. It is their problem. We can pray for them, and send them along to a better attitude. This better attitude will come when we use forbearance not to retaliate with anger or attack.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I learn the power of true denial, and use it only rightly. May I truly know in the depths of my being that error–error in myself or error in others–cannot hurt my real Self.

May I forgive error in myself and in others. May the error that does occur be an occasion to practice forgiveness, and may I turn to the Holy Spirit for guidance in how to forgive.

Amen.

Observe the Laws of Love

Ballet-Rehearsal,-1873 - degas
“Will those you love still suffer? Many may. But not with your help. Will many more, with your help, see an end to suffering? Many will. Will an end to suffering be what you work toward? No. This is not your work. This is not about your effort. This is about your observance. Your observance of the laws of love. Your observance is to remain with cause rather than to stray to effect, the manner of living practiced by those who have birthed the idea that cause and effect are one in truth. (Treatises of A Course of Love: Treatise on the Personal Self, 20.13)”

Affirmation: “I will observe the laws of love today.”

Reflections:

1 – Suffering Is an Effect

We are not, as our work, to seek to end suffering, because suffering is an effect, and we are not to stray to effect. But we are to live love, and in that pursuit of love will our mission be effected. We will seek the “observance” of love, and in that we will find peace and happiness. We will not reinforce the suffering of others, or of ourselves, by focusing on suffering. We will turn aside from the suffering, not in rejection, but in knowing that there is a better way, a way to learn through rewards. This does not mean that we will be blind to the tears of others, or of ourselves, but we seek to create the reality that we want, and we do not want suffering. To focus on suffering is to create that reality.

2 – Remain with Cause

We are to remain with cause, and the observance of love is a cause. The effect of failing to observe love may well be suffering, though this is in an interpretation, not stated in A Course in Miracles or A Course of Love.

3 – Cause and Effect

It is easy to get lost in discussions of cause and effect, but let us not do so today. Let us realize that love is the great cause of all good, and the absence of love brings an effect that is often suffering. We would not focus on this, for it not this that we want.

4 – Do Not Resist

Be there for each other. May all of us do this. May we be gentle with ourselves when we stray from our path and fall into suffering. May we be accepting of ourselves in such an instance, and then may we gently (also) turn aside from the suffering—not rejecting it, for this is resistance, and resistance creates that which it would resist. The best way is to turn to God (or the Holy Spirit, if following ACIM), and to commune with Him for a surcease of the suffering. He did not cause it, but He will help us to overcome. And then pain, perhaps, will remain, but the pain will have lost its sting.

5 – Observe Love

So observe love, and see what good comes of this. The benefits are great, and blessings, abundant.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

All will be well when I am consistently focused on love. What a traditional idea this is! But still of the essence of spirituality. Thank You for guiding me to this realization.

May I avoid reinforcing suffering, either in myself or in others. May I gently turn aside from suffering, though I do not turn aside from those who are suffering. It is not my purpose to try to end the suffering, but it is my purpose to offer solace without focusing on the suffering. Focus on living, and living in love, and the suffering is very likely to dissipate or to diminish markedly.

Be with those whom I love today. And may I turn some of that love on myself, for what I receive I am in a better position to give—for giving and receiving are one.

Amen.

Do Nothing to Reinforce Suffering

11491843-renoir-paintings“Why think you it is loving to believe in suffering? Do you not begin to see that in so doing you but reinforce it? What you might even call the ‘fact’ of it? Can you not instead ask yourself what harm could be done by offering a new kind of observance? (Treatises of A Course of Love: Treatise on the Personal Self, 29.8)”

Affirmation: “I would lay all belief about suffering aside today.”

Reflections:

1 – We Create Our Own Reality

This passage for today is another example of the truth that we create our own reality. When we give attention to suffering, even when we are sympathizing with those who are suffering, we are causing that suffering to grow. When we turn aside from suffering, we diminish suffering. We fail to reinforce it, and it falls away of its own weight.

2 – Solace

Can we really believe this? Let’s try it and see. This approach does not mean that we will be cruel to those who believe in suffering and who are in the midst of suffering. We would empathize and give solace to such a person. But we won’t exacerbate the phenomenon of suffering by focusing on it, because focusing on it in fact does reinforce, and therefore make it harder to overlook.

3 – Overlooking

We saw this dynamic in the example of anger and attack. When we focused on our brother’s shortcomings (as we perceived them), they grew in our minds and we could not easily overlook them. Yet this overlooking is just what we are called to do in A Course in Miracles. We make real the anger and attack, and then we really cannot overlook it. And we are trapped by our own negative emotional reaction.

4 – Real Suffering

It is similar with suffering, and real suffering (as opposed to pain) is primarily mental, emotional. We build on the pain that we see, and this makes the primacy of negative response. We do no one any good by commiserating loudly. This simply makes the suffering real in our perception and makes it harder to overlook, as we have said.

5 – A Disservice

So today do not lend your emotional upset to the upset that you see in another who is suffering. Do not be unmindful of what you are seeing, but neither exacerbate the feelings by focusing on them. To do so is to do a disservice to your brother or sister, lost in the moment in suffering.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

When I see suffering today, I will offer my sympathy to the other, but I will not focus on that suffering and therefore make it greater. I will not reinforce, but instead turn another’s focus outward and away from the emotional turmoil that he/she is generating. I will offer solace, but not make the suffering larger by focusing on it unduly.

This are lofty ideals. There is a fine line between offering solace and perpetuating the suffering by focusing on it. Help me to know and to carry out the difference. My thoughts are with You as I go about my day, seeing some who suffer. May their suffering be eased into simply pain, or even recovery, taking out the emotional as well as physical basis for complaint. May I be a comfort to those I love.

Amen.

No Need to Learn through Pain

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“The thought system of the truth sees no value in suffering and so sees it not in truth. The thought system of the truth is a thought system that is not split by varying goals and desires. It is a thought system of unity. It is a thought system of one thought, one goal. That goal is the original thought that began the experience in physical form, the thought of expressing the Self in observable form. (Treatises of A Course of Love: Treatise on the Personal Self, 19.9)”

Affirmation: “I would follow the thought system of the truth today.”

Reflections:

1 – When Captured

How do we escape from suffering when captured by it? Is there a way out? If we don’t get out of suffering, are we thinking wrongly? What about people who grow in faith through their suffering? What do we say to saintly people who fall victim to illness or misfortune?

2 – Illness

The questions above all come to mind swiftly as I read, “The thought system of the truth sees no value in suffering.” And truth sees not suffering at all. What can we make of these assertions? Are they just for the very advanced? What if the very advanced soul gets cancer, or heart disease, or diabetes? What do we say to them?

3 – An Ideal

I think that here, in this passage for today, we are dealing with an ideal, and this world does not always support ideals. Even the most advanced teacher of God makes mistakes here, and would all others be bereft of help if that teacher of God falls down? No, Jesus assures us in A Course in Miracles. All of us here fall victim to temptation, but there is a way out.

4 – No Need to Learn through Pain

What is that way out? We can recognize, however dimly, that we don’t have to learn through pain (from the Text of A Course in Miracles). And, as Eckhart Tolle has said so eloquently, we don’t have to turn pain into suffering. We have that much available to us. Even here we will not always succeed, but the way is clear, once we are calm enough to call on God’s help and turn to Him for the way out that we need. He is always there.

5 – Choose Once Again

So we can choose again. We can choose once again (also from ACIM). The disease may not abate, but we are no longer trapped by it, even if it is a sickness unto death. After all, death comes to all, and normally there is a physical cause, either identified or not. We can cry out to God, in our infirmity, and he will lessen the burden of this physical life. He will see to it that our truth does not see pain, or suffering, or death, for He always chooses for life—which equates to health, abundance, peace, and happiness.

6 – Change in Circumstances

This is not pie-in-the-sky thinking. The mind and heart, working in conjunction with each other, are very powerful, and a change of mind moves to a change in circumstances. We don’t have to wallow in our misery. We can, through a change of mind, effect an acceptance that sees the truth that God does not bring suffering upon us. However bad the situation, always is this true. We have chosen the events through which we live. And though those events can get very bad, they are not the master of our lives. We can affirm for the truth in the creation of the life that we live, and we can recognize that if bad things have come upon us, we had a hand in creating those bad things. We may never know the “why,” but our heart knows. And our heart and the Christ Self within can offer, in alignment with God, the answer to our most fervent prayer for release. We may not know an end to this “thorn in the flesh” (from St. Paul in the New Testament), but we will live peacefully in this world until our time comes to leave it.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would accept suffering, first of all, if it comes to me. I recognize this acceptance as the first step to overcoming suffering. If the ego is dislodged from my mind, then this step becomes easier.

Thank You for the insight that suffering need only to be accepted, and then it is oft likely to dissipate. Let me never blame another if this dynamic fails to happen in his/her life. But let me help the other to a newer life, free of those impediments to happiness and peace.

May this day go well, as I give myself up to flow and ease in that flow. If I follow my intuition, then the day will turn out well, regardless of what pain it may hold. I ask for no pain, of course, but I accept the pain if it comes. Then and only then can I transcend the pain, and especially transcend the suffering into which the pain may turn.

Amen.

You Are Doing This unto Yourself

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“The suffering that has been chosen has been mighty. The choice now is not a choice to explore the why behind it or to look for remedies for the past. The choice now is whether you want suffering to continue or want to abolish it for all time. (Treatises of A Course of Love: Treatise on the Personal Self, 14.11)”

Affirmation: “I would choose to abolish suffering today and every day.”

Reflections:

1 – Eckhart Tolle

I have often quoted Eckhart Tolle in this blog, to the effect that pain does not have to turn into suffering. (Eckhart wrote The Power of Now and A New Earth, and he is an international spiritual teacher not limited to any particular religious tradition.) Now we are bade by Jesus to leave suffering behind forever. Jesus says that we can do this. It is a choice.

2 – Choice

How might we make that choice? It is easy. Just make the decision that you will recognize that you are doing this unto yourself (from A Course in Miracles). And choose not to do it any longer (a recommendation from Dr. Phil). We have this much choice. We can stop suffering in its tracks by recognizing that we can exert our power to overcome it. We can and will still experience pain in this physical and emotional body on earth, but, as Eckhart says, we don’t have to turn that pain into suffering.

3 – Blame and Bitterness

The two principal reasons that we hold onto suffering are blame and bitterness borne of guilt (from A Course of Love). We may think that we do not deserve a happy life, for we have done so many things wrong.

4 – God Has Never Condemned Us

This is false reasoning. God has never condemned us, and therefore He has no reason to forgive (from ACIM). But we ourselves must forgive ourselves, and this we can do. We would wish others to forgive themselves; would we withhold this blessing from ourselves?

5 – Madness and Forgiveness

I think not, when we reason it out. There is much madness still in us, though the madness is diminishing. We can make others as well as ourselves happier when we have forgiven. And forgiveness is the principal message of ACIM. That we have moved beyond forgiveness is perhaps not true. We will ebb and flow as we move toward Christ-consciousness.

6 – Guilt

So let us choose today to give up our guilt, and with it our blame and bitterness. With this choice, we make the decision to give up suffering, even though pain may still be present. And when we turn to happy dreams, we will even find that often we are free of the pain.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

When the day goes badly, I must realize that I am doing this unto myself. I will get clues when I need to slow down and be careful, if I am open to listening to an inner Voice. May I be so open today.

Let us choose to have good days. Let us be patient with ourselves when we falter. And may the times of faltering lessen.

Amen.

An End to Suffering?

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“Could suffering really gone on for countless ages simply due to your inability to birth the idea of an end to suffering?

“Has not a part of you always known that suffering does not have to be even while you have accepted that it is? Let us now put an end to this acceptance through the birth of a new idea. (Treatises of A Course of Love: Treatise on the Personal Self, 8.12 – 8.13)”

Affirmation: “I may have pain, but I will not suffer today.”

Reflections:

1 – Eckhart Tolle

The passage for today develops an idea that Eckhart Tolle has propounded at length (The Power of Now; A New Earth). Eckhart is a modern-day spiritual teacher who is not affiliated with a particular religious tradition, but has quoted from A Course in Miracles, and is noted especially for the radical transformation he underwent around age 30, a number of years ago.

2 – Pain-Body

Eckhart notes that the “pain-body” emerges from time to time (different for each person), and that when this pain is sought, we all too often turn that pain into suffering. He says that this does not have to be the case. In physical bodies, we will experience pain, but we do not have to turn this pain into suffering.

3 – Jesus

Jesus and Eckhart agree in this regard. A Course of Love, in this passage, indicates that suffering might have been discontinued in our world if we had only realized that this was a possibility.

4 – A New Day

And we are now ready for a new idea: The end of suffering as we have known it. We will still have pain from time to time, but we do not have to activate the pain-body (given divine help), and we do not have to turn pain into suffering.

5 – Divine Help

What a blessing these ideas are! The ideas seem too good to be true, yet if Jesus has said it, then I personally find the ideas to be true. We need help, obviously, and divine help will be on the way.

6 – What Can We Do?

Practically, what can we do to eliminate the suffering? We can pause a moment and ask for help when we realize that a situation is getting out of hand, especially if someone, someone close to us, is baiting us. We can say a prayer. And we will be answered, for we are asking in God’s will. He would not have us suffer, and he would not have us activate Eckhart’s clarification of the pain-body. We do not have to invite pain.

7 – New Idea

A new idea is dawning on our world. We are living in the time of Christ now, and the blessings that will be ours are manifold. Let us set aside our doubts, and realize that we can live in a world that is better than has been previously. But for the better to emerge, we need to commune with God. And, in line with A Course of Love, we need to hold Jesus’s hand as we walk through this world.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would hold Jesus’s hand today as I walk through my world communing with You. I am happier when I commune with You. This ought to tell me something. You want us happy, and our struggles are to be overcome so that we can experience happiness. I would not suffer today. I would rise above any pain.

Help me to keep a rational head. I know that confusion can be generated by too much analysis, because I have long be guilty of too much analysis—and analysis is of the ego nearly always. The ego approves of our analysis of it, for this reaffirms the ego’s importance. I would see the insignificance of the ego today.

And I would walk through my world in peace.

Amen.

Negate the Choice to Suffer

pennsylvania impressionists“What happens when you believe the choice to suffer, as well as the choice to leave suffering behind, has always been found within? Who then are you to be angry with for all that has occurred? Do you blame yourself and your ancestors for the history, both ancient and recent, that you think you would have given anything to change?. . .And do you not thus attempt to see it [suffering] not and then blame yourself for looking the other way? (Treatises of A Course of Love: Treatise on the Personal Self, 8.6)”

Affirmation: “I would leave suffering behind today.”

Reflections:

1 – Eckhart Tolle

We do not have to suffer. Such a current spiritual advisor as Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now and A New Earth) says the same as Jesus, and he was influenced by A Course in Miracles. Certainly as long we embody the physical, we will know pain, but we do not have to turn that pain into suffering, for suffering is mental. Do you believe that? Note that emotional pain is always suffering, but physical pain is just that—pain. And we would feel pain when we must, but suffering, never.

2 – Blame

We do not need to blame our parents and our upbringing for the lacks in our lives. And we do not need to blame ancestors from farther back in regard to our genetic disposition. We have chosen this life, and we have chosen its lacks. Now Jesus would have these lacks removed, very easily and with virtually no effort on our part.

3 – Choose Once Again

The reason that we suffer is found within, not in any ancestral reason. And we can just as easily choose again. Indeed, we must choose once again (from A Course in Miracles).

4 – Mental Turmoil

Know that a quiet contemplation of suffering will ease the suffering, as well, very often, as the pain. Know that mental turmoil is aggravated by our own choices. Know that there is a way out.

5 – Commune Inwardly

And find that way today in communion with that which is within, the Christ Self informed by God Himself.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would begin the day again if I think that I suffer over anything. I do not have to suffer, though in this physical world I will, from time to time, experience pain. I do not have to turn pain into suffering. And I vow not to do so today.

May I commune with You when the way seems hard. And thank You for giving me a smooth pathway most recently. May I not chaff under restrictions if that pathway turns harsh again. I have the secret—praying to You. Your smile lights my life and calms my turbulent emotions. And then, with no overwrought emotions, I don’t exacerbate the pain, turning it into suffering.

Help me to walk Your pathway, my prayer always.

Amen.

No Matter What the Cost

sainte-victoire-lauves - cezanne“The ego-self’s only desire was for you to ‘grow up’ into its version of an independent being. . .no matter what the cost. (Treatises of A Course of Love: Treatise on the Personal Self, 2.12)”

Affirmation: “I would be independent only with God giving me guidance home.”

Reflections:

1 – Independence

We like to feel that we are independent, and Jesus, just earlier than this passage for today, indicates that previously we have seen ourselves as rebellious adolescents. This is not far from the truth, but it is time, perhaps, to let the image go. We are adolescents no longer, but The Accomplished, however much we may resist this assertion as a malady set forth by the ego. It is not egoic thinking to realize that we have learned much in the course of studying A Course of Love. Jesus is ready for us to recognize that our seeking needs to end, for otherwise we will be on an endless treadmill.

2 – Ego

The ego-mind’s version of independence is deplorable. We thought that we would use our right judgment to make all decisions independent of any Higher Power. But we can’t know enough to make wise decisions; we can’t know all features of the past and future, let alone the present. So we are stymied if we don’t accept God’s guidance. We will make little headway.

3 – Suffering

We accepted many costs associated with the reign of the ego. We suffered. But though we may still know pain, being finite beings in a physical body, that pain does not now have to turn into suffering. We can rise above.

4 – Only the Ego’s Independence Is Deplorable

Be sure that independence is not bad–just the ego’s version of independence. And growing up to all of our powers, our Self’s powers, is what Jesus would have us do now. We think too little of him if we do not follow this wholly welcome advice.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would drop the ego today. I have made this declaration repeatedly, but always the ego tends to sneak back in. I must make my resolution stick. Help me to do so.

A big part of my succeeding in leaving the ego behind will hinge on my relationships to my significant others. My brothers and sisters are my way. And I would be good to them today. Help me always to be good to them.

I would listen to guidance today. It has never failed me, when I have been tranquil enough to catch the right drift. But I would not act in an emotional way, which can confuse my mind. Help me to be rational and peaceful, not overwrought. And then my decisions will be right on the beam. Thank You.

Amen.

Does God See Suffering?

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“This is what has been meant by the many references that have been made to God not seeing suffering. God exists with you in peace. When you feel peace, you feel the Peace of God. There is no other peace. There is no other God. Whether you believe it now or not, I assure you, within the Peace of God is all the joy of what you have known as the human experience and none of the sorrow. (Treatises of A Course of Love: Treatise on the Art of Thought, 10.8)”

Affirmation: “God is with me in peace.”

Reflections

1 – Personal Interpretation

My interpretation to the assertion that God does not see suffering is that, to Him, what He sees he reinterprets, seeing the pain not as suffering, but as a call for help. I think that he always recognizes a call for help. There is a difference of opinion among students/teachers of A Course in Miracles in whether or not God is outside the illusion in which we are immersed, and thus does not know about us. This idea would say that God has sent us out to play, as children, and He does not care what games we play, because He knows that all our the games that we play are dreams, maya, or illusions.

2 – God

I feel, based on what I have experienced, that God is right here, knowing about every part of our experience. He does not become perturbed (for that is a perception) about our trials; he just acts to give us comfort in the midst of them. I have felt such peace, in my better moments of prayer, that I have no doubt that I have touched the edge of God’s garment (a metaphor). To live without thinking that God counts the very hairs of our head would be a demoralizing way for me, personally, to live. And we are promised in the New Testament that the very hairs of our head are numbered.

3 – Part of God

Of course, A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love are non-dualistic systems of thought, and so we are recognized as a part of God. He is within all of creation, but all is One, and so this is not really a pantheistic belief, one in which there are gods in everything. The fact of the One, and the belief that the One is totally in each part, is to my mind best exemplified by a hologram. From within, we project the world without. There is nothing outside of us (from the Text of ACIM).

4 – Theology

These are mostly theological studies, and I hasten to add that Jesus fears that theology will divide us. He says in ACIM that there can never be a universal theology, but a universal experience is not only possible but necessary. Take nothing unto yourself in these ideas, the ideas not specified in ACIM and ACOL, unless they find a place in your heart.

5 – A Comfort

Let however you view God be a comfort to you.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Thank You for Your reassurance to me that You are right here with us. This is my personal belief, and I realize that others may view You differently. But I feel Your presence as an almost constant, and so I do not have, ever, to feel alone.

Be with me for me to turn aside from attack and anger always. I do not need to make my significant others pained by my reactions. May I live the peaceful life that leaves out stress, for I never become angry unless I am stressed.

May I live with You in harmony today. And may I make this resolution for each day in my future.

Amen.

Practicing Mindfulness

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“The art of thought invites the experience of the new thought system by being willing to replace the old with the new.  While this will at first be a learned activity, and as such have its moments of seeming difficulty, it is learned only in the sense of your practicing the mindfulness that will allow the memory of it to return to you.  (Treatises of A Course of Love:  Treatise on the Art of Thought, 5.13)”

Affirmation:  “May I understand the art of thought today.”

Reflections:

1 – No Longer Struggle

When we practice the art of thought, we do not furrow our brow and study hard.  We read almost as though we were reading a story, for the pleasure.  We learn, therefore, effortlessly.  We no longer struggle to gain concepts.  We let the meaning be shown to us by gentle means.  We do not negate the idea that maybe revelation is showing us the way.  Revelation is not always recognized for what it is.  And A Course of Love indicates that it is with us more and more as we walk further along the pathway to Christ-consciousness.

2 – Gestures of Love

We respond to our outer environment when we practice the art of thought.  We do not take responsibility for others, but we do try to alleviate their needs.  Again, this is not a struggle, but simply gestures of love.

3 – Observation

And we learn by observation of ourselves and others.  Observation is the new way of learning in this new world we are on the verge of entering.  We observe, we reflect, and we come to understand.  Again, this is all effortless.

4 – Gain a Whole New World

Can so much be had for so little?  Can we gain a whole new world in such effortless ways?  Indeed, we can, for the pathway is not one of struggle any longer.  We walk into the sunlight, prompted by intuition, feelings, insight–any means of guidance that comes to us.  We are not alone.  That is a primary message.  We never have to do all of this work of salvation unaided.  Indeed, salvation is not work at all, but the most glorious child’s play possible (paraphrased from A Course in Miracles, which says that salvation is a game that happy children play).

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would spend today in a relaxed mind and heart, listening for Your guidance and knowing that it will come when I have stilled myself so that I can hear.  Thank You for being here for me.  May I observe this world in a new way of thinking, by observation rather than intense study.  May I no longer be tempted to struggle through my days.  You do not mean this for me.

Help all of my brothers and sisters to have a good day.  You mean for all of our days to be good, even the ones that have some pain in them.  Pain in the present moment simply doesn’t occur; we are always seeing the past in our pain.  May pain never been turned by our minds into suffering.  You would choose for all of Your children to rest in Your blessings, to receive Your ease, and to solve any and all problems, with Your help, that have presented themselves and may be causing pain.  Guide us to know what to do when faced with less-than-desirable life circumstances.  May our stress remain low and our spirits high.

Thank You for Your presence, always, in our lives.

Amen.

Choice to End Suffering

4_Boating_Realism_Impressionism_Edouard_Manet“While I can tell you suffering is illusion, you cannot still your fear of it nor tear your eyes away from it or remove from it the feelings of your heart.  While I came to reveal the choice of Love to you, the choice that you each must make to end such suffering, the illusion of suffering has continued and in its continuation made the choice of Love seem all but impossible.  (Treatises of A Course of Love:  Treatise on the Art of Thought, 5.3)”

Affirmation:  “I would end any personal suffering today.”

Reflections:

1 – Maya

It is not enough to say that we live in a world of maya, illusion, or dreams.  As long as we suffer, we will find it impossible to be satisfied that we do not blame God because all except the real world is illusion.  This attitude, expressed by Jesus in this passage, is electrifying and very practical.  He knows our limitations.  And he knows that we will continue to see God as less than loving when we have not yet given up suffering.

2 – Eckhart Tolle

Pain does not have to turn into suffering!  That is the secret.  Eckhart Tolle says much about this in The Power of Now and A New Earth.  His understanding of the “pain body” is described in great detail in both books, but especially in A New Earth.

3 – Pain into Suffering

How do we accomplish feeling pain that does not lead to suffering?  Ah, that is the rub.  And the truth may be that we cannot overcome the tendency to turn pain into suffering without divine help.  But we do need to end suffering in order to experience all the blessings that the elevated Self of form has been promised (from the Dialogues of A Course of Love).  We do need to pray for help, to commune with God, when challenged by pain.  He will find a way to get through to us when we are at our lowest point.  Indeed, individuals often turn to God at their lowest when they do not do so at any other time.  When human resources are exhausted, we relinquish our own attempts to solve our problems, and we turn them over for divine solutions.

4 – Prayer of Relinquishment

Catherine Marshall, an inspirational writer of the last century, said much about the “prayer of relinquishment.”  We would do well to pray that prayer often.  We do not give up, but we do surrender the problem to a higher solution, that of God’s solution.  We wait to be told what to do to make things better, and we do not have to wait long, because A Course in Miracles promises that the solution is with the problem.

5 – Jesus

Let us turn today to consideration of how to end suffering in our lives.  This may seem a pipe dream, but I trust that if Jesus channeled A Course of Love (and I think he did), and he says that giving up suffering, seeing an end to suffering, is possible for us, I believe that it is.  Let us seek within for the guidance that will tell us what and how to proceed.  Everyone’s answer will be different, but the end is sure, and the end is the same for all of us.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would release suffering today.  Any little aspect of suffering needs to be gone.  And with Your help it will be.  Pain does not have to turn to suffering.  There are remedies.  May my brothers and sisters know freedom from suffering today.

Guide me to any and all remedies that I need to feel totally well in all respects.  I sense that You will do this today for me.  Thank You for that intuition.

Help others whom I encounter in any way.  We need to be there for each other in this sometimes difficult world.  Help us to have good days in Your care.

Amen.

Do Not Be Afraid of Death

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“This world as you perceive of it is built around the foundation of fear, a fear that stemmed from the belief in finite life, in being born into a body and dying to the body.  The person who knows, truly knows, the simplest truth of the identity of the Self no longer lives in a dualistic position with God, but in a monistic state with Him.  (A Course of Love, 30.7)”

Affirmation:  “I do not have to be afraid of death ever again.”

Reflections:

1 – Death and Our Identity

Today’s passage is, first of all, about death.  But, more than that, it is about our real identity in eternity, the Self that exists in eternity and does not have to ever fear the demise of the body.  Yes, surely, the body will die, but the Self has never even been born into this finite world, because it is totally beyond illusion and is, in truth, a real thing, living in the real world.  (A Course in Miracles indicates, in the Manual, words to this effect.)

2 – Monistic State with God

The passage concludes with the fact that we dwell in a monistic state with God, being One with Him.  We do not have to conceive in any way whatsoever that God is separate from ourselves, for He is not.  When we believe in a separate Being who is God, we are dwelling in dualism, and ACIM and A Course of Love do not teach dualism.  In that sense, ACIM and ACOL are at odds with some biblical statements that regard the world as God’s handiwork, and describe an anthropomorphic figure who can come down and walk with us in the garden.  This is a beautiful myth, and it is not far off track, when we conceive of our deepest being, being God, that we are a part of Him.  We can commune with God, for He is the Universal, and He recognizes that our channels of communication to Him have been closed, because we have been asleep.  And, metaphorically, he “thinks” that He must awaken us.  (These are paraphrases from A Course in Miracles.)

3 – Work with God

Let us do all that we feel God is asking of us to be made ready for Awakening (as ACIM calls it) or Christ-consciousness (as ACOL calls it).  We do not know the hour that this blessing will be bestowed on us.

4 – Awakening

It behooves us to be ready, but not to strive to be ready.  Awakening is the gift of God, and we do not have to make elaborate preparations for its arrival.  The holy instant will so transform us that Awakening will be easy and tranquil, relaxed and peaceful.  (The “holy instant” is described in ACIM.)

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I thank You that I am no longer afraid of death.  I am probably more afraid of suffering unto death.  But I ask You to help me with that as well.  I know that life is eternal, but I did not come to this conclusion on blind faith.  There are indications along the way, and I thank You for leading me to read the right things that supported, for me, a belief in eternal life.

Help me to get ready for Awakening, but I know that it is not indicated to strive for Awakening.  You make the decision, and I await Your good pleasure.  Thank You for the glimpses of Awakening that You have shown me.  And those glimpses show me that what will come is good.

Amen.

Overcoming Suffering

Suffering and sin comes from specialness, and so it is but specialness you must leave behind.  And there is a way to do so, a way that will not harm any of those you love even while betraying all they would hold dear.  (A Course of Love, 15.11)”

Affirmation:  “I would leave specialness behind today.”Reproduction-oil-paintings-Vincent-Van-Gogh005

Reflections:

1 – Specialness

Our brothers and sisters very often choose specialness rather than recognizing that in this separation, all is lost.  They do not really want to be separate from us, though they may think that they do.

2 – Likewise, for Us

Likewise, for us.  We may have studied A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love long and hard, but still when the weakened ego beckons, we choose specialness.  We just must choose again.  We also do ot want to be separate from our brothers and sisters.  We are all One, and it is time indeed that we recognize this.

3 – Can We Leave Suffering Behind?

Certainly we would leave suffering behind if we could do it.  And leaving behind specialness, in all its forms, is the way out of suffering.

4 – All Are Equal

We need to realize that we are all actually equal in God’s sight.  While out talents may seem to differ in this world, eventually all will be shared.  While some temporarily have more and some, less, this is indeed temporary.  And it is up to us to assist those in need while our hearts tell us the right thing to do.

5 – Knowledge

Our brothers and sisters hold specialness dear.  But it is not for us to do so.  If we persist, we will endanger all of which we have knowledge.  And it is God Who gives us the knowledge.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would renounce specialness for all time now.  This specialness is of the ego, and I would leave the ego behind.  We suffer because of our belief that we are “special.”  And we truly are not.  All of us are equal in Your sight.

If You would have it so, take this desire for specialness from me today.  Thank You.

Amen.

How to Avoid Pain

“No risk is possible throughout the day except to put your trust in magic, for it is only this that leads to pain.  ‘There is no will but God’s.’  His teachers know that this is so, and have learned that everything but this is magic.  (M-16.11)”

Affirmation:  “I would avoid pain today.”

Reflections:

1 – Definitions of “Magic”

Magic is sometimes used in quite a different way, with quite a different definition.  Jesus means “magical thinking,” which is an attempt to turn error to truth, and this is always a doomed prospect.  Magic, for us, sometimes means good things.  These are simply two different dictionary definitions.

2 – Error

We would not try to turn error, falsehood, into truth.  We would not turn from our dependence on God, the Holy Spirit, Jesus (and his helpers) to a dubious solution to our problems that is doomed form the start.  We will be free of risk if we depend upon the true and that which has value.  And our way is A Course in Miracles, which will prove its value to us if tested.  (And we are not discouraged from testing, though this is an interpretation not stated in ACIM.)

3 – Give Our Way over to God’s Way

We would avoid pain today.  And to do so we must not attempt to get our way to be God’s.  He may think very differently from what our sometimes ego-oriented mind may direct.  We are not beyond the temptations of the ego.  The ego will not be destroyed; it will just cease to matter to us.  And we must not make the mistake of “resisting” the ego, for in resistance the ego is made strong.  In conflict the ego is made strong as well (an ACIM tenet).  We just quietly turn inward, and all will be well.

4 – Attraction

I worry sometimes that relatively new ideas circulating in our world, the manner of “attraction” as a way to get what one wants.  Is this really wise?  Perhaps we ought to be certain, through much inward consultation, if what we are trying to attract is actually in our best interests.  And only God and the Holy Spirit (His Communicator) can tell us that..

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I avoid pain today, by seeking Your way exclusively.   I will try to be patient as You lead me to attract those things that are in my best interests.  Thank You for Jesus’s wise words, his healing of disease and illness, and his calm presence.  We may have Jesus with us when we don’t even realize this.  He has said that he would come in response to one “unequivocal call.”  I make that call now.

Be with us as we seek to attract only what is in our best interests.  We need the guidance of the Holy Spirit or the Christ within.  Otherwise, what we attract will turn to ashes and dust in our hands.  

Be with us.  I can think of no more needful prayer for today than this.

Thank You for answering me.

Amen.

Overcome Misery / Find Lasting Happiness

“‘Seek but do not find’ remains this world’s stern decree, and no one who pursues the world’s goals can do otherwise.  (M-13.5)”

Affirmation:  “I would seek and find, not the reverse.”

Reflections:

1 – We Find Only to Lose

We do not ever really “find” anything permanent in this world, when we are following this world’s dictates.  We find only to lose, later on–sometimes immediately, sometimes delayed.  Does this make any sense?  Would we follow the world’s dictates when we are sure to be losers in the process?

2 – Peace, Joy, Harmony, Tranquility

I think not.  We need to ask for the intangibles of God–the peace, joy, harmony, tranquility–and we will be richly rewarded.  We will know happiness, lasting happiness, for the first time indeed.  And happiness, according to A Course in Miracles, is a laudable goal.

3 – Egotism Leads to Misery

The ego is mixed up in this confusion.  Following the world’s dictates really means seeking for that which is egoistic.  And we know, by now, where that leads.  Straight to misery.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would find happiness in my daily round today.  I would keep in mind what You have led me to know:  the solution is always with the problem.  When I tell myself this, my mid calms down, and I can think–not worry.  And then the answers come.  May I live out this understanding in all that I do and say and even think today.

I would not be miserable, which I view as actually an affront to You.  You have should me much, and would I reject that knowledge in a low point of mind?  Emotions play tricks on us all too often, and I would choose the harmony that only Love can give.  Help me to be consistent today in my good humor.  Help me find time to laugh, to enjoy Your world.

Thank You.

Amen.

I Choose the Joy of God Instead of Pain

ACIM Workbook Lesson 190 – for Monday, July 9, 2012

Affirmation:  “I choose the joy of God instead of pain.”

“Lay down your arms, and come without defense into the quiet place where Heaven’s peace holds all things still at last.  Lay down all thoughts of danger and of fear.  Let no attack enter with you.  Lay down the cruel sword of judgment that you hold against your throat, and put aside the withering assaults with which you seek to hide your holiness.  (WB362)”

Reflections:

1 – When in Anger or Attack

Today’s passage will comfort in times of distress, especially when we are in anger or attack mode.  We are to get quiet, feel the peace of Heaven, and let the discouraging emotions die an easy death.  We will then feel better, and the effect will be extreme relaxation and serenity.

2 – Do Not Judge

If we judge on an ongoing basis, we will never know Awakening.  We are told elsewhere that judging precludes Awakening.  We are also told that if we seem to slip from grace, we have in all likelihood dipped into attack, judgment, or have started making plans against contingencies that are not supported by the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Text tenets).

3 – Help in Dropping Judgment

If dropping judging can do so much for us, how do we effect this?  We must remember that we have lots of help.  There are Teachers of teachers, watching from the Other Side (from the Manual).  There is our internal Guide, the Holy Spirit.  And Jesus offers his help, help that he will bring to us upon hearing “one unequivocal call” (quotations from ACIM).  So we call on this help; we do not even attempt to drop judging as a personal crusade.  Personal crusades are one way that the ego hides from us, and the outcome is never good (personal interpretation, not stated directly in ACIM).  We are bad to commune with God (in the opening pages of the Text).

4 – We Are Never Alone

We never, in short, need to feel alone, because we never are alone.  But we have to relinquish the ego-oriented self-will that is not open to God’s direction.  As ACIM says many times, God’s Will and our will are identical, but we just don’t recognize this.  The Holy Spirit chooses for us.  He lets us know what will make us happy, for happiness is a function that ACIM ascribes to us.

5 – No More Judging

We pray that judging step aside from us.  We pray that the ego, a part of our belief about ourselves, cease to call the shots.  And when we have become pliable and flexible in God’s Hands, we will know the peace that today’s passage promises.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Help me to get through this day.  It appears to be difficult, but this is only a mirage.  No day with You is difficult.  And I bring my own pain upon myself.  Help me to do no judging of my brothers and sisters.  All are doing as well as they can.  And help me to do as well as I can.

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.

Can You Be a Channel for Healing?

“For a teacher of God to remain concerned about the result of healing is to limit the healing.

“Whenever a teacher of God has tried to be a channel for healing he has succeeded.  (M-7.1-2).”

Affirmation:  “I wish to be a channel for healing.”

Reflections:

1 – Don’t Doubt the Outcome

When we remain concerned about the results of our petition for healing, we are doubting the outcome.  And Jesus assures us that healing has happened, even when our eyes show us that the situation is unchanged.  We cannot doubt.  The Self has gotten involved, and the personal self will know wellness when completely ready for it.

2 – Don’t Offer Continuing Concern

Continuing concern about healing, or recovery from illness or sickness, in our world appears to be compassionate.  But Jesus in the Manual indicates otherwise.  Continuing concern that the healing has actually happened does limit the healing in ways that surely none of us fully understand.  This is one time that we just have to take Jesus at his word.

3 – Channels for Healing

To know that we can be channels for healing, and that we can succeed, is enormously liberating.  We do not have to appeal to faith on the ground that the healing has not occurred.  If we take Jesus at his word, the healing, at least on some level, has occurred when we have asked for it.  We cannot doubt without limiting our asking.

4 – To Be Received Openheartedly

May we seek to heal ourselves and others with a joyous spirit, confident that the healing will happen when it will be received openheartedly.  We do not have to doubt; indeed, we cannot doubt if we wish the healing to be received in any way other than a limited way.  Full release comes from full confidence in Jesus.  We are not healers, but through us the Holy Spirit can handle the situation with grace and ease.

5 – Living an Illusion

If the ideal of healing does not appear ever to be received, we fall back on the surety that we are living an illusion.  The inner Self always knows healing, and it is the personal self that lives in this world that knows illness, suffering, and death.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would experience today what the Self experiences, which is peace and healing.  If my personal (little) self wants to see something else, may I be let to know that this is a request for illusion.

Be with me today as I seek to follow Your way.  Healing will always come, when it is asked for.  Help me to rest on this assurance.

Thank You.

Amen.

Turn the Pain Over to God

“Healing will always stand aside when it would be seen as threat.  The instant it is welcome it is there.  (M-6-2)”

Affirmation:  “I welcome healing today.”

Reflections:

1 – Don’t Retain the Pain

We take a lot of interest in our physical and emotional health, perhaps especially when either is compromised.  The more interest we devote to pain, the more likely we may be to retain the pain.  But Jesus would not have it this way.  Yet he stands aside when that is our choice.

2 – Levels of Our Mind

We do not have access to all levels of our minds.  And it is this that seems to be implied in the passage for today.  We think we want healing, but do we really?  Are we getting something, some benefit, from our compromised health?  This is a question that all of us would do well to ponder as each new ailment rises on the horizon.

3 – Emotional Healing

The healing that will be there immediately may not be viewed by the physical eyes.  But all of us have known miraculous emotional healing when one turned the matter over to God.  We have seen this in ourselves, and we have seen this in others.  There is probably no exception to this miracle.  We have made emotional healing a priority, and we have admitted that we do not know how to bring it about.  So we turn it over, and, there, in a place that we do not often see, is the healing that we have prayed to have.

4 – The Best

Could we wish for anything less today for ourselves and others?

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would have emotional and physical healing, beginning immediately.  I do not ask in arrogance, but in humility.  You want me well; you want me to learn through rewards, not pain.  Let me leave any and all discomfort aside today.

Thank You that my health has always, with a few exceptions, been good.  As I grow older, I ask for the same.

Be with me today as I seek to walk Your pathway of healing, physical and emotional.

Thank You.

Amen.

Turn Away from Death

“Very gently they [i.e., teachers of God] call to their brothers to turn away from death:  ‘Behold, you Son of God, what life can offer you.  Would you choose sickness in place of this?’ (M-5.III.2)”

Affirmation:  “I choose life.”

Reflections:

1 – How to Live

The way of A Course in Miracles is the way of living life in an extremely positive manner–full of joy for all that one’s day holds.  It is a way of gratitude for the goodness of God, the certainty that we are not alone in the universe, and the peace that living with guidance from the Holy Spirit or Christ-consciousness does bring.  Nothing negative has to be so viewed, even very bad things.  We are living an illusion, a dream.  We feel empathy for others who do not believe that life is meant to be good, and we do not blame them for any negative circumstances that arise.  But we ourselves choose the good for ourselves, and both ACIM and A Course of Love lead us down the lovely pathway to salvation and oneness with God.

2 – Gentleness

The change in our lives is known as soon as we fill our minds with the words of Jesus.  This knowledge automatically keeps us on the straight and narrow, and if we do stray, we immediately ask for forgiveness and walk a smooth path again.  This is a gentle way to live, and gentleness does attend the teacher of God (from the Manual).

3 – Sickness

We do not have to choose sickness, and neither do our brothers and sisters.  Sickness is not automatically eliminated from our lives, though; this would be unrealistic and impractical, and it is the practical with which A Course in Miracles is most concerned.  We must recognize that we have made the reality in which we find ourselves.  Some of us have chosen sickness as a learning device, though Jesus warns us in ACIM that pain offers a temporary bit of learning only.  And we do not have to learn through pain, though many of us choose to do so.

4 – The Self and Sickness

It is important to note that the Self is the part of our being that has chosen sickness.  That is ultimately why no credence is given herein to blaming the victim.

5 – The Personal Self

The personal (little) self that walks the way of the world does not normally choose sickness, unless there are benefits that come about from such a choice.  We may get a day off from work, to relax when we will not allow ourselves any relaxation without sickness.  We may get sympathy from our significant others, and perhaps they do not realize that this sympathy is reinforcing the pain–making us more likely to choose illness again in the future.

6 – No Suffering

We must live in such a way that suffering is eliminated from our lives.  This means that we are able to live above any pain that does occur.  By carefully rising above the pain, we do not turn it into suffering, and therein lies our release.  Then we are free, next time, to choose to learn through rewards, which Jesus says is the only lasting way to retain our learning.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would live well today, as You wish.  I would not worry needlessly and frantically.  I would turn to my Guide when I am tempted to overreact to something that seems negative.

Help me to find my way in peace today.  Staying in peace is Your way, and I would go Your way, with determination.

Amen.

Guilt, Sickness, Pain, Disaster, Suffering: Begone!

“The final outcome of this lesson [i.e., the insignificance of the body] is the remembrance of God.  What do guilt and sickness, pain, disaster and all suffering mean now?  Having no purpose, they are gone.  (M-5.II.4)”

Affirmation:  “My body is actually insignificant.”

Reflections:

1- The Ego’s View

A Course in Miracles notes that we all too often want things of the world that glorify the body.  These usually, though not always, are material things.  They may also be intangible, such as our bent toward wanting success in this world.  But do these things–beauty of the body, prestige, comfort, success–really mean anything to our Self, the part of us that is not a body at all?

2 – Negative Experiences

I think not.  We are inescapably in a body for the duration of our time on earth, although out-of-body experiences are sometimes reported.  When we put the body first in all things, we also invite negative experiences–the guilt, sickness, pain, disaster, suffering that are mentioned in the above passage from ACIM.

3 – Body = Communication

ACIM does not deny that the body exists, but ACIM does reconsider what it is best used for, and that greater reason is for communication from one individual to another.

4 – Jealousy

If we use the body for communication, we will not want to use it to create jealousy in others.  We will be benign in our use of the body, hurting nobody, including ourselves.  This is the real reason for physical expression at all.

5 – A Love/Hate Relationship

Most of us already have a love-hate relationship with our bodies.  We criticize their appearance, even when we are beautiful or handsome.  We are never satisfied.  Is not this primary evidence that the ego is in the ascendancy?  And would we have that?  Have not we come far enough along on the pathway to know that the ego will only wish disaster upon us?

6 – Health

Let us thank God for the health that we do enjoy, even when that health is impaired.  To the extent that we can still communicate with others, in some way, our bodies are important to our experience in this world.  And nothing more.  The body then becomes deemphasized in our own experience, and we look to the intangibles of God–the love, joy, peace, tranquility, strength–that are our birthright as children of God.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would understand today that my body is my means of communication with my brothers and sisters.  I would not use it as a means to incite jealousy.  I would be gentle as I go about the world, realizing that my body is mine, but that there is more to me.  The body itself is illusion.

Thank You for these insights, which come from A Course in Miracles.  Thank You for the channeling of so wonderful a communication from Jesus to us.  May all find A Course in Miracles who are ready to appreciate what these books say.

Amen.

Release from Guilt = Release from Sickness

“Herein [he who has looked on the world and seen it as it is not] is the release from guilt and sickness both, for they are one.  Yet to accept this release, the insignificance of the body must be an acceptable idea.

“With this idea is pain forever gone.  (M-5.II. 3-4)”

Affirmation:  “release from guilt and sickness”

Reflections:

1 – Guilt and Sickness

A very instructive passage from A Course in Miracles.  We may never have realized, heretofore, that guilt and sickness are one, and that when we are rid of the guilt, we will not know sickness.  Perhaps this seems too hard, for who can rid themselves of all guilt for all the mistakes that are recognized in a life?

2 – Turn Guilt over to the Holy Spirit

It can be done, and we do not have to be psychopaths or sociopaths to rid ourselves of guilt.  This, once again, is something that we turn over to the Holy Spirit.  He know that when we have expressed a desire for forgiveness, then we are in a position to be rid of the guilt that our misdeed or errant thought has caused in us.  It seems so little, just to ask forgiveness.  Our egoic mind cries out for punishment, even though on a conscious level we do not actually invite punishment.  When we are insane in the sense that ACIM means, we do ask to hold onto the guilt, and therefore receive the punishment.  If we can recognize that this is madness, we will be more ready to accept God’s glorious Answer, given us internally by the Holy Spirit.

3 – Sensitive Consciences

Those of us with particularly sensitive consciences will suffer the most, and, paradoxically, we can receive even more than perhaps another who does not suffer as we do.  We are still equal to each other, though.  We are not equal in time, but in eternity, and eternity is all there is; there is no time, which is an illusion.

4 – Removal of Guilt

May we pray today for forgiveness, for a removal of the guilt that clouds the minds that Jesus interprets so kindly.  He loves us, we are told in ACIM.  He holds nothing against us.  May we not hinder his love and kindness by refusing ourselves the forgiveness that we need to render unto ourselves.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would be aware today that when I have recognized that forgiveness is mine, any guilt that I might feel over something I said or did will dissipate.  Thank You.  The fact that sickness may also subside is another blessing bestowed by the removal of guilt from my mind.  Thank You again.

Be with me today as I live a healthy life, unimpeded by guilt.  May I ask for forgiveness of my brothers and sisters, as well as of myself, and may I realize that You do not need to forgive me, because You have never condemned me.  What joy this should bring to me!

Thank You for this good day.  May my evening be peaceful and my joy, under You guidance, be complete.

Amen.

Sickness Is a Decision of the Mind

“The acceptance of sickness as a decision of the mind, for a purpose for which it would use the body, is the basis of healing.  And this is so for healing in all forms.  A patient decides that this is so, and he recovers.  If he decides against recovery, he will not be healed.  (M-5.II.2)”

Affirmation:  “Sickness is a decision of the mind.”

Reflections:

1 – A Summary

This passage encapsulates much that I have tried to teach over the last few days of postings.  If we decide against recovery, we are not healed.  If we decide that we have to take medication for the rest of our lives, we have decided to use magic agents to accommodate our physical and emotional states of health.  Neither choice is to be lamented, though Jesus is the healer that encourages us to recognize that pain is not necessary, even in this world.

2 – The Self Chooses

We stay in the driver’s seat.  We make the decisions.  But it is the Self that does so, and we, as personal selves living in a fantasy, are not privy to all of the reasons for decisions made by the Higher Self.  So we suffer, sometimes needlessly, because we do not turn over our sickness to God.

3 – Healing

If we seek healing, it will be found.  The catch in all of this is that we may not recognize the healing when it is given.  We may still see the sickness and believe, by viewing the lingering symptoms, that all is not well.  Jesus in the Manual would have us understand that the appearance of lingering symptoms is evidence of a lack of trust.  We don’t believe that we can be healed, and so we are not.  But healing will come, in a form that we can accept, as soon as healing is welcomed.  Keep in mind that there are different types of healing, and that emotional healing is not the least of these.  We are not to continue to fear the continuing symptoms.  We are meant to recognize that healing has occurred, though our Self may leave symptoms for reasons that we cannot comprehend.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would ask for healing today, of any and all difficulties that I may have.  I would ask that I recognize Your healing when it occurs.  May no physical symptoms mask the emotional healing that You always give me.  Thank you for the emotional healing, for You know that I think that emotional healing is more important than physical.

Be with me throughout the day.  Help me to walk Your way.  May my study of sickness, and the choices that I have made throughout my life, mean something good.  May I turn now to learning through rewards, and leave pain in the distant past.  I believe that this is Your wish for me, for You want a lasting healing–not a temporary one that might come from experiencing pain.  You want for me to learn through rewards, and I share that desire.  Thank You for this understanding that comes in A Course in Miracles from Jesus.

Amen.

It Is Not Necessary to Learn through Pain

“The patient could merely rise up without their [i.e., special agents] aid and say, ‘I have no use for this.’  There is no form of sickness that would not be cured at once.  (M-5.II.3)”

Affirmation:  “I have no use for sickness today.”

Reflections:

1 – View of Sickness in ACIM

This passage reflects the uncompromising view of sickness in A Course in Miracles.  It is always something that can be healed.  We do not often believe this, and perhaps, in our limited way, we are indeed unable to find the healing that, on some level, we still want.  The Self may have chosen this sickness as a way to learn through pain, though Jesus would have us learn through rewards, a more lasting choice (from the Text).  Pain brings only a temporary learning experience.

2 – Learning through Pain = Temporary Effect

Perhaps it is time that our world learns the truth that it is not necessary to learn through pain (a Text tenet).  Perhaps we need to understand that learning through pain brings only a temporary respite, and that learning through rewards (which we can invite) is lasting–the only lasting cure.  (These are paraphrases from the Text.)

3 – Jesus

Again we need to stress the uncompromising nature of the words that Jesus gives us in this passage.  He is for health all the way, but he does not interfere with our choices.  Perhaps we are not ready to be healed; perhaps we have even chosen this means of exiting from this world by death.  Our minds cannot wrap around the truth of this passage without recognizing that there are deeper truths than we have ever recognized before.  We choose special agents (medical staff and/or medication) to give flesh to our desires.  Perhaps we need to question some of this as a form of magic best left behind.
Jesus does not countenance unwise choices.  He sees medication as a compromise approach to illness, in that our fear is not increased when we seek relief through this magic means.  He does not want our fear increased.  And when we are sick, we are, at least temporarily,  not in our right minds (from ACIM).  Lacking rightmindedness, we can only increase this deplorable state by an increase in fear.  And Jesus would not have us, as we are stressing, any increase in fear.

4 – Seek Guidance

Seek guidance if and when sickness visits.  Try to discover the reason for its visit, for there are psychic communications that the world does not recognize as real channels of communication (from the Manual).  With the knowledge of why we have become sick, we may be in a better position to welcome healing as a real possibility.  May we do not less today.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would take a completely focused stand for health in all its manifestations today.  I would not know physical or emotional pain/sickness/ill health.  I would entertain this possibility.  I know that this affirmation is in line with Your wishes for me, and I ask You now to help me to carry out this decision to stay well and healthy.

May my Self recognize that my personal self has made a decision in line with Your wishes.  I do not need to learn through pain.  I would not learn what can be only temporary in its effect.  I would learn through rewards, which Jesus says in ACIM is the only lasting cure.

May my weakness be overcome by Your joy.  I know that when I am joyous, I do not dwell on temporary, minor difficulties of any kind.  I would ask today that You keep me on the straight and narrow, back to You.

Amen.

Sickness Is an Election

“. . .[S]ickness is an election; a decision.  It is the choice of weakness, in the mistaken conviction that it is strength.  (M-5.I.1)”

Affirmation:  “I would not choose sickness today.”

Reflections:

1 – Sickness, Pain, and Suffering

Now we study a section of the Manual that deals, on a deep level, with sickness, pain, and suffering.  The ideas in this section are unequivocal; they represent an Ideal (an interpretation, not stated in ACIM).  We are human, and we cannot accept all of these ideas at face value; we are too weak, not yet risen to the position that the Self occupies.

2 – Sickness = Our Decision

But the more that we can entertain ideas such as these, that sickness is a decision of our minds, and a decision that can be changed, the more we follow Jesus.  Is he not the great healer?

3 – Busy Lives and Sickness

Do we not sometimes recognize that we will not allow ourselves to stop from our busyness, our much too busy lives, unless we get sick?  Do we not realize that we sometimes entertain such ideas, just as a way to legitimately stay home from work?  I think that we all can identify with what Jesus is telling us in A Course in Miracles, at least on this level.  We do have some control that even we, not yet risen to his level, can see.

4 – We All Choose Sickness

In this section of the Manual, Jesus places sickness as a decision that we all make from time to time.  We think that sickness gives us something that we want, and therefore we think that it is strength rather than the weakness that he declares sickness to be.

5 – Tiny Bits of Time to Rest

May we take the tiny bits of time today that we have to rest, so that we are not tempted to allow sickness as a legitimate way to avoid work.  May we open our minds, ever so little, to the idea that it is ourselves who welcome sickness into our lives, by our own decision.  And may we make the opposite decision today, the decision to stay healthy, or to invite health back into our lives, if we have already chosen sickness.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I not be tempted today to choose sickness, when actually I just need some time to rest.  We are all so busy much of the time.  We think that we cannot take a timeout without a plausible excuse, and we think that sickness is a plausible excuse.

May I realize that this kind of thinking is akin to the insanity that the ego always leads us into.  I would thank You today for knowing that sickness is a decision, made on some level which I cannot always comprehend.  My Self is beyond my little, personal self that gets into trouble with the ego.  I would ask for Your blessing today so that I might know the Self better.

Be with me in the tiny illnesses that sometimes come my way.  I ask for the patience to heal, the patience to get the recuperation going.  Your Way is always the way of peace, quiet, and calm.  And it is these very things that keep sickness from being a part of my life.  I know that sometimes there are exceptions to this view of sickness, but help me to realize that my decision is the primary factor.  This places me under Your Providence, and gives me the strength to stay well.

Amen.

When Not at Peace

“I must have decided wrongly, because I am not at peace.
I made the decision myself, but I can also decide otherwise.
I want to decide otherwise, because I want to be at peace.
I do not feel guilty, because the Holy Spirit will undo all the
   consequences of my wrong decision if I will let Him.
I choose to let Him, by allowing Him to decide for God for me.  (T90)”

Affirmation:  “I can decide for peace.”

Reflections:

1 – Choose Peace Moment by Moment

This passage is a lovely blank verse poem.  If we are not at peace, we have made one or more errors.  We are in charge in making the decisions that will bring us to peace.  We can decide otherwise, and thus choose peace, moment by moment.

2 – Do Not “Study” the Ego

If we have already chosen wrongly, we may feel an ennui that is hard to describe.  This appears to be a time that we need to be especially protective of ourselves, but actually it is a prime time that we need to turn to the Holy Spirit for guidance.  We have seen or done something that has made for increased fatigue, either mental or physical, and until we get to the root of the problem, we will suffer.  We are not to study the ego, though!  Jesus specifically says in A Course in Miracles that the ego (this part of ourselves that has led us astray) approves our study of it, that this study seems to increase its importance to us (from the Text).  But if we find fatigue, an unnatural fatigue, steeling over us, perhaps we need to stop what we are doing and commune with the Holy Spirit.  He will respond with some quiet thoughts that will come automatically into the mind, when we have calmed down the agitation enough to listen.  (These are interpretations of ACIM, not stated therein.)

3 – Undoing Eliminates Guilt

We do not have to feel guilty, because of the power and glory of the Holy Spirit.  He can undo the consequences of our wrong action or thought–the error that made us lose our peace in the beginning.

4 – “Perfectly Calm and Quiet

Peace is a great blessing.  All of us would choose it, rather than drama, if we would give it more thought.  “Perfectly calm and quiet” is said elsewhere in the Course as the direction in which we are heading.  We may, actually, not welcome this now, because we are tied to our dramas, but as we choose more and more the peace that God grants, we will know the genius of this proscription.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Help me to decide for peace, not drama.  I am in charge of this decision, with the help of the Holy Spirit.  If I am not at peace, I have decided wrongly.  I choose now to change this decision to one of peace.

Help me to know the value of being perfectly calm and quiet all the time.  May the Holy Spirit, day by day, lead me in this direction.

Amen.

Overcoming Masochism

“The ego believes that by punishing itself it will mitigate the punishment of God.  (T84-85)”

Affirmation:  “The ego believes. . .mitigate the  punishment of God.”

Reflections:

1 – An Explanation

This passage seems to explain masochism.  We think that if we cause pain to ourselves first, then God’s punishment of us (in which we erroneously believe) will be lessened.

2 – Insane Thinking

This is insane thinking.  The ego is insane.  Let us not forget this Course concept.

3 – We Do Not Have to Punish Ourselves

We in our egoistic thinking do not have to punish ourselves at all.  To do so actually is the reverse of what we want, for any number of reasons, including the fact that punishing ourselves strengthens the ego.  We want to let the ego wither away.  In no way does God punish us.  This concept of the Course is in line with the New Testament, but opposed to the Old Testament.  May we accept Jesus’s teaching in both the Course and the New Testament, and know God as a loving and accepting God who wants only the best for us.  Anything else we have unconsciously chosen, and this can be changed with the right understanding, and the right reflection upon what we are actually doing to ourselves.

4 – Healing

It is true that we can seek guidance and often be told the way to proceed in any affliction.  This does not mean that we avoid other healers and depend only on our minds.  Jesus says in A Course in Miracles that pills are a form of “spell,” but that if we are not strong enough, we need to turn to medications as a compromise approach to healing.  To do without the medications might raise the fear level, which is the last thing that we want to do.  (These are Text tenets.)

5 – Jesus Is Near

So we seek for healing on whatever level we can, knowing that the healer who is Jesus is never very far from us.  He promises us that he will come in response to one unequivocal call (from the Text).

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I know that there is no need for me to punish myself for anything that I have done.  I may know guilt, and this is a form of punishment.  God would never punish; it is always us that are doing this.

May my ego wither away.  I have prayed for this often, and so I have not accepted the truth of this promise that it can wither away.  May I accept this promise now and forevermore.

Amen.

Do Not Turn Pain into Suffering

“How can you who are so holy suffer?  All your past except its beauty is gone, and nothing is left but a blessing.  I have saved all your kindnesses and every loving thought you ever had.  (T83)”

Affirmation:  “I have saved all your kindnesses and love.”

Reflections:

1 – Suffer?

This is a hard passage to understand.  It is true that Awakened individuals acknowledge feeling pain, but not suffering.  Eckhart Tolle is one of these individuals.  But most of us have not yet known Awakening on a sustained basis, and what are we to do when bad things happen?

2 – Think Kindness

I think that the Answer is the one we so often find in the Course.  The Answer is turning to guidance from the Holy Spirit.  Jesus himself says in this passage that he has saved our kindnesses and loving thoughts.  We can, without self-satisfaction, realize that, almost despite ourselves, we have had moments of kindnesses and loving thoughts.  If these were ever a comfort to our brother, they can also be a comfort to us in our times of pain.  This recollection will help to ensure that suffering, even in the midst of  pain, will not arise.

3 – Pain but No Suffering

We can find in the pain a blessing.  The passage seems to say this.   The passage also notes that we ourselves are holy, a concept that we find difficult to accept, because we usually feel so unworthy.  May we take Jesus at his word, and believe that we do not have to suffer in this world.  As we study the Course, perhaps we will come to see this concept more clearly and to feel pain, when it comes, but no suffering.

4 – Difficulty in Avoiding Suffering

We need to realize that we transform pain into suffering by our own thought processes.  Certainly in physical pain, it is hard not to get the mind involved.  We feel so bad physically that our bodies temporarily seem to take over our minds.  Whatever we do, in this world there probably will never be one correct action to take–other than asking for the Holy Spirit to give us the guidance that we need to remedy the situation.  He will answer, though if we are agitated, we may not “hear” what He has to say.  Seek calm and quiet, not agitation, and see how much more readily the physical pain ceases to be an affliction that can only be called “suffering.”

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I know in my innermost being that I do not need to suffer.  In the Course, Jesus says that we do not have to learn through pain.  May I feel the truth of this reassurance.

It is good that my loving thoughts have been saved.  This seems to mean that my unloving thoughts will fall away.  Thank you.

Amen.

Turn the Other Cheek

“You cannot be hurt, and do not want to show your brother anything except your wholeness.  Show him that he cannot hurt you and hold nothing against him, or you hold it against yourself.  This is the meaning of ‘turning the other cheek.’  (T82)”

Affirmation:  “You cannot be hurt.”

Reflections:

1 – Pain Hurts Ourselves and Others

It hurts our brother for him (or her) to see that he has hurt us.  While our brother may not tell us this, and he even may not recognize it, still is it true.  We cannot seek to hurt another without being in pain ourselves.

2 – The Real Self Is Unhurt

Our real Self cannot be hurt in any way.  This is a magnificent truth that even among seasoned veterans of the Course can easily be overlooked as we live daily in this world.  Certainly we seem to suffer, or, at the least, to know pain–even when it doesn’t lead to real suffering.  Yet the Self continues unabated.  The Self knows that we are whole.

3 – The Personal Self Is Hurt

Our real Self is not hurt, but it is still obvious that the personal self does seem to be hurt by words and actions of other people in our world.  We also seem to hurt the personal self through our own thoughts, words, and actions.  We should not deny the fact that the dream in which we find ourselves seems very real indeed.  We are not to deny what appears before our eyes, for as long as we are in the dream and not yet in the real world, we will have times in which we are hurt, either by others or by ourselves.  Jesus does not ask in A Course in Miracles that we live in denial of what we see before us; he only indicates that we are lost in a dream that we are making up.  We are the actors; we are doing this unto ourselves (ACIM tenets).

4 – “Turn the Other Cheek”

What a blessing to have in the Course this interpretation of the New Testament injunction of “turn the other cheek.”  So often over the years have Christians sought to understand this scripture, and so often we have failed to understand.  May the Course remedy that confusion.  We are whole Selves, and a part of us that we do not usually recognize is unhurt by anything that the world can do to us.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

Now that I know the real meaning of “turn the other cheek,” may I do so promptly when something happens that disturbs me.  May I realize that my real Self is never hurt at all.

May I come to feel my real Self more and more.  When I do so, I am safe in this world.  Thank you for this safety.

Amen.

If Pain and Suffering Visit

“An imprisoned will engenders a situation which, in the extreme, becomes altogether intolerable.  Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit.  (T21-22)”

Affirmation:  “Tolerance for pain is not without limit.”

Reflections:

1 – An Imprisoned Will

This “imprisoned will” is a philosophical tenet of A Course in Miracles.  When the separation seemed to arise, we were caught in a situation that seemed to make God’s will and our will at odds with one another.  Actually the two are inseparable, and only our dim understanding makes this aspect of faith difficult.

2 – Rejecting the Holy Spirit’s Guidance

When we reject the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are caught in the bonds of an imprisoned will, which engenders pain–sometimes extreme pain.  Although the Course affirms the releasing truth that we do not have to learn through pain, the truth is that many of us do learn through pain.  We can suffer in this pain greatly, but our tolerance for pain, as this passage says, is “not without limit.”  Sooner or later we will come to see that there must be another way, a better way, to live, and this is when we turn to God and His Voice, the Holy Spirit.

3 – Another Way

Helen Schucman and William Thetford, the two individuals responsible for bringing us the Course, agreed together to seek another way.  At the time they and their department at Columbia University were embroiled in competition and attack, and camaraderie was largely missing.  Helen and Bill embarked on a seven-year project, with Helen channeling from Jesus, and Bill, each morning, typing what had come through the day before.  Tolerance for pain in these two had become intolerable.

4 – No Tolerance for Pain

May this tolerance soon become intolerable for us as well, and then we will be ready to listen, perhaps for the first time, to innermost guidance.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I choose to eliminate pain from my experience.  I know that pain is not Your will, and may it not be mine either.

If I have learned through pain, may this learning come to an end.  Your will for me is total happiness.

Amen.