Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Course Note #38: Who's Right about Interpretation of ACIM?

On a list I'm on, this question was posed this morning: To accept the Atonement for yourself, do you have to agree with me (or anyone) on the meaning of ACIM?   Does anyone else have to agree with you?

My take is this:

While I've come to appreciate the Bible more over the years,
A Course in Miracles remains the spiritual path the continues to profoundly speak to me. Nevertheless, we can look at the bible as it relates to this idea of interpretation.

Literally thousands of people (if you consider ministers, scholars, authors, Sunday school teachers, etc.) teach/speak/share on the Bible. We can find material ranging from the rabid fundamentalists to those who look at the deeper metaphysical symbolism found in the bible. Some people teach it to children in Sunday school, while others teach it to scholars in college.

Who get's to be the authority on what the bible says? Thank God, not the people who take Leviticus literally word for word! lol

I personally find the teachings in the Bible more profound and applicable to my life if I look at the deeper meanings, so I'm thankful that I'm not stuck with the more literal fundamentalist approach. I've spent the last year with NTI, short for The Holy Spirit's Interpretation of the New Testament, scribed by Regina Dawn Akers.  Wow! What a gift this is.  At least for me, it has been a great bridge between A Course in Miracles and the Bible.

When it comes to the various bible translations, I like using several.  Maybe that's the "teacher" personality coming out, but sometimes reading a certain translation provokes an "Aha" moment:

 "Oh, that's what it means!"   Nevertheless, many argue about which Bible translation is the most valid, correct, or the best...it goes on and on.  Now that the original texts of A Course in Miracles have been discovered and published, we can observe the same thing going on in the Course community.   


We must come to recognize that this is what ego (fear) does.

All over the world, debate and conflict abound in *all* religious/spiritual communities.  I am thankful for the inner freedom to let Holy Spirit be my guide rather than outside authority.

I do find it interesting that in the Course community, some feel that we should all interpret ACIM the same. ACIM is a deep and profound spiritual path, and it's amazing to me that anyone thinks that they've really got the foothold on the truth it contains, or that one could fully grasp it in a year of haphazardly applying its principles. 



I've been with it around 18 years now, and each year I gain new understanding about aspects of the course. It's amazing to me that even one lesson can unfold deeper gifts even after I've read it many times over the years.

There is still much in the course that I freely admit, I don't have a clue about. And, I'm fine with not totally understanding it. ACIM introduces us to our inner teacher, who then, if we're so willing, leads us through an *individual* curriculum...all leading to the same outcome.


I'm grateful that my curriculum involved spending years with ACIM and Holy Spirit, before I got to the internet (HAHA) because by then, I'd learned to trust guidance and not be swayed by the opinions of others.



I'm also grateful for everyone I've come across who have been passionate about, and inspired to share what they have learned through long-time application of ACIM.  To me, it makes perfect sense that all are needed.  It's God's way of meeting us where we are.  

So I for one feel that we ought to trust our guidance, honor that of others, and yeah, accept the atonement (correction process) for ourselves. ;)


So, who's right about interpretation of A Course in Miracles? God meets us where we are. In your willingness to let Holy Spirit be your guide, you will be led to peace.


P.S. Thanks to Ken Mallory for inspiring this post! ;)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Course Note #37: The Best Laid Plans...


Today is Christmas. I feel so blessed.  Life…what a gift!  Thank You.
I like to think of life as a classroom, and at least for me, class was not dismissed for the holidays!  I had planned to work most of the week in my chiropractic office, and so on Sunday night I made a list of all the holiday errands I needed to fit around my time in the office. 
The week started out well enough, on Monday morning on my way to the office I decided to stop off at a particular store to buy a gift for someone, and while there, I found a fabulous purse on sale! I left the store delighted with my purchases and entered the parking area where, I evidently missed a step, and fell hard to the pavement. I won’t bore you with all the gory details, but I left the parking lot with one ankle fractured and the other one sprained – things went downhill from there.  Needless to say, this past week I did not work in my office or get any of those holiday errands done.  
A Course in Miracles has quite a bit to say about how we make the future continuous with the past by being absent in the present.  We make plans about what will be needed tomorrow, based on whatever went on yesterday.  This week I was provided with an experiential lesson on how the “best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” 
            Through this experience I realized, not for the first time, that in any moment life could take a totally new direction.  And, amazingly, this is okay. I reflected on how the situation could have been a lot worse, and how for the first time, I get to stay home for seven days without worrying about the business.
            I’m not really sure how these life events are orchestrated, but it doesn’t seem to be an “accident” that this accident occurred at this time.  Much of my inner work of late has been on going deeper into “I am as God created me”, and allowing my Inner Teacher to teach me right perception of the body.  So here I have an experience that causes me to be even more mesmerized by the body! 
It has not escaped my awareness that injuring both ankles at the same time must contain some sort of metaphysical message.  Some believe that the body has absolutely nothing to do with spirit, but in my experience both professionally and personally, there is a definite connection between mind-body-spirit.  In the case of sprains, the metaphysical cause is, “not wanting to move in a certain direction. Resistance to change.” 
Wow! This is incredibly right on because for many months I have been guided to move into a new direction and have experienced much resistance.  Recently I’ve sought for deeper guidance in regard to this. 
Interestingly enough, a friend directed me to a blog post where the author had a similar experience.  Immediately after she felt that she achieved a heightened spiritual awareness, she fell down steps in her home and severely sprained her ankle!  She saw it as ego resistance. 
The Course doesn’t tell us that the body doesn’t exist, rather, it tells us that the body is a “fact” in human experience, yet, it is not who you are.  Nevertheless, the body can be used by Holy Spirit to heal our mind, or used by ego to distract from healing.  The body is, of course, ego’s major weapon of mass distraction! 
When I came home on Monday, I spent the afternoon in bed reading the Course and meditating on healing.  But then, I let ego move in as substitute teacher – teaching lessons on being hypnotized by form, namely, the form of my ankles! 
Nevertheless, I have continuously called on Divine Love to eject this substitute teacher!  Consequently, I have been able to really see how differently these two teachers taught the class.  With ego at the head of the class: I thought about my body, how long it was going to take to heal, if I could go back to work next week, and what would happen if I couldn’t.  Not to mention that all I want to do is eat, and now I cannot exercise!                      
As I let my mind rest on “Let me remember I am one with God” I was able to see the gifts in the experience.  God is.  God is in the present. When I am not resting in the present, I am not resting in the Presence, and thus cannot received the presents that the present holds. Bet you didn’t think one could use that word so many ways, eh? 
All things can be used by Holy Spirit to show us the way home.  Love whispers to us now:
This Christmas give Me everything
that would hurt you.
Let yourself be healed completely
that you may join with Me in healing.
Trust the process of life
to take you to your highest good.
Rest in the present,
in peace.


I must also say here, sappy though it may sound, that I’ve always viewed my husband as one of God’s greatest gifts to me.  His unconditional love and support of both Bobby and me, has been an unending source of healing throughout our years together.  Not surprisingly, this week he has been my major Christmas gift.  Thank you God and Thank You Bill. J


I spoke on this topic 12/29/09 to an internet audience. Audio is 56 min.


MP3 File


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Course Note #35: Exiting the Chrysalis


Hi there
Wow, I've been struggling with myself for the last few days! Yet, the very fact that I feel so much "fruggle" (a combo of frustration & struggle), reveals that I'm still trying to fix myself by myself. It seemed that all through the night last night I prayed without ceasing, lesson 365:


This Holy Instant would I give to You.
Be You in charge.
For I would follow You,
Certain that Your direction gives me peace.


I woke up with a line from the Course at the forefront of my mind: "Delay will hurt you now more than before, only because you realize it is delay, and that escape from pain is really possible...  Wait no longer, for the Love of God and you."

For a good portion of my life I was like the caterpillar, clinging to the earth -- nibbling away on the things of the world.  And now...I feel that I am in the chrysalis, dying to the old to give birth to the new.  It's a painful business, but only because I'm trying to do it myself.  I doubt that the caterpillar struggled in the chrysalis to become free, I imagine that it surrendered to the process.

I can see that this body "issue" I've been struggling with for several years is really a great gift as it is teaching me a lot about bondage and freedom. In NTI I am told to, "Be grateful for this body and all it is teaching you, for in partnership with this learning device you will correct the mind."  On that same note, I am reminded of something one of my friends, Tomas, said just the other day on FB: Today I heard very clearly, "Give me your mind and I will heal your body," and I thought how scared we are most of the time because we want Him to heal the effects without giving Him the cause to heal. No wonder we suffer.

"Wow!" I thought as I read that, and then Holy Spirit said to me: "Sheryl, give me your mind and I will heal everything."  We want God to fix everything "out there" without being willing to hand over the cause, our mind.

Much of my inner work over the years has been to one degree or another about arising in consciousness to the Truth of Who I Am.  I love the butterfly as it speaks to me of transformation and freedom.  


Today, I am ready to begin exiting the chrysalis; to live with a greater sense of Self fullness rather than Self forgetfulness. Today I am willing to be free as the Butterfly.  






Saturday, December 05, 2009

Course Note # 34: Embrace the New



Hi
In late 2007 and early 2008 as I was being urged to let go of particular habits that were no longer serving me, I received quite a bit of insight on the passage in the Bible about not being able to put new wine in old wineskins. If new wine is poured into old wineskins the skins will burst and thus the wine is wasted.


My inner teacher has reminded me of these teachings off and on for the past few years as it relates to what was going on with me then, and now. The essential message Spirit gave me was this: "Sheryl I cannot pour new power into you if you are unwilling to give up old ways of being, old attitudes and old habitual thought patterns." It was a Wow moment to realize that these teachings were not just words in a book but contained powerful truth related to my own life.


Then in November of last year I began a study of NTI (The Holy Spirit's Interpretation of the New Testament), and it was no surprise to find the same teachings here.
NTI, Matthew 9:14-17
"Let go of old habits and old ways of thinking. They have not served you. To hold onto the old is to create a future like the past. That is not useful to you now. Listen to my word. Hear what I say. Practice it. Then you will know what to do."


NTI, Luke 5:33-39
"Old habits must be let go, for old habits will not usher in a new day. With old habits, all things remain the same. But with new habits, all things are possible. I have come to teach you new habits. You will learn these habits by practicing them as I ask. Remember Me, and practice. You will catch yourself practicing the old habits, for this has been your way until now. Slipping into old habits does not ruin the new ones. So when you find yourself doing this, forgive yourself..."


I have been directed to this guidance off and on throughout this entire year and received greater insight on it fairly recently. I'd like to point out how all great spiritual literature meets us where we are: When I was first directed to these passages I heard this: "When you find yourself slipping into old habits, forgive yourself." So for quite awhile I did practice forgiving myself for falling into my old thought and behavior habits.


A couple months ago, however, I was evidently ready to hear this: "So when you find yourself doing this, forgive yourself your attraction to the old by stepping away from the old and stepping into the new. Each time you do this, you help yourself to unlearn the old and learn the new. Take no old habits with you into the new, for the old habits must be left completely if the new habits are to result in new."


So through this I see how spirit meets us where we are. Earlier in the year I was urged to forgive myself for my departures into the old. Now I'm being guided to forgive myself "by" stepping away from the old and into the new. In other words, I forgive myself by practicing!


What do I/we practice? All behavior comes from thought. Any practice that is used to let go of old ways of thinking will do.  This material has certainly spoken to me about behavioral habits, but on a deeper level, it speaks to letting go of the old habits of thinking that keep me stuck in behavior patterns that no longer serve me.  One practice that I really like is to simply give my thoughts to Holy Spirit for the purpose of healing my mind.


Now, as another helpful practice, I am reminded of Lesson 314 in ACIM, which I've paraphrased a bit:


I seek a future different from the past.


Holy Spirit, may you reveal to me
a new perception of myself.
I have been mistaken about who I am,
and now I want to choose the present to be free.
I leave my future in Your hands
and leave behind my past mistakes.
Guide me in your holy light.
Amen.




Thursday, December 03, 2009

Course Note #33: Mind Training


A Course in Miracles is all about mind-training and mental discipline.  Through diligent practice of its principles, I have learned how to choose peace through being aware of when I’m not at peace, and choosing again. 
Over the last several years the Inner Teacher has been taking me deeper into training on mind watching, which is really about looking at my thoughts. It’s probably fair to say that most of us have areas in our lives where we experience frustration, struggle and reoccurring problems. These feelings most likely show up in areas of habitual and compulsive behavior.
I certainly can engage in compulsive overeating, and habitually feeling solely responsible for running my business rather than letting go and letting God.   What is it for you?  These behaviors are often on automatic pilot, seemingly facilitated by something going on in our unconsciousness.
A Course in Miracles contains some very rich material on this idea: “The unwatched mind is responsible for the whole content of the unconscious.” (urtext: T 2 E 23) 
According to Webster, “unconscious” is to be, “unaware of; it is the sum of all thoughts of which the individual is not conscious of, but which influences the emotions and behavior.”  And “conscious” is to be, “awake; aware; aware of oneself as a thinking being.”

While on a morning walk, after first clearing my mind of a grievance I had toward a friend (this is a key point because when we hold onto grievances we are unavailable to receive guidance), I began to receive guidance on unconscious thoughts.  I heard the Inner Voice say that the thoughts that precipitate behavior that I am seemingly unconscious of, are not really unconscious at all.  In fact, not only am I conscious of these thoughts, I listen to them, believe them and then act on them.  The reason they seem to be unconscious is because I’ve been listening to them for so long that I no longer hear them.  

With mind training we learn to hear the thoughts we think.  In the Course we are told, “You are responsible for what you think, because it is only at this level that you can exercise choice.  What you do comes from what you think.  (urtext: T 2 D 5)
When we begin to watch our minds, then and only then will we be privy as to why we do the things we do.  We seem to be unaware of why we engage in certain habits, however, before we did engage we thought a thought, we listened to it, believed it, and then acted on it.  This is not just about compulsive behavior patterns, but also habitual thought patterns such as worry, anxiety, self-criticism, self-pity, etc.
            I’ll use my example of compulsive overeating: I get off work and have a thought about buying wine and picking up food or ordering a pizza.  I listen to that thought, believe that it sounds like a great idea, and then I act on it. I then call my husband and ask him what he wants.  All this seems to occur on automatic pilot.

Let’s say that I catch the thought: I’m really tired tonight, I’m going to stop and get some wine, and pick up some food.”  What if I stop there and look at the thought? Then, instead of just listening to and acting on the thought, I’m now engaged in hearing the thought, “I’m tired, I want to…”  Only when I hear it, do I then have the opportunity to choose again, or not.   There is nothing wrong with eating pizza or drinking wine but, if I cannot say “no”, then I am enslaved.
            So one night as I caught these thoughts, I heard the Inner voice ask, “Sheryl, what do you really want?”
“I really want to drink wine and eat pizza!”
“Sheryl, what do you really want?”
“I want to be free.”
 
Freedom isn’t just about being able to do whatever you want, it’s also about being able to not do what you don’t want to do.  When it comes to compulsive behavior, we continually engage in activities that cause us pain later. Compulsive spending racks up the bills, compulsive eating racks up the pounds, compulsive self-pity racks up feelings of unworthiness – and all of it racks up excessive focus on self.

Mind training is really about awareness because without it, we are not free to choose again. It requires vigilance, which is watching with awareness.  Frequently when the word “vigilant” comes up, along with that comes whining: Why do I have to do that? Am I ever going to get to a place where I don’t have to do it? It’s too hard! Spirituality is supposed to be simple!” 


Okay, let’s address this here:
Why do I have to do it?  You don’t, unless you want to experience more peace, freedom and happiness.
Am I ever going to get to a point that I don’t have to watch my mind?  No, not if you want to live in peace and freedom.
It’s too hard!  And so the way we live our lives is easier?
Spirituality is supposed to be simple.  It is, it’s just not easy.

Through the practice of watching our thoughts, we bring them out of the unconscious and into the conscious.  We can only gain awareness on why we do the things we do through learning to be consciousness of the thoughts that came first. 
            Okay, so now that I am learning to hear the thoughts that precipitate compulsive behavior, what do I do next?
           Here's some Good News! This is the part where spiritual practice really is simple.  You don’t have to do anything but, let it be done for you.  How cool is that?
When you are aware of your thoughts, you can then give them over to the Inner Presence for healing. There are many forms of practice, in fact, using any one of the workbook lessons in the Course will do.  It can be as simple as saying, “Holy Spirit I give these thoughts to you for the purpose of healing my mind.”  Or, frequently when faced with the temptations of the ego, I pray Lesson 365

This holy instant would I give to You,
Be You in charge.
For I would follow You,
Certain that Your direction gives me peace.

And now I am prompted to a wonderful passage in NTI on freedom:

Your goal now is freedom, and you will succeed in your goal by letting go of every thought that would keep you imprisoned.  For the hellish thoughts within your mind are your prison, and only by letting them go can you be free.  Listen to Me. I am sharing the secrets of your imprisonment and your freedom.  It is not My Will that you be imprisoned.  It is My Will that you be free.  Listen to Me.  Accept My Will as yours, and open your prison doors. (NTI, Matthew 5:29,30)

Learning to be free does require practice, patience and perseverance – the rewards are great.

*Here is an audio I gave to an internet audience, it is 49 min.*

Mind Watching


MP3
File



Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Course Note #32: How Can I Serve Today?

Hi There,
Yesterday I woke up with the idea to write a blog on "How Can I Serve Today?" I had quite a few things that I thought I wanted to say about it. I was in my chiropractic office yesterday, and so did not have time to write, but I realize today, that I did have time to practice it.

My mother has been going through something that has been very stressful for her, and seems to be quite unfair. Yesterday morning as I was leaving the house, I burst out to my husband that life can be so unfair! Ah, but being a Course student, Holy spirit immediately reminded me of the truth, "Now Sheryl, you know better than that. You're doing this to yourself."

Ya, Can anyone say, "BUSTED!"?

Throughout the day I practiced forgiveness. My mother and I shared that this was the best way to proceed, to let go of our own anger for the purpose of healing.

Then this morning I landed on this page in NTI, Matthew 5:25-26

"You cannot find joy within hatred, for hatred is like a prison and the jailer is but yourself. Free yourself from your prison of pain. Let go of that which you think your brother has done to you. It is not important. It but keeps you imprisoned within a limited mind and away from the unlimited, which is but your Self. Let go of all grievances against your brother, no matter how large or small they seem. For they are all the same, and each one has the power to keep you imprisoned from your Self.
  "When hurtful thoughts about a another come into your mind, let them go, for you do not want any thought in your mind that is not the thought of love. Your goal now is freedom, and you will succeed in your goal by letting go of every thought that would keep you imprisoned. For the hellish thoughts within your mind are your prison, and only by letting them go can you be free... The thoughts of justification are like poisonous prison food."
     Don't ya love it? Poisonous Prison Food!
    In our willingness to spit out that poisonous prison food, we are so incredibly rich. I shared with my mom that this whole thing is just another opportunity to choose again.

   I am reminded right now of one of my favorite lines in ACIM:

In any pain, despair or perplexity
the voice of Love within
gently calls to you and
whispers,
My Brother choose again.

Just moments after I wrote to my mom, I realized that when I asked the question yesterday, "How can I serve today?" I was given yet another opportunity to serve through the practice of forgiveness.

Thank you.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Course Note #30: And so you want to write?

Last night I talked on the phone with a dear friend. She shared with me that she is feeling frustrated because she has several ideas for books to write, but then just spent the past two hours fooling around on the internet. She felt that she was not going forth with her endeavors due to fear.
I shared with her that I too have been feeling that I am letting things that I want to write fall by the wayside. While I agreed that we humans often don’t live up to our Divine potential due to fear, I suggested that thinking we have to do these things right now – maybe that’s coming from ego.
This morning I spent time with Spirit in gratitude, and then was urged to go on a walk with my dog. I do various forms of exercise on a weekly basis, but for some reason, it’s when I go on long walks that I receive amazing insights from my inner teacher.
Holy Spirit reminded me of the conversation with my friend last night, and then reminded me of a passage in NTI on resistance:


Within you there is great willingness to do all that I ask you to do. And within you there is a great resistance that guides you away from the practice I ask you to seek. Let us look at your resistance, that you may be aware of its ploys. Then you will be able to recognize it and to choose, not with resistance, but with your willingness.
                   Your resistance will distract you away from Me. It will give you thoughts that seem to need to be thought, problems to think through and solve. It will give you things to do that must be done if you are to be seen as worthy by the outside world… (Emphasis provided for my benefit by Holy Spirit. ;)


I spent ten years from start to published in the process of writing my book, “Oh My God. It’s Me!” It’s not that the book is so deep that it required all that time; rather it was during those years that I was learning to live what I was writing about. In retrospect it’s obvious how necessary those years were to not only the growth of the book, but to my inner growth as well.
I have many ideas that I want to write about, but don’t seem to find the time to sit down and write. Yet, when I’m in tune with Spirit, I am often inspired to sit down and write something I hadn’t even thought about writing, like right now!
That voice within our head that chatters incessantly about how we must be bigger, better, best is the voice of resistance. It is the Divine Presence within that whispers, “Be Still.”
I spent time in the stillness this morning and brought it with me on my walk, and then I received guidance that was directly related to the frustration my friend and I were feeling last night.
A few months ago I felt that I was given the title for my next book, and consequently the subject matter. This morning I thought about the fact that intellectually I know enough spiritual truth to write that book now; however, I have not yet integrated the subject on enough of an experiential level to write about it. At least for me, Holy Spirit requires that I live whatever I am writing or speaking about. That takes time because healing is a process of remembering who I am.
As I reflected on my conversation last night with my friend, I realized that over the years I have sometimes felt that urgency to get something done now because it’s not like I’m getting any younger! However, I’ve learned from experience that the more I can stay focused on the truth of who I am, if Spirit wants to express something through me, there’s little I can do to stop it. The more I stay focused on the things to do that must be done if I am to be seen as worthy by the outside world, the less I actually get done, and thus I stay stuck in frustration – struggling with my self.
What’s the answer? Once again I am prompted to NTI:
What are you to do when tempted by your own resistance? Notice it for what it is. do not let it disguise itself as something important. See it as resistance and call it by its name. Then give it to Me, backed by the strength of your willingness. Together, we will redirect your attention to the path you have set on.
So I recognize that what I’ve written here is advice from Holy Spirit to me, my friend and now you. Stay focused on the truth of who you are as God created you, and all that needs to be done through you, will be. Enjoy your Self today.
The passages on resistance are from:Holy Spirit’s Interpretation of the New Testament, NTI Luke 11:14-28.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Course Note #29: Everyday Forgiveness


The practice of forgiveness has totally changed my life. It will change yours too. No other spiritual practice is more misunderstood than that of forgiveness. Forgiveness is choosing another way to look at the world, but it’s often thought to be about changing someone or condoning wrong behavior. We can fall into thinking, "I was hurt. I was betrayed. What he did was wrong, and I just can't forgive him. If I forgive, I am saying that what he did was not wrong."
A woman in her 60s told me that she has not spoken to her mother for many years because her mother had been so abusive in her childhood. I mentioned forgiveness. She vehemently replied, "If I forgive her she wins, and I lose!"
"No," I said, "if you don't forgive her, she wins and you lose." I later realized that when we harbor unforgiveness -- no one wins.
Someone else told me that she didn’t think that forgiveness worked because, “I’ve forgiven my husband and he hasn’t changed!”
“You don’t forgive him so that he’ll change,” I replied. “You forgive him so that you’ll change!” We both had a good laugh over that.
The most important understanding I have come to about forgiveness is that it doesn’t have to do with another person. It’s not about “them”. Forgiveness heals my mind.
In the early 90s when I first started studying and reading A Course in Miracles, I recall that one day I ruminated on thoughts about how it just didn’t seem to apply to all the issues in my life. As I sat there in frustration, I opened the book to this: You think that this course is not specific enough to your life, and maybe that’s because you’re not doing what it says.
BUSTED!
After that I began to take seriously: “What does it say?” The Course tells us that forgiveness is our function here on earth. Consequently, we will have plenty of opportunities to practice it! I began to ask my inner teacher to teach me how to forgive, and over the years I have been guided to various ways to practice forgiveness.
No matter what I think is going on out there, Holy Spirit tells me that when I forgive, I will see it differently. In my early years with the Course, I couldn’t see how forgiveness could possibly solve my money, body and business problems. But as I practiced forgiveness, I learned that it is not about changing form.
Lesson 122 in the Course says, “Forgiveness offers everything I want. What could you want forgiveness cannot give? Do you want peace? Forgiveness offers it. Do you want happiness, a certainty of purpose, and a sense of worth? All this forgiveness offers you, and more.”
You might think that you want that winning lottery ticket, a perfect mate or whatever else. I have gotten many of those things that I thought I wanted, and fun as it may have been, still, it really didn’t facilitate what only forgiveness offers.
Forgiveness is the willingness to let go of the ego’s interpretation of events and choose Love’s interpretation. Forgiveness is the return of the mind to the awareness of God.
While meditation, prayer, reading or study is very helpful, transformation is facilitated through willingness to practice forgiveness everyday. Start with the grievance du jour.
If the "problem of the day" is that you’re experiencing lack of money, or fear about losing a job, how does forgiveness change that? Forgiveness is not about healing our bodies or our bank account it’s about returning our mind to peace. Simply be willing to see that any perception of lack or fear comes from unforgiveness. Remember what unforgiveness is: a mind unaware of the presence of God.
Forgiveness returns us to our right mind -- our true identity. In recognition of who I am in truth, I cannot experience lack or fear, I can only experience peace. We are not here to suffer, but to forgive ourselves for forgetting who we are. There is a way to look on everything that lets it be an opportunity to replace fear with Love. When we return our mind to the awareness of God it is impossible to feel fear or lack.
Forgiveness is not something you do once and then experience a healed life. It is a process and a practice. Our minds are filled with grievances, which is why we must practice every single day. Every day? Absolutely.
There’s a prayer in the Course that I call the “forgiveness prayer”. Let’s practice right now. Call to mind someone whom you are holding grievances toward (the one you just thought of will do). As you think of him or her be willing to be free:
I give you ___ to the Holy spirit as part of myself.
I know that you will be released,
unless I want to use you to imprison myself.
In the name of my freedom
I choose your release,
because I recognize that we will be released
together.
Recently I felt very angry at someone who was trying to cause problems for my mother. I have never met this person, and most likely never will, but I had been exchanging heated emails with him in regard to the matter. Last week I gave a talk on this subject of forgiveness, and the next morning as I drove to work, I listened to the audio. Not long after I started listening, I came to this prayer that I just shared with you. Of course there are no such accidents, and Holy Spirit prompted me to take this person into prayer.
A couple hours later, spontaneously, I felt to send him a loving email apologizing for something that I had said. As I did this, I felt a deep sense of peace and union with him. Later, I told my mother about it and she asked if I had heard from him.
I replied that his response is irrelevant because I didn’t do it for him, I did it for me.
We exist in prisons of our own making. When we condemn others we are chained to them, jailing them and imprisoning ourselves. Forgiveness frees us from the vacillating roles of jailer and prisoner.
We have hurt people and people have hurt us. Perhaps we could begin to view those who have hurt or betrayed us, not as adversaries, not as mother, father, sister, brother – acquaintance, friend or lover, but as spiritual companions. We are all in this together so that we might teach one another the most important lessons one could ever learn, to let it go, to forgive. With this understanding you then become grateful for all who touch your life, even those who do so in a harmful way. He or she gives you yet another opportunity to understand and to experience the healing power of forgiveness – to experience that giving and receiving are truly the same.
Forgiveness is a choice, and one that cannot be based on emotions. If you don’t want to forgive someone because you feel angry and hurt, you will remain angry and hurt until you forgive. It’s the very practice of forgiveness that heals your painful emotions. The great news is that you don’t need to forgive by yourself, in fact, you can’t, but you do need the willingness to forgive. Forgiveness is not something I do, it’s something that’s done through me.
I think of the practice of forgiveness as a three stop process. The first step is awareness that I am harboring negative thoughts toward a person or condition, and that these thoughts are only hurting me. The second step is the willingness to be released from pain. Sometimes my prayer is as simple as: “Dear God, I don’t know how to forgive. In this situation I don’t even know if I want to, but I do know that I want to be free. Please help me.” The third step belongs to the Divine Presence. My part is to ask the Inner Presence to do for me what I cannot do for myself.
God needs me, and you. Divine Love needs our hands, our feet, our voice, and our will – to extend forgiveness into the world. We may think that we don’t contribute to the negativity in the world, but we do. Every time we turn our back on another, judge or condemn, we contribute to the dark energy in this world, even when it’s done in God’s name. God is not a god of condemnation, but God is love.
You need not ask God to forgive you, for that Presence has never condemned you. Ask instead that you may learn how to forgive. Therein lies your freedom, and your peace.


On 11/5/09 I gave a 55 min. talk on:
Everyday Forgivness



MP3 File



Friday, October 23, 2009

Course Note #28: Focus on the Kingdom...



One morning while on a walk, I started thinking about all the things going on in my life. I thought of the Inner Presence and asked, “I have all these goals, which one should I focus on first?”

Immediately I heard, “Focus on the Kingdom of Heaven and all will be added unto you.”

As I continued on my walk, I began to have a conversation with my inner teacher. It went like this: “Okay, but how do I do that?”

“Sheryl, call to mind someone who you’re angry at (this wasn’t hard to do back in those days!). Think about why you’re angry at this person. As you think those thoughts, do you feel joined with her or do you feel separated?”

“I feel separate.”

“Okay. Envision yourself taking her hand, and then give the relationship to Me.”
A prayer came to mind, “Holy Spirit I give this relationship to you that it may be used for your purposes of Love, rather than mine of judgment and attack. Thank you.”

“In this moment, do you feel joined or separated?

“I feel joined with her.”

“This is how you focus on the Kingdom of Heaven. It is recognition of your oneness with all living things.”

This conversation occurred perhaps twelve or more years ago and since then, “Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven” has been a sort of life message for me. At least several times every week I’ll come across it somewhere in some form. And so, over the years I’ve delved into it and continue to uncover deeper layers of meaning all the time.


In the Bible, Matthew 6:33 says: “Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” I used to have a problem with the word “righteousness” until I came to understand that it meant right relationship. I opened to the idea that seeking first the kingdom was really about coming into “right relationship” with my Self and my identity as a child of God. A Course in Miracles uses the term “right-mindedness”, which essentially says the same thing in that it is a state of mind that accurately perceives the oneness that we all share.

I often hear it as “Focus first on the Kingdom…” This makes sense to me as a student of the Course because it says that not only is the Kingdom of Heaven within you, it is you.
To focus on the kingdom is to focus on the Truth of who I am. Focus first on the Kingdom of Truth, and thus enter into right relationship with your Self – your True Self as God created you. And then, all “things” will be added unto you.

It’s not that we’re to seek or focus first on the kingdom so that we can get everything that we ever wanted; rather, when we focus on Truth (content, cause), we are then guided to serve from that level of being. From this consciousness, the things (form, effect) we need to serve will be added.

As I write this I am prompted to NTI Matthew 10: (v 7-10)*

God is within, and it is from within that I am led.


“To learn this lesson is true, do not focus on what is outside. Do not worry about what you are to eat or what you are to wear or where you are to sleep. Focus only on the Word within and seek nothing else. Everything will be provided, that you may do the work I ask.”

Everything you need to serve in the ways you are guided to serve will be provided. There is such a sense of release in that. When I focus first on the Truth of my being, then I’m guided in the ways that I can extend from that Truth in my daily life.

So whenever I find my thoughts wander to the things of this world, I am often, quite quickly, brought back to my purpose: Focus First on the Truth of who you are as a child of a Source of Light, Wisdom, Abundance, and Love, and then share this Self with all whom you meet. Amen.

Note: *NTI stands for New Testament Interpretation and is a very wonderful book which is actually titled: The Holy Spirit’s Interpretation of the New Testament. (For more on this see www.Reginadawnakers.com, or go to www.Amazon.com

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Course Note #27: I don't know what I need...


If you’ve read some of the previous posts here, then you know that I’ve been receiving much guidance on staying tuned to the fact that I don’t know what I want or need. You may even have been directed to read this blog because this is what’s up for you too.

The truth is that we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. We’re not privy to the big picture. From this vantage point, how could I possibly know what I will want or need? The problem, however, is that I see tomorrow as an extension of today and so therefore, I really do think that I know what will be needed. It’s this kind of thinking that perpetuates a future like the past, because such a mindset doesn’t allow for guidance from within.
As God created me, I lack nothing, but when I am mesmerized by the world of form, and let that sight dictate what I want or need, I fall back into the sleep of forgetfulness – forgetting the Truth of who I am. The Course says that there are two worlds: one that I see through the lens of fear and lack, and the world that is really there when seen through the eyes of Love. It is the Holy Spirit’s function to mediate between these two worlds.

When I acknowledge that I don’t know what I need, I am asking for help from Holy Spirit, the one that does know. It’s ego that constantly chatters about what I should have, do or be, and when I listen to it, I continue on with its mission of seek but do not find. Sound familiar?

It’s time to stop listening to that voice. I love how the Course puts it, “Therefore, ask not of yourself what you need, for you do not know, and your advice to yourself will hurt you.”
BUSTED!

The voice for Love denies any thought of lack. It denies any thought of things “out there” needing to be fixed or changed. Love affirms the truth that you and I are creations of an abundant source of good. Indeed it is true that I hurt myself when I take advice from the voice of fear. I’ve learned that when I’m listening to thoughts that do not make me feel good, I am actually repelling my good – I repel Love’s will for me.

If I sit around thinking that I have more bills than money, or that I can’t find a job because there are no jobs out there; or that I’m never going to feel better, or have what I want, etc. Such thoughts do not carry a feeling of happiness and well-being. With the willingness to let go of such limiting and fearful thoughts, I am then open to hear my real thoughts. My real thoughts are the thoughts of truth and when I let myself hear these thoughts, fear must flee.

The truth of my being is that I am blessed as a child of God. God protects me, supports me and directs me in all things. This is the truth. Let us meet our thoughts of fear with Truth.
Call to mind something that evokes a feeling of fear. Ask yourself, “Am I ready to choose again?” If so, let’s take a moment to rest in Love’s presence:
Dear God,

In this moment I am willing to acknowledge

That I do not know what I want,

Nor do I know what I need.

You know what is best for all concerned

And so, I relax in your presence,

I Let your Love flow in

and through me, that I might be

a blessing in this world.

Thank you.


Prayer is an indication of willingness to choose again. Recognition that I don’t know but that there is a Presence within that does know, opens the door to new ways of thinking, which leads to new experiences.
A Course in Miracles tells me that Holy Spirit knows what I need. “In time, He gives me all the things that I need, and will renew them as long as I have need of them. He will take nothing from me as long as I have any need of it. And yet He knows that everything I need is temporary, and will but last until I step aside from all my needs and realize that all of them have been fulfilled. I leave, then, my needs to Him. He will supply them with no investment. What comes to me of Him comes safely. Under His guidance I will travel light and journey lightly.”

What do I really want? I might think that it’s some new and shiny thing “out there”, but I’ve gotten all too many new and shiny things that didn’t fill my true needs. What I need is peace that stems from the awareness that everything really is okay exactly as it is.

I had been experiencing frustration in running a business and after I surrendered to Holy Spirit through the prayer above, I have been guided, not to a new business, but to a new way of looking at the one I have. As I let go of needs, I have been more able to remember that I am here only to be helpful. I don't know how that will look but I trust in the Presence within who does.

Workbook lesson 186 says, “And then, do as God’s Voice directs. And if It asks a thing of me which seems impossible, remember Who it is That asks, and who would make denial.”

Let’s say that we release our needs to God, and then receive guidance to do something that had not been considered before. This may bring up feelings of unworthiness and fear, but then, ask yourself who it is that makes the denial?
Again the Course busts us: “Is it the distorted image of yourself, confused, bewildered, inconsistent and unsure of everything? Do not let this voice direct you. Hear instead a certain Voice which tells you of a function given you by God who remembers you and urges that you now remember him.”

Some students of the Course mistakenly think that God doesn’t know of our dilemma of being seemingly stuck in time, but in this lesson we are told that this is not so. “Love’s gentle Voice is calling from the known to the unknowing. It would comfort you, although It knows no sorrow. It would make a restitution, though It is complete; a gift to you, although It knows that you have everything already. God has thoughts which answer every need we perceive we have, although It sees them not.”

I had a “wow” moment as I read this next part of the lesson as it reminded me of something Mary Baker Eddy said, “Divine Love meets all our needs by giving us spiritual ideas.” And here we are told that Love must give, and what is given in Love takes on the form most useful in a world of form.   When we turn our minds to the God of Love and away from the world of form, we will have all we need to serve in the way Love guides us to serve.
Did I say, “Wow!”?
No matter what is going on in your life, in this moment, you have an opportunity to choose again. Be willing to go within and acknowledge that you really don’t know what you want or need. And then, act on the urges, ideas and inspirations that well up from within. If a thought comes to mind to contact a particular person, do so. Yes, it is a drag that guidance doesn’t come in the form of a huge billboard saying: SHERYL, SHERYL, DO THIS…

Have you ever gone on a scavenger hunt? The way the game works is that you get a clue and after you figure out that clue, you then receive another clue. On it goes until someone finds the treasure. But...if you don't act on the first clue, then you're never going to find the second clue.

Life is kind of like a divine scavenger hunt. I’ve discovered that we are indeed guided constantly, however we’re guided incrementally. When we act on the guidance we receive in this moment, we then received guidance for the next moment. When we stay focused on worry, anxiety and fear, we are not open to receive ever-present guidance, and this is why our lives stay the same – one day moving on to the next, a future like the past.
The Course tells us that the secret of true prayer is to forget the things you think you need. In prayer, overlook your specific needs as you see them, and let them go into God’s hands.

Angelus Silesius wrote, “God, whose love and joy are present everywhere, cannot come to visit you unless you aren’t there.” You think that you know what you need and want. Just for today, be willing to let go of the small limited fearful self, leaving room for God’s Love to come to visit. Enjoy!


Notes: Sections of the ACIM used in this ‘Course note” are:
1. T-13.VII. This whole section is wonderful in regard to “needs”.
2. Lesson 186: Salvation of the world depends on me.
3. The Song of Prayer Pamphlet: S-I.1:4
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Audio was recorded for an internet audience on 8/20/09 and is 1 hour and 6 min.
I Do Not Know What I Need...


MP3 File