Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Course Note #151: Self Honesty Opens the Door

When I first became a student of A Course in Miracles it was clear to me that it demanded brutal self-honesty; and I use the word “brutal” because that’s what it feels like to the ego, which is often why we don’t want to engage in it. 
I wrote a book entitled, “Oh My God. It’s Me!” and this title came through the recognition that every significant breakthrough in my life occurred only after I was willing to see my part in whatever was going on.  Thus, a very meaningful teaching in the Course has been:  “The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself.”
We cannot progress on the spiritual path without some willingness to really look at cause (my mind) rather than effect, as in, what we think is being done to us.  The ego’s main defense mechanisms are denial and projection.  With denial of course, we deny that anything is going on with us in the first place, and with projection, anything that is going on with us is about: “Oh My God. It’s You!”
These defense mechanisms of denial and projection keep us from delving deeper within and discovering the true Self.  Self-honesty is the doorway to within.

So that said, in my own inner work this past week, and thus in my teaching session, we were guided to look at this idea of self-honesty.  We were directed to look at quote #187, which in the book The Seven Steps to Awakening says, “The ignorant engages himself in endless arguments.”
This one frequently snared my attention this past week as I was guided to see that while I may not be engaging in verbal debates and arguments, they still go on within my mind. 
I’m involved in a few spiritual groups on the internet, and of course people have debates, arguments and discussions about spiritual themes.  In years past I have enjoyed discussing spiritual themes, but I have lost interest in that activity of late.  So recently, while reading a particular group debate, I wasn’t actively participating in it, but I noticed on a recent morning walk that I had not lost interest in it, and that I was actively debating and arguing with all the players in my mind.   And then I remembered this quote.  
This is where self-honesty comes in.  I could have thought about what a good spiritual student I was being by not entering the fray, but if not honest with myself, I totally miss the fact that I am indeed involved in the discussion; I’m just involved in my head!

This discussion prompted me to talk about quote #183, which follows on the same theme to a certain extent.  In my journal I wrote:  I have learned how to not pay attention to my thoughts.  So why do I?

             Notice which thought-stories are harder to turn away from.  Ask yourself why a particular story is holding you captive.  What’s the story about?  Is it telling you that you are limited; that you don’t have enough of…something?  Is this story causing you to feel guilty, victimized or unworthy?

Here we have an opportunity to delve deeper with self-honesty because it is often not apparent as to why we listen to certain thought-stories.  It is not readily seen, for example, that a deep sense of unworthiness drives the choices that many of us make in life – whether it causes us to achieve certain things in the world, or whether it causes us not to.   

The good news is that through deeper self-honesty we do begin to see what is driving us, and then we have the opportunity to choose again.  When it becomes apparent that you are listening to stories that tell you about your guilt or unworthiness, you can remember that you no longer want this.  Or maybe you do, and that’s okay too. 

This is the way self-honesty leads to healing, as I say;

“Here I am again, listening to that story about my unworthiness.   I accept that this is where I am right now, still focused on unworthiness thoughts, but I am willing to be free of this.  I am willing to be healed.  I am willing to move forward.  My true desire, what I really want, is to know my Self as Love created it, unlimited and free.”

I’ll be honest here and say that I have a story that comes up every day for the past year, and while it doesn’t grab my attention in quite the same way as it did previously, it still comes up every day.  I go into it more in the audio, but what I’ll say here is that on one hand it’s been a great gift because when the story started last year, I found it so difficult to let go of that this was when I was guided to The Teachings of Inner Ramana and the mantra practice that has made such a difference for me.
Nevertheless, sometimes thought-stories about particular life experiences are difficult to let go of because it’s in our face everyday.  A job conflict, health problem, relationship issue…something that confronts us every day becomes the ego’s playground.

We can look at that situation that confronts us each day and let our minds go down the slide – listening to it, being held captive by it, feeling unworthy, victimized or afraid, or we can let that very same situation be used to set us free.

Here we go again with self-honesty, if we really look at whatever story is holding us captive, we may see that we are feeling victimized in some way.  Seeing this within myself over the years has always been an eye-opener because I have never viewed myself as a victim.  Each and very time that I have seen this within myself it has felt brutal – to the ego.  As the Course teaches us, feeling victimized by forces outside of us is the primary story that holds ego intact.

The story that captures my attention these days is one about being unfairly treated, and victimized, and it has brought up feelings of unworthiness.  With denial and projection I can make it a story about what was done to me, rather than a story that can show me what I am still holding onto.  
I realize that I no longer want this.  But if I was not willing to be honest with myself, I wouldn’t see this, and would therefore continue to create experiences where I feel unfairly treated, victimized and unworthy.  Do you see?

I can use the same story to remind myself of Who I Am.  I can let it remind me of what I really want.  I can let it remind me that I am not a body – I am Spirit Eternal.

To go deeper, self-honesty is key.  Everything does become a gift as it is used as an opportunity to see which thought-stories, and underlying false desires, are still driving our lives.

As we know, it is so easy to get lost while wandering in the forest of the mind, stumbling over the many thoughts and words strewn along the path.  Yet, I can choose to gently move away from the thoughts and words, and rest in quiet-stillness…there, I am free.

The audio was recorded on 5/27/12 and is 52 min.

NoteIn my Sunday teachings of late, I have been inspired to teach from my 7steps journal, and to teach on those quotes that I am prompted to during the hour.  I have created another blog for that journal, where I have the quote from the bookThe Seven Steps to Awakening, the commentary from Regina Dawn Akers and then my own guidance.  If you are interested it is here:  http://www.stepstoself.blogspot.com

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Course Note #150: The Sound of Silence

In my Sunday teachings of late, I have been inspired to teach from my 7steps journal, and to teach on those quotes that I am prompted to during the hour.  I have created another blog for that journal, where I have the quote from the book The Seven Steps to Awakening, the commentary from Regina Dawn Akers and then my own guidance.  If you are interested it is here: http://www.stepstoself.blogspot.com

The audio contains the entire teaching, in this blog I will share a few that came up.  First, I was prompted to a practice that was very meaningful for me this week, inspired by quote #127.

            A favorite teaching in A Course in Miracles, one that speaks to me again and again, is this:

It is your task to seek and find within yourself
the obstacles to the awareness of the Love that you are.

            What are the obstacles to knowing ourselves as Love?  False beliefs lead to unseen ego-maintenance habits played out again and again.  The only way to really break free of these false beliefs and habits is to vigilantly and consistently rest in the current-moment.  We can be guided in the current moment or we can be moved by habit.  So often, we go about our day moved by habitual thoughts and behaviors without even pausing to notice or question what we are doing.
A few years ago I asked Holy Spirit to reveal to me what I was hiding from myself, and so much came up!  Much of what came up is chronicled on this blog, as I have written and spoken about how I was guided to see various false beliefs that have been driving my life.
            Now…it’s time to go deeper.

Holy Spirit,
I ask that you continue to reveal to me
the obstacles and unseen ego habits
that are driving me to places
I no longer want to go.

~Thank You~

            Yes, it’s true that unseen habits and beliefs take me to places that I don’t want to go, although for awhile I did want to go to there…but now, I see what I truly want, to know the Self-Love that I am.  Therefore, I must continue to go deeper and look at the attachments, thought patterns and habits that maintain and feed the ego, the false self.

            Inspiration from quote #33:

            I love what RDA says here: “Stay humble.  Stay focused.  Stay in silent desire.  Let the pot boil dry.”  Amen.

            Regina’s comment, “let the pot boil dry” came through personal guidance to be careful not to rest in any sort of false awakening or enlightenment.  I don’t think that’s something that I have to worry about! Ha!  I find her to be way more awakened than most who claim to be, but she is such an inspiration to me because even after all the great teaching and wisdom that has come through her, she’s still willing to go deeper.

            That’s the task before each one of us.  We are met where we are. 
It’s interesting to me that I am so guided to this work and that I love it so much because, I have not had any sort of goal in regard to awakening and enlightenment.  Nevertheless, I can see that this work is taking me deeper into undoing the ego.

            My guidance in regard to #33:

I cannot know myself through thinking.  The false self is kept alive by thinking.  I am willing to die daily to this small-limited self so that I may know the True-real Self.  In silence I am aware of Being.

I was prompted to NTI Luke, Chapter 18, v18-30:

“When one begins to understand what is asked of him on this path to Heaven, one must become afraid.  That is because you believe that you are the thoughts you think. You have taken them on as your identity. And so, when I ask you to lay your thoughts aside, and I seem to make no exceptions to this request, there must come a time that you become afraid.  For there must come a time in which you think that I am asking you to trade yourself for the kingdom of God.”

I used to think this idea of letting go of thinking was just going too far!  Now I get it, but I also see that I have been guided to really see this over a period of years; especially since 2007 when I entered what A Course in Miracles calls, “a period of relinquishment”.
It’s probably true that each one of us have experienced the fear that we would have to give up something we valued in order to be “spiritual”.  Initially in 2007, I was guided to give up certain habits, now in 2012 I realize that I am being asked to give up everything I think I am!  Say what!?  It’s no wonder that I have experienced much resistance during the last five years, although this year, I feel that I have moved through that resistance.

Recently I received the guidance in quote #108 to begin to let go of the starring role in my movie by throwing out the script.  The script is “my” thoughts, and I throw out the script as I stop listening to and believing the stories “my” thoughts spin. 

I am beginning to understand what it means to be the “impersonal” Self.  God-Love-Heart-Self-Truth is not attached to person, place or thing.  I can now see how holding onto the attached-Sheryl-self keeps me from knowing the unattached Self.  I want to know the Freedom that I am.  I want to experience, “Oh My God. I’m Free!”

I wrote a book entitled, “Oh My God, It’s Me!” and I just received the insight that I really cannot know that I am free until I recognize that it is indeed “me” that is in the way of knowing the Freedom-Self.

Guidance from quote #116 follows this perfectly:  From the 7steps book:

“As long as you have all sorts of ideas about yourself you know yourself through the mist of these ideas; to know yourself as you are, give up all ideas.”

I wrote: “I am not who I think I am.  Thank God for that! Ha!  To Know thy Self I must relinquish all thoughts and ideas (positive and negative) about who I think I am.  Let it all go.  Rest in the Truth of silence.

Then I was prompted back to NTI Luke, Chapter 18 v9-14:

“Listen not to your own voice, which tells you how right you are in all that
you think.  Remember that I have asked you to lay your thoughts aside. Here is why I
make this request:
“Now you have a definition of yourself that you believe.  It includes preferences and judgments and all manner of concepts that tell you who you are. But these concepts do not tell you who you are. Each and every one of them tells you who you are not.
“Remember I told you that you have only traveled away from Me in your perception of yourself. These concepts, which you believe define you, are the misperceptions that tell you that you are not Me. These concepts, which you think define you, serve the purpose of separating you from Me within your mind.
“Remember, you have journeyed away from Me within the mind only. It is only
your perception that tells you that you are separate from Me.  So if you are to discover the truth of who you are, you must be willing to lay your perceptions of yourself aside. You must be willing to stop believing that you know who you are. You must be willing to be open to discovering your truth. This is the humility I ask for.  I ask you to admit that you could be wrong about your definition of yourself.”

            It’s been truly fascinating to me to see how my Inner Guide has led me over the years, and now I see that it has all been for the purpose to teach me to undo the thinking that has kept me from knowing the Self that I am.  That’s why I do this work, not to entertain myself or to stack up new ideas, beliefs and concepts, but to undo…undo the false beliefs and thoughts that form the walls of our self-imposed prisons.

            As we rest in the silence through whatever practice takes us there, we experience that there are no thoughts, there are no words, there is no “other”.  There is only the sound of silence.

The Audio was recorded on 5/20/12 and is 53 min.

    MP3 File

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Course Note #149: Shift attention-focus

In the last few weeks I have felt the inspiration to teach from my personal journals, and so on this blog I will share a few things that came up in this session.

            At one point during the week I was prompted to The Holy Spirit’s Interpretation of the New Testament  (NTI) and read the following from NTI Colossians, chapter 4:

“What does your mind report to you when you watch your brothers, listen to them or think of them?  Be careful.  What your mind reports as it thinks of them is a trick.  Your mind is distracting you from watching the mind in the way you intend to.  Remember that everything you think as you watch your brother, listen to him or think of him is a thought within your mind that must be watched by you.

“Look at your thoughts about your brother.  What is it that you are desiring by allowing those thoughts within the mind?  What is it that you are asking for through the flow of creation that is you?”

            Maybe you’ve had thoughts today about a brother: mother, father, sister, acquaintance, friend or lover.  Don’t look at these thoughts with the ego, and you’ll know if you are doing that if you feel judgment toward yourself or others.  Spirit Within says: Be Watchful with Me.

            The key in this section of NTI, for me anyway, comes through this sentence: “What is it that you are desiring by allowing those thoughts within the mind?”  This is where we can go deeper. 

Perhaps I am thinking about:

            -  what someone thinks of me, and these thoughts cause me to feel guilty; then what I am desiring  by holding onto those thoughts, is to see myself as guilty.

            -  what someone is writing about me on the internet, and these thoughts cause me to want to defend myself; then what I am desiring is to see myself as attacked.

            -  what someone has done to me in the past, and that I’m justified in feeling the way I feel about them…then I am desiring to see myself as victimized, unfairly treated, angry… 

            As I watch these thoughts with the Spirit of Truth, I see how I have used my brothers to hold onto feelings of guilt, unworthiness, limitation, and victimization.  I did not know that I was desiring this but now I do, and so as I recognize that I no longer want this, I shift attention-focus to what I do want: Know thy Self. 

            To know the True Self, I must practice shifting attention-focus from that which Self is not.  The self that desires to know itself as fearful, guilty or unworthy is not what I am.

            Here I was prompted to quote #101 in my 7steps journal:  This quote, attributed to Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj says:

            “To see reality is as simple as to see one’s face in a mirror.  Only the mirror must be clear and true.  A quiet mind, undistorted by desires and fears, free from ideas and opinions, clear on all levels, is needed to reflect reality.”

            Reality-Self is here right now; only I cannot see it through the lens of fear, false desire, guilt and opinion.  The task before me is to continue cleaning the mirror, and I do this as practice shifting attention-focus from the thoughts in the mind to my true desire – what I really want.

            This idea of shifting attention-focus is something that I have found very helpful especially in regard to teachings that say the world, this body, etc. is not real.  We can read such teachings and intellectually understand them, but in order to heal we must be honest with ourselves.  We do identify with the body, and that’s why many of us are so obsessed with it in one way or another.  Most of us identify with being at the effect of the things of this world. 

            Let’s use money as an example because many identify with this one: Let’s say that you are feeling fear in regard to money.  You can notice that you feel fear, and then as you look at the thoughts in the mind, you see that your attention is on lack.  What is it that you are desiring by holding onto such thoughts? 

I am desiring to see myself as unworthy, less than and limited.  I am desiring to see myself as apart from God, as apart from Love.

            I can decide to shift attention-focus.  Currently I do this by use of a mantra.  I am that I am.  I am as God.  As I rest in the silence, in this full space, I notice that there is not a sense of lack, limitation, guilt or unworthiness until…I go Back to the thoughts of OMG, what if I don’t have enough money!

            We can use a practice to shift our focus and then immediately return to a focus on the world-problem.  That’s okay.  Gently shift attention-focus back to what you really want.

            Next I was prompted to quote #99 with is also attributed to Maharaj:
“Mere listening, even memorizing, is not enough.  If you do not struggle hard [be devoted] to apply every word of it in your daily life, don’t complain that you made no progress.”

It’s true.  Progress comes through vigilant, devoted practice, and I see this as the key to freedom.  I may not be able to practice this stuff 24/7, but I am able to practice enough that for the most part I am living a fairly peaceful and enjoyable life.  This is because I don’t want to hold onto ego thoughts, this doesn’t mean that I don’t have them, but I want to know myself as healed and so I do not want to hold onto them. 
It seems to me that what occurs as time goes on is that there is a much shorter lag time between the ego/divisive thoughts popping into my mind, and my willingness to let them go.

RDA says in commentary to #99 that we have habitual ways of thinking and perceiving and that these “old ego-maintenance habits must be dropped if ego is to be undone.”  In another quote she speaks of “ego-feasting activities” – Love it!

I have frequented a particular internet spiritual discussion list that I have felt prompted to leave for quite awhile.  As I was working with this quote this past week I saw loud and clear that this particular pastime serves only to feed and maintain the ego! I received the guidance to: Drop it now!  And so I did.

Devotion is the antithesis of ego-feasting activities. 

I’ll end with a “Thought of Awakening”*

~ 310 ~

Devotion is an act of silence.
It is a decision
to stop the flow of thoughts
and return to the wisdom of stillness.

Thoughts shall start again,
and your attention will drift to them
if you are interested.

But if you are also interested in devotion,
you can again make the decision
to return to the Heart.

In this decision,
thoughts are not fed.
That which is not fed
must eventually die.

~From our Holy Spirit

The audio was recorded to an internet audience on 5-13-12 and is 54 min.


* These can be found, as well as info about RDA’s 7steps journal at: http://www.reginadawnakers.com