Village Bulletin, May 18th, 2011:
A prayer of healing... from Pam
"Holy Spirit, Please help me to forgive myself for using ________ to attack myself." There are the words given to Pam by Nouk Sanchez in a recent mentoring session with respect to a difficult forgiveness situation. Let's all try to this one today (and tomorrow, and tomorrow, and ...). We can even use it with the simplest upsets during the day: the traffic, the weather, a colleague's behavior, the waitress, even our stomachs and hair (which just doesn't want to sit right!). And then, of course, we can try with our deepest conflicts with other people, money, work, or life in general. Enjoy this breath of truly fresh air.

sunrise Village Bulletin, May 18th, 2011:
The Mayoral Procession to Temecula
The time has come when all good sons must pay a visit to their spiritual father, and so tomorrow my wife and I wing our way across the Atlantic, and the US continent to dip ourselves in the holy waters of the Foundation's Fountain (and the Pacific!). My visit to Ken has been delayed too, too long, a testament to my resistance perhaps, but I feel more to a commitment I felt I was lacking. Not that I hadn't been working assiduously with the material, like all of us, but rather that there were certain areas of my experience I had been lazy about calling into question. I was indulgent with my 'baby business', and though it was going to take me into scary territory, I knew something in me wanted to step up the level. I shall try to keep you all informed of daily developments in Kenville as the proceedings unfold in real time. And I'll send your love to our dear professor who, I'm sure, is just waiting to give me a hard time. I still remember his roughing up and tripping up and general manhandling from the last time! It can't have improved; I know it'll be worse! But why can't I do it back to him?? Moreover, I'm prepared to learn to laugh some more, to realize just a little more how totally un-serious everything in this life can be. Everything, including this life I take myself to be. And how beautiful it will be finally to see through this illusion that has been such a source of confusion and pain - self-chosen, at that!



Village Bulletin, 28th April, 2011:
Happy Birthday, ACIM-Village!
As many of you know, we started life out here together as the ACIM-Village now one full year ago. And what a great year it has been - thanks to all of you! In appreciation, and to mark the passage into a new era of Village developments, I have made a little video to share with you this special moment. Please forgive my slightly awkward manner - it was my first video! Click here to access the video page.

Village Bulletin, 28th April, 2011:
Creation of the Village Video Series: Nature-Workshop on "Mental Cannibalism"
I'm inspired by "cannibalism". Well, more precisely, by the subject and the interest you have all put into our recent discussions. And so I spent yesterday morning taking you all on my daily morning glory "cannibalistic doggy walk". This ended up as a three part video on the subject, trying to come to a better understanding of the enigma of embracing outer beauty without it becoming a trap for specialness. Click here to access the video page. sunrise Mayor's Journal, 21st April, 2011:

The Quiet Revolution of Forgivarians


There is something very special about forgiveness that I think is rather unsuspected. We have all been practicing forgiveness for some time now, perhaps even for several, or many, years. We have gained many benefits, our lives have become more peaceful in some ways, and we insist less when a conflict arises or we are attacked or belittled. Yet this special ‘something’ can nevertheless go quite unannounced. I believe that forgiveness is leading us toward something quite unique – a state of mind quite unlike anything we have been able to conceive of. But I’m going to change subjects for a moment in order to prepare you for my thoughts…

Last night I attended a rather remarkable event. A local cinema is the home of an association that promotes films on new ways of thinking and being in this world. The subjects range from the environment to health, but many have to do with consciousness and our relationship to each other, or the planet or our bodies. The event I attended yesterday was a film on ‘breatharians’. These are a rather extraordinary group of people who have managed to alter their relationship with physical food in such a way that they no longer need to eat but are ‘fed’ directly by another source, called alternatively ‘prana’, ‘chi’, or simply divine Love. Many of these people have not eaten solid food for many years. One Indian sage has ostensibly not eaten since the age of seven when he had a vision of being visited by three angels. Some of these people can even go without water.

The film (called ‘Lumière’ in French, produced by Allegro Productions) was beautifully produced and was a fascinating account of an extraordinary and incredible process that apparently all human beings are hardwired to do. But that was just the beginning of the surprises. The organisers of the event had been able to invite a real, living and breathing ‘breatharian’ – Henri Montfort – whose presence we had the pleasure of sharing for two hours of question and answer following the film. This man has not eaten solid, physical food for the past eight years. His body weight is stable (he is not thin or emaciated in any way), his eyes sparkle tremendously and his energy level is very high, just under ‘electric’. He is in every way what I would call a picture of perfect health. He says he has not been sick or ill during this time, and has not had to visit the drugstore once for any medications. He spoke to us of the difference between fasting and pranic nourishment, but more than this I was fascinated by his insistence that this bodily state can only be accompanied by a mental state outside of duality – at least when it comes to the biological functioning of the body. He told us that the mind is capable of understanding its inherent non-separated state from the rest of ‘reality’ (he told us that nothing here was ‘real’). It is this awareness that helps us understand why the body can live outside the constraints imposed upon it by our mental conditioning.

I am not writing this to promote ‘breatharianism’ – my goal is not to help you save on your food bill! In fact, if we are not vigilant, such ideas can easily turn into just another party trick of the ego, to get us to do something so extraordinary that we end up making duality real again in our minds. If we place too much importance on freedom from the body’s constraints, we make the body real again in our minds as a prison. The goal is not to give up on food anymore than it is to give up on breathing or any physical attribute of our world. No, my purpose has nothing in fact to do with this specific application of the mind’s ability.

This experience demonstrated something to me perfectly clearly. The mind is outside the body; the body is no more, no less, than an image within the mind. These ‘breatharians’ have simply been able to re-program the mind-outside-the-body in such a way that the body itself has a different biological relationship to its surroundings. Bringing this back to our work, we can use this to remind ourselves that what we are aiming for is to develop a radically new relationship not with food, but with the entire outside world: all the various inputs our senses communicate to us every day. More precisely, all our thoughts, perceptions, interpretations, feelings and experiences. That is the food which is truly of interest to us (not just fries and carrots), and we can learn to draw on another Source of understanding with which to process all of these.

Now, as we have all been learning from our many years of ACIM and Ken study, absolutely nothing here is useful if it does not lead to greater peace of mind. The only purpose of anything is defined by our question, “What is it for? ” And we have been told time and time again that our only goal is peace, the extraordinary peace of God that knows no barriers or limits, that is so thoroughly all-inclusive that nothing remains outside its magnificent embrace. Peace, the true gift of God. Not just saving on our food bill.

This peace is also located in a mind-outside-the-body. These breatharians access this mind for bodily purposes, using a different modus operandi that enables something normally considered impossible to occur. And I am proposing here that forgiveness is the new modus operandi of our minds offered to us by Jesus that will enable us eventually to access something normally also considered impossible – a true and on-going experience of the Love of God.

There is a way of living in this world that is completely different. We appear to be here, but we realize that our minds are actually elsewhere. They are not located within our physical bodies, but in a place outside of time and space that encloses the totality of existence. That is where we are ultimately being led, and forgiveness is the unique process given to us to achieve this.

Each and every day that we bring into awareness just another tiny thought of separation, a grievance, an upset, a sadness, an instant of superiority or inferiority, and question its origin and usefulness for us, we make one giant change in our minds. We remember that its only purpose in our minds is to make it appear that a separation has occurred between ourselves and Love, and that this separation offers us more than Love. We shift the location of our minds, just for an instant, back into a place of timelessness and freedom. Each time we do this we clear away a little more of the mental shell that is preventing us from living fully in this ‘other place’ outside our normal, earthly minds.

Breatharians access ‘pranic’ nourishment through their application of the mind; students of A Course In Miracles ultimately learn to access God’s Love for their experience and nourishment. That Love is represented here by forgiveness. Day by day we learn to fill our minds with the practice and purpose of forgiveness, and it becomes our nourishment, our complete source of peace and fulfilment. We look at the mental food we have been feeding ourselves all our lives, believing so vital to our existence. And we choose once again. Nothing can be so fulfilling and utterly nourishing as learning to release our judgments and the hold on our painful, separating thoughts. Practicing in this way, we may now begin to call ourselves Forgivarians, learning to replace all our harmful mental processes with that one special, divine food: the message that nothing happened which would ever justify condemnation in any form.

We feed ourselves, but now it is holiness that nourishes us. Every day we allow to rise into our awareness those sensations that whisper, this isn’t good, this isn’t right, I’m not good enough, this is unwanted, that hurts, he shouldn’t, I can’t believe, when will it stop. And we allow ourselves to be wrong. I must be wrong, this isn’t the real problem. I have sought my nourishment in the empty wasteland of separation again. Opposition is not the answer. And we remember that It is there, the divine Food we have been ignoring. We breathe it in, and let our position on our issue go. We do not need it, we do not want it. It cannot nourish us. We breathe, and fill our hearts with a peacefulness and quiet relief that we have been wrong. We did not want to be right; we did not really want this person to be the fault and error in our lives. No, we want him to be free, just like we want to be free. Both of us released, both of us fed and provided for by the Banquet offered us just beyond the veil of physical perception.

The more we practice forgiveness, keeping in our hearts the Love with which it has been given us, the Love to which it is leading us, the more peaceful we become. The more we become impartial observers of life here, the less the problems of the world will grate upon us and draw us into their chaos. We begin to create a real shift, a positive separation between the workings of the limited ego mind and ourselves. A lightness returns to our minds, a light, joyful happiness in which we realize that this special place outside of the tumult of this world has always been there, just waiting for us to return.

Forgive.

Let us forgive, and release our minds from the binds we have placed upon them and that make us sad, that make us wonder where we are, and why. We have a Home, and it is outside of the chaos of the tiny mind of our agitated thoughts and feelings. Let us take a step back with our great Companion today. Let Him be our partner as He guides us back to a place of comfort and warmth, right there in the midst of our busy day. He is there, and that special place to which He leads us all is real and present. Join me today as we travel just a few steps further toward that extraordinary place above all needs and demands of this crazy world that floats in our joint imagination. And we are Home once more.

(Any comments here.)

(Photo credit: http://aksinya.wordpress.com/)



sunrise Mayor's Journal, 13th April, 2011:
The Easter Hangover!
I just want to draw your attention to this article originally published after the New Year's celebrations that has particular relevance as we prepare for our Easter family reunions. We just know that things are not going to go perfectly, so let's remind ourselves to look in the direction of the gentle Guest who is always present, invited or not, and whose Presence can completely change our experience of any ego meltdowns... (Click here for direct access to article)



sunrise Mayor's Journal, 6th April, 2011:

Flowing with Resistance


Note: Due to a problem with the site, I was not able to post this article on the home page during the month of March even though it did appear in my blog. Here it is, in case any of you missed the reference to it in the discussion forum.

I was awake at 4 am and the following thoughts were running around my mind. So in order to feel like there was actually some usefulness in this sleepless state, I’m writing down these ideas that occurred to me.

This recent work we’ve been doing at the Village has really been on my mind (even in my dreams!). There’s something about this whole idea of learning that Love embraces our most difficult thoughts and feelings that seems to be changing my perspective on things pretty radically. I’ve been looking at the connection to Forgiveness, and I think the idea is quite the same. And we can even bring in aspects of Byron Katie’s The Work as well as the Sedona Method that has Nina introduced us to. For me it all comes back to the Meaning of Judgment (MOJ) workshop we were going through. Something that really stuck with me in those notes is the emphasis Ken puts on the importance of not judging our ego thoughts when they occur to us: not judging our judging.

We’re all pretty good at identifying our ego aspects; that’s not too much of a challenge. In fact, I heard Ken say the other day that the ego pretty quickly learns to co-opt us once we’ve decided to make a firm commitment to A Course In Miracles. As he said, it has no problem with your decision to uncover the ego. It replies, “You’re right, let’s go out and get that wily ego fellow, we’ll show him. We’ll really go in the there, uncover him and get rid of him.” That is language the ego just loves; it’s all about doing something about the ego, which, of course, makes it even more real and substantial. In particular, this attitude just leads us into more opposition, more fighting, into hammering ourselves over the head every time we discover another hateful, judgmental thought within our minds.

What MOJ was showing me is the great difficulty we have in doing the last forgiveness step, which is turning toward Jesus and seeing what he has to say about our bad old ego. We are promised that doing so will release our hold on the egoic thought/experience. We just need to accept his acceptance of our ego. And yet a number of us (okay, me) have often had the experience of the negative feeling remaining, despite doing what we believe is opening our minds to Jesus and his love. Are you maybe one of these people? (please, say yes!) We think we’re practicing forgiveness, and yet the pain, fear and anger remain. It is in this last step that the entire transformational experience of forgiveness occurs. This is where all the action is, no matter which non-dual discipline we study. Without this last crucial step, of accepting kindness in place of our judgments, there is no real change and the problem remains. So, what prevents us so systematically from taking this last step?

Resistance.

Resistance is the only problem; that sums it all up. Our experience of life seems to be our untamable anger, our persistent fear, our deep sadness, or mortifying guilt and depression; yet the essential motivation behind all of these experiences is resistance – not accepting ‘what is’. We fight with reality. We insist that reality be different from the way it actually is. And I don’t just mean the reality of our life situations. A number of current non-dual disciplines focus on accepting ‘what is’, which means letting go the objections we might have to the way our lives look. This is definitely right on the mark and very useful. But I think the notion goes much deeper. The fight with and the resistance to what is is actually about Love, the deeper reality of ‘what is’.

Our existence and experience as individual minds has at its foundation a statement that in one word says, ‘No!’ That’s the sum of everything our minds are constantly saying: No! Our minds said no to Oneness/God in the beginning (read: now), they said ‘I don’t want this, I want something else.’ Whatever Oneness/God/Abstraction offered, our minds constantly responded with, No. Over and over: no, no, and no. And that’s what they are still doing today. That’s why the Course says our problem is our judgments and grievances, the vehicles by which our minds are constantly excluding and refusing to accept with kindness and understanding the world and people around us. A judgment against another says, No, I don’t find you acceptable or included within my understanding, within Love. A memory of a difficult time says, No, Love was not available, no, I was hurt and you can’t tell me otherwise. Fear of a future problem says, No, I am vulnerable and in danger, and Love will not be there to nourish and support me in that problem.

Casting our vision a little further a field, we easily see that everyone we meet in the streets as well, in the supermarket, in our offices, is going around saying No: No, I am not what God says I am; no, I have no access to Love; no, I am an individual locked in this prison-body; no, I am vulnerable and weak; no, you will not include me in love and so I shall attack; no, you will not give me what I need and so I must take it. We share precisely the same experience with everyone around us in this respect, this foundational suffering of fighting with reality. Not just the reality of our lives as they are presented to us, but the larger, deeper Reality of our source within the abstract Love that gives us our Life.

It is a very useful step to begin to sense the resistance that our entire psychological lives are based upon. This resistance is not one of a calm, perfect knowledge that says I know I’m alone and abandoned. That might actually be peaceful, this kind of knowledge. Rather, it is the rabid resistance of one who knows he is wrong, who is fighting an un-winnable battle against an immense enemy – Truth. And so it is very fatiguing and very disheartening. Even when we have decided unequivocally that we are hopelessly unworthy and forever separated from Love, we cannot win. We cannot feel the peace of having found the truth about ourselves. We are wrong. And worst of all, we know it. We desperately try to pretend that we are right, that we have finally found out the dreadful truth about ourselves, and we insist time and time again, increasing our pain exponentially to prove our point. But it is destined to fail. This is resistance.

The solution? We need to learn what it means to simply say yes.

We cannot fight against our resistance, although the ego would love to think it could. The only way to begin to work with this resistance is to learn to say yes. Not a huge resounding, earth-shattering YES! Just a quiet little whisper, gentle as a cool breeze that says, “I can learn to say yes even to all my statements of no”. That’s where these other non-dual techniques have been making a particular contribution. They help us find a way of being kinder with our resistance. Whichever technique we use, the idea is simply to learn to become aware of all our statements of ‘no’ such as our painful memories, criticisms, hates, and exclusions, and learn that we can begin to be gentler with our insistence and resistance. We learn to say as softly as we can, “This is all okay. Love is here no matter what I am thinking and feeling. Love does not oppose.

Is it really that easy? Well, no.

Since our entire psychological existence is based on opposition, our tendency will be systematically to oppose our egoic thoughts of hate, criticism, and anger. Opposition is the blood running through our individuality’s veins. It requires us always to fight, to battle and strive. Opposing is as natural and automatic as taking our next breath. Hence, our initial thought will always be, “I shouldn’t think or feel this. This is bad. I’m such a failure. I must stop right now. Let me replace this thought with a nice, loving, accepting thought. Let me get Jesus in here to fix this – where is he?” What we have to stop is this kind of thinking – right now! We cannot unthink something we are thinking, because we are thinking it for what we believe is a valid reason – the survival of our sense of individuality.

So what do we do? We can only try to shift our motivation, our intention, not the direction of our thoughts. And this is where we come back to the need to embrace Love in even the smallest way. We do so not by opposing the direction of our thoughts, but by going with them, bending with them, flowing with them, saying, “This is okay, there is nothing wrong with this thought. Of course it comes from confusion and separation, but there is nothing wrong with that. Love embraces even this anger, hatred, terror and depression. I do not need to oppose or be afraid of these feelings. Love embraces even my opposition to It.” Can you do that?

There are going to be times when even this level of acceptance of Love is just not going to come easily. When we sense resistance to the idea of flowing with an ego thought without judging it, then we flow again, asking ourselves, “Would I be willing to allow just a little of this thought/feeling to be there without opposing it?” Or, “Could I determine that I would like to allow just a bit of this thought/feeling to be there without judging it? Can I be with this thought/feeling/conviction in a loving way, even just a little? I see Jesus peeping through a crack in the door, do I want to open it just an inch more? Do I really have to continue to fight and push against this feeling, to judge it, to not want it? Is that really an obligation, or can I be willing to admit that I might have a small choice in the matter?”

Some of these non-dual techniques encourage us to work on our motivation for allowing the acceptance of Love to join us in our minds, pointing out the cost to not doing so, and the gains to finally letting go: “How am I going to feel if I continue pushing? What would it be like if suddenly I stopped pushing and just allowed this all to flow through me freely without opposing it? What if none of this was wrong anymore, how would I possibly feel? What if I could eventually let go my hold on all these thoughts, how would that feel?”

All these thoughts get us going back in the right direction by putting us in a place of non-opposition. Opposing always feels stressful because we have set up an obstacle, a challenge, an enemy to overcome, a wall to knock down. Yet there is no real obstacle there. In his workshop, No Man Is An Island, Ken uses the wonderful metaphor of a fist to describe resistance and opposition. Our ego’s mindset is like a fist made from our tightly clenched fingers. We clench so hard to protect what is in our hand that our muscles ache and our knuckles turn white, yet still we do not question the fundamental premise, asking ourselves what is really being held there. Jesus has told us that our hand is empty (there is no sin or separation), but we don’t believe him and clench all the harder. Eventually the pain of our cramped fingers is so painful that we become willing to lift our little finger just enough to see that in fact there is nothing there. We were protecting nothing – the pain was purely the defense against letting go the thought that there was something there. We are battling with a mistaken thought, and nothing else.

It is only our resistance that makes the wall appear before us. The wall is our resistance, and not the hate, anger or judgmentalness we might find in ourselves. It is simply our fear of saying yes to our existence as Love, to our non-existence as separated beings. Any imaginary obstacle will do as a wall, anything we can turn into a problem – as long as it serves our purpose of resisting the acceptance of Love. And our minds will be extremely imaginative in finding many, many different things that can appear to us as a problem. There in the background of our minds’ activity runs a litany of potential candidates, whispering: Something is wrong here, can’t you feel it? There’s something here that is just not adequate, that must be improved upon. All is not well and sufficient, I can feel it. In fact, when we practice these methods we quickly find that there is a river of obstacles that flow across the screen of our minds, occupying our attention with what we believe are real reasons to believe that Love, freedom and happiness do not exist. It quickly becomes obvious that the mind’s real objective in any situation is simply to prove that Love is not present, or even existent. “No” is the only word being spoken in our minds, no matter what we are looking at. No, Love is not here.

Over time this way of looking can help us become aware of the true activity of the mind. The mind is not really engaged with the outside world at all, despite our years of ‘experience’ to the contrary. We always thought we were having a problem with politicians, business leaders, family members, the economy, local legislation, our bodies, our finances, household insects, the lawn, the lawnmower, the traffic, other drivers, the red light, the deadline, the poor coffee, the cold food, the poor service, or the rain. In fact, the mind has been engaged totally and completely within itself all this time, busily imagining problems and obstacles one after the other to occupy our attention and prove its point. Its point is always that there is a valid reason for saying, No. An endless series of scenes and images that we attach the label of ‘problem’ to, purely to feed our need to say, “No, love is not here!”

But ours is a path of non-resistance. It is the path of allowing, of embracing, of accepting. We allow our minds to say Love is not here. We just allow the awareness to come to us that this is what we are thinking; we allow the words to role slowly around in our mind... "I am thinking, 'Love is not here'." This is the current delusion that fills our minds, this is its life statement - and that is quite okay. We do not fight it, contradict it, or oppose it in any way. We step back, allow kindness to enter our minds in the form of acceptance. We look to the ultimate goal that our hearts are set on, and we allow Love to enter our lives, as Jesus or in any other form in which Love appears to us. We allow Love to embrace all our aspects, to enter in and make itself at home in the space of our most intimate thoughts, reassuring ourselves that there is nothing we really want to withhold from this gentle kindness now. We make Love a home in our minds by saying there is nothing that Love would take away from me, there is nothing Love does not include and embrace. “Even this…” Even this does Love embrace.

When we practice this way we find that over time the obsession of our minds to find problems begins to weaken. Its agitation, constantly finding fault, danger and unworthiness, starts to slow; the difficulties and reasons for hate become less pointed and sharp. Love’s gentle non-resistance appeals to us more and more, taking the place of our earnest need for reality to show us danger and hate. Where we thought there was only opposition within us, we find there is also a willingness to flow gently with the movement of our minds, a coming into awareness of opposition, a sensing of the fear, pain or anger this brings, then a swinging with the feeling, allowing it to be there as a feeling (not as a ‘truth’), determining to want to be able to accept it kindly, even just a little. Even just the tiniest amount, and this re-opens the door.

Thus we are taught the true nature of acceptance. Within this acceptance we learn that our reality has already been perfectly accepted by Love, by God. We learn to accept Acceptance. We no longer deny what is, our perfect acceptance unto our holy Father.

Photo credit: http://aksinya.wordpress.com/



sunrise Village Bulletin Board, 27th March, 2011:

Interview with Ken Wapnick by Susan Dugan


Please take the time to enjoy this great interview with Kenneth by Susan Dugan; there's a message here for all of us. And don't forget to visit Susan’s blog full of excellent articles at Foray’s in Forgiveness.

OK, so admittedly I did most of the talking when Ken Wapnick once more generously agreed to answer some questions about practicing forgiveness and looking with Jesus. Along with the other characteristics of God’s teachers mentioned in the Teachers Manual, he also demonstrates honesty, defined in A Course in Miracles as consistency. I found his response to my overly complicated questions newly humbling. “Don’t take it seriously,” he answered, in response to every query. He has said this before and will likely have to say it again because eventually we begin to try to make awakening a goal and we’re not smiling with Jesus anymore but gritting our teeth with the ego, once more seeking and never finding our self. Thank you Ken, for reminding us to quit working so hard and simply smile.

You talk a lot about forgiveness being a process of the decision maker looking with Jesus/our right mind. I’ve noticed lately in practicing forgiveness that I really want Jesus to look with me rather than look with him.

Oh, you’re pretty slippery. And here I thought you were a nice person.

Nope. I think I need a review because that’s what I’ve been doing and what it shows me is how resistant I am to really looking. Could you go over the process of looking and maybe speak to our tendency to deceive ourselves about what we’re really doing?

Well, the whole idea of looking makes sense when you realize it’s the correction for the ego’s not looking. That’s really the bread and butter of the ego’s thought system because if you don’t look it means you’re mindless. If you look you become a mind instead of a body and if you don’t look you can never see that the ego is really nothing. Forgiveness defined as looking is really just the correction for the ego telling you not to look.

When you want Jesus to look with you, then you want him to look at your body and your experiences as a dream figure. To look with him means you look at the world and see it as a projection of an inward condition which means you go back to the mind. That’s the key. That’s why nobody wants to do it that way.

Well, I want him specifically to see how awful these people are treating me.

He just smiles at that. That’s when I get a phone call saying, “You know what she just said to me?” And then he just bursts out laughing.

I knew you were going to say that.

Well, I’m glad I didn’t disappoint you.

I have been practicing forgiveness in a special relationship each time conflict arises and experience deep comfort when I look at what’s really going on with my right mind but sooner or later feel once more attacked. I get discouraged and I suppose impatient wondering if I’m ever going to heal my mind completely about this relationship.

That’s what trips you up right there. At that point you’re making it into something serious and real and impossible when all you want to do is just look at your ego and smile at it. Don’t try to let go of your ego. I kiddingly say that Jesus hates serious people and he especially hates serious A Course in Miracles students because all they want to do is let go of their ego. And if you’re so hell-bent on letting go of your ego you’ll never let it go because the ego is not the problem.

So that impatience I feel should clue me in that that’s what I’m doing?

Exactly right.

It amazes me how quickly I can go from right-mindedness to really feeling genuinely attacked and completely out of my mind. Even though I understand what the Course is saying and am committed to practicing forgiveness it feels like an ambush. Does it ever get easier?

Yes, when you stop taking it so seriously. You’re such a nice person, Susan, but you’re so damn serious. That’s what trips you up. It won’t start getting easier until you give up the idea that there’s an “it” that has to get easier.

So, it’s still that idea of having to do this right that’s the problem.

Yes.

That’s a hard habit to break.

Yes, it is. But the whole idea is to live lightly. As I quote all the time the problem was not the tiny mad idea but that the Son of God forgot to laugh at it. The problem is not anything of the ego; the problem is that we took it seriously.

So when we find ourselves taking it seriously the answer is looking with Jesus who only smiles?

That’s what looking with Jesus means. And he’s smiling at the silliness of ever having thought that this is important, which is silliness.

So not joining with an ego attack, just letting it all pass.

Letting it all pass which doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have a behavioral response but it means you don’t get upset by it and you don’t want to change it.

And you don’t want to get upset with yourself when you do get upset.

Yes, absolutely.

I have found myself mentally complaining a lot about all the external demands on my time that seem to keep me from spending quality time with Jesus. It makes me laugh because even though I understand that A Course in Miracles is a path in relationship I still want to withdraw from relationships and just be with my right mind, be with Jesus. Does that make me a really bad student?

It makes you a really bad student only if you don’t laugh at yourself.

Because that’s really trying to take away the curriculum, right? So, don’t do that?

Not unless you want to get me angry at you. Jesus will laugh at you and I’ll yell and scream at you.

It’s just this desire to have a little time in between forgiveness lessons to breathe. Because sometimes it seems like there’s just this unrelenting, incoming barrage of lessons that just won’t quit.

(Internationally renowned priest and author) Henri Nouwen said something like I kept getting interrupted in my work and then I realized my interruptions were my work. So, if you want to spend time with Jesus, then see him in everybody; that’s the answer.

I fear sometimes that some really catastrophic forgiveness lesson is looming around the corner. I know there’s no hierarchy of illusions but sometimes it seems that the lessons are becoming more challenging.

It’s true that the lessons are getting more challenging because you’re becoming more and more serious. So ego issues that you (unconsciously usually) held off; now you’re saying I can’t get it unless I look at all these spots of darkness. So these are the ones that we have the most fear and guilt associated with and so our experience is that they become more difficult.

So all of them have to come to the surface and those are just the ones we are the most frightened of?

Yes. At the beginning we tell Jesus I’ll look at this one with you and that one with you but I don’t know about this one. And after a while you say, well, I better start looking at this one because this is really starting to be a problem.

I was flying back to Denver recently in turbulence and suddenly found myself demanding to have an embodied Jesus holding my hand to protect me. I know you say we need to mature as Course students instead of relying on Jesus because we’ll never begin to see that we are one with Jesus otherwise. But when I’m really frightened I still need that thought of a hand to hold. Is that OK?

Yes, of course. You’re really too strict with yourself. Did I mention you’re too serious? Just do your daily stuff and be as normal as you can and try not to take your ego or the ego of others seriously. Be patient with yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Looking with Jesus really just means sharing that sweet, knowing smile. That’s what it means. He takes nothing here seriously because there’s nothing here. And when you get serious about something especially if it’s about the Course then you’re missing the whole point.

That’s a big trap; getting too serious about the Course.

Oh, God; that’s the worst trap. That’s why we already have the regurgitation of Christianity with the Course; it’s already happening.

Yes. I wanted to ask you about the proliferation of channeled and abbreviated and new and improved versions of A Course in Miracles that are cropping up all the time. I haven’t even looked at any of them because I came to this path after a lot of seeking and I don’t believe there can possibly be anything faster or simpler or more loving than the Course.

I think that’s very true.

Can you talk about this whole impulse to improve on perfection?

It’s the ego’s thing. We tried to re-write Heaven right at the beginning and we’re still trying to. If the Course is a reflection of the truth of God and the love of Heaven, which it is; then people are going to try to re-write it, too. And that’s just another form of a magic thought talked about in the Teachers Manual. The idea is to not get angry at it because that’s what people do and there’s nothing wrong with people doing it.

You often talk about how there’s no need to teach A Course in Miracles but is there anything wrong with teaching the Course?

No, I think I do that. The whole idea is not to identify with your role of being a teacher and to also know that the real teaching is to demonstrate what the Course is saying and the formal teaching is just another way of demonstrating. And that’s what you want to identify with. If you start to get serious about your teaching then you know you got caught in the trap. Just don’t take it seriously, that’s all.

What’s really important in practicing the Course or teaching the Course is not to work at it. If you’re working at it you’ll never get it. What you want to do at this point is not to work at it during the day which means don’t work on your ego, don’t work on anybody else’s ego, don’t work on your response to anybody else’s ego; just keep asking Jesus to remember to smile. The end of Chapter 27 is wonderful because it’s all about the importance of smiling and laughing. When you read it, though; read it seriously. J

A Course in Miracles, Chapter 27, The Healing of the Dream, VIII., The “Hero” of the Dream, paragraph 5, text page 586:

“How willing are you to escape effects of all the dreams the world has ever had? Is it your wish to let no dream appear to be the cause of what it is you do? Then let us merely look upon the dream’s beginning, for the part you see is but the second part, whose cause lies in the first. No one asleep and dreaming in the world remembers his attack upon himself. No one believes there really was a time when he knew nothing of a body, and could never have conceived this world as real. He would have seen at once that these ideas are one illusion, too ridiculous for anything but to be laughed away. How serious they now appear to be! And no one can remember when they would have met with laughter and with disbelief. We can remember this, if we but look directly at their cause. And we will see the grounds for laughter, not a cause for fear.”



sunrise Village Bulletin Board, 25th March, 2011:
Full marks for a good student... Notes from the recent Academy
Our intrepid reporter from Australia, none other than our beloved fairy-lady, Winnie, has most generously taken of her time to submit these class notes to us. You'll find yourself printing these out, no doubt, and going over them several times. Let's check in back here for your thoughts. Just scroll down on the 'Temecula' page till you get to the notes. (Click here for direct access to article.)



sunrise Village Bulletin Board, 25th March, 2011:
Sea, Sun and Salvation in Temecula!
Yeah, yeah, I know, I'm a little behind, but HERE IT IS! The official "the party's in Temecula" announcement. Actually, the home page crashed and Cody, our dear programmer, happened to be on vacation till this week (just waking up from New Year's, I suspect). So, if there's any doubt whether we do actually follow Ken Wapnick, then check out this page which describes the adventures of five of our beloved VillagePeople and their cinematographic experience at the 'Death' workshop... (Click here for direct access to article.)



Village Bulletin Board, 28th February, 2011:

Holding My Own Hand


I’ve been spending a little ‘quality time’ with myself lately and one of the things that happens to me occasionally is writing a note to myself. I don’t usually do that (I wonder if any of you do). I really like it because it’s such an intimate way of supporting myself on the path, really like reaching inside to take my own hand. Sometimes doing this can come up with a genuinely inspiring experience. I wanted to share with you one of those little writing sessions when I reached inside to another ‘me’ to find the support I needed, so tired, as Annie says in her post today, of my normal reactions and feelings. This episode occurred about three weeks ago when I was questioning (again!) the folly (or wisdom) of the choices I’ve been making over this past year…

“Whenever you’re faced with some difficult feelings or conclusions about yourself then immediately take stock. Know that there is a way out of this. The way is immediately to look and see that you are thinking again. You think you’re just acting normal given the situation, and that anybody else would think likewise. All your power now lies in seeing that your problem is not that you’re facing a difficult situation, but purely that you’re facing the contents of your mind. That’s what you’re looking at and that’s what is causing your current feelings.

You think you’d be better off now at some other moment in the future when this situation is resolved. Stop this craziness now! You will still be the same ‘you’ filled with the same sensitivities and ways of reacting to your world. The future is not the answer. Now is the answer. Here, in this instant. There is something very positive and constructive you can do right now, and that is recognizing that all your feelings are coming from what you are thinking and concluding about the situation, not from the way your life appears to you. That is very positive and powerful.

The future is not the answer now. Choosing to see that your place of experience is only within your mind and not out there is the answer. This gives you total control over your reactions and experiences now. No matter who you are faced with or what situation lies before you, your inner state and your response are completely independent of what is going on. This is true no matter how things might be pushing or cajoling you to respond in a particular way.

You are free. You are entirely free of the situation, to feel and react within your mind as you wish. If you wish to feel comfortable, peaceful, innocent and free now, then that lies perfectly within your grasp. You enter back into freedom and power with your decision to remember that you are faced only with the contents of your mind projected out onto the neutral images and scenes of the world. What you feel about these people and scenes is only something within you that you haven’t been willing to look at projected outside of you. And that’s all!

Look calmly and deeply at this now and it shall disappear; Poof! And then when the feelings return, do it again. And again. Poof, and re-poof! Even when outside conditions continue to deteriorate, which they might, if you remain aware that your feelings of fear and condemnation are only conclusions you are maintaining and harbouring in your mind, and are not just an automatic and inevitable result of this situation, then you will be protected.

Look and look again. Withdraw from the situation. This does not mean become inactive or indecisive about doing what needs to be done. It means returning your perception of what’s causing your feelings back to the place where it’s all really going on – in your thoughts and mind. Give the power of causation back to true cause. Nothing outside of you in those external images and scenes has the power to destabilize you. Nothing there is responsible for how you are feeling, reacting or behaving. It’s all going on in your mind.”

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Village Bulletin Board, 28th February, 2011:

Lisi's Little Story


A few weeks ago Lisi sent me this little story that I thought was so wonderful I asked her if I could share it with everyone, and being the thoughtful soul she is, of course she agreed. Sorry I'm only getting around to it now. There are a number of other things I have to post as well. Enjoy...

A LITTLE LOVE STORY

Once upon a time there was a little girl who loved her father dearly. Her father worked out of the house all day, but in the evening, on his return, after greeting all the family he used to put on some comfy clothes and sat down on his favorite couch to listen to the music he loved the most, namely, Beethoven´s Symphonies, Quartets, Sonatas. He had not finished making him comfortable, when the little girl jumped on his lap, and cuddled there, experiencing the most joyful safety and comfort. She stayed there very quiet, because she did not want to disturb her father. In these spans, there were no words, only a feeling of togetherness, and a sensation of a complete absence of time. All the while she felt just part of her father, just part of the beautiful music that enveloped them both.

But one day, the father never came back again. She waited, and waited and waited. She prepared his couch, and played his father´s loved music, again, and again, and again, hoping, that somewhere he would listen the music and would come back home. But this, never happened, and as she began to grow, listening to the music became really painful. So one day she just stopped listening to it. The years passed by and although she never forgot those joyful moments, whenever she crossed with her father´s music a deep pain and loneliness arose.

One day, without consciously looking for it, the music returned. There were just five melodies, but when she began to listen something happened. The pain was there but she wanted to listen to the music again and again. And each day, many times a day, she just listened and listened, and something that she could not explain began to emerge. She did not understand what was happening; the only thing she knew was that she wanted to listen to the music more and more.

So, one night while she was listening to the music, suddenly something occurred. That ancient feeling of safety and joy returned, but this time it was even more beautiful, it was as if all the light in the universe bathed her, and slowly she began to fall asleep. She was not aware of how much time had passed, but at some point she felt a soft hand fondling her head, she moved a little bit, and opened her eyes, and in that moment her eyes found his father´s, and everything disappeared, her only experience was that she was there, on his father´s lap, listening to the most beautiful music of the world. All was a dream. His father never left, she never left either. They were just there. She was cuddling on his lap, he was fondling her head, and both were listening to the Song of Love that never ceased to play.

A big hug, and much love,

Lisi

(To make comments, please click here.)



Village Bulletin Board, 6th February, 2011:

Lisi's lesson


Yesterday’s lesson was strong stuff. No doubt Jesus is brilliant and kind and gentle in his course, but he really does want us to acknowledge the ugly stuff within in order for us to see its unreality. I think this time, of the various times I have done the workbook, I caught what Jesus is asking us in this lesson, thanks to Ken’s book, Journey through the workbook. The title “My mind is part of God´s. I am very holy,” is a level one statement, really wonderful, but one I still don't believe in the least.

But Jesus is not asking us to believe it or to repeat it as a Mantra to delude ourselves. He is just informing us of the content of our right mind. In this lesson he asks in his words: “We will use a somewhat different kind of application for today´s idea because the emphasis for today is on the perceiver, rather than on what he perceives.” And here is the key.

Most of the time Jesus is asking us to be vigilant of our thoughts in the sense of observing what we are thinking about what we are looking at outside. This time Jesus asks us to pay attention about what I am thinking of “myself” while I am in any situation or relationship. He gives us a list of attributes that we ascribe to ourselves as an example, he mixes “good” ones and “bad” ones because he explains that they are just the same, because both are an illusion. Well, he asks to apply this in the practice periods, as well as in the frequent practices and answers to temptation, in a very specific way. He is not asking for abstract repetitions. So, if we really pay attention to what he is asking, we are going to uncover a lot of stuff about ourselves that we have, very craftily, hidden. And yes, he is right, what we believe the least is that we are holy and we are in God´s mind.

It was really great practice yesterday because I could experience something really striking. I was really paying attention to the beliefs about myself in the different interchanges I had yesterday. And something curious began to emerge. I felt a really deep pain each time I discovered what I was thinking about myself in that instant, but after three or four situations in which I discovered the “attribute” I was hanging on me, a feeling of joy and gratitude began to arise. Each practice ends with: “But my mind is part of God´s. I am very holy.” And in some moment, although it was very painful to discover my thoughts about myself, light just dispels my darkness. No matter how I think of myself, God thinks otherwise, I am still very holy.

So, I recognized that Jesus´ method works. I must go through the darkness if I want to reach the light. It was really interesting yesterday to see the split in my mind so obviously and it was a relief. If I want to really relinquish my ego, I have to see it for what it is. And to me, it is clear now, this is the only hope for really making a significant shift.

Have a great weekend, lots of hugs,

Lisi



sunrise Mayor's Journal, 3rd February, 2011:

Soup, Surrealism, and the Right Hand of God


Part I
Keeping in the spirit of my recent hamburger revelations, I was sitting in a typical French country bistro at lunchtime the other day (a pleasant change from McDonalds) and reflecting on the people I observed around me. Not your fast-food consumers here, but the solid stuff-of-the-earth tradesmen, masons, roofers, plumbers, window-fitters. Food here is copious if not always of the highest quality: soup, starter, meal, cheese platter, dessert, wine and coffee, all for the more than reasonable price of 12 euros ($15). No tips expected (or typically given). Given what it takes to get through all that lot, you can imagine there’s plenty of time for just sitting and looking at the life that comes and goes before your eyes. And for choosing with whom you’re going to do that looking, with Mr. OG or Mr. J.

So many differences met my eyes today, so many different qualities I thought I could judge. So many distinctly separate people meeting my eyes, many with whom I could not possibly imagine sharing the exact same life. Yet of course that is precisely the vision that is being offered us.

As usual, since this is a process of undoing, and not doing as such, my purpose sitting here in the bistro (aside from getting fat) was to recognize these differences and then remind myself they do not mean anything. A part of me might wish to keep on giving them meaning and significance, but I could take a step back away from this part of me and just observe its intentional effort to pick out those differences and then to claim that these differences meant something about me, and about the other person. The craziness of this effortful work becomes apparent after a while, since at a certain point you can really get the sense that it’s all just total nonsense. I didn’t know any of these people, yet I found myself able to make very believable (to me) conclusions about each one of them.

My delicious vegetable soup came and went and I started to sense that it was being digested with a large dose of insanity. Soup and surrealism. Eating things that seemed real, seeing things that weren’t. By the time the niçoise salad arrived, I was better prepared to face my starter and the world around me with greater determination to perceive the truth as it really was. What kind of willingness was it going to take to lift the veil so I might see what was truly going on around me?

The other workmen ploughed noisily through their courses and more arrived to partake of this extraordinary lunchtime gustatory ritual. Soup was slurped, wine was quaffed, mouths were wiped with paper napkins, sleeves, and hands. All was well in this temple of sensory satisfaction and exploration. And through it all I wondered, what could possibly be joining us all as One? Where was the singular Life from which we all stemmed, far above the differences that seemed to meet my eyes and ears?

As I lifted a forkful of fresh green bean and olive, my sight stopped short at the image of my hand in front of my mouth. I stared a moment longer, the morsel of food sparkling temptingly, my hand beginning to tremble in expectation of the imminent pleasure. And that’s when revelation hit. There it was, a magnificent appendage with five separate fingers all working perfectly together in their shared purpose of feeding this body for its continued survival. All working together, and yet each one completely different. Wow. That was it. The answer to my question was right there just an arm’s length away. It all seemed so clear.

While I was looking at everyone around me and seeing differences that kept us all distinct and quite separate, it was as if I were looking out from the point of view of the fingernail on my index finger. Quoi? you exclaim. Try to follow me here… Imagine for a minute that if the tip of your index finger could look out at its ‘brothers’, it would see different fingers moving independently of itself. In addition these other fingers would look different, with slightly different shape and skin tone and maybe even a little imperfection or wrinkle or two that it, itself, didn’t contain. It would not necessarily know, in fact, that it had anything in common with these other ‘fingers’.

If for some reason or another, the middle finger didn’t quite coordinate at the right moment in lifting that morsel of food to the mouth, you could imagine the index finger rolling its eyes: “Can’t believe it, let’s us down every time. When will he get his act together?” And then when the pinkie finger is feeling a little weak and drops its end, flipping both bean and olive onto your lap, you could imagine index’s reaction: “You moron! What is it with you little-fingers, why can’t you go to keep-fit classes and build up that muscle tone?”

And if one day (God forbid) the opposing thumb decided to go on strike with a sprain, old index would absolutely hit the roof: “You think you can just stop work because you’re having an ‘off-day’? Get back here you lazy bum! You think I shirk my responsibilities like that? I put in the best effort I can, even when I’m not feeling well. That’s what you get for making someone ‘indispensable’. Evolution sucks. We’ll have to do something about that weak element. Hmm, how can I take his place – I’m sure I’d do a better job. Everyone knows we indexes are such good all-rounders. That’s why we’re used to point at everyone so much.”

Now of course this is all sounding totally crazy. And yet this is precisely, exactly and unequivocally what we do each and every single day.

I am a fingernail. Okay, more precisely, I use fingernail perspective every time I look at someone and find something in him worthy of judgment and separation. I look around me and find someone who, apparently, is quite distinct and unconnected to me and believe that this gap allows me to claim we are different and have no specific shared purpose. His life is his purpose and my life is my purpose. I try to get what I want from life and fulfil my needs whichever way necessary, and so does he. Obviously this perspective completely misses the nature of reality, as taught to us by Dr. Ken.

Every day I wake up and the very first thing that faces me is a choice –blue or brown? No, I mean I either choose to see that my purpose today is to fulfil my physical and psychological needs, or to use all events and encounters to see that we all share the same precise purpose: to become aware of the existence of our right minds where the Love of God is held intact, the same right mind we all share. We all share the same purpose in the wrong mind (fulfilling our personal needs) and we all share the same purpose in the right mind, remembering our inherent safety and completion as the non-physical Son of God.

I can either choose between fingernail-perspective, pretending that I am unjoined with my ‘finger-brothers’, or as Index finger I can start to look down, down, down to my toes only to discover…

“Holy-kabooly!” cries Index, “What gives? There’s this thing down there that I’m joined to! And right next to me are the toes of ol’ Middle finger. And then there’s the toes of Pinkie, and over there I can see Thumb. You mean… you mean, I’m not this separate finger at all? We’re all part of the one unique – Hand?”

Yes, indeed, Mr. Index, you are not alone.

In fact, there is no real finger separate from the hand. All us little fingers are just outgrowths of Hand, and there is no sense whatsoever in separating out one tiny protuberance from another. If we can just learn to practice Knuckle-Perspective, then we can begin to recognize that we may have a form that appears individual and separate from other people, but in reality we are all joined to the same living entity by an invisible thread. (This might help to give an endearing quality to the term ‘knuckle-head’!)

We advance on the road Home all together or not at all. Thumb helps Index, who helps Pinkie, and on we go. At the very least, Index does not impose a vision of separation and different interests on his brothers and sisters. He does not practice ‘living his own personal purpose’ fulfilling his needs at the expense of others. That would make absolutely no sense. A hand on which the fingers see themselves in opposition would just not function. And so if on any day Mr. Thumb is feeling a bit depressed or a bit angry, then Pinkie understands that it makes no sense to emphasize apparent differences but to remember they share the same functioning, and the same purpose. They are one. The same M.O. is in all the fingers because it is in the Hand, and the fingers are just extensions of the Hand. One finger cannot demonstrate differences to be real because it is not in any way a ‘separated individual’ finger. It has no real separated consciousness; it can only pretend to be Index or Pinkie. In reality, there is only Hand.

Phew! All this thinking was giving me an enormous appetite. Fortunately my Hand actually made it to my mouth, all those fingers coordinating themselves brilliantly in their one shared and holy purpose – filling my stomach with lovely bits of green bean, lettuce, walnuts and tuna. God bless those little fingers, even that rambunctious old Index. Yet more was to come, and while I was ruminating on shared purposes, the main meal – slices of juicy garlicky leg of lamb with potato gratin – came and went. The empty plate stared back at me and I was wondering what would happen if ever my fingers decided to work in opposition to each other. I guessed I’d just eat directly from the plate.

Part II
But now onward to cheese and dessert! The table once more laden with critical victuals, I could continue my philosophising unburdened by any irritating survival needs.

Something was nagging at my brain, and despite the melt-in-your-mouth little white goat cheese (cabecou) on the crusty local bread, I just couldn’t find satisfaction. As I surveyed the other Finger-clients eating at the bistro this lunchtime, each one involved in the deeply personal contemplation of his dinner, I noticed that this Finger-I-believe-myself-to-be balked at a mental image. The television news just the previous night had been filled with the story of a young man who had killed and dismembered an adolescent girl before throwing her remains in a river. The young man had already been incarcerated for previous attacks on young women and had been released without proper control, it seems. The community in which this occurred was in every way like this innocuous country township I was visiting, and the young man whose picture we saw on the screen looked in every way like any one of these people I was eating with.

As I recalled the news story, I immediately reacted with tension, disgust, fear and anger. I was now Mr. Index again, holy, upright, justifiably outraged. How could I possibly make any sense of this that would bring understanding and peace to my mind?

My middle-finger had just committed a horrific act. I had to take a step back and look downwards again to where we were joined at the knuckle. I appeared separate from him, and yet we shared the same precise Life. Somehow we contained the exact same motivations and functioning because we were not Index and Middle: we were Hand. It was in the best interest of Hand for me to remember this. We could not be fundamentally different since we were cut from the same cloth; we shared the same mental flesh and substance. My extreme judgment of him would serve no purpose and achieve nothing. It would not magically enable me to separate myself from Hand and to cut him off so that we might be in true opposition. I would only gain if I remembered our joint identity, our common reality.

What had happened, what was this chaos? Middle had become extremely confused, thinking he was separate from Hand. In this insane state, he thought he would feel better if he attacked and violated another seemingly separate finger – Ring. Ring finger just happened to be the one he chose to hurt. Nothing could be more insane than the middle finger attacking the ring finger, and yet this is precisely what we do every day, each time we get angry at another person or wish them anything but Love and peacefulness. Do I do that? Of course I do. Every day. It’s in the genes of the ego mind, the one mind we all extend from, as fingers from one hand. While I look outward from fingernail perspective, I will think I can attack someone else and not suffer the consequences. I forget that I am not finger but Hand. The Hand knows that when Middle attacks Ring, everyone suffers. And that is why getting angry or frustrated with another person, seeing separation in any way does no one good. It is not bad or wrong; it is just painful – to everyone. We are not many, but One.

As I sat there in the noisy bistro, spooning thoughtful portions of a smooth crème brulée into my mouth, I wondered what it would be like to eat at the same table as this young murderer, or to share the same meal with Herr Hitler. At some point in their lives neither of these two people were totally insane. Both of these people were capable of sitting down and sharing a meal in a perfectly ordinary way with other people. Then something happens within our minds and we see ourselves in complete opposition to others with one sole objective – to ensure our needs at the expense of others. Their way of doing so was exceptionally barbaric and unforgivable. But it is understandable.

We are cut from the same cloth. Different servings from the same cheese. When we allow ourselves to understand where this behavior stems from, when we look down from the fingernail to the knuckle that joins us in one Hand, then we bring our minds back to our shared purpose: to remember we are one. One in the insanity of the wrong mind, and one in the magnificence and beauty of the right mind. Two seemingly distinct minds, only one of which is real. When we allow ourselves to return to the right mind over and over, practicing understanding instead of separation, then over time we begin to sense that the wrong mind is only a place of appearances. A reality dawns around us, warm, comforting, entirely unassailable, and fair to everyone. Appearances give way to truth, and the Son of God, sitting on the Right Hand of God, takes his place in Heaven.

“Waiter! Can I have my coffee please?”

When my espresso came I gazed around at my finger-brothers and thought about the strangeness of the image we had fabricated together. Can you imagine, one Hand with 6.5 billion fingers? No one left out. Space for everyone. Nothing excluded. Everything and everyone sitting on the Right Hand of God. Now that’s worth enjoying a meal over!

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sunrise Mayor's Journal, 21st January, 2011:

Finding Heaven at McDonalds


My morning's ramblings...

I'm here at McDonalds (for the internet connection, not the coffee!), looking around me and I'm fighting with myself (resisting a McFlurry? not quite!). The battle today? I'm fighting with the part of me that wants to continue seeing things not as they are but as I want them to be. Out with God, in with me!

You understand, through the eyes of the Holy Spirit, all people are the same, there is only one relationship because we are only One. Life is supposed to be simpler that way, too. But that's not the way I'm thinking right now. No, not at all. I want to see separated, different people with whom I could have potentially separate, different relationships. These people who look interesting, those people who don’t - that's what I see, and what I want to see. Different people provoking different feelings in me with the glorious promise of different responses, with whom I would then react differently. That's exciting! A part of me really doesn’t want to have the same relationship with everyone! Boring, boring, boring. It just wants to believe that I could have a more interesting, satisfying, stimulating relationship with this person rather than with another. Always the hope of something else other than what seems to be this interminable, bland Oneness and singular Relationship that Jesus keeps telling me about.

But there's a problem, and it ain't a small one, neither. A cosmological hitch, so to speak.

(Gets up to get another coffee - oh, and they sell croissants here. Bet you don't have that at your Mikie D's in the US of A!)

I'm reminded by this persistent Voice in the back of my mind that my way of having relationships is based not in fulfillment, pleasure or satisfaction of any nature, but in pain (yuk), despite what appear to be its wonderful rewards, even if those appearances are very convincing. (And I can convince myself those rewards are convincing.) It is illusory, and that’s why it’s unsatisfying. Like trying to have a relationship with ghosts or dream figures. Ultimately very, very unfulfilling! (Despite rumors, Caspar is not a good conversationalist, and an even less satisfying sex partner.)

And yet it is so enticing, this idea that I could have different qualities of relationships with different people. So seductive, drawing me forward like a magnet - I bet this person has something interesting to say, and this one would like to talk to me, I'm sure. Each person would have a different way of communicating with me and recognizing me. They would put me in a special category, a special place in their minds; they would analyze me, assess me, make me real, different, and important because I people their dream, their world. I make their world real for them! And all this time I am conscious of the way I appear to them, trying to fit somewhere into their world, trying to be noticed, categorized. I want to exist to them. I don’t want to just be a dream figure! And I don't want them to see right through appearances to the Oneness from which we stem! My uniqueness must be recognized! And I'm not really interested in reminding them they are a dream figure and their seeming existence as a separate being is nothing but a shadow, a vague appearance. I mean, that would ruin my day, not to mention my McEggMuffin.

Still, I have to be perfectly honest, the only satisfaction that such 'relationships' (if we could call them that) gives me at all is completely ephemeral. Arghh, says Charlie Brown. If you can hold down your McShake, then read on. My experience of others is purely what I give to the situation by my illusion, my projection, the projection of my thought into the situation. The extension, the over-laying, the imposition of my thought on the situation. Yes, I impose my images on what has no inherent quality or substance at all. Just look around you, try this now and see if it isn't true. (So you're not at McDs, that urban haven of spiritual research? Try it anyway even in the office or at home, but grab a donut.) That’s all my relationships are – the imposition of my thoughts and images on a completely vague, neutral and meaningless situation, meaningless groupings of shadows and images. No inherent substance or reality. Nothing really there! Gads! I make it appear to myself there’s something there by playing mind games with myself. Nothing else.

Yes, I play mind games with myself in the hope that those mind games interest other people, and that they enter into the same mind games as me in which I can play a role. I don’t even have to play a big role. They can just acknowledge me as a potential player in their mind game. I will feel that just for a milli-second I existed for them. I exist! I’m not just a dream figure – I exist for them in their dream!

But what kind of reality is that? Is that really existing if I’m just a dream figure in their dream, does that make me or this world real?

Ultimately there is nothing there. Just more silly pictures. Look at these people milling about here... just images on my screen.

No, that's not strictly true. There is something there, but it is not in the figures or what I think they can give me. It is the coming together of two minds remembering that they are elsewhere simply sharing a dream together. There is tremendous power and experience in that. Absolutely tremendous. Believe it or not, that re-opens the gates to Heaven. There is an extraordinary experience of lightness instead of constraint, strategizing, and manipulation, a solidity and innocence instead of impressions, guilt, and insecurity, and wholeness instead of competition and weakness. And the other person doesn't even have to be aware that I'm joining with him or her. In my recognizing our perfect sameness and union, we are joined, and peace floods my mind.

That is the true benefit of every encounter here in the mini-metropolis of my mind at McDonalds. It is the same benefit of every meeting both physical and those that are purely within my mind and memory. I get to look again at this person and say, "Man or woman, businessperson or garbage collector, philosopher or gang member, there is something beyond these appearances and beyond my imposition on this person. There is a totality which unites us and makes us all perfectly the same, extensions of One Life, the same in holiness and innocence and strength." It gives me the opportunity to turn away from an ephemeral, illusory dream and back to something that finally feels real and truly satisfying. Changing my vision returns my mind toward true satisfaction and completion, Wholeness and Beauty.

And yet, and yet...

Even as I re-read these words I have just written, I notice that a part of me still thinks that separation and mental cannibalism can offer me more than wholeness, unity and completion. A world of differences, even one that I realize is totally make-believe, seems to offer me more than God, Heaven, Unity, Wholeness, celestial Beauty, and Magnificence. Wow... I'm looking at the two options and I find myself actually hesitating to choose sameness instead of differences, holiness instead of judgment. I think I must learn to appreciate a little more the calmness and beauty of unified vision, instead of the seductive appeal of fragmented sight.

It would be nice if I could finally offer people more than just my images and silly games.

I’m sure I can.

(Comments here, please)



sunrise Mayor's Journal, 11th January, 2011:

The Blob of OG and My Blessed Insanity


We can learn from anything, right? Reassure me now.
Okay, I accept your agreement.
So these are the thoughts that came to me today.

It is craziness to see something that is not there.
Likewise, it is craziness not to see something that is there.
So what happens when I find I display symptoms of both conditions?
Oy veh.

When the dog refuses to stand still while I towel him dry after he comes in thoroughly muddy from a walk, and I feel myself starting to get upset,
When the vacuum cleaner systematically bumps into furniture as I guide it (gently) through the house and I feel frustration starting to rise (because I might be in a hurry),
When I pull the car out of the driveway and someone shoots past me much too fast on this tiny road missing me by a foot, and I start to feel total fear and then anger,
When I have to leave a message with someone in the administration because they never answer their phone and they say they will call back but never do, and I start to feel this sharp sense of injustice,
When I go out of my way to find nice Christmas presents for family members and receive nothing in return, not even a sincere thank you, and I start to feel a sense of being used and ingratitude,
Whenever I start to feel any of these things, I know I’m going crazy. I mean, stark raving mad.

Why? Because I’m seeing things that are not there.

I’m hallucinating. Totally.

This does not mean that these things are not happening. It means that none of the things that are happening means what I think it means, or means anything in particular. None of them really have the charge I’m giving them. They are just scenes from life, things that are happening, without any innate meaning.

If I follow Ken to the letter, then I can understand all the more how totally insane I am, because in truth I am not even here. Okay, I have a perception of being in a body, true. But that doesn’t mean I’m in the body, just that I think I am.

It helps bring a smile to my face when I start to remember this while I’m toweling the dog or calling the administration. I mean, I can make a big deal about anything. Don’t test me, I’m serious. About anything. Why? Because I can and will use anything to continue to give myself the impression that I’m in this blessed body as a blessed individual. And that includes any situation that presents itself to me. Unknowingly my little mind shall twist and turn some completely innocuous event (the vacuum cleaner bumping into furniture) into some diabolical drama demonstrating that something is there when it isn’t. But I insist it is. And my upset or excitement proves it. Just try to tell me I’m wrong!

It’s funny, I mean truly humorous watching this whole play in action. But it’s not half so funny as the flip side of this play.

It’s even more comical to watch my insane mind refuse to accept that something is there when it plainly and clearly is. Okay, I admit, I’m pretty much an expert at pretending that something is there when it isn’t, you know, the dog, the administration, etc. But I’m much, much better at pretending that something is not there when it is. What does this look like?

When my wife forgets to buy something for the dinner with guests tonight and I ignore the twinge of upset because ‘it’s not spiritual’,
When a family member does not thank me for an important favor I have done and I smile and continue as if nothing happened (because I’m above needing gratification) ,
When someone I’ve done a job for constantly stalls when it comes to paying me and I continue to swallow my anger and sense of disrespect because I think I’ve learned that these feelings will not get me anywhere…

When I refuse to see the upset that is really there and continue to pretend that it's not, then I know I’m mad. Not only am I mad, thinking that something is not there that is, but I’m also masochistic, denying myself the only opportunity I have to become happy and peaceful once again.

If I follow Ken, then I pay even more attention to these moments of thinking something is not there when it is. I actively look for them, I learn to pay more attention to my thoughts and feelings during the day. And I discover more twinges of upset, disrespect, victimization and guilt than I thought. Okay, this is a good start.

But to really deal with the problem, I have to ask an important question: Why do I not want to see what’s there when it is? Why should it bother me so much to face my real feelings and reactions? And that’s when we come back to our good friend, OG. Let me present ‘OG’, or ontological guilt. OG does not want to be discovered. He likes remaining hidden and will make you think that you don’t want him to be seen and known, either. But you do. It is not shameful or sinful to realize that OG has come to take up residence in our minds. It is freeing. It is while we are afraid to admit that there’s this blob of OG sitting there that we shall truly remain stuck and in pain, and keep pretending that everything is okay when it’s not.

And so I invite all of us to throw back the covers and reveal in all his sticky, gooey inglorious truth, OG. He is much less frightening when really seen for what he is, I promise.

We are all experts in craziness, seeing things that are not there, not seeing things that are. We do this every day. But if we begin to observe our craziness with laughter and lightness, seeing there’s truly nothing wrong with insanity except that it’s a bit unhappy, then we can start to make the whole thing disappear. OG-the-Blob is uncovered for the comical thing that it is, and slowly a smile appears on our faces and replaces our grimaces and gnashing teeth.

The dog becomes just a dog once again, the vacuum cleaner a friend, the public administrator just another insane person in our insane world. Total insanity everywhere, and it makes not one bit of difference to us at all. There’s just this Smile that looks upon the play of life around us, and we smile along, happy to have discovered the secret that unlocks the great mystery of this crazy world.

(Any comments here)



Rambling: The Perfect Listening

There is no perfect doing or being in this world, so we can stop the struggle.
There is only a perfect listening.
We learn to listen...
And yet, strangely, this listening doesn't hear anything.
No judgment, no advice, no reassurances.
No words, no wisdoms, no prayers.
What do we hear then?
We listen,
And there is only a Perfect Listening to hear in return,
That is all.
And what does It do?
It listens back.
Your imperfect listening, Its Perfect listening.
Two Listenings, perfectly open now,
Really hearing each other,
Patient, knowing, remembering, joyful.
And everything else disappears as we listen to each other
In this beautiful, comfortable stillness of not-doing.
Just listening, nothing else.



sunrise Mayor's Journal, 4th January, 2011:

2011 – Let’s Get To Work! The Ego-Hangover


The New Year – already?? What happened to November and December? I know time doesn’t exist, but sheesh.

So Christmas and the New Year, not to mention Thanksgiving, have come and gone. All those amazing family celebrations. And to get things started on the right foot this year at the Village I would like you all to submit some of your juicy titbits from these wondrous moments spent in the close company of your loved ones (and of your less-loved ones). After all, if self-honesty is what this is all about, then we have to get stuck into a little personal review from this ‘magical’ end-of-year period, right?

It’s time to take stock. We’re not doing this course because we know it’s going to be peaches and cream the whole way. I mean, what’s the chance that during these past two months of celebrations there wasn’t at least one moment of impatience, of judgment, of excluding someone from your highest consideration. Was everyone you met and whom you dined with during this period included in your mind as a perfect and holy Son of God? I mean, let’s get real. This is your mayor you're tawkin’ to. After your celebrations there was the party hangover, okay. Now we’re talking about the ego-hangover.

I know Uncle Eustace and cousin Myrtle and nephews Thaddeus and Basil were truly charming and generous as always, but what about the others. Yes, the others. You know the ones I mean. No one escapes feeling at times that they would like someone in particular to be different, to be more sensitive, more participating, more flexible. Or they’d like things to be different. There’s something happening that you don’t like, maybe you wanted things to go differently, maybe things are just not happening the way you wanted (“I can’t believe she just put the salad on the table – she knew it was for later”). Maybe it’s because of someone else, or just ‘life’. But in the back of your mind there’s always someone you’re afraid of disappointing. Someone is not going to understand, is going to get upset. You’ve got to make sure granddad feels included or eats exactly what he wants, and you know the thing you definitely better not say to Auntie Gertrude and the direction the conversation better not take.

I think the true blessing of Thanksgiving and Christmas is not the love we might share between family members. That’s nice, but that’s not it. It is more the burgeoning awareness that despite the love that is sometimes not apparently present, Love is still truly present. It just doesn’t look the way we thought it should. That’s all.

Our sensitivities and upsets, and certainly those of other people, occur only to keep our attention well away from the silent and holy presence that encompasses us all. I, for one, found it funny how I could bridle every time a certain person at my dinner table opened his mouth. It just seemed he was incapable of saying anything sensitive or intelligent. As if he should be something other than the way he was. Why? Why should it be so difficult to include him exactly as he is in my love?

Because then I would have to include myself in that Love.

Inevitably every time we are upset with someone else or the way things are going, we are holding a judgment against ourselves. We don’t really need to dig to find out specifically what it is. We can be pretty sure, however, that it is one version or another of self-condemnation, for not being good enough, for not being acceptable in our own eyes. We have replaced God as judge and executioner. Why bother the Big Kahuna and find out what He really thinks? I can do a better job. In fact, I already know how things turn out.

So when Uncle Benedict opens his mouth and I get upset, it’s because somewhere I have imagined that it’s only when we are coherent, sensitive and ‘intelligent’ that we are acceptable in Love’s eyes. And I hold that exact accusation against myself.

If I knew that no matter how stupid, incoherent and insensitive I really am, Love still accepts and embraces me wholly and completely, then I would just smile and join with my brother in our mutual silliness. It might even become a celebration of silliness, at least the silliness that we could do anything that would exclude us from God’s Love.

What can turbo charge this perception is remembering the specific purpose behind all these upsets – Granddad Hippolytus’, Auntie Gertrude’s, and mine. Now that’s when it becomes really funny. That dinner table which became the breeding ground of tension and unspoken reprimands – it had a purpose, it was designed to fulfil a function.

Love is present, but it must remain unseen. Voilà! That’s it, that’s all.

Every word uttered is focused to take the attention off of the one thing that is so amazingly obvious, and to get the attention back to the illusion, back to appearances. So, another round of “Did you hear about …” followed by a description of some newsy event, the weather, someone’s life details, even just the poor decoration in the recently opened restaurant. Anything will do. As long as the most obvious thing in the world remains unspoken and unmentioned:

LOVE.

Everything points back to Its presence. Their silliness. Our silliness. Everything.

And Love smiles on absolutely unabated.

So let’s welcome these family meetings with open arms. Though we might have been disappointed by them in the past, now we’re protected by a special understanding that there is nothing more to avoid, no troubles that can remove the most obvious Guest in our party. He has come to meet with us, and to meet us where we are. No need for things to be any different from the way they are. Everything is perfect just the way it is.

The perfect result we were seeking for our family meetings does not have a specific shape or form. It is not when everyone leaves with a smile on his or her face, when all the potential problems and pitfalls were avoided. It is when our inner smile stays fixed on the presence of Christ in our family members and sees the Love there, the Love that is simply scared of remembering Itself and makes up a few stories to pass the time together and divert our attention. Tensions and upsets are merely an indication that Love is present, not that it is absent.

If we can manage, even just a little, to see our self-judgments and forgive them when things don’t go quite right, then we bring peace back to the party. And Love has returned once more.

Let us make this year different by making it all the same: let us recognize the efforts we all make to deny Love's presence among us through our judgments and irritations. Our Guest has come; we can only acknowledge His presence with a gentle smile. We smile at our silly upsets and self-condemnations. We are not up to our expectations - no one is. But we are up to His, no matter how things go.

(Any comments here)



sunrise Village Bulletin Board, 31st December, 2010:
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
Let's continue our end of year celebrations at the Village by wishing each other all the best for 2011.

May we learn that January 1st is a special day in the counting of days,
as it marks the beginning of the time when each day shall blend into one.
One time, one day that remains forever unchanged in an eternal heavenly Sky,
as changeless as the sea that ebbs and flows but always stays the same.
May we practice this coming year the remembrance of that special moment of 'now',
of Love and loveliness, such that tomorrow be not separate or different from today, not better or worse.
May this very day we come Home to Love and Innocence such that it extends
till tomorrow and the many days that follow until they all become one.

Enjoy your celebrations, my friends! (Click here for direct access)



sunrise Village Bulletin Board, 24th December, 2010:

CHRISTMAS IN OUR VILLAGE!


"Dashing through the fields (sunflower),
On a horse-drawn open cart,
Oh what fun it is,
Eating pie and tart!"

MEEEERRRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!

As soon as you've finished with the hay rick ride, jump off next to the old oak because we've set up some swings on one of its great branches. Whoever swings highest (without getting lost in the branches, 'o course!) gets to cut and serve the giant Christmas Cake baked by none other than our resident Australian Fairy Winnie. After the swing, you still can't get to the dinner table until you've had a go bobbing apples in the big casks that farmer Anil left us from his last cider making. Finally, when you've done all that, meander past the walnut grove where our friendly Village squirrels (can't remember their names) are jumpin' and jivin' to a mambo version of "All I want for Christmas if my two front teeth", and over to Nina's cosy and welcoming Cottage.

As you'll see, large old country tables have been set up outside and inside, just depending on the weather. The theme this year, well, it's a little eclectic, but that's normal I guess for this crazy bunch. So we have Surf 'n Turf with a Vegetarian twist, together with Norwegian-Italian-German-Singapore influences. Now, where, I ask you, are you going to find originality like that other than in our spectacular Village? Would you forgive me, I couldn't find the time to take and mount the photos of all the delicious things that everyone had prepared, but here's a list of what I've seen on the tables so far:

Clementines and oranges with cloves (not sure if they’re for eatin’)
Bouillabesse, a delicious fish soup from Marseille
Barbecued giant prawns from Down Under (they arrived fresh this morning – come over to the barbecue area where BBQ-meister Zenbear is hard at work – someone bring him a glass of cider?)
Tenderloin, rump and filet steaks, only the best from organic farms in Nebraska and Kansas (kind, nice farms, these ones)
Slabs of thick sliced garlic bread with oodles of butter (no fat – this is a special Village)
Norwegian specialties of all sorts (yum!)
Buns filled with hot cheese, and a giant Brie just out of the oven with toasted almond slivers
Michele has brought along heaps of Fresh Dungeness Crab meat with melted sweet butter to dip it into,and whatever other dipping alternatives might be dear to your hearts, along with a crisp fuyu persimmon salad with arugula and avocado in an olive oil and fig balsamic dressing, a dash of shoyu, with lots of freshly ground black pepper. (Wow!)
A remarkable vegie ‘n chickpea casserole from Pam
Heaps of Duck Cassoulet from Castelnaudary (France) to be enjoyed with a deep Cahors ‘black’ wine
Then to finish it all off:
Gooey Tiramisu from Nina’s daughter
Scrumptious fruity Stollen from Germany
Decadent peppermint chip chocolate brownies from Michele
Brightly colored silver paper-wrapped candies from Laura

If you make your way over to the bar area you’ll find none other than your Mayor on hand to deliver you just the drink you want, be that a splendiferous fruit cocktail (all fruits in season), or something with a little more punch. Speaking of punch, there’s also an excellent variety of wines, including but not limited to: Billecart Salmon Brut Rose Champagne (thanks, Michele!), and of course some delish Cabernet and Pinot from California. The mayor brought along a few choices wines from France (mostly Burgundy’s though there is an excellent bottle or two of a Monbazillac sweet wine from the Bergerac area you should try)

And I couldn't let this opportunity go by without remembering the real reason
for us meeting together at this time. We have marked in the western tradition
the day of the 25th December as the day we celebrate the birth of
one particular individual into this world.
With the help of the Brother Who has guided each one of us with his gentle words
now for many years,we have come to learn that the spirit this one individual contained
resides within each of us. He has made it his task to reach out to us daily,
reminding us of our perfect equality in Him, and perfect holiness with our Father.
There is no difference, and there is no separation. We are all one and the same.
May this day be a symbol for us of remembering our own birth unto our Self,
the one Self that we share intimately with all the Sonship.
And so this day we come into our own, and the blessings we would bestow
on Jesus the Christ we naturally bestow upon ourselves, and all our brothers and sisters.
We are the holy Son of God. May we be blessed with this remembrance this day.
Thank you for being part of my Family, helping me remember this magnificent Identity we all share.

(To join the celebration, just clickhere.)



sunrise Village Bulletin Board, 18th December, 2010:
When “If only” transforms into “As if”

While our guilty thoughts remain concealed and undiscovered, our refrain is always “If only…”

If only I could get my partner to stop doing this…
If only I could get more respect at work…
If only I could get over this physical ailment…
If only my loved one would get better...
If only world leaders would start to agree on the problem…

Just look and see if this isn’t true!

The problem we see is always in the world, and the solution we seek for is always about changing the outside in one way or another. Without realizing it, the background whisper in our minds throughout the day is this continuous pleading with the Gods, “If only the outside would somehow be different…”

Why do we so want the outside to change? So that we don’t have to change our minds! We want change, but not the kind that will make a real difference.

The problem, of course, is our guilt that gives rise to all our physical and psychological needs which we want the outside world to fix and satisfy. But no external change ever fixed our problem really, as we all know.

However, we can learn to choose differently. Instead of saying, “If only this changed, then my guilt would disappear and I would feel peaceful,” we begin to realize that “If only I turned back toward Love, I would see that this guilt is nothing at all.”

When we turn towards Love and It reminds us we are holy and whole, the blessed Children of a loving Father, at one with Him and safe in Heaven, and that this situation is not any kind of punishment for our evil-doing, then our needs for external change completely disappear, even if only for a minute. And then the only thought remaining in the mind is “As if…”

“As if this could have affected my peace in any way, how silly!”
“As if this had any effect at all!”
“As if this could be a serious problem when Love is present right here for us all! How could I have been so upset? How could I have taken this so seriously?”

And we can deal more lightly and calmly with our situation, as critical as it might be, relieved of the unnecessary burden of guilt, the guilt of having turned away from Love.



sunrise Village Bulletin Board, 14th December, 2010:
Nina's post, "Forgiving 1/1000th of our grievance"

I wanted you all to see this post for two reasons, one because of the technique described which is excellent (I used it during the night to chase some resistance away, and it worked beautifully!); and two, because I think the subject of using other paths is always useful. As Nina says, whatever brings you peace is useful. If you ever find yourself stuck with some hardened guilt or upset that just won't go away using the Course or Ken, then by all means, use another technique that will help you dissolve that resistance. Inevitably, whatever technique helps dissolve resistance, remove our fear of approaching Jesus, of returning within to the Love inside, is part of the forgiveness process.

I don't know anything about the particular method she mentions, but this technique can be useful. This site still remains focused on Kenneth and his work. It is just a reminder that the objective is not to become a perfect student of Ken's or of the Course. Our real objective is to return our minds to the presence of Love within by slowly dissolving our fear and resistance, and the path we have chosen to use and discuss this work together is A Course In Miracles. It is a means to a beautiful end.

From Nina:
I just received a mail from the Sedona method, which I have used before as a help for letting go (= accepting) everything that comes up – for me, an excellent way to stop resisting, and even welcome the resistance – then it usually disappears. Some time ago though, I got the (ego) idea to unsubscribe from the Sedona Community – gotta be a loyal Course-student, said the ego ( which means: do O N L Y the Course, and do it zealously.) What a blessing: surprised I opened the mail from the Sedona community, telling me that they missed me, and invited me back to read what other persons wrote when they felt stuck – and I opened a 1-minute video by Hale Dwoskin, reminding me that if I felt completely stuck, not being able to say yes to that – could I say yes to 1 % of the stuckness? I tried that, and it said NO inside. I felt a little giggle and said to myself “could I be able to let go of the stuckness 1000-part of 1%? ” yes” said something inside, and that yes, my friends, just started a relief that still goes on, 15 minutes later. Even my skin feels different. And it was not the one thousand part of 1% that did it – it was my simple choice for yes, my willingness to accept and not judge my state of mind just one tiny tiny bit – and that YES opened the forgiveness-door wide open.

This made me see how zealously my ego has worked to be an Acim student. I feel its fear of choosing whatever that is not called Acim – and how intellectual based that thought is. Now, the Sedona-method takes me to the exact place I find myself when I forgive. And right now I remind myself that even Ken said it would be foolish not to mix two methods when they brought peace:

“In the end, however, if one’s spiritual path is enhanced by both the Kabbalah (Sedona) and A Course in Miracles, then who is to say that that is a mistake? “By their fruits you shall know them” remains the only criterion that matters. If the combined practice of these two spiritualities leads to a life of peace and love, then one would be a fool not to pursue it.”

The ego’s plan must have been to drive me so stuck into “the right way into the Acim study” that I would give it up – while now, I will just accept /not judge this ego one millionth part – and the release and accept is felt just as much as if I would have accepted it completely: the main thing is my YES – not how big this yes is. Yes is Yes, and He does the rest, as I am feeling right now.

And I give thanks for the electronic system that did not accept my un-subscribing the Sedona. Again and again I am shown how fully I can trust the process.


(Any comments here.)



sunrise Mayor's Journal, 10th December, 2010:
The Death Wish Thing – the funniest joke in the ego's book!

The death wish is a powerful underlying force in our thoughts and lives. The subject for me personally has come up many, many times. I have wanted to write a little note about it for a while, and now seems like a good moment. My goal for this Village: that we learn to undo all our secret, guilty thoughts, bringing them out into the open where we can see the hidden, devastating - but completely ridiculous - logic behind them. Read, enjoy (?), and remember to always keep the Three Stooges close at hand!

Everything here is a death wish. Coming here is a death wish, since it is the wish for something other than Life. Coming here is the wish to experience something other than Life, so everything here is about constantly choosing what is not Life (i.e. turning away from Love). That’s the real wish that underlies every decision here. We will make thousands and thousands of decisions here, and avoid the one and only decision that will undo all the others: the decision to open the door again back to Love. To allow ourselves back through this magical door, to be enfolded once more in Jesus’ warm embrace.

Fortunately, the death-wish thing, it’s only a wish, a whim. There is no opposite to Life. We cannot kill ourselves – that’s impossible. All is Life, everywhere and always, despite appearances. Everything that seems to die or change is an appearance. We cannot take our life away, no matter what we may try. It was given to us, and can never be removed. And so it is with our guiltlessness as well. So, thinking of killing ourselves is not a sin. Jesus knows this is what we’re thinking each and every single moment of the day we are not turning towards him. It is no surprise to him. No biggie. As he says, “So, what’s new? Come home, already.”

The death wish is based on the idea of change. It assumes that we have changed ourselves from our original condition of sinlessness and wholeness, and have now become guilty and individualized (with a private, sinful life). Our lives here are about change: “If only I can finally make the right changes, and make other people make the right changes, then all will be well.” The death wish is about the ultimate, final change: “If only I change this last one final thing, then all my problems will be solved.”

The death wish is a way of insisting that I did indeed manage to pull off the impossible and make a separate life for myself by killing God; I did indeed manage to give myself this incredible power over life and death, just like God. No, better than God. “I’ll show him and everyone else how I have this amazing power to create myself, and then destroy myself.” In order to turn back toward Love, we must see the silly arrogance of thinking we have the power over life and death. And we must learn to be grateful that we could never give ourselves this real power. God is not dead. We did not kill Him. We don’t have that kind of power.

The only meaningful change is to change our minds. There is only one change we made – to leave our sane, right minds. And the only change we can make is to return back towards the Love that is there still in our minds. All these other questions of change are designed to disguise this one simple choice we have. The Life Wish we have.

sunrise The death wish occurs to us when we are in pain or guilt. It says, “The answer to the dilemma of my life is to end it. That will end all problems and questions.” The words that are unspoken: 1. “I’m too horrible to keep on living, there’s nothing I can do to change this terrible condition. There’s only one solution, and that’s to end the horrible thing I am.” (For those who have Paulo, re-read "Love and a Kitchen Spoon") 2. “And this will show God how much pain I have been in, and then he will look for the people who have caused my suffering. He will not punish me because it’s clear I will already have suffered too much, and he’ll find those who are really guilty!” 3. “I’m not powerful enough to change these circumstances of my life, but I’ll show everyone how powerful I am by taking away my own life – no one can take that power of mine away; I’ll show them. I still hold the trump card. My death will be my final victory.”

The death wish underlies everything here. Everyone’s dearest wish is to die, and that’s why he does indeed have the experience of dying. He does not really die, but has what he considers to be the experience of dying. So it’s absolutely no surprise that this thought comes up from time to time, and maybe even often. Ultimately, when we attain the goal of this Course, we become aware of ourselves as the dreamers of the dream of this life. We begin to perceive that our ‘self’ is a dream figure and not a fixed reality, and we are outside the dream figure (not ‘in’ the dream figure). Then ‘dying’ becomes simply the experience of observing the passage of a dream. So, no experience of death.

In fact, if we really pay attention, we will find the death wish amongst our thoughts pretty much everywhere. It is the thought that says I don’t deserve Love, and it takes multiple different forms. It is the underlying expectation that negative things will happen to me. It takes the form of any negative experience or feeling, which is always a way of insisting that, “Love is not here because Love has been destroyed (because I did it!). Now I must be punished and ultimately destroyed for this terrible act.” A painful stubbed toe can be whispering , “this hurts because I have done something horribly wrong.” Yes, a stubbed toe = I have killed God. Even a cold sore says the same thing: this sore proves Love is dead – I have shattered Heaven with this sore. It’ll be nice when we can learn to smile at all this!

sunrise The death wish is an attempt to negate the presence and existence of Love. To undo it, all we need do is recognize that we do not really have the power to negate Love. (That is good news!) And we can recognize within our death wish ultimately our dearest wish which is to return to Love. We exercise our Life Wish when we become willing to look honestly at our death wish, and remember our love of Love.

Understanding the ‘logic’ behind all these self-negating thoughts can already help to take off the acuteness of our self-condemnation. There is a logical progression of arguments in favor of killing oneself, but only when we begin with the fundamental idea that we have, and have successfully used, our power to destroy Love. When we finally are willing to see that we were not successful in this effort, then the whole argument in favor of taking one’s life falls apart like a house of cards.

Turn back towards Love. Nothing can destroy Life; nothing can remove Love from your mind. From that possibility we are forever safe.

Oh, yeah, and give yerself a good tickle, too!

(Any comments here.)



sunrise Mayor's Journal, 8th December, 2010:
To all the guilty caretakers out there - You cannot be a good Jesus substitute for another person!

Who has not had the experience of feeling just terrible when faced with another person’s anger, sadness or pain? Maybe you even know that he or she is laying a guilt trip on you, but it doesn’t help. You free-fall into the trap, and that crushing, self-abasing sentiment of having done wrong and hurting another, or just not doing enough, fills you with a sense of ‘icy hopelessness’. What’s actually going on, why is it so hard to pull ourselves out and back into the calm fields of equanimity and wisdom?

Our mind whispers, “By my suffering this guilt and torment, this person’s suffering is reduced. So if only I could suffer enough, this person would somehow feel better. At least, if I don’t suffer because of their anger, pain and upset, they would take that really badly.” Where’s this craziness coming from? Why do we sense that this person would somehow feel better if we felt bad?

It helps if first we remember that the reason that people feel pain or suffering of any nature is because they are failing to turn within and seek the Love they need there in their own mind, in the folds of Jesus’ cloak. They sense crushing guilt in their minds, but their own decision for suffering seems too intolerable to face. They cannot bear to confront their choice to turn away from the support and love of Jesus within their own mind; consequently they believe they can magically rid themselves of this responsibility and weightiness if they place it on you. “You can do something about my pain,” so they whisper, “but because you are so horrible you’re choosing not to do it. It’s your choice for me to be in pain, not mine. You have the magical solution – just do what I want you to do. It’s so simple! And yet you refuse. How heartless!”

As we all know, that finger pointing at us accusingly seems to leap out at us as if from some metaphysical 3D horror film: "God has found me! Now I've had it. Repent, repent, feel guilty. I'll torment myself, and all shall see that I truly regret my terrible acts. Oh, this terrible power of mine that I have abused yet again. Woe, woe."

When you accept this responsibility, you claim that, indeed, you have this special magical ability to lessen this person’s suffering. You give yourself this remarkable ability to remove this person’s pain just by some act or another. Yes, you believe you are Jesus (or God) and have remarkable abilities of healing and succour. But because it is ‘one or the other’, because our wellness in this world is a question of providing the right external conditions (and not as a result of a choice to access inner peace), you must also defend the demands on your time and resources, which are limited. This person’s well-being must be sacrificed, so the logic goes, so that yours or your loved one’s might be maintained. We can easily see here how this plays into our individuality’s sense of identity and specialness. This entire drama is maintaining the myth that our life is within this outer, imperfect world as separated beings, and not within any perfect inner world.

Going one step further, we can see how a part of us might actually delight in this kind of power. I.e. we have a secret investment in the situation as it is. This person’s continued suffering at our hand actually reinforces our sense that we hold the power over life and death, happiness and unhappiness, for him or her. All we have to do is pay the occasional price of a little guilt, and we can keep this entire game going for a long, long time. We might even be able to recognize within ourselves a twisted sense that this person must deserve to be suffering. There is a certain ego logic that says that while this person suffers like this and needs my help, it must be because God has looked less favorably on him than on me. And we all know that God is never wrong. Consequently, his continued suffering is on-going proof of my innocence and deservedness of God’s favor.

The reason we feel guilty when someone suffers and points the finger at us should be clear by now. The whole game is based on keeping guilt very alive and vigorous, and the more we participate, the more we know on an unconscious level that we are reinforcing the underlying attack and condemnation. Yet we feel the only solution is to feel even guiltier, saying to ourselves that somehow if we feel bad enough God won’t really punish us. In fact, if we feel sufficiently bad, and maybe even fall sick, have a car crash or have a nervous breakdown, the guilt will fall back on the other person. ‘Look at what you’ve done to me by your emotional blackmail! I couldn’t concentrate and had an accident, I’ve been so upset, I can’t function and work anymore. Look what you’re doing to me! You’re killing me!’ Our ego’s death wish rises to the surface of our mind, and our own suffering seems to be the only solution for our inherent wickedness which this person’s suffering seems to demonstrate. But we know we are playing the exact same game and trying to send the volley-ball of guilt back over the net to the initiator of the game. And we pray, “if only God/destiny/fate would remove this person from my life, all would be well – I would be saved from my guilt.” Which is, of course, just another way of saying that if this person died, I’d feel better. Oh, what tangled webs we weave!

But let’s say that we’re willing to forego this specialness now and seek a real solution, for their sake and ours. We must begin by learning to accept that whatever this person wants from us, whatever he claims will make him feel better, is not the ultimate solution. It might be a stopgap measure, and in some cases it might be wise and kind to do as he requests. But whatever it is, it will not remove the guilt from his mind causing him pain. The only thing that will ever really help is guiding him to turn within and choose the guiltlessness offered by Jesus, enfolding himself once more within His Love. And we do this by remembering first and foremost to do this for ourselves.

We need to learn to say (in our minds): “I cannot make you choose again, choose to draw closer to Jesus within your mind and to find the comfort there you are really looking for. You think you are looking for something from me, but that’s not going to really help you. I might think it will help, and I might think I have the power to make you feel better. But that’s no answer at all, not for you and not for me. As much as I might like to think so, I cannot replace Jesus for you and bring you the comfort you want. That would be silly for me to try to do.”

If we choose not to define the problem this way within our own minds (as an internal, not external drama), then we are naturally accepting the logic of the situation as this person is providing it. And if this is our choice, it is because we are afraid of accepting the problem as it really is, and the solution as it really is. We do not want to accept that this person retains the perfect solution in his mind to his pain, and prefer to think we have the solution to his problem, because we do not want to acknowledge that we contain the answer to all our pain within our minds. And so, yes, as usual, we find that we are doing precisely the same thing as this person we are inevitably judging. We cannot possibly judge him for not turning within, because we are committing exactly the same mistake. We must become aware when our acts actually intend to help ‘save’ this person from his fear of Jesus. You know that Jesus scares him, because Jesus scares you. You believe that by saving this person from that terrible fear within, by keeping the problem within the circumstances of his life, you will keep the problem outside of your mind, too.

I think it is also wise to keep in mind that if this guilt is circulating around in our minds, that is because we are deeply attracted to it. Yes! (how strange, you say) We must always remember that guilt is the feeling we associate with our body's life, with our individuality. I feel the most alive, the most 'me' in my private, particular life, whenever I feel really guilty. No one else is facing these unique set of circumstances with all the different characters, events and dramas. This is my life! I would not recognize my life if this situation suddenly evaporated, leaving no trace behind but just a calm even peacefulness. This situation has perhaps been part of my story for a long, long time. And so we need to appreciate the depth of our attachment to this story, which of course keeps it rotating in our thoughts, being turned over and upside down and inside out - perpetually. And so at some point we will need to say, "Enough already! I'd rather let go of the story of my life the way I've made it up till now. There must be another way!" And, voilà, a perfect invitation is born.

sunrise On another note, I might hear myself saying in my mind, but if I accept the presence of Love and guiltlessness in my own mind and feel much better, that will upset this person even more! He will take this as an affront, as arrogance and true heartlessness on my part. And then he will say: “How can you be peaceful and happy when I’m in such pain? I was right, you really don’t love me or care about me! This is proof! How evil you are!” I’m no longer playing the game we agreed to play (and have perhaps been playing for thirty or forty years); I’m no longer accepting my part in this terrible dance. There’s no doubt that this would be very unsettling for a partner with whom we have been dancing for a long time. But perhaps this person will learn to feel that the peacefulness we are now feeling is actually what he really wants to join in on, the new dance he wants to join, and not just some simplistic solution that will almost immediately lose effect.

If we truly love our brother (or colleague, parent, partner, sibling, child, or client), then we would remember for him what the true solution is to his problem. We would not continue to insist on our power to remove his pain, and we would try to find a way to communicate to him that he contains inner resources he was perhaps unaware of. This is not to say that we might not do what we need to do in this world to help someone materially (and perhaps we will see that it’s time to stop). But we would change our inner focus, and free ourselves from our feelings of guilt, power and specialness. This is the path we have chosen, to remember peace in the place of fear. To demonstrate guiltlessness and strength by giving them life within our own minds.

Now, just before you start feeling all guilty about any of this craziness, go out and rent a good Abbot and Costello film! Whatever you do, don’t take any of this too seriously! Fold Jesus’ cloak around you, and sit on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and have a good laugh!

(Any comments here.)



sunrise Mayor's Journal, 11th January, 2011:

The Blob of OG and My Blessed Insanity


We can learn from anything, right? Reassure me now.
Okay, I accept your agreement.
So these are the thoughts that came to me today.

It is craziness to see something that is not there.
Likewise, it is craziness not to see something that is there.
So what happens when I find I display symptoms of both conditions?
Oy veh.

When the dog refuses to stand still while I towel him dry after he comes in thoroughly muddy from a walk, and I feel myself starting to get upset,
When the vacuum cleaner systematically bumps into furniture as I guide it (gently) through the house and I feel frustration starting to rise (because I might be in a hurry),
When I pull the car out of the driveway and someone shoots past me much too fast on this tiny road missing me by a foot, and I start to feel total fear and then anger,
When I have to leave a message with someone in the administration because they never answer their phone and they say they will call back but never do, and I start to feel this sharp sense of injustice,
When I go out of my way to find nice Christmas presents for family members and receive nothing in return, not even a sincere thank you, and I start to feel a sense of being used and ingratitude,
Whenever I start to feel any of these things, I know I’m going crazy. I mean, stark raving mad.

Why? Because I’m seeing things that are not there.

I’m hallucinating. Totally.

This does not mean that these things are not happening. It means that none of the things that are happening means what I think it means, or means anything in particular. None of them really have the charge I’m giving them. They are just scenes from life, things that are happening, without any innate meaning.

If I follow Ken to the letter, then I can understand all the more how totally insane I am, because in truth I am not even here. Okay, I have a perception of being in a body, true. But that doesn’t mean I’m in the body, just that I think I am.

It helps bring a smile to my face when I start to remember this while I’m toweling the dog or calling the administration. I mean, I can make a big deal about anything. Don’t test me, I’m serious. About anything. Why? Because I can and will use anything to continue to give myself the impression that I’m in this blessed body as a blessed individual. And that includes any situation that presents itself to me. Unknowingly my little mind shall twist and turn some completely innocuous event (the vacuum cleaner bumping into furniture) into some diabolical drama demonstrating that something is there when it isn’t. But I insist it is. And my upset or excitement proves it. Just try to tell me I’m wrong!

It’s funny, I mean truly humorous watching this whole play in action. But it’s not half so funny as the flip side of this play.

It’s even more comical to watch my insane mind refuse to accept that something is there when it plainly and clearly is. Okay, I admit, I’m pretty much an expert at pretending that something is there when it isn’t, you know, the dog, the administration, etc. But I’m much, much better at pretending that something is not there when it is. What does this look like?

When my wife forgets to buy something for the dinner with guests tonight and I ignore the twinge of upset because ‘it’s not spiritual’,
When a family member does not thank me for an important favor I have done and I smile and continue as if nothing happened (because I’m above needing gratification) ,
When someone I’ve done a job for constantly stalls when it comes to paying me and I continue to swallow my anger and sense of disrespect because I think I’ve learned that these feelings will not get me anywhere…

When I refuse to see the upset that is really there and continue to pretend that it's not, then I know I’m mad. Not only am I mad, thinking that something is not there that is, but I’m also masochistic, denying myself the only opportunity I have to become happy and peaceful once again.

If I follow Ken, then I pay even more attention to these moments of thinking something is not there when it is. I actively look for them, I learn to pay more attention to my thoughts and feelings during the day. And I discover more twinges of upset, disrespect, victimization and guilt than I thought. Okay, this is a good start.

But to really deal with the problem, I have to ask an important question: Why do I not want to see what’s there when it is? Why should it bother me so much to face my real feelings and reactions? And that’s when we come back to our good friend, OG. Let me present ‘OG’, or ontological guilt. OG does not want to be discovered. He likes remaining hidden and will make you think that you don’t want him to be seen and known, either. But you do. It is not shameful or sinful to realize that OG has come to take up residence in our minds. It is freeing. It is while we are afraid to admit that there’s this blob of OG sitting there that we shall truly remain stuck and in pain, and keep pretending that everything is okay when it’s not.

And so I invite all of us to throw back the covers and reveal in all his sticky, gooey inglorious truth, OG. He is much less frightening when really seen for what he is, I promise.

We are all experts in craziness, seeing things that are not there, not seeing things that are. We do this every day. But if we begin to observe our craziness with laughter and lightness, seeing there’s truly nothing wrong with insanity except that it’s a bit unhappy, then we can start to make the whole thing disappear. OG-the-Blob is uncovered for the comical thing that it is, and slowly a smile appears on our faces and replaces our grimaces and gnashing teeth.

The dog becomes just a dog once again, the vacuum cleaner a friend, the public administrator just another insane person in our insane world. Total insanity everywhere, and it makes not one bit of difference to us at all. There’s just this Smile that looks upon the play of life around us, and we smile along, happy to have discovered the secret that unlocks the great mystery of this crazy world.

(Any comments here)



Rambling: The Perfect Listening

There is no perfect doing or being in this world, so we can stop the struggle.
There is only a perfect listening.
We learn to listen...
And yet this listening doesn't hear anything.
No judgment, no advice, no reassurances.
No words, no wisdoms, no prayers.
What do we hear?
We listen,
And yet, strangely, there is only a Perfect Listening to hear,
That is all.
And what does It do?
It listens back.
Your imperfect listening, Its Perfect listening.
Two Listenings, perfectly open now,
Really hearing each other,
Patient, knowing, remembering, joyful.
And everything else disappears as we listen to each other
In this beautiful, comfortable stillness of not-doing.
Just listening, nothing else.



sunrise Mayor's Journal, 4th January, 2011:

2011 – Let’s Get To Work! The Ego-Hangover


The New Year – already?? What happened to November and December? I know time doesn’t exist, but sheesh.

So Christmas and the New Year, not to mention Thanksgiving, have come and gone. All those amazing family celebrations. And to get things started on the right foot this year at the Village I would like you all to submit some of your juicy titbits from these wondrous moments spent in the close company of your loved ones (and of your less-loved ones). After all, if self-honesty is what this is all about, then we have to get stuck into a little personal review from this ‘magical’ end-of-year period, right?

It’s time to take stock. We’re not doing this course because we know it’s going to be peaches and cream the whole way. I mean, what’s the chance that during these past two months of celebrations there wasn’t at least one moment of impatience, of judgment, of excluding someone from your highest consideration. Was everyone you met and whom you dined with during this period included in your mind as a perfect and holy Son of God? I mean, let’s get real. This is your mayor you're tawkin’ to. After your celebrations there was the party hangover, okay. Now we’re talking about the ego-hangover.

I know Uncle Eustace and cousin Myrtle and nephews Thaddeus and Basil were truly charming and generous as always, but what about the others. Yes, the others. You know the ones I mean. No one escapes feeling at times that they would like someone in particular to be different, to be more sensitive, more participating, more flexible. Or they’d like things to be different. There’s something happening that you don’t like, maybe you wanted things to go differently, maybe things are just not happening the way you wanted (“I can’t believe she just put the salad on the table – she knew it was for later”). Maybe it’s because of someone else, or just ‘life’. But in the back of your mind there’s always someone you’re afraid of disappointing. Someone is not going to understand, is going to get upset. You’ve got to make sure granddad feels included or eats exactly what he wants, and you know the thing you definitely better not say to Auntie Gertrude and the direction the conversation better not take.

I think the true blessing of Thanksgiving and Christmas is not the love we might share between family members. That’s nice, but that’s not it. It is more the burgeoning awareness that despite the love that is sometimes not apparently present, Love is still truly present. It just doesn’t look the way we thought it should. That’s all.

Our sensitivities and upsets, and certainly those of other people, occur only to keep our attention well away from the silent and holy presence that encompasses us all. I, for one, found it funny how I could bridle every time a certain person at my dinner table opened his mouth. It just seemed he was incapable of saying anything sensitive or intelligent. As if he should be something other than the way he was. Why? Why should it be so difficult to include him exactly as he is in my love?

Because then I would have to include myself in that Love.

Inevitably every time we are upset with someone else or the way things are going, we are holding a judgment against ourselves. We don’t really need to dig to find out specifically what it is. We can be pretty sure, however, that it is one version or another of self-condemnation, for not being good enough, for not being acceptable in our own eyes. We have replaced God as judge and executioner. Why bother the Big Kahuna and find out what He really thinks? I can do a better job. In fact, I already know how things turn out.

So when Uncle Benedict opens his mouth and I get upset, it’s because somewhere I have imagined that it’s only when we are coherent, sensitive and ‘intelligent’ that we are acceptable in Love’s eyes. And I hold that exact accusation against myself.

If I knew that no matter how stupid, incoherent and insensitive I really am, Love still accepts and embraces me wholly and completely, then I would just smile and join with my brother in our mutual silliness. It might even become a celebration of silliness, at least the silliness that we could do anything that would exclude us from God’s Love.

What can turbo charge this perception is remembering the specific purpose behind all these upsets – Granddad Hippolytus’, Auntie Gertrude’s, and mine. Now that’s when it becomes really funny. That dinner table which became the breeding ground of tension and unspoken reprimands – it had a purpose, it was designed to fulfil a function.

Love is present, but it must remain unseen. Voilà! That’s it, that’s all.

Every word uttered is focused to take the attention off of the one thing that is so amazingly obvious, and to get the attention back to the illusion, back to appearances. So, another round of “Did you hear about …” followed by a description of some newsy event, the weather, someone’s life details, even just the poor decoration in the recently opened restaurant. Anything will do. As long as the most obvious thing in the world remains unspoken and unmentioned:

LOVE.

Everything points back to Its presence. Their silliness. Our silliness. Everything.

And Love smiles on absolutely unabated.

So let’s welcome these family meetings with open arms. Though we might have been disappointed by them in the past, now we’re protected by a special understanding that there is nothing more to avoid, no troubles that can remove the most obvious Guest in our party. He has come to meet with us, and to meet us where we are. No need for things to be any different from the way they are. Everything is perfect just the way it is.

The perfect result we were seeking for our family meetings does not have a specific shape or form. It is not when everyone leaves with a smile on his or her face, when all the potential problems and pitfalls were avoided. It is when our inner smile stays fixed on the presence of Christ in our family members and sees the Love there, the Love that is simply scared of remembering Itself and makes up a few stories to pass the time together and divert our attention. Tensions and upsets are merely an indication that Love is present, not that it is absent.

If we can manage, even just a little, to see our self-judgments and forgive them when things don’t go quite right, then we bring peace back to the party. And Love has returned once more.

Let us make this year different by making it all the same: let us recognize the efforts we all make to deny Love's presence among us through our judgments and irritations. Our Guest has come; we can only acknowledge His presence with a gentle smile. We smile at our silly upsets and self-condemnations. We are not up to our expectations - no one is. But we are up to His, no matter how things go.

(Any comments here)



sunrise Village Bulletin Board, 31st December, 2010:
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
Let's continue our end of year celebrations at the Village by wishing each other all the best for 2011.

May we learn that January 1st is a special day in the counting of days,
as it marks the beginning of the time when each day shall blend into one.
One time, one day that remains forever unchanged in an eternal heavenly Sky,
as changeless as the sea that ebbs and flows but always stays the same.
May we practice this coming year the remembrance of that special moment of 'now',
of Love and loveliness, such that tomorrow be not separate or different from today, not better or worse.
May this very day we come Home to Love and Innocence such that it extends
till tomorrow and the many days that follow until they all become one.

Enjoy your celebrations, my friends! (Click here for direct access)



sunrise Village Bulletin Board, 24th December, 2010:

CHRISTMAS IN OUR VILLAGE!


"Dashing through the fields (sunflower),
On a horse-drawn open cart,
Oh what fun it is,
Eating pie and tart!"

MEEEERRRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!

As soon as you've finished with the hay rick ride, jump off next to the old oak because we've set up some swings on one of its great branches. Whoever swings highest (without getting lost in the branches, 'o course!) gets to cut and serve the giant Christmas Cake baked by none other than our resident Australian Fairy Winnie. After the swing, you still can't get to the dinner table until you've had a go bobbing apples in the big casks that farmer Anil left us from his last cider making. Finally, when you've done all that, meander past the walnut grove where our friendly Village squirrels (can't remember their names) are jumpin' and jivin' to a mambo version of "All I want for Christmas if my two front teeth", and over to Nina's cosy and welcoming Cottage.

As you'll see, large old country tables have been set up outside and inside, just depending on the weather. The theme this year, well, it's a little eclectic, but that's normal I guess for this crazy bunch. So we have Surf 'n Turf with a Vegetarian twist, together with Norwegian-Italian-German-Singapore influences. Now, where, I ask you, are you going to find originality like that other than in our spectacular Village? Would you forgive me, I couldn't find the time to take and mount the photos of all the delicious things that everyone had prepared, but here's a list of what I've seen on the tables so far:

Clementines and oranges with cloves (not sure if they’re for eatin’)
Bouillabesse, a delicious fish soup from Marseille
Barbecued giant prawns from Down Under (they arrived fresh this morning – come over to the barbecue area where BBQ-meister Zenbear is hard at work – someone bring him a glass of cider?)
Tenderloin, rump and filet steaks, only the best from organic farms in Nebraska and Kansas (kind, nice farms, these ones)
Slabs of thick sliced garlic bread with oodles of butter (no fat – this is a special Village)
Norwegian specialties of all sorts (yum!)
Buns filled with hot cheese, and a giant Brie just out of the oven with toasted almond slivers
Michele has brought along heaps of Fresh Dungeness Crab meat with melted sweet butter to dip it into,and whatever other dipping alternatives might be dear to your hearts, along with a crisp fuyu persimmon salad with arugula and avocado in an olive oil and fig balsamic dressing, a dash of shoyu, with lots of freshly ground black pepper. (Wow!)
A remarkable vegie ‘n chickpea casserole from Pam
Heaps of Duck Cassoulet from Castelnaudary (France) to be enjoyed with a deep Cahors ‘black’ wine
Then to finish it all off:
Gooey Tiramisu from Nina’s daughter
Scrumptious fruity Stollen from Germany
Decadent peppermint chip chocolate brownies from Michele
Brightly colored silver paper-wrapped candies from Laura

If you make your way over to the bar area you’ll find none other than your Mayor on hand to deliver you just the drink you want, be that a splendiferous fruit cocktail (all fruits in season), or something with a little more punch. Speaking of punch, there’s also an excellent variety of wines, including but not limited to: Billecart Salmon Brut Rose Champagne (thanks, Michele!), and of course some delish Cabernet and Pinot from California. The mayor brought along a few choices wines from France (mostly Burgundy’s though there is an excellent bottle or two of a Monbazillac sweet wine from the Bergerac area you should try)

And I couldn't let this opportunity go by without remembering the real reason
for us meeting together at this time. We have marked in the western tradition
the day of the 25th December as the day we celebrate the birth of
one particular individual into this world.
With the help of the Brother Who has guided each one of us with his gentle words
now for many years,we have come to learn that the spirit this one individual contained
resides within each of us. He has made it his task to reach out to us daily,
reminding us of our perfect equality in Him, and perfect holiness with our Father.
There is no difference, and there is no separation. We are all one and the same.
May this day be a symbol for us of remembering our own birth unto our Self,
the one Self that we share intimately with all the Sonship.
And so this day we come into our own, and the blessings we would bestow
on Jesus the Christ we naturally bestow upon ourselves, and all our brothers and sisters.
We are the holy Son of God. May we be blessed with this remembrance this day.
Thank you for being part of my Family, helping me remember this magnificent Identity we all share.

(To join the celebration, just clickhere.)



sunrise Village Bulletin Board, 18th December, 2010:
When “If only” transforms into “As if”

While our guilty thoughts remain concealed and undiscovered, our refrain is always “If only…”

If only I could get my partner to stop doing this…
If only I could get more respect at work…
If only I could get over this physical ailment…
If only my loved one would get better...
If only world leaders would start to agree on the problem…

Just look and see if this isn’t true!

The problem we see is always in the world, and the solution we seek for is always about changing the outside in one way or another. Without realizing it, the background whisper in our minds throughout the day is this continuous pleading with the Gods, “If only the outside would somehow be different…”

Why do we so want the outside to change? So that we don’t have to change our minds! We want change, but not the kind that will make a real difference.

The problem, of course, is our guilt that gives rise to all our physical and psychological needs which we want the outside world to fix and satisfy. But no external change ever fixed our problem really, as we all know.

However, we can learn to choose differently. Instead of saying, “If only this changed, then my guilt would disappear and I would feel peaceful,” we begin to realize that “If only I turned back toward Love, I would see that this guilt is nothing at all.”

When we turn towards Love and It reminds us we are holy and whole, the blessed Children of a loving Father, at one with Him and safe in Heaven, and that this situation is not any kind of punishment for our evil-doing, then our needs for external change completely disappear, even if only for a minute. And then the only thought remaining in the mind is “As if…”

“As if this could have affected my peace in any way, how silly!”
“As if this had any effect at all!”
“As if this could be a serious problem when Love is present right here for us all! How could I have been so upset? How could I have taken this so seriously?”

And we can deal more lightly and calmly with our situation, as critical as it might be, relieved of the unnecessary burden of guilt, the guilt of having turned away from Love.

(Photo courtesy of http://aksinya.wordpress.com/)



sunrise Village Bulletin Board, 14th December, 2010:
Nina's post, "Forgiving 1/1000th of our grievance"

I wanted you all to see this post for two reasons, one because of the technique described which is excellent (I used it during the night to chase some resistance away, and it worked beautifully!); and two, because I think the subject of using other paths is always useful. As Nina says, whatever brings you peace is useful. If you ever find yourself stuck with some hardened guilt or upset that just won't go away using the Course or Ken, then by all means, use another technique that will help you dissolve that resistance. Inevitably, whatever technique helps dissolve resistance, remove our fear of approaching Jesus, of returning within to the Love inside, is part of the forgiveness process.

I don't know anything about the particular method she mentions, but this technique can be useful. This site still remains focused on Kenneth and his work. It is just a reminder that the objective is not to become a perfect student of Ken's or of the Course. Our real objective is to return our minds to the presence of Love within by slowly dissolving our fear and resistance, and the path we have chosen to use and discuss this work together is A Course In Miracles. It is a means to a beautiful end.

From Nina:
I just received a mail from the Sedona method, which I have used before as a help for letting go (= accepting) everything that comes up – for me, an excellent way to stop resisting, and even welcome the resistance – then it usually disappears. Some time ago though, I got the (ego) idea to unsubscribe from the Sedona Community – gotta be a loyal Course-student, said the ego ( which means: do O N L Y the Course, and do it zealously.) What a blessing: surprised I opened the mail from the Sedona community, telling me that they missed me, and invited me back to read what other persons wrote when they felt stuck – and I opened a 1-minute video by Hale Dwoskin, reminding me that if I felt completely stuck, not being able to say yes to that – could I say yes to 1 % of the stuckness? I tried that, and it said NO inside. I felt a little giggle and said to myself “could I be able to let go of the stuckness 1000-part of 1%? ” yes” said something inside, and that yes, my friends, just started a relief that still goes on, 15 minutes later. Even my skin feels different. And it was not the one thousand part of 1% that did it – it was my simple choice for yes, my willingness to accept and not judge my state of mind just one tiny tiny bit – and that YES opened the forgiveness-door wide open.

This made me see how zealously my ego has worked to be an Acim student. I feel its fear of choosing whatever that is not called Acim – and how intellectual based that thought is. Now, the Sedona-method takes me to the exact place I find myself when I forgive. And right now I remind myself that even Ken said it would be foolish not to mix two methods when they brought peace:

“In the end, however, if one’s spiritual path is enhanced by both the Kabbalah (Sedona) and A Course in Miracles, then who is to say that that is a mistake? “By their fruits you shall know them” remains the only criterion that matters. If the combined practice of these two spiritualities leads to a life of peace and love, then one would be a fool not to pursue it.”

The ego’s plan must have been to drive me so stuck into “the right way into the Acim study” that I would give it up – while now, I will just accept /not judge this ego one millionth part – and the release and accept is felt just as much as if I would have accepted it completely: the main thing is my YES – not how big this yes is. Yes is Yes, and He does the rest, as I am feeling right now.

And I give thanks for the electronic system that did not accept my un-subscribing the Sedona. Again and again I am shown how fully I can trust the process.


(Any comments here.)



sunrise Mayor's Journal, 10th December, 2010:
The Death Wish Thing – the funniest joke in the ego's book!

The death wish is a powerful underlying force in our thoughts and lives. The subject for me personally has come up many, many times. I have wanted to write a little note about it for a while, and now seems like a good moment. My goal for this Village: that we learn to undo all our secret, guilty thoughts, bringing them out into the open where we can see the hidden, devastating - but completely ridiculous - logic behind them. Read, enjoy (?), and remember to always keep the Three Stooges close at hand!

Everything here is a death wish. Coming here is a death wish, since it is the wish for something other than Life. Coming here is the wish to experience something other than Life, so everything here is about constantly choosing what is not Life (i.e. turning away from Love). That’s the real wish that underlies every decision here. We will make thousands and thousands of decisions here, and avoid the one and only decision that will undo all the others: the decision to open the door again back to Love. To allow ourselves back through this magical door, to be enfolded once more in Jesus’ warm embrace.

Fortunately, the death-wish thing, it’s only a wish, a whim. There is no opposite to Life. We cannot kill ourselves – that’s impossible. All is Life, everywhere and always, despite appearances. Everything that seems to die or change is an appearance. We cannot take our life away, no matter what we may try. It was given to us, and can never be removed. And so it is with our guiltlessness as well. So, thinking of killing ourselves is not a sin. Jesus knows this is what we’re thinking each and every single moment of the day we are not turning towards him. It is no surprise to him. No biggie. As he says, “So, what’s new? Come home, already.”

The death wish is based on the idea of change. It assumes that we have changed ourselves from our original condition of sinlessness and wholeness, and have now become guilty and individualized (with a private, sinful life). Our lives here are about change: “If only I can finally make the right changes, and make other people make the right changes, then all will be well.” The death wish is about the ultimate, final change: “If only I change this last one final thing, then all my problems will be solved.”

The death wish is a way of insisting that I did indeed manage to pull off the impossible and make a separate life for myself by killing God; I did indeed manage to give myself this incredible power over life and death, just like God. No, better than God. “I’ll show him and everyone else how I have this amazing power to create myself, and then destroy myself.” In order to turn back toward Love, we must see the silly arrogance of thinking we have the power over life and death. And we must learn to be grateful that we could never give ourselves this real power. God is not dead. We did not kill Him. We don’t have that kind of power.

The only meaningful change is to change our minds. There is only one change we made – to leave our sane, right minds. And the only change we can make is to return back towards the Love that is there still in our minds. All these other questions of change are designed to disguise this one simple choice we have. The Life Wish we have.

sunrise The death wish occurs to us when we are in pain or guilt. It says, “The answer to the dilemma of my life is to end it. That will end all problems and questions.” The words that are unspoken: 1. “I’m too horrible to keep on living, there’s nothing I can do to change this terrible condition. There’s only one solution, and that’s to end the horrible thing I am.” (For those who have Paulo, re-read "Love and a Kitchen Spoon") 2. “And this will show God how much pain I have been in, and then he will look for the people who have caused my suffering. He will not punish me because it’s clear I will already have suffered too much, and he’ll find those who are really guilty!” 3. “I’m not powerful enough to change these circumstances of my life, but I’ll show everyone how powerful I am by taking away my own life – no one can take that power of mine away; I’ll show them. I still hold the trump card. My death will be my final victory.”

The death wish underlies everything here. Everyone’s dearest wish is to die, and that’s why he does indeed have the experience of dying. He does not really die, but has what he considers to be the experience of dying. So it’s absolutely no surprise that this thought comes up from time to time, and maybe even often. Ultimately, when we attain the goal of this Course, we become aware of ourselves as the dreamers of the dream of this life. We begin to perceive that our ‘self’ is a dream figure and not a fixed reality, and we are outside the dream figure (not ‘in’ the dream figure). Then ‘dying’ becomes simply the experience of observing the passage of a dream. So, no experience of death.

In fact, if we really pay attention, we will find the death wish amongst our thoughts pretty much everywhere. It is the thought that says I don’t deserve Love, and it takes multiple different forms. It is the underlying expectation that negative things will happen to me. It takes the form of any negative experience or feeling, which is always a way of insisting that, “Love is not here because Love has been destroyed (because I did it!). Now I must be punished and ultimately destroyed for this terrible act.” A painful stubbed toe can be whispering , “this hurts because I have done something horribly wrong.” Yes, a stubbed toe = I have killed God. Even a cold sore says the same thing: this sore proves Love is dead – I have shattered Heaven with this sore. It’ll be nice when we can learn to smile at all this!

sunrise The death wish is an attempt to negate the presence and existence of Love. To undo it, all we need do is recognize that we do not really have the power to negate Love. (That is good news!) And we can recognize within our death wish ultimately our dearest wish which is to return to Love. We exercise our Life Wish when we become willing to look honestly at our death wish, and remember our love of Love.

Understanding the ‘logic’ behind all these self-negating thoughts can already help to take off the acuteness of our self-condemnation. There is a logical progression of arguments in favor of killing oneself, but only when we begin with the fundamental idea that we have, and have successfully used, our power to destroy Love. When we finally are willing to see that we were not successful in this effort, then the whole argument in favor of taking one’s life falls apart like a house of cards.

Turn back towards Love. Nothing can destroy Life; nothing can remove Love from your mind. From that possibility we are forever safe.

Oh, yeah, and give yerself a good tickle, too!

(Any comments here.)



sunrise Mayor's Journal, 8th December, 2010:
To all the guilty caretakers out there - You cannot be a good Jesus substitute for another person!

Who has not had the experience of feeling just terrible when faced with another person’s anger, sadness or pain? Maybe you even know that he or she is laying a guilt trip on you, but it doesn’t help. You free-fall into the trap, and that crushing, self-abasing sentiment of having done wrong and hurting another, or just not doing enough, fills you with a sense of ‘icy hopelessness’. What’s actually going on, why is it so hard to pull ourselves out and back into the calm fields of equanimity and wisdom?

Our mind whispers, “By my suffering this guilt and torment, this person’s suffering is reduced. So if only I could suffer enough, this person would somehow feel better. At least, if I don’t suffer because of their anger, pain and upset, they would take that really badly.” Where’s this craziness coming from? Why do we sense that this person would somehow feel better if we felt bad?

It helps if first we remember that the reason that people feel pain or suffering of any nature is because they are failing to turn within and seek the Love they need there in their own mind, in the folds of Jesus’ cloak. They sense crushing guilt in their minds, but their own decision for suffering seems too intolerable to face. They cannot bear to confront their choice to turn away from the support and love of Jesus within their own mind; consequently they believe they can magically rid themselves of this responsibility and weightiness if they place it on you. “You can do something about my pain,” so they whisper, “but because you are so horrible you’re choosing not to do it. It’s your choice for me to be in pain, not mine. You have the magical solution – just do what I want you to do. It’s so simple! And yet you refuse. How heartless!”

As we all know, that finger pointing at us accusingly seems to leap out at us as if from some metaphysical 3D horror film: "God has found me! Now I've had it. Repent, repent, feel guilty. I'll torment myself, and all shall see that I truly regret my terrible acts. Oh, this terrible power of mine that I have abused yet again. Woe, woe."

When you accept this responsibility, you claim that, indeed, you have this special magical ability to lessen this person’s suffering. You give yourself this remarkable ability to remove this person’s pain just by some act or another. Yes, you believe you are Jesus (or God) and have remarkable abilities of healing and succour. But because it is ‘one or the other’, because our wellness in this world is a question of providing the right external conditions (and not as a result of a choice to access inner peace), you must also defend the demands on your time and resources, which are limited. This person’s well-being must be sacrificed, so the logic goes, so that yours or your loved one’s might be maintained. We can easily see here how this plays into our individuality’s sense of identity and specialness. This entire drama is maintaining the myth that our life is within this outer, imperfect world as separated beings, and not within any perfect inner world.

Going one step further, we can see how a part of us might actually delight in this kind of power. I.e. we have a secret investment in the situation as it is. This person’s continued suffering at our hand actually reinforces our sense that we hold the power over life and death, happiness and unhappiness, for him or her. All we have to do is pay the occasional price of a little guilt, and we can keep this entire game going for a long, long time. We might even be able to recognize within ourselves a twisted sense that this person must deserve to be suffering. There is a certain ego logic that says that while this person suffers like this and needs my help, it must be because God has looked less favorably on him than on me. And we all know that God is never wrong. Consequently, his continued suffering is on-going proof of my innocence and deservedness of God’s favor.

The reason we feel guilty when someone suffers and points the finger at us should be clear by now. The whole game is based on keeping guilt very alive and vigorous, and the more we participate, the more we know on an unconscious level that we are reinforcing the underlying attack and condemnation. Yet we feel the only solution is to feel even guiltier, saying to ourselves that somehow if we feel bad enough God won’t really punish us. In fact, if we feel sufficiently bad, and maybe even fall sick, have a car crash or have a nervous breakdown, the guilt will fall back on the other person. ‘Look at what you’ve done to me by your emotional blackmail! I couldn’t concentrate and had an accident, I’ve been so upset, I can’t function and work anymore. Look what you’re doing to me! You’re killing me!’ Our ego’s death wish rises to the surface of our mind, and our own suffering seems to be the only solution for our inherent wickedness which this person’s suffering seems to demonstrate. But we know we are playing the exact same game and trying to send the volley-ball of guilt back over the net to the initiator of the game. And we pray, “if only God/destiny/fate would remove this person from my life, all would be well – I would be saved from my guilt.” Which is, of course, just another way of saying that if this person died, I’d feel better. Oh, what tangled webs we weave!

But let’s say that we’re willing to forego this specialness now and seek a real solution, for their sake and ours. We must begin by learning to accept that whatever this person wants from us, whatever he claims will make him feel better, is not the ultimate solution. It might be a stopgap measure, and in some cases it might be wise and kind to do as he requests. But whatever it is, it will not remove the guilt from his mind causing him pain. The only thing that will ever really help is guiding him to turn within and choose the guiltlessness offered by Jesus, enfolding himself once more within His Love. And we do this by remembering first and foremost to do this for ourselves.

We need to learn to say (in our minds): “I cannot make you choose again, choose to draw closer to Jesus within your mind and to find the comfort there you are really looking for. You think you are looking for something from me, but that’s not going to really help you. I might think it will help, and I might think I have the power to make you feel better. But that’s no answer at all, not for you and not for me. As much as I might like to think so, I cannot replace Jesus for you and bring you the comfort you want. That would be silly for me to try to do.”

If we choose not to define the problem this way within our own minds (as an internal, not external drama), then we are naturally accepting the logic of the situation as this person is providing it. And if this is our choice, it is because we are afraid of accepting the problem as it really is, and the solution as it really is. We do not want to accept that this person retains the perfect solution in his mind to his pain, and prefer to think we have the solution to his problem, because we do not want to acknowledge that we contain the answer to all our pain within our minds. And so, yes, as usual, we find that we are doing precisely the same thing as this person we are inevitably judging. We cannot possibly judge him for not turning within, because we are committing exactly the same mistake. We must become aware when our acts actually intend to help ‘save’ this person from his fear of Jesus. You know that Jesus scares him, because Jesus scares you. You believe that by saving this person from that terrible fear within, by keeping the problem within the circumstances of his life, you will keep the problem outside of your mind, too.

I think it is also wise to keep in mind that if this guilt is circulating around in our minds, that is because we are deeply attracted to it. Yes! (how strange, you say) We must always remember that guilt is the feeling we associate with our body's life, with our individuality. I feel the most alive, the most 'me' in my private, particular life, whenever I feel really guilty. No one else is facing these unique set of circumstances with all the different characters, events and dramas. This is my life! I would not recognize my life if this situation suddenly evaporated, leaving no trace behind but just a calm even peacefulness. This situation has perhaps been part of my story for a long, long time. And so we need to appreciate the depth of our attachment to this story, which of course keeps it rotating in our thoughts, being turned over and upside down and inside out - perpetually. And so at some point we will need to say, "Enough already! I'd rather let go of the story of my life the way I've made it up till now. There must be another way!" And, voilà, a perfect invitation is born.

sunrise On another note, I might hear myself saying in my mind, but if I accept the presence of Love and guiltlessness in my own mind and feel much better, that will upset this person even more! He will take this as an affront, as arrogance and true heartlessness on my part. And then he will say: “How can you be peaceful and happy when I’m in such pain? I was right, you really don’t love me or care about me! This is proof! How evil you are!” I’m no longer playing the game we agreed to play (and have perhaps been playing for thirty or forty years); I’m no longer accepting my part in this terrible dance. There’s no doubt that this would be very unsettling for a partner with whom we have been dancing for a long time. But perhaps this person will learn to feel that the peacefulness we are now feeling is actually what he really wants to join in on, the new dance he wants to join, and not just some simplistic solution that will almost immediately lose effect.

If we truly love our brother (or colleague, parent, partner, sibling, child, or client), then we would remember for him what the true solution is to his problem. We would not continue to insist on our power to remove his pain, and we would try to find a way to communicate to him that he contains inner resources he was perhaps unaware of. This is not to say that we might not do what we need to do in this world to help someone materially (and perhaps we will see that it’s time to stop). But we would change our inner focus, and free ourselves from our feelings of guilt, power and specialness. This is the path we have chosen, to remember peace in the place of fear. To demonstrate guiltlessness and strength by giving them life within our own minds.

Now, just before you start feeling all guilty about any of this craziness, go out and rent a good Abbot and Costello film! Whatever you do, don’t take any of this too seriously! Fold Jesus’ cloak around you, and sit on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and have a good laugh!

(Any comments here.)



sunrise Mayor's Journal, 5th December, 2010:
Of Love and Picnics

I love picnics. I try to make them happen whenever I can. Not that it’s always a complicated affair, sometimes it’s nothing more than cutting up some chunks of bread and cheese with tomato, sitting under a tree somewhere green and friendly. But I just love the idea of eating outside in some carefree way, getting our fingers all smothered in juice or sauce or mustard. Who can say why?

Sometimes the picnics I organized for Pat and me were so simple, she would come home from work with an hour for lunch and I would have prepared something to eat in some plastic-ware. Then we’d go sit by the village ‘lavoir’, which is the old washing shed where the women would come in days gone by to scrub and rinse their laundry (as recently as ten years ago I still saw some women doing this). The lavoir is located on the little stream that runs through the village and we’d sit by the stream as it entered the washing shed in little cascades, skipping from one level to the other as the water made its way down from one large stone-lined pool to the next, and then out back into the stream.

At the end of our meal I would pull out from a backpack the little camping stove and an Italian coffee maker. Within minutes I had that thing spluttering away, filling the aluminium top part with a thick dark brew of coffee. Even if it were cool, we would enjoy that coffee steaming in its porcelain cup (only porcelain will do), with a lump of rough raw sugar to take edge off the bitterness.

Ahhh…

Hey, what? What’s this have to do with love? Nothing. No, everything. It has as much to do with love as anything else, of course. But for me, picnics just seem to evoke that sense of freedom, lightness and spontaneity that we associate with love. And Love has been on my mind lately.

As you know, the last couple of months or so I’ve been struggling a bit to find a durable sense of inner peace. Up till September, I could convince myself all was okay and on track in my world. Then it became harder to still maintain that belief, given the ultimatum I had given myself: “By September you will have found new work or will have decided on your next career direction.” Blahdy, blahdy… You’ve all heard that one now. And as you all know, ultimatums can never possibly lead to peace. They are purpose-built to ensure guilt raises its sword and swiftly separates the worthy from the unworthy. You know which side of the fence I thought I landed on!

So, where’s Love gone? Where’s the picnic?

Strangely enough, I thought I was doing the Course well, though I was pretty sure that fear and self-condemnation weren’t normally part of the deal. It’s just that the ego can convince itself sometimes that it is supremely wise and all-knowing. In my case, I thought that doing the Course meant focusing on the dark side of the ego, looking for the self-judgment and fear etc. What I didn’t appreciate was that the ego can actually surreptiously lead one through Ken’s process, convincing one that he is just doing the hard work of forgiveness. I should have been suspicious when I heard an inner voice saying, “This is hard work!” But I wasn’t. Discomfort can feel so natural that I didn’t even know it was there, and building.

sunrise I knew the answer was to take the entire process more and more lightly, but in the classic logic of the ego, this felt like I wasn’t doing it properly! What was the problem? Again, I was making the ego real, making condemnation real and significant. But anytime I tried to look at the entire scenario more lightly, I felt I was betraying the process, I was cheating. As if this was supposed to be difficult: if I wasn’t feeling pain – so went this logic – then I should seriously doubt I was doing the process correctly. I had so drummed into my mind that we must never underestimate the viciousness of the ego, and that we should always be aware of the hatefulness in all our thoughts, that I was temporarily incapable of finding my way back to a sense of equanimity and peaceful observation. The good news is that that’s all over now. (yay!)

I learned a big lesson.

Ken has taught us that we must be aware of our tendency to underestimate the ego, to believe that we are further along than we think. He asks us to be very observant of our thoughts in order to discover the true level of murderous and exclusion lurking there. This is the only way to make real progress with this Course. Then, as we know, we must take this to the presence of Love and kindness where it will dissolve.

I would make another qualifying statement to supplement Ken’s: “Never overestimate the ego – the ego is not more powerful than Love.” Our goal is Love, the remembrance of that remarkable state of warmth, clarity and all-knowing security that is incapable of fear or doubt. I thought that doing the Course properly meant not looking toward Love, but toward the ego. To a certain extent this is absolutely true. But only to a certain extent – not to the exclusion of Love.

I believe that those of us at the Village are pretty well devoted students of Ken’s. In that case, we all know that the focus of our work is uncovering our unloving, separating thoughts, and bringing them to the Love, to Jesus, within our minds. The method we use is not working at finding the Love within us, but finding the obstacles to Love within us. This we know pretty well. On the other hand, I would like to make sure that we remind ourselves from time to time that Love also has its symbols, that there is a real and valid reason to remind ourselves that Love is our true and only goal.

And so I propose that we begin to weave into our work at the Village some thoughts and meditations that remind us of this magical, wonderful goal…

“You are as God created you. The sounds of this world are still, the sights of this world disappear, and all the thoughts that this world ever held are wiped away forever by this one idea…

True light is strength, and strength is sinlessness. If you remain as god created you, you must be strong and light must be in you. He Who ensured your sinlessness must be the guarantee of strength and light as well. You are as God created you. Darkness cannot obscure the glory of God’s Son. You stand in light, strong in the sinlessness in which you were created, and in which you will remain throughout eternity…”
(Lesson 94)

sunrise For a long time I had a reaction to this lesson that bordered on an allergy. The same with lesson 93 (Light and joy and peace abide in me). I skipped over them and focused on all the lessons that were more incisive, looking at the ego, etc. Perhaps this is an occupational hazard of those working with Ken (he is often reminding us to not skip the difficult work, thinking we could gain Heaven if we simply repeated these beautiful lessons often enough). This is a mistake we can fall into naturally. It’s certainly not because of anything to do with him, of course; it’s because it’s so easy for the ego to come along for the ACIM ride. It’s so easy to think that we’re doing what Ken wants because we’re feeling uncomfortable (in my experience). And then the ego logically might conclude that it’s about feeling uncomfortable all the time. In the ego’s language, “no pain, no gain’ becomes “because there’s pain, there’s gain.” As if that could possibly be the path Jesus wants us to walk.

I’m now convinced there’s a gentler way of coming to Jesus, and I intend to work this principle into our little Village from now on. There is ‘gain’ to be had, and it’s not always about ‘pain’. There is a peacefulness and sense of release from our damaging self-concepts that we can reach. There are some pretty magnificent rewards to be won from doing this work. Let’s make sure we don’t forget those, too. The royal picnic is there; it asks only for us to come with “wholly empty hands unto our God.”

(Please click here to comment)



sunrise Village Bulletin Board, 3rd December, 2010:
Announcing the first Village Live Skype Picnic!

The sun is shining brightly in our virtual Home, it’s a comfortable 83 degrees (28 Celsius), the farm track behind the sunflower field leads through the woods and onto a grassy hill from where the views are spectacular – a fabulous spot for spreading a family size checkered tablecloth and loading it with all sorts of delicious goodies.

Whoever is available this Sunday, I propose we get together (as per our usual time schedule) just to do some old-fashioned chatting and sharing. On the agenda will be contributing either a joke or two, a story that tells us something about your life, or one of your favorite recipes, or a mixture of the above. The idea of this meeting is to remember that we’re friends together on this path, and that it’s sometimes fun just to get-together and give the theory a well-earned rest for a day. Oh, and you can come with a line or two from that blue book, but only if it’s something inspiring and reminds us of beauty. I know this is late notice, but I wasn’t sure if I would be available this Sunday (4 pm my time). Hope some of us can make it. I’ll send out emails so everyone will be informed.



sunrise Village Bulletin Board, 30th November, 2010:
Do you really know your brother?

At the recent Village Live Skype meeting we read lesson 93 together, but whereas Jesus addresses 'you', we substituted 'my brother' and 'him'. This changes altogether the feeling of the message, as you will see.

Lesson 93 adapted for MOJ:

Light and joy and peace abide in my brother.

Your brother thinks he is the home of evil, darkness and sin. He thinks if you could see the truth about him you would be repelled, recoiling from him as if from a poisonous snake. He thinks if what is true about him were revealed to himself, he would be struck with horror so intense that he would rush to death by his own hand, living on after seeing this being impossible.

These are beliefs so firmly fixed that it is difficult to help him see that they are based on nothing. That he has made mistakes is obvious. That he has sought salvation in strange ways; has been deceived, deceiving and afraid of foolish fantasies and savage dreams; and has bowed down to idols made of dust,–all this is true by what he now believes.

Today we question this, not from the point of view of what he thinks, but from a very different reference point, from which such idle thoughts are meaningless. These thoughts are not according to God’s Will. These weird beliefs He does not share with your brother. This is enough to prove that they are wrong, but he does not perceive that this is so.

Why would your brother not be overjoyed to be assured that all the evil that he thinks he did was never done, that all his sins are nothing, that he is as pure and holy as he was created, and that light and joy and peace abide in him? His image of himself cannot withstand the Will of God. He thinks that this is death, but it is life. He thinks he is destroyed, but he is saved.

The self your brother made is not the Son of God. Therefore, this self does not exist at all. And anything it seems to do and think means nothing. It is neither bad nor good. It is unreal, and nothing more than that. It does not battle with the Son of God. It does not hurt him, nor attack his peace. It has not changed creation, nor reduced eternal sinlessness to sin, and love to hate. What power can this self he made possess, when it would contradict the Will of God?

Your brother’s sinlessness is guaranteed by God. Over and over this must be repeated, until it is accepted. It is true. His sinlessness is guaranteed by God. Nothing can touch it, or change what God created as eternal. The self your brother made, evil and full of sin, is meaningless. His sinlessness is guaranteed by God, and light and joy and peace abide in him.

Salvation requires the acceptance of but one thought;–your brother is as God created him, not what he has made of himself. [And not what you have made of him.] Whatever evil he may think he did, he is as God created him. Whatever mistakes he made, the truth about him is unchanged. Creation is eternal and unalterable. Your brother’s sinlessness is guaranteed by God. He is and will forever be exactly as he was created. Light and joy and peace abide in your brother because God put them there.

In our longer exercise periods today, which would be most profitable if done for the first five minutes of every waking hour, begin by stating the truth about creation:

Light and joy and peace abide in my brother.

His sinlessness is guaranteed by God.

Then put away your foolish images, and spend the rest of the practice period in trying to experience what God has given you and your brother, in place of what you have decreed.

Your brother is what God created or what you have made of him. One Self is true; the other is not there. Try to experience the unity of this one Self. Try to appreciate Its Holiness and the love from which It was created. Try not to interfere with the Self which God created as you and your brother, by hiding Its majesty behind the tiny idols of evil and sinfulness you have made to replace It. Let It come into Its Own. Here you are; This is You, and your Brother. And light and joy and peace abide in you and your brother because this is so.

You may not be willing or even able to use the first five minutes of each hour for these exercises. Try, however, to do so when you can. At least remember to repeat these thoughts each hour:

Light and joy and peace abide in my brother.

His sinlessness is guaranteed by God.

Then try to devote at least a minute or so to closing your eyes and realizing that this is a statement of the truth about him.

If a situation arises that seems to be disturbing, quickly dispel the illusion of fear by repeating these thoughts again. Should you be tempted to become angry with someone, tell him silently:

Light and joy and peace abide in you.

Your sinlessness is guaranteed by God.

You can do much for the world’s salvation today. You can do much today to bring you closer to the part in salvation that God has assigned to you. And you can do much today to bring the conviction to your mind that the idea for the day is true indeed.




Quotes of the day:
1. “Hmmm, I want to want the peace of God but really I prefer chocolate”…
2. "Reminds me of Ken saying that no matter how much we spout about wanting to devote our lives to this Course, our secret wish is to remain here and blame everybody else, while somehow retaining a spiritual aura."



sunrise Village Bulletin Board, 24th November, 2010:
Susan Dugan Interview with Ken

Lisi suggested I contact Susan Dugan (Foraysinforgiveness.com) with respect to posting at the Village the recent interview she conducted with Ken. She just agreed, so here it is. A heartfelt thanks goes to Susan for her wonderful work (please check out her site) and generosity.

Article:
In the following conversation, Ken Wapnick generously answers my questions about the daily practice of forgiveness, the fear and resistance that arises on our journey home, and how to keep our faith and focus on being kind, gentle, and patient with ourselves and other Course students while learning to :) with our inner teacher at all we still use to push love away.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I recently found myself in a lot of fear around this Course; feeling stuck and judging myself for it. You told me to remember not to take it seriously. How can we be serious about practicing forgiveness day-to-day while simultaneously not taking it seriously?

Well, the daily practice really is not to take it seriously. The principle is that line at the end of Chapter 27, “Into eternity where all was one there crept a tiny, mad idea, at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh.” The problem is not the ego—which means not any of the problems a person thinks he or she has—or the difficulty a person thinks he or she has with the Course. The problem is the reaction to it. The whole idea of not taking it seriously or learning to laugh at it does not mean you minimize it or deny it or make believe it hasn’t happened but that you recognize that the problem is never the form. The problem is always the mind’s decision.

Anything you do during the day whether it’s related to the Course or something else in your life; the key is always to bring it back to the mind’s decision maker. The problem is not the ego or its expression in thought or behavior, not what’s in the wrong-minded box because how could an illusion be a problem? What the Course calls the Holy Spirit which really is just our right-minded thinking or sanity; that’s not the answer either. The answer lies in choosing the right mind just like the problem lies in choosing the ego. That’s where people really get kind of confused.

The key is always to bring it back to the power of the mind to choose, not to bring it back to Jesus or the Holy Spirit as some magical figure. The problem is simply the choice about wanting to remain in the dream or awaken from it. So that even when one is having a bad time with the Course or a relationship or sickness or something that’s happening in the world, it’s not what it seems. The problem is never external. The practice is always bringing the problem back to the mind from where we projected it.

OK, so here’s a not so serious question: In many of your CDs you joke that Jesus can’t stand Course students.

(Laughs) You can’t blame him, can you?

Not really. J So, what are the characteristics of A Course in Miracles students that tick Jesus off most?

Well, it’s their seriousness. I sometimes also say that if you read the Gospels it never, ever says that Jesus laughed. It never says he smiled. It describes him as getting angry, as weeping. Ultimately the Jesus of the Bible is not the Jesus of the Course. The Jesus of the Course is always smiling. But in a sense, that’s the issue. When I say that half-jokingly, it’s the seriousness Course students have, the seriousness with the Course that makes them judge other people, judge other Course students and other Course teachers. It’s what makes them say such unkind things to people who are sick–namely that “sickness is a defense against the truth”–things that tend to be so insensitive.

I’ve probably quoted that one line in the text about remembering not to laugh more in thirty-five years of teaching than any other because that’s the problem. I also say that sin, separation, the ego can’t be the problem because how can an illusion be a problem? If people could recognize that and then apply that and generalize it to everything during their day it would change everything. That’s what’s in back of the line “Seek not to change the world, choose to change your mind about it.” How can a non-existent world be the problem?

The mistake people sometimes make after my saying something like that is that it turns you into someone who’s insensitive and doesn’t pay attention to anything, but it doesn’t mean that at all. To really know the world does not exist allows you to be the kindest, most sensitive, most caring and loving person imaginable. Because you don’t get hooked into anything and so the love automatically flows through you and takes whatever form is most helpful. It doesn’t mean you don’t relate to the world but you relate without neediness or specialness and only with love.

So as you’re sitting and watching the election returns, for example, you can have real compassion.

Well, obviously you can watch how seriously everybody takes it including the commentators and realize that everybody lies and everybody’s the same no matter what side of the aisle you’re on, which is why nothing every changes.

Many Course students experience a real sense of loss as they begin to recognize the ego’s fleeting adrenaline highs for the defenses against all-inclusive, eternal Love they are and accept the true valuelessness of the world we once completely believed in. Can you speak to this phase?

Well, another source of confusion for people working with the Course is the confusion of body and mind. As long as you identify as a body, then it’s impossible to work with the Course and not feel a sense of loss because it says over and over again you’re not a body. Your body doesn’t think and feel and sense; doesn’t live, doesn’t die. Reading that as an individual body; how could you not feel a sense of loss that somehow the Course is taking something away from you? And, of course, it’s not taking something away from you; it’s simply showing you that what you thought you were was an illusion.

Even in the larger sense, it’s impossible to work with the Course without recognizing what specialness is. Specialness is our identity; we identify with our neediness, our special love, special hate. The Course is really exposing that for what it is. And so I think it’s almost impossible for a serious student as he or she goes through the Course over a period of years not to feel a sense of loss and a sense of sacrifice and then a consequent sense of resentment.

In another context that makes the same point, I’ve been accused by people over the years of taking Jesus away from them. Because what I emphasize is that the Jesus of the Course is not the Jesus of the Bible, not this magical Santa Claus to whom you turn over your problems without doing any work yourself. He’s not this person who heals problems in the world; and so people feel a sense of loss that the God, the Jesus they’ve prayed to is not the Jesus or God of the Course. Basically what students feel as loss is really the loss of their specialness. But, again, it all comes down to; am I a mind, or a body? If I choose to see myself as a body that feeling of loss and sacrifice is inevitable.

And that’s the fifth stage of the Development of Trust where it just takes a long time to let go of that specialness and we need to be patient with ourselves?

Well, it doesn’t specifically say that but, yes. Accepting the true valuelessness of one’s self in order to achieve the sixth stage is what takes a long time. The Course is meant to be taken literally in the sense that its goal is to help us awaken from the dream. And you can’t awaken from the dream when you think you’re still a dream figure, which means the body; you can only awaken when you realize you’re the dreamer, which means the mind. You’re the mind that can choose whether to awaken or not.

You know you’ve made some real progress with this Course when you recognize that the you being addressed in the Course is the decision-making mind and not the person you think you are. That’s a qualitative shift. But that’s really hard to hold onto because we read it as a person with eyes that think they see and a brain that thinks it thinks. And that shift that I’m not a body—and that’s why that line “I am not a body, I am free” appears more than any other in the workbook—is so important. People don’t realize that because it’s as if there’s a wall that separates what we intellectually know from what we really experience. So we may read and believe the words that the world is an illusion and the body’s not real and I’m not really here and at the same time experience ourselves very much as persons. And that’s what takes a long time; losing our belief in our identity.

In a recent newsletter article—“A Heroic Frame of Mind”—you describe the tendency of Course students “to arrogantly believe they have attained its magnitude” when they have not yet done the daily work of forgiveness. Can you give a specific example of how this might manifest in a Course student’s behavior?

Well, that gets back to one of your previous questions. In a sense you end up being very judgmental and unkind. Because if you really do the daily work you will minimize your ego which means that you recognize everyone is the same and your heart goes out to everyone because you feel the pain in everyone. When you don’t do that and think you’ve accomplished something when you haven’t it means the ego is still alive and well but it’s buried. And whenever it is buried it projects out and you end up separating, judging, attacking, and just being unkind.

You know I talk and write about kindness more than any other term these days because people just forget common decency; just being kind. I wrote an article, I did a workshop on a line that they attribute to Philo of Alexandria: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” And when you realize that everyone is fighting a hard battle then you realize that we all have the same split mind. But when you think you’ve understood the Course but you really haven’t that’s the arrogance of thinking that you’re ego free. And then the ego stays buried and the guilt stays buried.

I’ve pointed out that what has gone wrong with Christianity for 2100 years is Christians think that just because they profess that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Lord and savior, they are free. But they’re not aware of their own guilt and ego thought system so they continue projecting and that’s why Christians end up being just like Course students when they don’t do the work. They’re very self-righteous and they end up condemning and judging everyone. If you don’t deal with your ego which you have to work daily on doing in terms of exposing it and choosing against it, it stays there. You think you’re ego free and yet your ego is alive and well. You’re unaware that you’re continually choosing it which inevitably means you’ll project it, and then you won’t be kind. And you won’t realize that everybody in this world is suffering because the world is not their home.

In that same article you talk about “the humility of being wrong” which seems to be the real opening or prerequisite to forgiveness. From moment to moment, catching myself being unkind, wanting to hold on to my specialness, and then deciding again that’s not what I really want. I want to see my innocence in others.

Right. You quoted that article about being willing to say I’m wrong and learning for that to be joyful, learning the Course is the means to awakening and returning home. And so you should be joyful because every day takes you closer to your goal. Learning is exposing your ego. And if you’re so afraid of making a mistake and you want to be perfect you’re not going to learn. There’s all that tension and anxiety and false belief again in thinking that you’ve done it when you haven’t. So in a sense when you find yourself making judgments about people; that should be a happy thing because it’s exposing your ego and that allows healing to occur. That’s the importance of that line “would you prefer to be right or happy?” The way you can be happy is to be wrong and to learn from the mistake. But if you want to be right, you’re going to think that you’ve done something when you haven’t and then you make yourself and everybody else around you unhappy.

Course students often repeat statements such as “I am as God created me” but I find it doesn’t work for me. Is there an inherent danger for Course students in trying to embrace our “magnitude” on the level of Truth rather than just focusing on forgiving our pull toward ego specialness?

I use the metaphor of the ladder. The Course speaks on many different levels and passages that really reflect what’s at the top of the ladder such as “I am as God created me” remind us of where we’re going and our goal of awakening from the dream. It’s not to live a happier dream here, but to awaken. At the same time there are all those passages that refer to this as a process and the work involved and the workbook itself is all about that. It says at the end of the workbook “this course is a beginning not an end.” So you have to understand the different levels or rungs of the ladder the Course speaks to.

When people seize on statements such as “I am as God created me” and leapfrog to the top or so they think what they’re really doing is avoiding the daily work. One of the things I emphasize is that the oneness of Christ and Heaven is not what we experience here. The way that we’re created as spirit is perfect oneness but the reflection of perfect oneness in the world is sameness and that’s where the work is. To realize that we’re all the same and if I keep that in mind, I can’t judge anybody because judging only differentiates and separates and attacks. So the way to remember that I am as God created me and awaken from the dream is to practice everyday realizing how we’re all the same and therefore no attack thought is ever justified.

And you’re absolutely right; you don’t go from the bottom rung to the top rung. People who think they have done it are denying the guilt in the mind and they project it out and become unkind and it’s just another form of specialness. But if they do the daily work which is reflecting perfect oneness by learning to see everyone as the same, that’s forgiveness and that’s what gets you up the ladder. And the higher up the ladder you get the more you realize we’re all the same and attack is impossible. How could you attack yourself? It’s that sameness–the all-inclusiveness of forgiveness—that’s the heart of the practice. Everyone is fighting the same hard battle and if the Sonship is one in reality, then what awakens us is recognizing you are also the same in the illusion. You can’t exclude anyone from your forgiveness.

I sometimes say that if people started on page one of the text and went through all three books and looked at every time the word “all” and “every” appear whether literally or as a concept, they’d be astounded. It’s the all-inclusiveness of the Course’s vision that makes it what it is.

Practicing forgiveness day in and day out with whatever comes up, I’ve found that some areas and people in my life that used to trigger conflict no longer do, as if healed without any direct effort on my part. Conversely, I have completely new areas and people I’ve never had a problem with that suddenly seem to be in conflict. What’s going on here?

Well the first part of what you said—that a grievance all of a sudden is gone—and really the second part—all of a sudden getting upset with someone you had no grievances with—are really heads and tails of the same process. In the first part, when you keep working at undoing the guilt and unforgiveness of yourself, it generalizes. So you don’t have to forgive every single person because they’re all the same. And the Course says behind each brother are thousands and behind each one of those, another thousand. It’s like a domino effect. So when you’re really working on some key issues and can let those grievances go, they have to generalize. So all of a sudden someone you had a grievance with, the grievance is gone because the unconscious guilt is gone. But, not all the guilt is gone. So, you’re saying I’m no longer angry at person A but there’s still guilt and all of a sudden that guilt will be projected at person B that you never had an issue with before.

That shows you that the problem was never person A or person B, anyway. That’s where you have to understand the Course’s metaphysics that there’s no one out there. So the guilt will just land wherever it works best for your ego. So it’s not only that you’re never upset for the reason you think, you’re never angry for the reason you think and you’re never angry at the person you think because it’s not the person. So as you do your daily work and you’re forgiving more and more and letting go of your unforgiveness of yourself, then people you thought you hated all of a sudden the hate is gone because the guilt is gone. But if there’s still some guilt lurking it can easily find another target. All of that helps you realize, it’s never the external that’s the problem.

And there just seems no end to the places where it can crop up.

There’s never any end to it as long as there’s still some guilt.

But it is being chipped away at as you forgive what’s in your face, in your classroom everyday. That’s the process part?

Yes. But you don’t have to know what’s going on, because it’s unconscious anyway. Each and every time you find yourself angry you remember that I’m never upset for the reason I think. I sometimes say the only two lessons you really need to master are lessons 5 and 34, “I’m never upset for the reason I think” and “I could see peace instead of this.” That brings the problem back to my mind, and reminds me peace is a decision. And as long as I’m doing that, there will be wonderful effects that I don’t even need to understand.

I love this Course. Forgiveness has brought me so much real comfort and I’m really grateful to you for helping me understand the practice. It’s helped me see everything as the same problem, and generally made me much more tolerant. But I am still on a journey, still often afraid of losing this special identity, ambivalent about its value and at times terrified of losing my special relationships even as I watch myself pushing human love away. Can you give those of us somewhere in the murky middle of this journey home any advice on keeping the faith? In other words, can you give us a little pep talk, Ken?

Well, the process really works and you feel much better. I sometimes tell people just plant your nose on the page in front of you, don’t worry about the whole rest of the music, work on what’s directly in front of you and trust that there’s a love in you that you’re choosing to get closer and closer to. And if you really work day in and day out on just looking at your ego projections, then the payoff is immeasurable. It’s just incomprehensible how wonderful it is and you will continue to feel much better. The Course really works, if you work at it, so don’t stop. The key is to work at it with a gentle smile and not with all that seriousness.



sunrise Village Bulletin Board, 17th November, 2010:
The Vortex of Love

Murril stopped by today to share this beautiful episode of forgiveness with us:

"Good morning, all, Sometimes my work takes me out of the office and I do not have as much access or time to linger here. I see that I have missed some wonderful discussions….or rather, they were waiting for me when I logged in this morning. Sometimes I try to read everything that was posted in my absence–my futile effort to correct my confusion—but I find that I am more at one when I simply allow myself to be drawn into the vortex. So I came here this morning with the idea of how I continue to let the past define me, how it filters my perspective. How many times have I moaned, “My life would have been better if this had not happened, or if “so&so” had not done that to me.” Then I saw Lisi’s wonderfully honest post and subsequent comments, people who could understand if we wished the bitch were dead. I have habored such thoughts in my time….not wanting to facilitate the deed myself, but wishing that a bizarre sequence of natural events would take care of things. Yesterday I made a decision to forgive someone. She was a former boss whose mecurical & arbitrary nature, coupled with her scathing commentaries, made life miserable for ten years. I am not sure why, but over the past few days I came to see her differently….as someone acting out of fear….and I did not hate her so. I chose to forgive, to cease to participate in the ruminations and perseverations. I know that as long as I identify with the past I am doomed to repeat it. And I realized that I did not wish the person dead; I wished my perception and my memory of it to die."

(Comments here)




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