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

The Far Shore

[In preparation for some teaching I would like to begin this September, I began this morning to write some notes to myself and these following thoughts began to flow. I share them with you here.]

There can be an exciting time when we first begin our study of this course during which we feel we are finally making some real progress toward a real goal. This can be because we feel we are making a connection with a true spiritual presence that will lead us out of our darkness. Or it can be because we are learning that we do not have to be imprisoned by the past, by our regrets and grievances. It can be because we are learning to hear a voice that tells us authoritatively to give less belief and less importance to our judgments and hatefulness. It can be because we are hearing a loving voice that reassures us that our truth is not hateful but beautiful, that gives us hope that the end of life is not death but Heaven. It can be because we hear a voice that tells us we are deserving of goodness and beauty, and undeserving of judgment and punishment. It reminds us that innocence is true and an inherent part of us. All of this is wonderfully magical and already gives us much hope and much to look forward to.

On the other hand, it is just a beginning; the real work lies still before us, and there are many bridges to cross before we arrive at the far shore.

For there is, indeed, a far shore. Heaven is not here, it is not in the world we see before us, but in another, altogether different perception of life. We must eventually learn that the person that Jesus is talking to is not the one we think, but another, non-physical self outside the traditional home of ourselves we call our body. This is when the work gets difficult, since there are few among us who really want to leave this concept of ourselves, to learn that there is another, heretofore unseen and unsuspected life to which we belong that is our real Life.

The image we see before us in the mirror Jesus helps us to learn is an illusion, unreality. It is holding on to this image as our self that is the cause of all our pain and guilt. It is the reason that God and Love seem distant and separate; it is the reason we feel there is a war being waged in some part of our minds. While we grip tightly onto this image as our self, we battle with God for our self-definition. We cannot truly know our Selves; and while we are confused about our identity, we will feel endangered and fearful.

The answer is simple, it is beautiful, it is wonderfully kind and loving. The answer is forgiveness, to forgive what we believe we have accomplished but have not. The only problem is that we do not want it. We do not want it because we believe we know what our happiness is, and that it lies within validating these bodies as our true existence. And so we will persist in seeking to make this illusion our home, but would attenuate the fear and guilt it encompasses. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on our point of view, this effort cannot possibly win. We cannot separate ourselves from our Home; we cannot make unreality reality.

Ultimately, we can only learn to accept our Reality as it is. That is our only true power. And while this seems like a tragedy to a part of us, it is the soft touch of Heaven’s blessing to another, wiser part of us. A child might scream when you wake him from a nightmare and open the curtain to allow in the morning sun. We can be reassured that our dream of separation does not have to end in a scream of fear, but in the gentle falling away of an old piece of haggard and odious clothing. Our fear, guilt, sadness, hatred and anger will quietly drop away, little piece by little piece when we learn one tiny, simple, elegant lesson: this is not being done to me.

My feelings come only from my fear that separation is real. But it is not. One simple lesson, I need but forgive and this fear and upset shall disappear. I need condemn myself no longer for what was never done. For it is only my condemnation of myself that I see in all the shapes and images of this world, in all the comings and goings in my daily life. My own fears reflected back to me via the scenes of my life – that is the sum total of all that upsets and frightens me.

I need judge no longer but accept that Heaven is real and intact, and my only Home. My Brother waits for me just the other side of my insistence on my problem. I need only be wrong about this difficulty, and it shall disappear. How joyful then and how easy it is to walk this path. I need but be wrong! What could be simpler? And then in quietness and confidence I wait and accept the blessing of innocence and holiness that my Brother has kept for me these many long years. And I am set free, no longer a body but Mind outside this world, a holy memory of a wholly loving Father, His perfect Child just as He created Me.

sunrise Mayor's Journal, 19th June, 2011:

My days were numbered, so I thought...

My days were numbered, so I thought, from first to last,
Repeating in cycles, too slow, too fast.
And in between a tired vigil,
Weary steps trod round and round,
The nightman’s watch, too dazed, too blind,
To even know that Time had passed.
My eyes cast down, how could I see?
Till there on stony steps a shadow fell – differently.
It seemed so sharp and clear, not dull and blank as were all things to me.
My gaze fixed taut on this clear sight,
A person’s shape I had never seen.
What kind of man cuts so clear a swath,
And rends dark from light so easily?
But though I tried I could not raise my eyes so long attuned
To night’s sick sad appeal.
Then as if at my unknown behest
For no words came that I recall
The shadow’s hand reached out,
And next a warmth blazed through my chest,
The finger of the hand, I saw, just one soft touch, point so gently.
I knew not next what hit my mind
Though heavy tears spread at my feet,
And a stone so long in-grown now lay there
And in its place a golden orb with one word writ,

The nonsense chains that bound my mind fell lightly down,
Bright colors swept grey’s tragedy away.
The nightwatch done,
I raise my eyes and find the stranger who visits me,
This blessed Brother I knew - had never known.
For while I dreamt of strange sorrows he was there,
He was there!
Now so clear, the Light that shone behind him,
Bright because it was so near – so near!
Had I seen? No, not at all.
Yet just as sharp, now my own shade,
For there behind me a bright sun gleamed,
No more shouldered by a weak, ill pall.

Now we two joined as one host,
Heralds of a life renewed,
Heralds of a world reborn,
In purest robes seek our friends still lost,
And I reach out, as once someone had for me.
I touch him lightly, so as not to scare him,
His aching eyes meet mine – I smile.
Come here, my friend, forgive, and be released,
Forgive, I ask, and be at peace.
Come Home...
Come Home and live with Me

(Photo credit: aksinya meditative photography)

sunrise Mayor's Journal, 24th June, 2011:

Oh, that bad old ego!

I was talking with a Course friend the other day (okay, the inner kind), and the subject of wanting to ‘get rid of the ego’ came up again. Perhaps you know that feeling? I feel it when I sense fear in me, or some frustration, or some guilt about having neglected something, and then I think if only I could get rid of that troublesome part of me that manufactures all that, I could live much more peacefully here. How about you? Haven’t you thought that life would be more peaceful here if you could just get rid of fear and guilt?

First let me give a brief overview of some of the particularly interesting things that came up in this conversation. One of these was the lack of gray ground between the ego and the Holy Spirit, between our small self and our completely abstract Self outside of the body, time and space. There is no plane of existence that has aspects of both – no kind of place suspended between hell and heaven. Doesn’t exist. It’s always one or the other. The other thing was that wanting to lead a more peaceful life without my ego was also part of the problem. I would not be able to lead a more peaceful life as ‘me’, as the individual I had always been in the past. Calling into question fear, frustration and guilt is ultimately going to call into question the self that feels these things. That self is part of the unhappiness equation. The ‘self’ cannot feeling like a self, and not feel these negative sensations. The real answer lies entirely elsewhere. Darn it.

But on to this special conversation…

The first thought that came up was the most relieving of all: We don’t have to get rid of our ego! That was excellent news! In fact, we plain and simply can’t get rid of it, and that’s really not the goal, either. It can only be incredibly frustrating trying to make a goal out of something that is truly impossible. The only reason anyone would have for trying to get rid of the ego is that he has first judged it as something quite real to be reckoned with, and then as something terribly bad. And only the ego is capable of judging and thinking like that. In fact, to put it more plainly and simply, trying to get rid of the ego is the best sign that we are still squarely within the ego. So what are we supposed to do?

Forgiveness … merely looks, and waits, and judges not. (WII.1.4:3).

The Course teaches us that what we do with our ego is just observe it. We just look at it, but this is a special kind of looking. We observe it and learn to be less and less surprised at its desolation, and learn to judge it less and less. “…above all, be not afraid of it. ” Eventually we arrive at the point where we can observe it fully in all its evil intentions and ways, and not lose that calm center of grace and understanding. Not be upset by it, not run back to fear and guilt, and certainly not judge it. Then our new vision, guided now by the Holy Spirit, will show us something truly remarkable: the ego is not bad – it is nothing.

The ego is nothing – completely insignificant. This is precisely the information that it cannot bear to hear. This is precisely why we rarely do what the Holy Spirit within us would have us do. In fact, we will do everything possible to avoid this one clear point of understanding. We will even use the Course to try to get rid of our ego, or at least to clean it up to the point that it is not so bad, or not as bad as other’s egos! This is just our pure silliness. The ego’s intentions are purely selfish and totally carnivorous, but it, itself, is nothing. It is only our belief in this self and its needs that makes it real at all.

The ego is the ego is the ego. We will never be rid of it, period. We will all carry the viciousness and wickedness of the ego with us to the very end. But when we practice that special quiet, detached looking, from outside that miserable self, then things start to change. Over time we will be less and less surprised by it, less and less convinced by it, and we will judge it no more at all. We will just observe it, with a kind, humorous, friendly and understanding observation. But it will still be there. Only at the very end will we have observed it and forgiven ourselves to the point that it will be just the faintest blot on the horizon, a miniscule dot on our perfectly clear mind.

So, let's do ourselves an immense favor - let's stop trying to get rid of our ego! This does not mean that we indulge the ego, of course. Just that we do not take an active position against it in our minds when we see its behavior and thoughts coming forward again. We do not oppose it, or resist it. We accept that it is there because we understand that our minds are still split and scared of Love.

By practicing this way, we step out of the wrong mind, instead of trying to get rid of it, drawn forward by the promise of kindness and innocence offered to us by the Love in our right minds. We do not destroy or negate the wrong mind. We just leave it. We look back on it, and observe its activity from a slight distance. Of course, this unfortunately means leaving the importance of everything that lives within and through the wrong mind.

Again, this is why we find this so difficult. Everything that lives within the wrong mind is everything I think I am. It would be like leaving home, the home of all my issues, difficulties and problems. The home of my past, my relationships, my history, and my particular traits and talents. None of all this is really as pleasant as I convince myself it is, of course, but for now it feels really familiar. At least it feels like ‘something’. And it doesn’t really care if I think it’s the “home of evil, darkness and sin”. It still feels like home.

In fact, the ego loves to think that it’s bad and wicked. As Ken said in a workshop I listened to recently, the ego loves to join us in a crusade against the ‘bad old ego’. A bad ego is a good ego. Because at least it’s a bad SOMETHING. And its being bad makes that something even more important. It must be important if we judge it as evil. We only do that with important things, after all.

But maybe we think some aspects of ourselves are not really so bad. In fact, maybe we have some really pretty good sides to us. We might even think that if only we could bring forth those good aspects and leave all those nasty little bad aspects out of the picture, we’ll have made some good progress. We might even be halfway Home. But, alas, the self we are looking for is not even this nice one cleaned of its rottenness. Not even a nice ‘me’ is really going to make a big difference. We’re not really looking for a ‘me’ at all, nice or nasty.

We must now learn to ask to be more willing to simply leave all this effort to the side in order to gain that sweet inner place of comfort and peace where the truth of our real Self is held, just slightly removed from that tiny messed up self. Just the smallest distance away, and yet a world apart.

Wouldn’t that be so much easier than trying to get rid of the bad old ego, battling it, striving to eradicate it? Ahh… We can just breathe a little easier now. It’s really no big shakes to still have some ego. No big shakes. We just need to be willing to see that we’re not the ego, nor even the body-mind we have always thought ourselves to be. We’re something else entirely, utterly different.

So maybe we can stop trying to be good Course students. A good Course student is one who knows that he still contains the ego thought system 100 percent; a good Course student knows he is not an exception to this rule. He does not even want to be an exception – because this would be the wish to exclude his brother, and he knows he no longer wants to do that.

Let’s all be the same now, the same as every brother. Let’s all contain the ego 100 percent, and let’s all contain the holiness and exquisite sanctity of the Holy Spirit, 100 percent. That’s what a split mind is all about. That’s where we are still. And that’s really okay. In fact, that’s absolutely perfect.

(Photo credit: aksinya meditative photography)

sunrise Mayor's Journal, 29th June, 2011:

Poem: The Sword Too Heavy, or The Haggard Clown

I spoke to one I thought I loved so dear,
Informed him of his faults, his sins, his errors.
It made me sad, it really did, but still
I could not seem to stop myself.

Though part of me knew all too well the wrong
I laid on him, my brother seemed to me
The cause of all my woe, my tears and hate,
The thing it seemed I had to change.

The dagger plunged, my shield was raised, and I
Looked dumbly on as blood was spilled and poured.
The more I struck, the more I wept, the more
I wished that this had not begun.

I fought my foe, the one I loved, while he
Looked back at me. Dark red his clothes, the wounds
Were deep, I would not find his eyes until
My sword was stilled, my breath full spent.

I filled my lungs once more and steeled myself.
No room for love, it was either him or me,
One or none, would survive this war and still
He looked at me, until he spoke:

“I am the thing that you believe I am – it’s true.”
My dagger stayed, I could not bear his words.
“I am what you say, my brother, I beg of you
To please forgive my sins and ways.”

“You speak the truth, I do not do as I
Should always do, I do not act as I
Would like to be, the mistakes I make weigh down
And sadden me, for I mean no harm.”

“My face is pitted with the blows that I have laid
On others, my skin is rough from armor, my hands
Calloused, tired and sore. My sword is here,
By your feet, too heavy to hold.”

I bent down and there it was, the lethal
Blade now still, no harm was there, nor ever
Was. What had I seen? What had I hated?
A light glint off the rusting tool.

The gleam came from some place above and as
I raised myself, my brother’s hand reached out
And though at first I drew away in fear
There was no harm as he had said.

I felt his touch, it was not cold, but warm
And kind. An age had passed before I raised
My eyes, and there He was. “Do you now know
With whom you fought these many years?”

My sight was blurred for tears had come, they fell
And spent my pain and hurt; my sword washed clean,
‘Twas now a Cross, a brilliant silver star
That shone upon the two of us.

I could not speak, for in that place I saw
My Self, but not the haggard soldier clown.
The patchwork clothes laid by, the light it came
From deep within the Christ we shared.

“It was not me with whom you waged your war;
It was not I who caused you pain and sorrow.”
And this was true, I hated not my brother.
“Would you condemn yourself again?

The words came slowly from my mouth, I said:
“Yet though I tried to take your life you come
To me and bring the greatest of God’s Gifts.
My life is yours, my heart I offer.”

At this the Light began to shiver, a mirth
It seemed began to shake the air. “You do
Not see? You do not see?
” And only then
Did understanding come to me.

“We are but One, not two, not ‘you’ and ‘I’!
No hate or thought of merciless intent
May break what God has forged and sealed as One.
Come laugh with me, come take my hand.”

And we this day became as One and walked
On Heaven’s Path, through Heaven’s Lawns, and though
Our brothers spoke to us of two, we heard
But One, one Voice that sought Itself.

Take heart, my friends, for we are not alone.
Though haggard clowns we find ourselves to be,
There is no sin, God wills that we be Home,
’Tis our Brother’s Love that sets us free.