Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Course Note #165: Wilted guns

If You Love

You might quiet the whole world for a second
if you pray.

And if you love, if you
really love,

our guns will

~St. John of the Cross ~
Love Poems from God

We stand on the threshold of new beginnings.  We are creating the future now. May we decide to create something new, to begin again, to stand forth differently than we have in the past.
            May we dare to love more fully, forgive more freely, appreciate more deeply and serve from our highest level of being.  May we be willing to open our hearts and extend our gifts.  You are needed.  You are significant.  You can make a difference. ~

Much love to You and yours this holiday season!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Course Note #164: Another way to See

We are asked to embrace God-Love in all things, and we may wonder how to do this when a tragedy such as the one in CT occurs. 
All I know for sure is that as a student of Love, I desire to let Love transform me into a vehicle of compassion for all beings.

            It is up to each one of us to pause… take a deep breath… and ask:

Spirit of Love within,

Cleanse my sight and
renew my vison.

Enable me to see this situation
through the vision of 
Your Love,
rather than through my eyes
of judgment and fear.

~ Thank You. ~

Rumi says:
Love is the cure,
for your pain will keep giving birth
to more pain until

 your eyes constantly exhale Love as effortlessly
as your body yields its scent.


In this audio I spoke on a message given to Regina Dawn Akers called: "Is Attack Possible?"  I was drawn to it the other night as I thought about events in the world.  I specifically spoke on part 2 of this message which can be read here:

On Sunday, 12/16/12 I gave a talk about seeing attack differently
in regard to the events in CT, as well as everything we experience.

The talk is 52 min. and encompasses more than I share here:


    MP3 File

If you would like to listen to more of my audios on spiritual principles,
visit: http://sherylvalentineaudio.blogspot.com/

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Course Note #163: A prayer of Surrender

Surrender has been up for me in many ways this past year and as I opened Marianne’s new book I came to this prayer:

~ Dear God,
I surrender to You who I am,
what I have and what I do. 
May my life and talents be used
in whatever way serves You best.

I surrender to You my failures
and any pain still in my heart.
I surrender to You my successes
and the hopes that they contain.

May the Light of Your Love
shine deep within my heart
and extend through me
 to bless the world.
Amen. ~

~ from Marianne Williamson’s new book:
The Law of Divine compensation

~ Thank You Marianne ~

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Note #162: Live a Thanks-in-Advance Life!

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Yes, there is Much to be Grateful for.

A few years ago while reading the biblical account of Jesus feeding five thousand people with a few loaves and fish, I was struck by the fact that he first gave thanks to God, and then, he proceeded to feed the people. Not only was there enough to feed them, but there were many basketfuls left over!
If I were in that situation it would probably go something like this: “Oh My God!  There are 5,000 hungry people here, and I have only 4 loaves and 4 fish! What do I do? God, can you help me out here?” 
Suddenly, loaves and fish rain down from the sky, enough to feed everyone. “Wow! Thank you!”
This is how most of us live our lives: Thanks-after-the-fact.  Coming from a consciousness of lack and need, we don’t trust that our needs will be met, and when they are, it seems like a gift from God. 
The biblical example, however, reveals how to live a Thanks-in-Advance life.  We have already been given all that we need to live a full, abundant and meaningful life.  You may not think that this is true if you currently have more bills than money, or covet something sparkly and new.  The truth is that we don’t know what would make us truly happy.  We can learn to live our lives with a consciousness of gratitude and trust, and then Life has a way of leading us to how we can best serve in the world, and supplying what we need to do so.   

There are two ways of looking at the world: Through the eyes of fear, anger and “there’s not enough!” or through the vision of appreciation, acceptance and trust.  We will see out there that which we feel within. If anger and fear encompass our thoughts, then we see a world that shows us many things to be angry about and fearful of.
The good news is that if trust and thanksgiving embrace our mind, we look upon a world that shows us many things to be grateful for. What would you see? The choice is yours.

Let’s apply this to needing a job. The mind filled with fear may tell you that you need a job for security and to pay your bills; or it may tell you that there are no jobs to be had.
How would a heart filled with Thanksgiving see it?  I am thankful that I have been given what I need to serve, may Love show me how I can be used today.  

Let Love Guide You.

To a certain degree, abundance and poverty have nothing to do with the numbers in your bank account, but have everything to do with thought. Thoughts of gratitude recognize inner riches and abundance, while thoughts of complaint and “I don’t have enough” are poverty.  Looking at the world through the eyes of Trust and Love changes the way we live – it opens the door to seeing what was there all along. 
Living a Thanks-in-Advance life is about remembering that as Love created you, you have everything, right now!

And so:
Look well to this day,
for it is life,
the very Best of Life!

In its brief course lie all
the realities and truth of existence,
the Joy of Growth,
the Splendor of Action,
the Glory of Power!

For yesterday is but a memory,
and tomorrow, only a vision
but Today well lived
makes every yesterday a memory of happiness,
and every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well therefore to this day.
                                                                     Ancient Sanskrit poem

On 11-19-09 I gave a 50 minute talk on this topic. In it, I cover much more than I have written here.  Enjoy!

Living a Thanks-in-Advance Life!
MP3 File

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Note #161: Make Surrender a Habit

I am a prisoner of the ego-false self until I fully surrender to the Freedom-Self.  Webster defines surrender as: “to give oneself up, especially as a prisoner.”  This speaks to me because through the ego’s eyes this world is a prison, and with Love’s vision the world becomes a classroom where we learn that we are free now. 
The other night I was prompted to a “Holy Spirit Guides” message on making surrender a habit. * 

HSG: “We have been speaking of surrender. You have an idea of how little you surrender now [Busted!]. You have learned to surrender in some situations, but you have not yet learned to surrender in all. We must take what you do in some and extend it to all. This will take great commitment on your part, for the ego is willing for anything except surrender.”

Ego is unwilling to surrender because in identification with this false self, we view surrender as a giving up of who we think we are.  I see now that my current surrender practice is a moment-by-moment practice of shifting attention from the thought-stories in the mind to the silence of the Heart. 
A Course in Miracles does not use the word surrender, but its teachings on forgiveness are the same. With forgiveness I surrender that which is false in order to know that which is true.  Ego is fine with reading spiritual books and talking about spiritual ideas, but is unwilling for surrender because through surrender-forgiveness – ego dies.

HSG: “The ego wants you on the spiritual path. The spiritual path is a path of trying, seeking, discovering and sharing with others, all of which are actions in the world. It is not a path of Knowing and Being, because Knowing and Being cannot be found in action. Action may seem to be accomplished through one who is the embodiment of Knowing and Being, but that one is not acting. That one is following. Being is following, because following is joined, and joined is a part of the process of creation. Creation is never separate. It is a part Of and in full inclusion With. It is following, because following is never independent. Therefore, you prepare yourself for the pure act of creation by following one Voice within the world now.”

          This is a very interesting paragraph, and although I have read this message before, when I was prompted to it recently I saw it anew.  My work with the 7steps journal this year has led me to really understand that the true Self cannot be known through the intellect, through study or talking about it, it can only be known through the practice of shifting attention from ego-world-body-thought to Heart-stillness, to where the Self is.

However, there is a time for reading, discussing and studying spiritual principles, so please don’t read this and think that you are to get off the spiritual path because it is ego.  That is not what is being said here at all. We can instead acknowledge that one can be on a spiritual path with the ego, which will make it a continuous journey of seek, but do not find.

            Surrender is the path to Know thy Self, and at some point we must seek within rather than ‘out there’.  The important thing is to follow one’s own current-moment guidance.  Following guidance leads us to do things in the world, but it is a doing inspired from Heart-guidance versus thought-story.  (I go into this much more in the audio, see below for that link).

            HSG: “The ego will put up great resistance to this request [that of following one Voice]. The ego will tell you that complete following within the world is impossible, as some human matters cannot be left to Me. This is only resistance to full surrender. Full surrender is needed in order to know full oneness as I am.”
            Ego does tell us that it’s impossible doesn’t it?  We think that if we leave finding a job, a mate, bodily healing or anything else we think we want in the world up to some mysterious Voice…then surely we will lose in the end.  Yet, with surrender, the focus is taken off of outcome.

            During the teaching I was prompted to an entry in my 7steps journal, #97 **:

            RDA: “Abandon all future goals or desired outcomes. Any future ideal is based on the mind’s ideas of who I am, what I like, dislike, etc. Therefore, all future ideals are based on false premises and totally mistaken. Current-moment-heart with no thought for the future is the only true and trustworthy guide.  Whenever stories and perceptions of past, “I know” knowledge or future ideals appear in the mind, see them as meaningless vapors of nothing. Return attention to current-moment-heart. Be fully consistent in this practice.”
            I have a friend who told me that she only wants to date guys who are 6’5”.  Maybe the perfect person comes along who is 5’10” but she doesn’t even see him because she’s looking for 6’5”.  Of course this is a worldly example, but it is also a perfect example to describe how the false self operates: Based on what I like or dislike or who I think I am, I will attract or have this or that in the future.  Practice letting all such thoughts go.

            I was then prompted to #90:

            I can make plans and have ideas about the future, and about what I want to know, do or achieve, but all of it is conceived through the mind that is limited; the mind that plans based on past learning.  The Real Self is unlimited, and when I rest there, everything beyond this moment is a glorious open book!
            Let go of all notions about the future.  Consistently shift focus to the real-unlimited Reality that You are.

            Be willing to let go of all ideas about the future.  Anything we can think to imagine for ourselves in the future comes from scarcity-lack consciousness, which is inherent in the unconscious belief of being separated from our Source.  We’re asked to give up all of these goals and instead surrender to current-moment guidance.  
            The best example I know of is Regina Dawn Akers.  Several years ago she worked for a company and her highest goal at that time was to be a vice president in the company and she was fully on track to attain that goal.  Then…she was guided to quit her job and move to another state where she soon began to receive The Holy Spirit’s Interpretation of the New Testament aka NTI.  It is one the most amazing and life-changing books on the planet, and I for one am so thankful that she followed that guidance even though it scared her immensely. 

            HSG: “Here is what you are to do:
Focus on your willingness for full surrender. Whenever you remember, turn a situation over to Me. Let go of all attachment to what is done or not done or how it may be done. Make the surrender complete within your mind. When you feel complete surrender within, what to do will rise up. Follow that. That is the wave of oneness, which is the wave you shall ride Home. Ride that wave, and look for it continually. In this way, you will experience the least amount of delay.  
            “Do not think for yourself. Thinking for yourself is delay. Surrender all matters to Me until surrender is a matter of habit.”

            This is great news! I don’t have to know how to surrender fully; I need only be willing to.

Holy Spirit,
 to You who is my true Self,
I am willing for full surrender.

I am willing to let go of future desires and outcomes.
I let go of any thought about the future
that is based on the fears of today and yesterday.

I now turn all situations over to You.
I   am   willing   for   full   surrender.

I rest in the You that is Me.

* This message can be found in its entirety at http://www.reginadawnakers.com under the monthly archives dated 12/10/06.   Quotes directly from the message begin with HSG:
**  My Steps to Self journal can be found here: http://www.stepstoself.blogspot.com

This audio was recorded to a live internet audience on 11/11/12.
Much more was covered during that teaching on spiritual practice, the practice
Of surrender, also touched on healing the lack consciousness and what to do for retirement. ;) 

    MP3 File

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Note #160: My Brother, choose again.

For several weeks I have been very distracted yet even amidst these distractions, I continue to be willing to move deeper into knowing only God-Freedom-Self.  Recently while on a morning walk, my mind was filled with thoughts about a family member, politics and myriad other things, and I was reminded of a teaching in NTI Matthew, chapter 23, which says:

            “The world is but a distraction, and it distracts your from Heaven.  So you must live in the world, but not be of the world.  You do this by doing all things for Me…by giving all things the purpose of Heaven.  In this way, all things can be used to lead you to Me.  And I will show you how to use them.  So live in your world but be not distracted by it.”

            I was especially reminded of the line: “And I will show you how to use them.”  As I asked Spirit within to show me how to use these distractions for healing, I felt the inner direction to just focus on my current spiritual practice and let all these other things take care of themselves.

            Sometimes we may wonder how focusing only on spiritual practice is going to take care of things in the world.  I don’t know, but I do know that when I am distracted by ego’s thoughts of division, right or wrong and “I know…” I am not letting go, but very much holding onto that which I no longer want. 

            “To cling to your self, and your thoughts, and your fears, is to cling to illusion and to hold onto what you do not want.”  (NTI 1 Corinthians 3v10-15)

Part of my current practice is to shift attention from thought-stories about world-body-Sheryl to Heart-stillness-within. As I walked along and confirmed that I wanted to be more consistent with this practice, I looked down and saw a charm on the sidewalk in the shape of a heart.  I walked on, but was prompted to go back and pick it up.  It was just an inexpensive plastic heart charm, but in that moment it seemed like divine confirmation.  I decided to let it be a sort talisman to remind me of my true purpose.

Whatever we seem to be distracted by in the world, distractions are just attention-focus on thoughts in the mind.  And while some lifestyles may seem more conducive to decreasing attention on the world, really, we all have the same present moment, and in this moment we can choose to let heart purpose lead the way. 

This work demands brutal self-honesty in that, we must be willing to look at why we hold onto wanting to believe the stories in the mind about one another and the world.  We continue to listen to them and believe them because there is a part of us that does not want to know freedom.  In truth, we are free now, however, we are enslaved by our thoughts.

I am free now.  You are free now.  The reason spiritual practice is so important is because we are indeed mesmerized by body-person-world.  The Freedom-Self that I am exists here and now, but on a practical level, I will not come to know this by chanting it, talking about it or thinking about it.
The practice is about realizing that I cannot know the freedom that I am now while listening to stories in the mind that tell me who and what I am not.  I cannot hear the whispers of the true Self while focused on things that need to be changed about myself, another person or the world.

So…if the freedom-Self is here right now, how do I come to know this?

I can chant, “I am not a body, I am free.  I am not a body, I am free.  I am not a body, I am free…” and still feel like a vulnerable body in a fearful world.

Using bodily distractions as a practice example: let’s say you are currently listening to body thoughts about perhaps a health problem, appearance, aging, etc., and as you notice your attention focused on such thoughts, you can remind yourself:
Ah…I’m focusing on wanting to change something about my body.  I am still identified with this body as who I am.  I look at the thoughts and then shift attention from the thoughts to the heart.  I notice the stillness there.  I am that I am.  I am not a body, I am free.  (Note: in the audio recording I go through this practice.  It comes across better on audio than in the written word because I share various ways to practice.)

There is a difference between chanting an affirmation hoping to make it true, versus shifting attention from the thinking-mind and resting in the Heart-Self that exists right now.  It’s like changing a radio station from ego to Self.   

It’s important, however, not to copy someone else’s practice unless it really resonates with you.  Something that comes up frequently in my 7steps journal is that of current-moment remembrance.  In the willingness to turn within in any moment through a mantra, prayer, shifting attention or any other practice, we are then guided to how to be in that moment.

During the teaching I was prompted to NTI 1 Corinthians, Chapter 8 that speaks to what I have been sharing here:

“When you notice your mind is full and you want to become as an empty shell, you must refocus your mind from your head to your Heart. Your Heart will teach your mind the way of release, because your Heart is love.
"Your Heart, being of love, knows one purpose, and that is Love. Your head, being of thinking, knows many purposes, because that is “thinking.” Let go of theconfusion of the head and focus yourself on the purpose of the Heart. Focusing on onepurpose leads you clearly in one direction, but focusing on many purposes does not leadyou at all.”

Each person’s practice may be different, but we see the need for practice while hypnotized by a body-person-world.

            When you observe those thoughts that are mesmerized by the world, the body or a relationship and you return to a focus on truth, or Heart-stillness – as you do this consistently, then those practice moments begin to string together like a strand of graduated pearls one building on the next until peace and knowledge of true Self is all that you are.  Until then…we practice.  

            As we go about our lives this week, let us remember that we have a choice.  We can choose to shift attention from the world to the Self.  With heart devoted to purpose, my brother, choose again.

This audio was recorded on 11-5-12 and is 54 min.


    MP3 File

For more of my audios visit: http://sherylvalentineaudio.blogspot.com/

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Course Note #159: The World on 3 levels

A topic that frequently comes up in spiritual discussions is that of the nature of the world.  This has been the discussion topic that I have been most intrigued by, and I see that the controversy lies in how one defines the word “world”. 
            What I saw early on as a student of A Course in Miracles is that the word is not used to denote the same thing throughout.  It speaks of the world as ego sees it, one of lack, limitation, pain, suffering and death; and then there’s the “real world” that is revealed to us through higher vision, and then there’s Heaven, which is the Course’s word for Reality. 

            Now that I have been doing contemplation and journaling through the teachings in the book, The Seven Steps to Awakening, I see this topic come up again, as to what is the nature of the world.  I came across a great article on this called, “The Three Simultaneously True Levels of Nondual Reality” by Timothy Conway.*  What struck me right away is that it was very similar to the teachings in the Course.
            In his article world as ego sees it is called the conventional level.  The “real world” or the world as Spirit Within sees it is called the psychic-Soul level, and Reality he calls ONLY GOD.

            The mistake that is often made as we attempt to apply this to living our lives is that we can try to be at the Only God/Heaven/Reality level without doing the vigilant practice required while stuck in ego's view of the world.  For instance, something may occur in our lives and we may dismiss it by saying “there is no world”, or “nothing is happening”, but at the same time we’re suffering, or we may judge other people for suffering as we look at them through a superior viewpoint that there is no world.

            In this way, we are in denial and will not move into healing.  In order to undo the ego, which is what healing is, we have to look at.  So if we say, “nothing is happening, all there is is God” then we are not going to look at the ego.  When we confuse levels we may not be kind or compassionate to one another or ourselves.  The Course is not really about teaching us how to love, more profoundly, it reveals to us why we don’t.  We don’t truly love because we don’t know ourselves as Love, and the way we come to know ourselves as Love is through undoing the obstacle to this knowledge, which is ego, i.e, the false self. 

When we accept the three levels as simultaneously true, a shift occurs.  No matter what occurs in this life, or what is seemingly done to us, it doesn’t affect who and what we truly are.  The True Self remains eternally as it is. 
            We can liken world-appearance to a movie.  In the level 3 world of ego/the conventional level, I am starring in a movie and everything that happens in the movie is happening to “me”! 
With higher vision (level 2), I began to see that I was the projector of the movie, projecting all that I see from my mind, and it was from this level that I learned to call on higher vision to see anew.  Recently it has become so clear to me that I am not the actor or the director or the projector – "I am" can be likened to the screen.  The screen simply is, forever and eternally unaffected by the movie projected onto it.

Currently, after many years of spiritual practice the level 1 vision of, I am the screen, is indeed helpful as I look at the world seen by ego and let it be reinterpreted by Holy Spirit which is known as the Great Transformer of Perception.  I can see now how all 3 levels are simultaneously true.

            With a presidential election coming up I have been distracted by politics.  I was beating myself about this a bit because I do see the divisiveness in it, and yet I also don’t want to simply ignore something that I feel passionate about, I want to learn to see it differently.  Sometimes when we turn away from something thinking that it’s not “spiritual”, we essentially close the door on the classroom and don’t learn the healing lesson that is there to learn. 
            So one shift that came up was to focus on what I am for, versus what I am against.  As I did this I was guided to two articles this past week, the one I am currently writing about and also one by Marianne Williamson.**  I found both to be very helpful not only in regard to politics but in this idea of the nature of the world we appear to live in.

            We are not asked to deny the world, or to deny our bodies, but we are asked to see that what we think we see is not all that there is to see.  Currently I am guided to shift my attention from the false to the true.  Our spiritual practice ought to be fluid, not static, and by that I mean: I let myself be guided from within in the current moment.

            I have a friend whom I greatly admire, as she has become not only my friend but also my teacher and mentor.  I have spoken to her about this political topic and she sees it differently than I do.  And, I totally believe that she is authentic in what she sees.  However, one thing I do not do is to try to be where she is, or to pretend that I am where she is.  I recognize that her guidance is for her and mine is for me, meeting each of us where we are.  If I were to adopt her consciousness when I have not yet come to own such consciousness, then I would be simply pretending, and would thus remain in the cycle of denial and projection.  Spiritual pretending does not help one grow up or wake up.
            Over the years, I’ve seen that people try to be where my friend is by saying what she says or doing what she does.  I’ve seen that she is often misunderstood, but what I have also seen is that she has earned the consciousness she currently enjoys.  She has earned it through years of vigilant, daily, moment-by-moment practice.  Never try to be someplace spiritually where you are not, because if you do, you will remain stuck in denial and ego and you won’t know it, although you will feel it. 

            So I need to be where I am and let Spirit Within/True Self guide me where I am right now.  So if currently I am distracted by politics and beating myself up about it, I am looking at the ego with the ego, and this will not undo the ego.
            We are asked to live in the world but not of the world, and how I do this is to look at the world as ego sees it and ask Spirit Within to look at with me.       In this way we come to see the ways that we have been deceived.  Join me in this prayer that came as guidance to RDA in my 7steps journal under quote #580*** and paraphrased by me:

Let me see each time I am deceiving myself.
Let me see clearly.
And then, by grace, I am undeceived.
By grace, I am healed.
Thank you.


Excerpt from article by Timothy Conway:

“When we don't honor together all three of these "levels" or "dimensions" of Reality as being simultaneously true, we tend to fall into a constricted viewpoint. So, for instance, if we ignore the conventional level (level 3 in this model), preferring to ONLY see that "everything is perfect" (level 2) or that "nothing is really happening, only God is Real" (level 1), we can easily fail in morality, compassion and empathy, falling into an insensitive apathy, ignoring the rampant forms of injustice that inflict pain on sentient beings. Furthermore, denying level 3 may lead us to mistakenly believe that being discerning or critical—i.e., critiquing any form of thinking or behavior in the field of politics, spirituality, etc.—is "being negative" or "deluded" or "coming from the head, not the heart." (Actually, a true sage utilizes both head and heart in the context of Awareness.) Yet this is, itself, a negative judgment or a critique. It is a "position" that violates true freedom by constraining us to always only view whatever happens as "perfect" and beyond reproach, or as "nothing really happening." Again, to hold such a position is to constrain ourselves to a uni-level or one-dimensional and limited view of the Totality of Reality.
“Likewise, if we ONLY focus on level 3 and, say, the countless injustices and forms of cruelty to living beings, we can become angry political fanatics, vindictive zealots always finding evil-doers somewhere and throwing them out of our heart with the constricted mind of scornful anger and venomous disgust over what "those sinners" are doing. This can be healed by allowing level 2 and level 1 perspectives to be realized along with a level 3 sensibility.”

Excerpt from article by Marianne Williamson:

“Over the years, many people on a spiritual journey have asked me why I keep going on about politics, and many people involved in politics have asked me why I keep going on about spirituality. Today however, more and more people seem to sense, as I do, that each holds a gift for the other.
“People on a spiritual path -- personal growth, spiritual practice, recovery, yoga and so forth -- are the last people who should be sitting out the social and political issues of our day. And there's an important reason for this: People on such journeys are adepts at change. They know that the mechanics of the heart and mind are the fundamental drivers of transformation. This doesn't just apply to one person, but to masses as well; if you know what makes one life change then you know what makes a nation change, because a nation is simply a large group of individuals. “

This audio was recorded on 9/9/12 and is 55 min. long.  Also includes discussion on forgiveness and how to practice forgiveness, and goes deeper into the articles presented in this blog.  Enjoy!


    MP3 File

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Course Note #158: What is ego?

"To be willing to look at the ego’s preservation strategies is a sign of spiritual maturity." ~ Michael Langford

I have been doing the 7 steps work since January, and I can see that more than anything I have ever done it really reveals ego preservation strategies, or as RDA writes in her journal "ego-feasting" and "ego-maintenance" activities and habits. What I have also observed in the last 8 months is ego wanting constantly to get the upper hand, and sometimes it feels like a juggling act -- ego rises and I use the tools I have and ego subsides, and then it rises again...

While reading my 7steps journal this morning I was reminded of guidance from #182: where I was prompted to page 51 of the Inner Ramana teachings:

"Since the idea of ego has been deeply learned through repetition, deep and consistent unlearning must result."

Reminds me of a teaching in the Course that says the ego will respond viciously when you respond with Love. It's like the deeper I go, the more ego wants to run amok!

For most of us, the ego isn't going to disappear because we read this stuff, it can only be renounced through vigilant and diligent and consistent devotion-practice. I can see that lately I have been very distracted by the world, and every day I tell myself that I will not let myself fall into such distractions and then before I know it... Wham! There it is. Nevertheless, my vigilance and devotion to freedom has never wavered, and sheesh, this world gives me LOADS of practice.

That said my new best friend is Sri Muruganar, as his quotes in step 3 are speaking to me deeply. He speaks of ego in a similar manner to the Course. In just 14 quotes he describes the ego thus: a misunderstanding, impulsive, impetuous, hostile, warring, tormenting, contemptible, poison, an enemy, deceitful...and finally.... ghost-like, which means -- It's Not Real!

Now I see more than ever that after having lived as and with an ego for 55 years, he is absolutely right -- no sugarcoating here~!

Despite the cacophony of the ego, I hear the gentle voice of the true Self whispering:
Let it go.
Turn away from the false,
focus on the True,
and know that All Is Well.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Course Note #157: Practice is the Key to Freedom

This week I have more to say on the topic of spiritual practice, and when I refer to “spiritual practice” I am referring to whatever practice I am guided to in any given moment that enables me to turn attention away from world of the false to that which is true.
For fun I googled “spiritual practice” and found this definition from The Spiritual Science Research Foundation, and it fits perfectly with what I desire to say about the topic.

            “SSRF defines spiritual practice as honest and sincere efforts done consistently on a daily basis to develop Divine qualities and achieve everlasting happiness or Bliss.  Spiritual practice is our personal journey of going inward beyond our five senses, mind and intellect to experience the Soul (God) within each one of us.  One of the qualities of God is perpetual Bliss and so by tapping into the Soul, we too experience Bliss.”

            Highlighted here for me is this: Honest and sincere efforts done consistently on a daily basis…  This is key because it doesn’t matter what the form of the practice may be, but how consistently we practice.
            There is the spiritual practice of prayer, meditation, journaling, contemplation and such that we may do at a certain time each day, and then there is the practice of going throughout the day with a practice that enables one to shift from ego to Self.  For me this practice has never been static but fluid in that, my inner guidance changes to meet the situation or thought in a current moment.  Currently prayer, the mantra practice, remembering what I really want and shifting attention from ‘out there’ to within have been most helpful.

            Lately however, while feeling that I was not making more progress, I was reminded of all the subtle and not so subtle ways that things have changed.  One is that I used to have an overall sense of frustration and struggle in regard to life, and through many years of, yes, spiritual practice through my work with A Course in Miracles I no longer felt this in an overall sense, but certainly still in a couple areas of my life.  In those areas I had not Let go and Let God, but was still trying to fix myself by myself.  Recently I realized that I no longer feel frustration and struggle as I go about my life.
            Lack and limitation is something I used to identify with as well, especially in regard to working in the world. While I can still fall into that sort of thinking because it was such a long-held habit, I quickly see it and can easily shift from that. 

            If you have been reading my blog or listening to my audios then you know that in the last few years I have been guided to material and teachings that have come through Regina Dawn Akers.  More than one person has told me that I am “following” her or that I have made her into a guru, or that I am seeing her as more enlightened than me rather than as equal to me.   But for me, my “teacher” is the Inner Teacher and I let this teacher guide me to what I am to read or listen to.
            Recently a friend and I were chatting about spirituality and she said that the Holy Spirit is the director of continuing education.  I love it! When I look back on my journey from this vantage point, I see that I am constantly guided forward and deeper by the inner teacher, and as I look at the fruits of this guidance, I know that I have been guided truly.  I let this teacher guide me to anything I am to read or listen to in the world.

            As to listening to teachers, I look at this way: Recently I started playing the piano again after 12 years of not playing.  I have pretty much forgotten everything and so I contacted a piano teacher who I went to back when.  So I am not going to go to this piano teacher thinking that I am following him or not equal to him, I’m going to him because he knows a lot more about the piano than I do, and the reason he knows a lot more is because he has been consistently practicing for 40 years!
            The same goes with the spiritual teachers that I am guided to.  I am guided to the ones that obviously and consistently practice.  I am guided to those that are a step ahead of me and who can be instructive in regard to what my Inner teacher is guiding me to see.      The interesting thing for me to observe is that most of the “teachers” I have been guided to, I/sheryl would not have chosen.  And yet, I am blown away by how much deeper we can go through the willingness to be led from within. 

            I’ve noticed that the people I observe on the internet who say that you don’t have to practice, you just have to be, prance around the internet like egos run amok.  Okay great, but how do I just “be”?  Based on experience, I have learned how to be in the present moment through a lot of practice!

            Spiritual practice is not about fixing yourself or your life.  Instead, it is a process of uncovering the obstacles to the remembrance that you are Love – here and now, awake and complete.  We live in a culture that wants things fast and easy and we want our spiritual understanding to occur that way as well, but it doesn’t happen like that.

            How could we think that we don’t have to practice when we are so hypnotized by the world and all that goes on in it; we are mesmerized by the thought-stories that go on in our mind, and this is why it takes vigilant and diligent practice to know the Truth of who we are. 
            It’s easy to act spiritual on the internet because we all know the lingo by now.  Maybe you have reactions or thought-stories about posts or news you read, but you don’t write about this because it’s not spiritual.  I can all too easily become ensnared by politics, which I mostly do with ego, and so I look at that.  The thing is, when we pretend we are someplace that we are not on the spiritual path, we may fool people on the internet, but we are not fooling ourselves.

            A large part of spiritual practice is self-honesty.  A favorite teaching from A Course in Miracles says that the secret of salvation is this: You are doing this to Yourself. 
            This isn’t about beating up on ourselves.  When we read something like this with the ego we can quickly go into: “OMG! I’ve been doing this work for decades and I am still ensnared by politics!  OMG!  I am so bad.”  No, just look at it with the Inner Teacher.  Holy Spirit, how would you have me see this?  Everything can be used for healing if that is the purpose we give it.

            Spiritual practice is not about acting a certain way, it’s about having the willingness to look at the ego that is alive and well in you and in me, practically every moment of the day if we are not vigilant.  Even so, the Inner Guru, the True Self is guiding us Home to Itself, even now.

            So all that said (Ha!), I’m excited about some things I’ve been guided to see regarding practice this week.  Last week I wrote a blog about spiritual practice as guided through Nisargadatta Maharaj.  I was guided to more this week that aligns beautifully with teachings from the Course.

            In an article called: “Ceasing to pretend”, Nisargadatta says this:

            “Whatever happened, I would turn my attention away from it and remain with a sense ‘I am’, it may look too simple, even crude.  Turn away from all that occupies the mind.  Nothing stops you but preoccupation with the outer which prevents you from focusing on the inner.  It cannot be helped, you cannot skip your spiritual practice.  You have to turn away from the world and go within.  As long as you are engrossed in the world, you are unable to know yourself: to know yourself, turn your attention away from the world and turn within.” 

See how well this goes with this teaching from the Course:

“Every special relationship that you have made has, as its fundamental purpose, the aim of occupying your mind so completely that you will not hear the call of truth.”

I now see “special relationships” as a relationship with the false self, a relationship with the ego; a relationship with ‘out there’. 

What has your mind been completely occupied with lately?  What news, body or relationship stories are you focused on?  We cannot hear the call of Love, of Truth while preoccupied with the outer.

There is a practice in A Course in Miracles that has been very helpful over the years that I was drawn back to in recent weeks: paraphrase:

The Holy Spirit asks only this little help of you.  Whenever your thoughts wander to a special relationship that still attracts you, enter with Love into a holy instant and there, be released.  Out of your recognition of your unwillingness for your release, Holy Spirit’s perfect willingness is given you.  Call upon Spirit Within for Heaven is at its call.  Let Love call on Heaven for you.

I was prompted to remember this on a recent morning walk when I was aware that at least on a certain level, I was unwilling for release from ego, even though I was willing enough to call on Love.

When your thoughts wander to that mind preoccupation, all that is required is a little willingness to choose again.  And then, be prompted from within to a spiritual practice that enables choosing again.  On that day, and many days since I was prompted to this prayer from the Course:

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

I am that I am. 
I am.


This audio was recorded on 8/26/12 and is 58 min.
In the audio much more was shared in regard to spiritual practice
than was shared in this blog. 


    MP3 File